Unclear thinking creates unclear communication. The majority of “debates” I see consist of one person saying something (whether true or false, smart or stupid), followed by someone else misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting what the first one said, and then flinging back something logically irrelevant. I see two main causes of this. The first is just crappy reading comprehension skills and muddle-headed thinking, causing the person to not be clear in his own head about what he is responding to. But I think the second may be almost as common, but a lot more creepy: I think a lot of people’s minds do understand a conflicting viewpoint, but in order to avoid having to actually think about it – in order to avoid cognitive dissonance – their subconscious mangles and twists it, and then they respond to something else that they are more comfortable talking about.
A: “I don’t think any ruling class is legitimate.”
B: “So you think whatever anyone wants to do – including theft and murder – is perfectly fine and good??!”
Logically speaking, the latter is a stupid, irrelevant response to the former. But I think that can often be the result of subconscious activity in the statist’s mind. It might go something like this: “He wants no government. But government protects me! And there are scary people who would hurt me if no one protects me! This guy must want scary people to hurt me! He must like murder and mayhem!” The statist can think something like that – often not even all the way consciously – and then out comes the stupid response. Then the voluntaryist has to back up and respond to all the silly things the statist thought, but didn’t say.
The funny part is when statists complain at me for telling them what they think … and then ten minutes later, when I ask them to be specific, they express exactly what I said they think. This isn’t because I’m magic, or use ESP. It’s because I was a devout statist myself for many years, and dissected my own crappy former belief system. And the delusion that is statism tends to be fairly predictable.