Discrediting a view by calling it mainstream

I see a trend in social media where some (often conspiracy theorists?) not only criticize others for taking a mainstream view. They take it a step further and try to discredit a view by calling it mainstream.

I am not particularly a fan of everything mainstream. Many of the major problems in our society are almost by definition mainstream. This includes an economic and other social systems that don’t take ecological realities into account, and where an ordinary life within this system inevitably is part of the problem and damages the natural systems we depend on for literally everything.

And yet, there are many problems inherent in disqualifying a view just because you see it as mainstream.

IT MUDDLES THE WATER

By doing so, you chose to focus on a label or characteristic of a view rather than the content. You bring attention away from the content of the argument. You resort to name-calling instead of presenting your case with solid logic and data.

YOU MAY HAVE YOUR OWN MAINSTREAM

Most of us have our own mainstream. We often take on the mainstream views in the subculture or subcultures we resonate and identify with.

If we criticize others for mainstream views, we may overlook that we have our own subculture that we get our information and views from. This is our own mainstream.

We are doing what we criticize others for.

In this case, when people try to discredit a view by calling it mainstream, they have adopted a rhetoric that’s mainstream in their own subculture.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE “MAINSTREAM”?

To me, it seems a fuzzy concept and it obviously depends on culture, time, and subculture.

What do you consider mainstream?

Is it anything you or your favorite subculture happen to disagree with?

What within the mainstream do you embrace? What do you reject? Why?

Do you consider Noam Chomsky mainstream? University professors and researchers who are deeply knowledgable of and critical of how society works, and yet reach different conclusions from you? Your friend who is a doctor and has a different and more informed view on vaccines than you?

THE DIVERSITY WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM

What some call “mainstream” is, in reality, wildly diverse.

It’s not at all one set of opinions and views that everyone takes on board. 

Within our culture – and within media, politics, and science – we find a range of different views and opinions. You typically don’t have to look far to find something that’s quite different from what may appear mainstream at first glance.

You may even find a different set of data than what most use. The question here is: How solid is this data? Would it hold up in court? Would it be the type of data a reputable reporter would rely on? Even in science, it’s often easy to find data that seems to go against the typical findings in the field. In 99.9% of the cases, it’s one of the inevitable occasional statistical outliers that cannot be replicated because there is nothing there. Or the result came from weak or bad methodology and cannot be replicated with better methodology.

WHAT YOU DISMISS AS MAINSTREAM MAY BE AN INFORMED VIEW

Many within the mainstream are good critical thinkers, have a solid knowledge of their field, have no illusions about how society works, may be well aware of the views and information you rely on, and still reach a different conclusion from you. 

What looks mainstream may well be founded on critical thinking, deep knowledge about a topic, and a long journey to arrive at that particular view. What looks mainstream is often not adopted wholesale or without discernment. 

HABITUAL REJECTION?

Do you habitually reject something just because you consider it mainstream?

If we habitually react to certain views by attaching to an opposing or contrarian view, there isn’t much discernment there. We are just reacting.

WHEN I DO THE SAME

When do I disqualify a view just because I consider I assume it fits a certain category?

I sometimes do it with conspiracy theories. 

If I disqualify a view just because it’s a conspiracy theory, I do the same. Although I have to admit many of these are recycled and familiar and I am aware of the flawed logic and flawed data it’s founded on. 

ADULT VS REBELLIOUS TEENAGER DYNAMIC

When people dismiss a view by referring to it as mainstream, it’s an obvious logical fallacy. 

For me, it feels a bit embarrassing to even write about this topic, although it does transfer to other areas that are more interesting. (For instance, where do I do the same?) 

Often, when people address these topics, it can sound like an annoying adult admonishing rebellious teenagers. And that’s perhaps not a coincidence. Some of the ones who habitually criticize something because it’s mainstream behave like rebellious teenagers. They seem to have recently discovered some of the many problems inherent in how our society works and react to them by rejecting whatever is mainstream without much discernment.

They act on reactivity. They lack a more nuanced understanding and approach. They often throw the baby out with the bathwater.


