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  • D. Randall Faro

Recognizing Futility

Updated: Sep 2

“Of course the earth is flat.”

“Are you serious?”

“I’m not doing a comedy routine, Jack.”

“OK . . . so what makes you think it’s flat?”

“Now you’re kidding, right? Look around numskull. You really think we’re standing on a ball?”

“What about pictures from space? The earth is clearly round.”

“Space travel? You’re joking again, right? I think you’ve been watching too much Star Trek.”


The conversation above is not a rational one. It’s not, because for a dialogue to be rational takes two rational people.

Dictionaries define rational as based on reason or in accordance with logic and reason. Look up rational in a thesaurus and it will offer synonyms such as sensible, logical, sane. The last one pinpoints an important point: sanity is to see reality as it is; insanity views reality as something other than what it is. Honestly believing and publicly proclaiming a flat planet earth is an unequivocal misconception of reality. I might not call such a person crazy, but I wouldn’t hesitate to call that worldview crazy.

Grizzly bears cannot communicate in English and human beings cannot walk on water. Facts. Plain and simple and easy to prove. Try attempting a conversation with a grizzly or jumping off a ship in mid-Pacific for an afternoon stroll and reality will strike home . . . likely even in deadly fashion.


Herein lies the problematic issue for me: trying to have a mutually beneficial dialogue with an irrational person. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming that anyone who thinks differently than I is irrational. My problem is when the case in point – whatever it may be – is not one of religious, political, or ethical judgment, but rather when someone refuses to acknowledge or accept irrefutable facts.

So what is one to do? I Googled dealing with irrational people and got 110M hits. Sorry, I don’t have that much time. A spattering of webpages I briefly perused were full of suggestions which mostly focused on maintaining one’s cool and gently nudging the irrational one toward rationality.

Example:

You can work together to come up with a solution that will meet both your needs

and theirs. However, this can only be accomplished if rationality is restored.


Key point: if rationality is restored. But all too often that doesn’t happen. Irrational people revel is the fact that they are right and everyone else is irrational. I mean, the Earth REALLY IS FLAT!


One article I scanned closed with these words:

Recognize sometimes there is no winning with irrational people. There are some irrational behaviors and beliefs that may not have a resolution. You may have to just walk away.


That works for me. Because I have found that oftentimes it’s simply a futile and unproductive waste of time and energy to use reason, logic, and reality-based thinking in conversation with someone for whom those are simply not operative principles.

Back in my USMC days we used to offer a reason for why Marines beat their heads against brick walls: because it feels so good when you stop.


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