One sided arguments

May 3, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

It is said that with age comes wisdom. I am not convinced that is entirely true.

Wisdom implies better judgment in the decision making department and I’ve seen scant evidence of us older people making better decisions.

I make just as many wrong turns today as I did in the past. I just don’t repeat as many mistakes.

One positive characteristic of age I have noticed is a greater tolerance for one-sided arguments.

The fire to prove one right at the expense of all other viewpoints seems to burns less brightly when the days ahead are fewer than those behind.

Perhaps it is more appropriate to suggest that with age comes greater patience and tolerance.

I understand that when your experience does not match my own there forms a vacuum—one we seem desperate to fill by any means possible.

Why is it that we’re so convinced what we see must be the same as what everyone else should see?

I am guessing that in our younger days we find it of critical importance to secure approval for our worldview. After all, if our worldview is wrong, maybe we are wrong or don’t fit in.

As we age it becomes clear we’ve made it this far, so perhaps we do fit in.

And that experience leads to greater tolerance for other viewpoints.

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35 comments on “One sided arguments”

  1. I agree that age does not necessarily make one wiser. Wisdom involves experience, knowledge and good judgment. To be wise, our experience and knowledge needs to be comprehensive and diversified, and we need to be endowed with good judgment. All the experience and training in the world cannot help some people in the judgment department. You can give them guidelines to aid their decision-making process, but some will never be wise. Their (our?) lack of wisdom can be deadly to themselves (ourselves?) and others. How do you measure wisdom?

    I also agree that with age comes more patience and tolerance. With experience and knowledge people can better understand the two sides of arguments, and are more amenable to compromise. That does not apply to the brainwashed. Also as we age we learn that we are wasting our time trying to change the opinions of recalcitrants and zealots. It just becomes an energy drain.

    1. Very well said. I identify with what you said about “the Brainwashed.” Now that is an extremely hard go of it to engage in any form of argument with someone who completely supports a system of ideas or institutions they don’t understand.
      The patience factor and tolerance that you touched upon is also really key when being thrown into arguments. One has try and not be so quick to say the first thing that comes into one’s head.
      Audio is an amazing relation to Paul’s post. I’m sure we’ve all had some kind of explaining to do knowing what we know in this lovely hobby. 🙂

  2. Does making it this far mean we ‘fit in’ or just that others have become tolerant of the aged?

    When it comes to social or political views, the ‘elders’ are usually just as intolerant of opposing views as them young whippersnappers.

    So maybe what really comes with aging is the ‘wisdom’ to know what viewpoints matter to you and which ones aren’t worth the heated discussion.

  3. “…to accept the things that I can not change, the courage to change the things that I can & the wisdom to know the difference.”
    At best we can, & should, agree to disagree, thus giving respect to the viewpoints of others.
    However I agree with Paul & Joseph (above) that not all of us become wiser with age.
    It does take the knowledge that comes with experience & the ability to apply it successfully to ones own circumstances, ie. what’s right for me may not necessarily be right for someone else.
    Of course there are those who hold to the most ridiculous & unsubstantiated beliefs & it’s best just to completely ignore such vacuous minds 😉

    Some people ‘improve’ with age & others just harden their resolve as though their very existence depends on not changing their minds about anything…all in all you’re just another brick in my wall.

  4. ‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for council, for they will say both no and yes.’

    ‘Is it indeed?’ laughed Gildor. ‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.’

    — J. R. R. Tolkien (1954)

    Even after about half a century, I still love that brief exchange. And so to bed.

  5. We are living in an era where millions of us believe the loser of an election won by millions of votes in spite of no evidence; evidence which should be trivially evident. Wisdom ? When the result doesn’t fit the story many of us have pre read the argument too often seems to be – please don’t try to confuse me with facts.

    1. “Please don’t try to confuse me with the facts.” That’s a funny line. It reminds me of what my 98 year old mother said when confronted with facts: “I made it this far in life based on what little I know. I am content to live out the rest of it in ignorance.”

