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How do you deal with a misanthrope father?

  1. Jul 9, 2007 #1
    Ok, I've been contemplating/philosophizing about this inside my head for quite some time now and I just can't seem to come up with a solution that brings tranquility to me. I have a misanthrope father who really does think he's better than everyone else. If you heard him you'd think humans were the dumbest creatures ever. I don't agree with his viewpoints at all, but I can't even discuss with him about issues because he's rather haughty in debates. Well it's just gotten to the point where I don't even want to speak with him anymore, but I know that's not possible really so I was wondering if you guys had any advice on the subject? Thanks.
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  3. Jul 9, 2007 #2


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    Some people have strong opinions. I would try to avoid these issues that you differ strongly on and fight over. Focus on your agreements. You must have something in common with him.

    I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that these debates included religion and/or politics. If this is the case, I'm going to remind you of the old words of advice, "Two things you never should discuss with your family and friends are religion and politics."
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2007
  4. Jul 9, 2007 #3
    Me and my dad are atheists so that's something we have in common. The typical discussions we have disagreements on are politics, global warming, science and life in general.
  5. Jul 9, 2007 #4


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    I would say you should avoid talking about politics. I really do live by that advice I gave you before! It seems to me that you have strong opinions as well, otherwise his strong opinions wouldn't be bothering you. He probably feels the same way you do right now. Some people cannot be convinced of another's opinion. It's a fact of life that we all have to deal with.

    My advice to you would be this. He is allowed his opinion, as are you. Let it go. Do not let debates of issues like politics get between you and your family. It's definitely not worth it.
  6. Jul 9, 2007 #5


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    I think, similing, and nodding your head while forming and keeping your own opinions is a very valuable skill.
  7. Jul 9, 2007 #6

    I don't have strong opinions really considering I question them all the time and reformulate some. It's his lack of questioning his own views that really irks me.
  8. Jul 9, 2007 #7
    I'm slowly swaying that way trust me.
  9. Jul 9, 2007 #8


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    I totally agree, and practice this art myself.:biggrin:

    There are many people like your father in life, LightbulbSun. You'll have to deal with them. Take Integral's advice, it is definitely something that has to be done in certain situations. If you do decide to engage in debates with people like your father, remember to keep your head. If you get angry in a debate while arguing your point, it will not help your case.
  10. Jul 9, 2007 #9

    Thanks for the advice. I shall practice this art myself too. :biggrin:
  11. Jul 9, 2007 #10


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    Indeed! :approve:
  12. Jul 9, 2007 #11
    Punch him in the mouth and then say, "do you agree yet?!" :devil:
  13. Jul 9, 2007 #12


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    Sounds like I'd agree with many of his opinions.
    Sounds like you have a pretty good father to talk to about intelligent things then, many do not quite suffice. Let me guess?—he's skeptical of things related to anthropogenic global warming, and he's a republican?
    Unless you are at the state in which you don't even want to talk to him at all, or you are at a self-state in which you're not going to explode saying your own dissenting opinions, or you've lost hope in talking to people, I highly recommend you do not, or do not believe that you will do this in any case.
    Keep in mind a lot of times older people actually have learned something from their years and in the case of parents often tend to want to help their children. However, this is necessarily the case everytime, and you'd know if this is applicable or not.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2007
  14. Jul 9, 2007 #13
    My grandfather was the same sort of misanthrope. The impossibility of having a conversation but also the same amount of chance of avoiding a conversation made him a very difficult man to be around. He was very arrogant, but he was my grandfather.

    The upside of this sort of thing is that it forces you to take your own thoughts and arguments up a level and to be more well researched, and for all your displeasure, you become a better and more well informed person for it.

    I suggest you use only very solid arguments around him and to build your argument before you have it with him. Any weak argument will be easy cannon fodder for him and he will probably use that argument to somehow magically disprove all the rest of your arguments, no matter how much more solid they may be. You could even unexpectedly write up a paper on it and leave it on his desk and then avoid talking to him somehow for a few days. Try to be clever, amusing, and factual. Get around the problems you have with him ignoring relevant facts with innovative solutions, but always be willing to concede defeat should he defeat you on any point, no matter how big or small. If you deny him that, he will just keep assuming he is right till he gets what he wants. He wants to feel intelligent. It's insecurity at the root of arrogance. Think outside the box, but do so in a loving way, and you will get through to him sooner or later. You might even humble him a bit.

    Good luck, you will need it.
  15. Jul 10, 2007 #14


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    Being stubborn is certainly not a good trait.
  16. Jul 10, 2007 #15


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    Get at the root of his difficulty. He is surely having trouble with an ever-changing world. Society is not the same as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Old rules don't apply. The new generation doesn't have careers or even jobs to go to. Their ideals and motivations have changed. It's not their fault.

