Tactics to Convert Right Wingers? Are these tactics the same as converting religious fundies?

Is there any difference between converting a far right winger and a religious fundamentalist? 

 

Some background

 

I'm sure just about all of us know a right winger or two, perhaps more.  Some of these right wing fundamentalists may be very close to us, our friends/co-workers or to members of our families. 

 

I have a family member (not in my immediate family, but close) that I'm concerned about.  I'm hoping the AN group can help me with some conversion tactics.   I'll refer to him as "RW" (right winger). 

 

About RW:

 

RW has had Rush and co invading and hi-jacking his brain for years.  He avidly follows Rush, Beck, Mark Levin as well as local right wing programming.  He buys damn near all of Becks stupid ass books.  He listens to RW radio ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT.   RW believes every word he reads and hears from these demagogues and he has been convinced that every other viewpoint is wrong  - way wrong.

 

RW has a large network of fellow right wingers. 

 

RW has a "Don't Tread on Me" icon as his facebook profile pic.  Well over 90% of his facebook posts are right wing propaganda.  He has a large following (over 500 facebook friends), including children.

 

RW is indoctrinating his teenage children.  His 3 kids "like" Bush, Reagan, Beck and "conservative" facebook fan pages.

 

RW is Christian.  Raised Methodist but converted to Catholisim when he married into our family.  He is an active member of the church.

 

RW and I used to get into FB battles - until I de-friended him.  I had to for two reasons.  I have a job and can't spend all day battling it out on social networks (he does not have such limitations) and I feared that one of us would write something that would break our ties permanently.  We haven't conversed in several months.

 

I did some research and came up with this article:

Fighting Words: How to Humiliate -- and Convert -- a Right-Winger

What do you think, is this a viable technique?  Shame, ridicule and humiliation?  Do you have other recommendations that are less confrontational, but still effective?  Personal experiences to share?  References?  Anything? 

 

As always I'd appreciate your advise.  I'm sure others with similiar problems will as well.

Tags: Conservativism, Fundamentalism, Right, Wingers

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Dude, fanatical devotion to a cause isn't typically arrived at rationally. its an emotional game, amongst other things, that gets a person indoctrinated. so what is the best way to combat that? depends on who you ask... some atheists would say that shaming and ridicule will work (although it often solidifies the beliefs of the person being shamed as a defense mechanism) and others say that calm reason and logic are the way to go (but if they listened to reason and logic, they likely would not be where they are anyways) I think you would need to be much more specific about the personality type of RW to find an effective method, which will ultimately be a combination of both.
Thanks for responding Park. Yes, I know RW put as much thought into picking a political position as he did his religion - none.

Re RW's personality type, I'd call him the prototypical "Strict Father" described in chapter 4 of Lakoff's "Thinking Points"

In a nutshell, Lakoff's description of absolutist, hierarchal, rule driven, disciplinarian fits RW almost perfectly.

I know that there won't be a simple answer. Unlike RW, I get how complex things are, especially when dealing with emotions. I'm just hoping that someone has had some success that will help shed some light on what approaches might work the best.
Unfortunately, I've come across many people like that myself.. My extended family is very right wing, and at most I've been able to give them pause for a moment, but usually its not through fact based discussion but more through philosophical arguments.. Sadly to say, the ones that give them pause aren't usually the better points either, but easier ones~ it shows where there minds are, and where the limitations are. Psychology is one of my major interests, I spend a good bit of time reading and researching the topic too. I guess if I were to give any advice, It would be one of two things.. no, make that one. I would say the best thing to do would be attack the least held convictions; the points that RW holds to be true through analysis based off of the deeper convictions. I say this because deeper convictions are typically held where they cannot be attacked, and are safeguarded through compartmentalized thinking and sheer ignorance; they are much less vulnerable to attack. by working backwards, hypothetically speaking, you could combat the smaller branches of the mental tree and work your way down, and once RW's deepest convictions no longer hold merit to the lesser ones (having been rebuked) they will be open to question; they will not longer have the net of other un-refuted beliefs. My thinking stems from the idea that if you attack the core ideas that beliefs are based on, not only are they the most guarded and impregnable, but the beliefs that stem from them also act as a support. They will look to other convictions and phallically hold those as evidence... If this is an undertaking you'd truly wish to accomplish, you'll need to arm yourself to the teeth with information, statistics, dates, and anything else that you will need to thoroughly crush the lesser points... and then, depending on how intelligent this person really is, you will see if you even stand a chance to begin with. some people just don't have it in them to change their views. If RW is willing to admit defeat in at least on point, there might be hope, but otherwise its probably useless barring brain washing or torture lol
What about taking the opposite approach and attacking the core beliefs? Perhaps even his religion and God belief? If I can get him to question his God belief, would that translate over to questioning all his beliefs?

Perhaps I attempt to chop the tree down at the trunk instead of trying to cut off each individual branch? It would take more swings of the axe, a sharp blade, heavier blows, a lot of sweat but would not that be the best way to take down a tree vs from the top down?
It would instinctively seem like it is~ take the shortest, direct approach, attack the problem at its core, knock out the bottom of the building etc but the thing is that a human mind is not a simple structure like architecture. It is a complex web, and there really is no single support; and not only that, but the things we would consider branches in fact help to support it as well. I'll try this analogy and hopefully it will work.
~ you hear about a bombing in the middle east. you understand, but it doesn't elicit much of a reaction.
~you hear about a bombing in one of the coastal cities. this worries you, because it is hear in america.
~you hear about a bombing in your state. this upsets you even more, because it is much closer to your lively hood and state of being.
~you hear about a bombing in your town. This brings you fear, because it has been inserted into your life, and impacts you directly.
~you see a bombing in your front yard. This causes you to panic and possibly act irrationally, seeing that a direct attack on you as a person is happening. If possible, you will fight whoever needs be to protect what you have.

