Everyone is the Aggrieved Party

If you don’t already live by this huge life lesson, then let me please remind you:

In any genuine heated argument, no matter how asymmetrical the sides may appear, both parties always perceive themselves as the victim.

This is often apparent to a dispassionate third party, but remember it’s also true when you find yourself in the middle of a huge argument.  By “genuine”, I mean a bona fide argument, and not where some sociopath is pushing the other guy’s buttons for fun.  Generally, when an argument is “heated” on both sides, it’s a bona fide one.  And even in an asymmetrical argument, the aggressor feels he’s acting in self-defence, or has been wronged (maybe not listened to?).  Or, however lopsidedly right/wrong you see a party, I guarantee you, they’ll insist they’re the actual victim in the whole matter.

Of course, since I’m writing about this from my blog, it means I’ve gleaned this gem from endless soul-searching over the low carb vs. low fat diet wars.  It really took me a long time to come up with this, but it’s based on countless hours following various Twitter wars.  And it explains everything.  At first, I couldn’t believe how the #LCHF fans could possibly believe that the obesity crisis is the result of Ancel Keys & the Seven Country Study, the diet-heart hypothesis, the USDA Food Pyramid, etc.  Did they not believe any of the metabolic ward studies showing no metabolic advantage for their ketogenic diet, or what?

As usual, a deep, unbridgeable gap occurs when two people unknowingly argue about different things.  Both parties may think they’re debating about a narrow issue like “in terms of fat loss, is there any difference between a calorie of fat or a calorie of carbohydrate?”  But communication always breaks down, because both sides remain convinced they’re right, and interpret all studies as backing their position.  And of course, they accuse the other side of willful misrepresentation, being ignorant, dishonest, or otherwise victimizing them.  One side thinks they’re arguing about the First Law of Thermodynamics.  The other side thinks they have a better understanding of causality, the government is lying to them again, or sugar is killing everyone.

That’s the problem in arguing someone obsessed with a fixed idea.  This can happen for any reason.  People often have a fixed theme for viewing the world.  It’s their filter, and is pretty much described by the famous Far Side cartoon (replace “Ginger” with, say, “carbs”, or if you prefer, “calories”)

gary-larson-far-side-cartoon-what-we-say-to-dogs-blah-blah-ginger

Yeah, I know I could be totally wrong, and Prof. Tim Noakes could go down in history as the next Galileo, falsely charged with heresy and all, and we’ll look back at the #LCHF movement in shame for ridiculing the likes of Jimmy Moore and Gary Taubes.

But I recognize that they (mostly) truly believe in their cause.  I try to take their point of view, and understand why they feel victimized, or at least sympathize with their cause.  That goes a long way to bridging the otherwise insurmountable gap.  It’ll basically end the argument.  Why argue about anything?  No one is going to change their mind.  Better to just understand where the other side is coming from.  Believe me, they’ll feel a lot better when you just listen to them.

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