Beware Your Own

You are most vulnerable to your own tribe. Your distant enemies can’t hurt you nearly so much as those you trust and identify with. That fact alone should increase your caution and skepticism considerably.

And it is a fact. Regardless of whether you think your own tribe is “right” or not (and of course you do think that), you’re obviously more vulnerable to them. Outside influence, ideas, and even attacks are met with every defense you have ready. Not only are you already skeptical of information that comes from “them” and expectant of their attacks, you also have the advantage of having the entire rest of your tribe ready to defend you as well.

But when your tribe lies to you, you’ll cut your own arm off before you doubt. When your tribe tries to get you to do things against your own interest but in the interest of the tribal leaders, you’ll do it readily and justify it all day. And if your tribe even tries to harm you, you’ll either take the harm with pride or – if you resist – you’ll claim that it wasn’t your tribe at all, but shadowy agents of some other.

Imagine that there are two people, each trying to convince you of their position. You have zero prior information about either Position 1 or Position 2, and no awareness of the other affiliations of their spokespeople. So for the most part, you’re evaluating the arguments on the merits as you understand them. If Spokesperson 1 says “Position 2 is wrong, and here’s all the evidence to support that argument,” and Spokesperson 2 says “Position 1 is wrong, and you shouldn’t even listen to Spokesperson 1 because they’ll lie to you and tell you that it isn’t, so just stand over here with me because that makes you a good person, unlike Spokesperson 1,” then you should have a really, really strong reason to be extremely wary of #2. Even if you don’t find arguments for Position 1 convincing, at least there are arguments. Spokesperson 2 is obviously a self-interested bully.

Now, that’s how you’ll treat two people/positions that you’re neutral on. But what if that exact same scenario repeats itself, but this time Spokesperson #1 isn’t part of your tribe, and Spokesperson #2 is?

It shouldn’t make a difference. But for most people, it does. Don’t be one of those people. Recognize the patterns of bad faith arguments, and know with certainty that you will always be most vulnerable to them when they come from your own.

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