INITIAL DRAFT

I see some people criticizing others for taking a mainstream view on something. 

What they often overlook is that they do the same. 

They take on the mainstream view in the subculture they identify with. 

They tend to overlook that the “mainstream” is wildly diverse. It’s not at all one set of opinions and views that everyone takes on board. 

….

In each of these cases, they use lazy logic. They are acting on reactivity rather than any real insight or discernment.

…..

DRAFT

Some like to criticize others for taking a mainstream view on something, or they disqualify a view by calling it mainstream.

What they may overlook is that they do the same

They may take on the mainstream view in the subculture they identify with. 

They find a subculture they like, and they get their views and information from what’s mainstream within that subculture. 

In that way, they are no different from the ones they criticize. 

They may overlook that the “mainstream” is wildly diverse. It’s not at all one set of opinions and views that everyone takes on board. 

They may overlook that many within the mainstream are far more skilled in critical thinking than they are, and have far more knowledge about the world and specific topics than they do. And that many know of the many problems in the world and society and wish to do something about it.

They may overlook that what looks like a mainstream view may be founded on something else. It may be founded on critical thinking, deep knowledge about a topic, and discernment. And some may have gone on a long journey to arrive at a particular view that you assume is mainstream.

If they habitually react to any mainstream view by attaching to an opposing or contrarian view, they are overlooking that there isn’t much discernment there. They are just reacting. 

And what’s the definition of mainstream? Is it The Guardian? Professors who are deeply knowledgable of and critical to how society works? (And don’t see any need to go into conspiracy theories.) Noam Chomsky? Your friend who is a doctor and has a different and far more informed view on vaccines than you? Is it anything you or your favorite subculture happen to disagree with?

And yes, I know I sound like an annoying adult admonishing rebellious teenagers here. And that’s perhaps not a coincidence. Many of the ones who habitually criticize the mainstream often behave like a rebellious teenager. Someone who has discovered some of the many problems with the world and society, and reacts to it by rejecting whatever is mainstream without much discernment. 

What relationship do I have with the mainstream? I grew up in a mainstream family, if any family or anything at all can be called that. Very early in life, I started questioning the assumptions of people around me and my own. I have been politically radical since my early teens. I have spent my whole life since my teens in subcultures often very different from mainstream views and lifestyles. Most people I meet see my life as anything but mainstream. I know of a lot of the problems in the world and our society. I am typically more interested in discernment and finding what’s more accurate for me than following any particular views in any particular culture or subculture. (Much of what I write here will be outside of typical views in many of the subcultures I have spent time in.) And if I have views that look mainstream, I have often gone on a long journey to get there and I am familiar with the reasons others have for having different views.

….

DRAFT FRAGMENTS

What you may have to look further for is a very different set of data. Solid data tends to be the same no matter what, and if it changes, it’s typically over time as the result of new information that’s thoroughly examined. 

….

When do I disqualify a view just because I consider I assume it fits a certain category?

I sometimes do it with conspiracy theories. 

If I disqualify a view just because it’s a conspiracy theory, I do the same. I am typically aware of their arguments and can see the flawed logic and the bad data it rests on, so it’s better to focus on that rather than labels. 

….

For me, when I see people criticizing the “mainstream” or disqualifying a view because it’s mainstream, it reminds me a bit too much about the type of political conversations I had in middle school.

…..

What relationship do I have with the mainstream?

I grew up in a mainstream family, if any family or anything at all can be called that. Very early in life, I started questioning the assumptions of people around me and my own. I have been politically radical since my early teens. I have spent my whole life since my teens in subcultures often very different from mainstream views and lifestyles. Most people I meet see my life as anything but mainstream. I know of a lot of the problems in the world and our society. I am typically more interested in discernment and finding what’s more accurate for me than following any particular views in any particular culture or subculture. And if I have views that look mainstream, I have often gone on a long journey to get there and I am familiar with the reasons others have for having different views.

…..

That’s perhaps fair if people adopt a view just because others hold it without looking closer for themselves.

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