  6. I often turn to Bob Dylan in my old age.

    “Crimson flames tied through my ears, rollin’ high and mighty traps
    Pounced with fire on flaming roads using ideas as my maps
    “We’ll meet on edges, soon, ” said I, proud ‘neath heated brow
    Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

    Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth, “rip down all hate, ” I screamed
    Lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull, I dreamed
    Romantic facts of musketeers foundationed deep, somehow
    Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

    Girls’ faces formed the forward path from phony jealousy
    To memorizing politics of ancient history
    Flung down by corpse evangelists, unthought of, though somehow
    Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now

    A self-ordained professor’s tongue too serious to fool
    Spouted out that liberty is just equality in school
    “Equality, ” I spoke the word as if a wedding vow
    Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

    In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand at the mongrel dogs who teach
    Fearing not that I’d become my enemy in the instant that I preach
    My existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow
    Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now

    Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect
    Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect
    Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow
    Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now”

    1. I read an article recently on the mutual admiration between Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Reading the last line of that lyric made me wonder if it inspired Lennon and McCartney to write “When I was younger, so much younger than today” from “Help” around the same time. Not so profound as Dylan but to my mind it has a similar feel.

      In music and hi-fi, inspiration, occasionally plagiarism, is derived from others but they still mostly manage to sound different.

      On the subject of balance I used to work with a very well balanced chap. He had a chip on both shoulders 😉

  7. I’ll be 74 soon and that “wisdom” may well begin with not repeating past mistakes. It is said that doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the height of folly – maybe not repeating those actions is the beginning of wisdom.

  8. How often is tolerance seen as a weakness by the bully?
    Everyone is entitled to their view and should be treated with respect.
    There are always two sides to an argument and anyone who sets themselves up as judge and jury should be dismissed as a non-member of the human race.

    History proves outsiders are always unwelcome and most have come to a sticky end.

  9. Two of your most faithful commenters that have not posted in this new format are Soundmind and Steven. Both are exceptionally intelligent but also critical contrarians. It’s odd that their daily posts have vanished. Paul, did your tolerance for them run out?

      1. Thank you, Paul.
        I always thought that you were gracious and magnanimous with the criticism that you tolerated on your posts: a demonstration of Liberalism in its finest form.

    1. Rob,
      Just so you know, ‘Steven’ has taken a voluntary break
      from posting here; nothing to do with Paul.
      And I suspect that ‘Soundmind’, God bless his cotton
      socks, has run out of repetition; again, nothing to do with Paul.

      1. Thank you FR. I don’t have time to read the comments every day, so I missed that. But I hope they come back. I was repulsed by SM early on, but once I caught on to his schtick I thought he was a hoot. And Steven once shared his photography: absolutely outstanding!

  10. Knowledge doesn’t always equate to wisdom. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, but it is wisdom that knows not to use tomatoes in a fruit salad.

    Einstein said, “Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience. You need experience to gain wisdom. And experience only comes through failure. Failure and deprivation are the best educators and purifiers.” My personal favorite is “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

    Once having said a thing, a person will work much harder to maintain that position, even if it is patently false, than they would if they hadn’t said it at all. That’s simple ego involvement. It is to learn how to be wrong and to fail, and to admit it, that is the doorway to wisdom.

  11. Not sure age translates to greater patience and tolerance in many cases. This seems very dependent on your world view, upbringing, experiences, international travel and immersion into other cultures not formed by “the news/media machine.” I wish for a world where people tend to become more enlightened not more ignorant. The internet is certainly both wonderful and potentially terrible if you don’t question the validity of the “information” available there.

  12. I agree (partly, because I read some contradiction in the post).

    “It is said that with age comes wisdom. I am not convinced that is entirely true.”
    “with age comes greater patience and tolerance”

    I would agree on both statements.

    “After all, if our worldview is wrong, maybe we are wrong or don’t fit in.
    As we age it becomes clear we’ve made it this far, so perhaps we do fit in.
    And that experience leads to greater tolerance for other viewpoints.”

    This statement kind of implies the opposite of the above. It (exaggerated) implies “We made it so far and our success makes clear, we were and therefore probably further are more right than many others, so we can be tolerant with other opinions and arguments as we don’t have to take them too serious because in the past it turned out, ours were better or more successful.

    So in my perception Paul first in a humble way put his opinion and arguments on the level of all others, just to rise them in the final statement above the majority of those who possibly made it “less far” due to their age or less success.

