Jimmy Kimmel, GMOs, and the art of knowing what you’re talking about

Jimmy Kimmel had his staff interview average people on the street who opposed Genetically Modified Organisms. He asked two very basic questions; why do you oppose GMOs and what do the letters G-M-O stand for? Sounds kind of similar to the two basic questions everybody should be able to answer about their own beliefs, and about the beliefs of those they disagree with, as I describe in Arguing with Friends. How well do these anti-GMO folks do in answering these two questions?


A child’s use of logic

My wife gave my daughter a chore. After several minutes my daughter came down from her room to negotiate with my wife.

“You need to come and help me do my job.” (I should mention that she has a difficult time completing chores unless she gets a LOT of help).

She continued before my wife had a chance to respond.

“You cannot just tell me what I’m supposed to do without helping me do it. That’s like the evil step-mother in Cinderella. You need to help me.”

I had a tough time containing my laughter as I overheard this, but it reminded me that logic and reason are not some kind of social construct that gets imposed on humanity as we grow up, but they are tools inherent to the human thought process. If I were to take her reasoning and spell it out slightly more formally it might look like this.

  1. You gave me instructions for chores that I am required to do, but you have not offered to help.
  2. Cinderella’s step-mother gave Cinderella instructions for chores that she was required to do, but Cinderella’s step-mother did not offer to help.
  3. What Cinderella’s step-mother did was wrong, therefore,
  4. What you did was wrong.

It’s a classic argument from analogy. Of course, there’s more to the equation than her simplistic Disney-inspired interpretation of the facts, but I’m actually quite proud of her for eloquently articulating her perspective, and providing reasons for it. She negotiated well for her age.

And I enjoyed getting a good chuckle out of her negotiation tactics. Oh, the innocence of children…

Things we should say more often

Somehow I sincerely doubt the mini-President in this video came up with the script for “Twenty things we should say more often,” but it’s cute how he delivers the wisdom. And number 4 is particularly relevant to Arguing with Friends.


Another book review

I know the date on the book review is April 1, but I’m pretty sure this is not an April Fool’s joke. The MB Herald, which is associated with the denomination I’m part of, has done a book review of Arguing with Friends. I’m quite pleased with it. The criticisms are relatively few and the reviewer acknowledges that some of his concerns are inherent to the nature of what I was trying to accomplish (i.e. it’s a short book that’s only a brief intro to the subject). It’s possible that my ambitions need to be reconsidered, but at least his criticisms were not along the lines of, “this guy sucks and the book is a total waste of time” or something like that. Maybe it’s because I’ve never written a book before, but that’s kind of what I expect to see every time I find out that somebody has reviewed Arguing with Friends. Instead, the criticisms are balanced with a number of compliments and an overall positive theme. It quite made my day. In fact, here’s a glimpse into the Buller house after a good book review:

Merry Christmas – treat each other well

I’m going to take a week or so off from blogging, so I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas. During this season when you connect with loved ones, please treat them well. Family gatherings can be a time to discuss life’s biggest issues, and perhaps conversations like that have not all gone well in years past. Please implement lessons you may have learned from Arguing with Friends, and my blog, and be kind to each other. Stand up for your beliefs, of course, but do so with an open mind and a gentle spirit. I would love to hear stories from you about how your Christmas conversations went, whether they went well or poorly. We can learn from both. Please take mental notes about your conversations and drop me a line to let me know how they went.

Ironically, I am going to strongly suggest you do NOT follow Saint Nick’s lead with respect to how to disagree with others!

God bless, enjoy the holidays and check back in the New Year for more thoughts on how to keep your friends (and family) and your convictions.

Comment settings changed

It was recently brought to my attention that the comment settings were not how I intended them to be. It forced the commenter to be logged into Twitter, Facebook or WordPress. I wanted to allow people to comment, even if they only leave their email address. Well, I changed it. Hopefully there were not too many people who were unable to comment due to this oversight of mine. My apologies if this describes you.

So, um, that’s it. This is a rather trivial post. Let me leave you with something fun so it wasn’t a complete waste of your time.

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Saint Nick – Model Theologian

In the spirit of the Season, here’s a little historical trivia about Saint Nick that perhaps not enough people know about. Sure he’s nice, gives gifts, etc, but don’t for a second think he’ll take any theological nonsense from heretics. His approach certainly is effective, but he obviously hasn’t read Arguing with Friends.

What to write in the Christmas card?

I’m pretty sure the big seller this year for Christmas is not going to be tickle-me-elmo or Xbox or anything like that. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the record setter is quite probably going to be the book Arguing with Friends. I figure the only thing standing in the way of making my book the dark horse for this Christmas season is the writing of the Christmas card associated with your gift. After all, the title of the book could, potentially, send the wrong message to your loved ones.

So, to help you overcome this challenge, I have come up with a short list of suggestions for what you could write on the inside of the card to help clarify the true spirit of the gift.

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Taking a hint

One of the themes I describe in Arguing with Friends is the concept that our conversations should proceed only to the extent that our friend is willing and interested in continuing dialogue. If our friend really isn’t interested in talking about what interests us (be it religion, politics, or even our hobbies) then we should allow them the freedom to change the subject. Of course, there are boundaries even on this, as I describe in the book, but as a general rule if their verbal or non-verbal says “back off” then you should probably back off.

Today we enjoy a little amusement to illustrate the inability to take a hint and the consequences we would like to avoid. DON’T be this kind of evangelist…