Fighting Like The Three Christs Of Ypsilanti

Real Relationship Advice

We were writing about conflict when our Alexa toolbar showed an article about the Three Christs of Ypsilanti. In a combination of curiosity and procrastination, I had to look.  The Three Christs of Ypsilanti is a novel based on a case study done by a psychiatrist in the 60’s. Lee knows about this stuff but I didn’t and I thought it was fascinating. The psychiatrist, Milton Rokeach, took three schizophrenics who believed that they were each Christ and treated them together. (By the way, super unethical and he later apologized for doing that.) He thought that the reality of seeing others in the same state would help ground them in reality. Nope. They discounted the others as crazy, hallucinations or ghosts. It got us to thinking how much people will work at being right, even crazy ones.

So, here is the $100,000 question: when it comes to conflict, are you trying to find the truth or are you trying to be right?

There is a big difference and if you can’t see that then maybe you are one of Rokeach’s Christs. This is the difference between argument and fighting. Arguments are statements of your boundaries and personal beliefs. They either stay personal or we need to find common truths. (And yes, in this philosophy truths are relative.) Finding common reality may be passionate but it is not accusatory. Truth flows and there is nothing that can be done about that. Fighting and being right for right’s sake is a different matter. We will do everything that we can to win those kind of fights.

Both in global politics and in rinse-the-dishes-please arguments, one of the easiest ways to know if this is a being right argument is the use of logical fallacies. In my college days I was a speech person and rhetoric was my thing. I would speak publically within a competitive setting. In debate, the logical fallacies are pounded into us. These rhetorical devices are false lines of reasoning that sound good in the heat of an argument but are not really true.

Here are some common examples:

Ad hominem – This fallacy is when you attack the person instead of the argument. You see this with children and politicians all of the time. When presented with a logical conflict the person responses with ‘You are…’ (Stupid, out of touch, Kenyan.)

Argument from omniscience – Everyone knows what this one is. Really, that is what this fallacy is. It is using the words ‘everyone’, ‘always’ or even ’99.99%’.

Bandwagon fallacy – With this fallacy, the argument is since everyone is doing it then it is true. This is one of the reasons that Lee and I recommend keeping others out of your relationship. You do not need a bandwagon here.

Not understanding statistics – Did you know that 100% of people who eat tomatoes eventually dies? This is totally true.

Argumentum ad baculum – This is the argument that appeals to fear. The politicians use this constantly. ‘If (pick a candidate) wins then the United States as we know it will fall.’ If you are out of your 20’s and know anything about how our government runs then you know that we have had some really good and some really crappy presidents and that the system is built with that in mind.

There is a good list of fallacies on if you want to read more.

Look for these fallacies. If you see them then you are talking to (or talking like, if they are coming out of your own mouth) someone that is going to convince you that he is Jesus no matter what reality may say on the matter.

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