    But I think past or even present success doesn’t mean someone’s right or presumably still takes the right decisions. His decisions sometimes simply didn’t hurt enough to have serious consequences. We see this in the automotive industry. Many who were successful so far and maybe even still are, acted wrong or too late. Newcomers saw the signs of the times better and earlier.

    So this is where I disagree: no, that someone “made it this far and his worldview seems to have matched so far” just prooves that he found a way to be successful so far with whatever arguments. Some who have this story were just brilliant all the time, others may just have been lucky.

    This is not meant at Paul:
    There are enough CEO’s around with quirky opinions and aged worldviews, who are just dominant enough to continue so far, based on past success. They just managed to save their mannerism through the decades.

  13. Paul
    This reminds me of my signature motto that I stray from less as I age.
    “You have one choice in life between two things, be happy or be right”
    My wife will ask me if I’m happy after strongly making a point and my response has to be, no but I’m right. At that point I’m politely chastised.
    Wish I remember where I stole this motto from but it makes sense to us, others more dense insist it’s two choices.

  14. With age comes experience, but not necessarily wisdom.

    I have found no correlation between increased age and greater patience and tolerance. While I cannot claim a consistent question methodology or a statistically valid sample set, my subjective impression might even be a slightly inverse correlation: older people, set in their long-held opinions which have not been re-examined, might be less patient and tolerant than younger cohorts.

  15. “The fire to prove one right at the expense of all other viewpoints seems to burns less brightly when the days ahead are fewer than those behind.”

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery was 44 when he died in 1944. Not that old.
    I don’t know how old he was when he wrote :
    “Si tu diffères de moi, mon frère, loin de me léser, tu m’enrichis.”
    because it is in a posthumous book published in 1948 “Citadelle” from a typed draft.

    I won’t try to translate as
    “Traduttore traditore”

  16. Patience and tolerance are two completely different animals. My patience level does indeed improve with age but the tolerance level is inversely affected. It is dwindling away by the year. It is nearly impossible to take in any news stories without an out loud curmudgeon-like expletive like “Jeezuz H- What did you EXPECT was gonna happen? You’re an IDIOT, or the occasional aw.. just shoot ’em ALL” See? No tolerance.
    – Yes sir, you sent $185,000 to an online photograph – you’re an IDIOT!! Personally if I did something that daft, I would not tell a soul. But you chose to appear on the news “WARNING” others Don’t let this happen to you!. Oy vey…. But fear not – I can HELP!! I just got a fax from a Saudi Lawyer & there’s an imminent inheritance from Morocco with MY name on it!! And when I GET my money, I’ll help you with that cute Nigerian girl and her poor family. Those Nigerian surgeries CAN get expensive.
    Don’t get me started on folk who use the “4” “F””I””N””G””E””R” “Air” “Quotes”. Or Peloton commercials & thier spray on sweat. Or incessant Super Hero movies. It’s Monday – isn’t it time for another Spiderman flick? Or Dope.
    ‘That’s DOPE man’… Dope is a narcotic that idiots ingest that causes them to misuse nouns as adjectives.
    Or Megan Marble. Or yes, autocorrect.
    – Ok, you have absolutely no skills. But you’re pretty. And entitled. And you have internet access. For that, people should give you free meals, free hotels, free drinks and money? I’m sorry – you are not an Influencer, you’re an e-prostitute. Overheard on a date: “What do you do for a living?” “I’m an Influencer on Instagram. What do you do?” “ Well then, I guess I’m a soldier on X-Box’s Call Of Duty”
    See? Negative tolerance. But passive aggressive CAN be fun! Fine scotch helps. Cheap beer – even more so.

  17. “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” –Joseph Addison, British essayist, poet, playwright and politician

    If we’ve gained greater tolerance for other opinions as we’ve aged, it may be that we’ve accomplished more, found more love, and as audiophiles, there certainly is no shortage of gear to hope for. 😎

  18. As I’ve read the rest of the comments in this thread I had The Alan Parsons Project, “Old and Wise” playing in the background…or was it playing just in my head ?
    Oh boy. Too much coffee.

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