I know it may not be the best, but from what I understand about psychology this could work as an accurate description. the lesser held convictions of a person are such as the coastal cities in the US. Something that is identified with, but also easily let go if need be. the closer something happens to "home" the more panicked the person becomes, more irrational and confrontational. the more they will fight to defend whatever, in this case beliefs, they hold, because that is how they identify themselves as a person. If you attack that, more than likely it will either be A. deflected B. They will simply not listen to you C. They will argue the irrationality of it regardless. very rarely will attacking that core of a person lead to a productive change... and even if it was successful, it could lead to an identity crisis and turmoil in their lives as they try to figure out who they really are. think of a MID LIFE CRISIS. thats essentially what would happen.
~the benefit to the much longer process is that the change is gradual, so that there is less shock to them, and the change is easier; after realizing they were wrong on several smaller issues, the larger issues will become more vulnerable as they are becoming used to compromise and reevaluation. Does that help explain it a little better?

Ps. I wanted to add, the reason people become so entrenched in their beliefs (and the reason beliefs persist) is because there is no discourse that happens in the belief center. they ARE beliefs, truths that are held regardless of evidence. Most de-conversions from religion happen over time, and are not because of one argument but because of many smaller ones that add up. same process here. if you were formerly religious (I never was, so its an experience i must miss out on) think about your own de-conversion, and see if any parts are applicable to this situation.
yes it does - thanks.

"very rarely will attacking that core of a person lead to a productive change... and even if it was successful, it could lead to an identity crisis and turmoil in their lives as they try to figure out who they really are. think of a MID LIFE CRISIS. thats essentially what would happen"

and this "MID LiFE CRISIS" is one of the best things that ever happened to me. This is exactly how I gave up my religion, God belief and political positions, and how I learned how to become a skeptic and critical thinker (work in process still).

The AN is full of people who dropped the core beliefs in their religion, and subsequently, their god belief. Certainly nothing is more foundational than that. Was this a gradual process or a sudden "shock"? Im sure it's a continuoum from left to right, but for me, it was a shock, and a good one at that.

This shock caused me to become highly skeptical of all my beliefs, especially my political views. I was not nearly as far "right" as RW, perhaps because I never listened to Rush, but I certainly was an unabashed and proud conservative.

Am I an anomoly? I don't really know, but I do know that the "shock" approach worked for me. Yea, I know, evidence from personal experience is not necessarily valid, and I have not seen any studies, but I have read a lot of stories, and I mean a lot, where people have had similiar experiences. I know Matt Dillihunty from Atheist Experience advocates for the "shock and awe" approach to deconversion.

I suppose the difference between RW and I is that I gave the shock to myself, vs getting the cattle prod from someone else. I THINK I would have came to the same conclusions, but I didn't go through that, so can't be conclusive.
I think that you may have stumbled upon the key here, it wasn't someone else who gave you the shock, it was from within. When something like that comes from someone else, we have defense mechanisms in place to disregard that information. We don't have the same mechanisms when it something that we come to ourselves, however. I can't think of any instances where someone said something that created that shock, its usually something that the person realizes that leads them to question.. So maybe your solution is the mental equivalent of the trojan horse. Something that RW will agree with that then leads to other, obvious implications that will slowly eat away at the core of the beliefs. There are other methods though, too.
~I listen to Rush and Beck almost daily, usually for at least a half an hour each, if not more. There are so many things that they say that are just plain wrong (and demonstrably so) that maybe starting to pick at those standpoints might help.
~ The debate tactic of asking what, if anything, would prove to them that they are wrong might also be a good starting off point.
~ I personally have found philosophy especially helpful, because its easy to pick a persons conviction, question it, and then lead them to a better response.
~ I guess the best point is, is that i've found on AN that there are people who initially believe different things than I do; however, I've found that through this website, philosophy, and some good research that those people are also willing to change their ideas. There is nothing I appreciate more than when someone replies that I'm right, and they will have to think things over, because that means I'm successfully making headway in sharing my point of view. Hopefully the more discussions I have on here, the more I may be able to help people think critically and realistically in the future.

Ps. Another good tactic that I just remembered is that when debating with someone, do not take a side. if they are conservative, do not take the side of liberals. instead, focus on being nuetral, but pointing out the flaws in the conservative argument. this allows your words to be effective, without opening up space for them to refute. example... Arguing over healthcare, don't stand on a platform of obamacare was the right thing to do. instead, attack the conservative viewpoint that people aren't entitled to a right to live. if you have the obamacare platform, they will instead try to counter attack that instead of listening to what you are saying. if they say that its socialism, clandestinely agree " sure, maybe, but the real point i'm trying to make is such" instead of spending time defending something. if you have no platform of attack, they have much less ammunition and more target for you to hit.
"I personally have found philosophy especially helpful, because its easy to pick a persons conviction, question it, and then lead them to a better response"

Can you elaborate on this? What type of philosophy, how did you use it, and do you have any reco's on introductory philophy readings?
The best book for me on philosophy was called "the story of philosophy, 2500 years of great thinkers" or something like that. Socrates, the father of modern philosophy, became well known not because of the views that he held, but because of his ability to question others views. He would travel around the city and people would give him a truth; he would simply question it. Its occurred to me that almost everything in life can be dissolved until no longer reasonable (hence the introduction of solipsism) and that can be used to an advantage if you understand the approach you are using. I feel tho, sadly, that I cannot be as descriptive of what I mean without an example to expand upon. If you have a specific one in mind, please share, and I will detail the approach that I'm describing.
Depends on how racist or war-mongering they are. Rabbits foot?
Ask em', why vote for a so-called leader that is so pro-life yet so anti-people?

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