    But from the outside I'll bet it looks like the world's gone haywire. Your father is getting more and more black & white in how he thinks the world should work. He's got ideas about how to fix it though despairs that it will never come to pass.

    Talk to him about what youth is supposed to do when even a university degree gets them only a job at the gas station, about the loss of The Lifetime Career, about the loss of the retirement pension fund, about the new generation where there are no jobs, and you have to carve out your own niche.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2007
  17. Jul 10, 2007 #16
    Well he is republican and loves Bush, but I'm not really sure about his global warming stance really. I think I remember him saying that considering we've only recorded the climate for a little over 130 years now that we don't have enough data to really know if the climate accelerated more than usual because of us or if this is it's normal pace. Well that's fine and all, I'll just stick to the facts and not let politics take over a scientific issue like most people let themselves do. However, the thing that cracks me up is he thinks every issue has a simple solution. I remember walking with him once and telling me that the solution to global warming was to grow more trees and then he added on "see people don't like simple solutions." He always has to add on that misanthrope overtone to it. Now I'm thinking to myself "well dad, if that was the solution I think we would already have global warming solved." But no, he can't be wrong. I have a well-documented experience of him getting all riled up whenever his sister pinned his argument down into a corner. He just can't handle it for whatever reason.

    I would like to have an intelligent discussion with him, but he doesn't seem willing enough to do so.

    Not to go off topic here, but telling everyone to go work for the state is not passing on wisdom to anyone.
  18. Jul 10, 2007 #17
    :rofl: :rofl:
    No comment...
    :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
    Your father does not seem to be an intelligent being after all. Integral's advice is best. :smile:

    Maybe because he fears complicated problems, being aware of his own limited intelligence. He could fake the confidence he displays because, inside, he knows you (for instance) are more intelligent but feels he should not let you know (for some reason).

    My two cents... o:)
  19. Jul 10, 2007 #18
    I avoid arguing with my parents as much as possible. Don't bite the hand that feeds you as they say. My father also has some pretty extreme views about global warming (i.e. he feels most of the stuff they are doing is a waste of his tax dollars and gripes about it a lot.) I just avoid talking to him about it at all. Besides, I generally don't like talking about politics anyways, so its not hard for me to shut up since that is what I would prefer to do anyways.
  20. Jul 10, 2007 #19
    To me, he went off the deep end when he raved about "What The Bleep Do We Know?" and he has it on DVD, and wanted me to burrow it a couple of times which I refused.

    Or maybe he just has selective bias. He hammers on the bad experiences he's had with people and just assumes people are idiots.
  21. Jul 10, 2007 #20
    I've met people like that in real life and on line, in the end you just avoid getting into a conversation with them, because no matter how good your argument they will most likely just deny that you have any points, or point out inconsistencies of grammar, or change the subject, or try to be analytical about the way you asked the question to try and avoid admitting they were in fact mistaken. I don't think anyone enjoys having their world order shaken, but it's a very bad character trait to never just say: you are right, I was mistaken or to change your mind. No one enjoys admitting they were wrong but if you never do you're not going to learn much.

    Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

    George Bernard Shaw.

    Your dad reminds me of that intransigent internet foe Ferrous Cranus.

    http://redwing.hutman.net/%7Emreed/warriorshtm/ferouscranus.htm [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  22. Jul 10, 2007 #21


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    You should be able to EASILY show that everything in that movie is crap! EVERYTHING! There is a woman in it who claims to be possessed by a 50,000 year old shaman for crying out loud!!!!??!! If you have tried to tell him that, and he won't listen, then I would take integrals advice immediately!!
  23. Jul 10, 2007 #22


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    I have noticed that my own father can sometimes be somewhat defensive of his own intelligence and experience as his children grow up and gain wisdom.

    I turned a corner a few years back when I realized I no longer needed to compete with my father for who's the smartest.

    Consider asking yourself whether it's more important to you to have a competitive discussion of viewpoints, or whether you simply want to have quality conversation time with him.

    Rather than trying to have a discussion where you are both equals, try listening to him. Rather than refuting his points, ask open-ended questions to encourage him to elucidate.
  24. Jul 10, 2007 #23
    I kept telling him that it was propaganda and full of pseudoscience, but he dismissed my comments. For him being so analytical because he's really good in math and was a computer programmer, he should know a crap argument for a crap argument.
  25. Jul 10, 2007 #24
    This is good advice particularly the bolded part, but it seems there are some people that are always in competition and a conversation is: I am absolutely right and you are absolutely wrong, and these are people you can't reason with.

    You can try acknowledging their points and try letting them in, but in the case of the OP, if the person is just wrong more often than not, how do you reason with that person? Or maintain some sort of patience, I must admit I never had to do this with people, because I tend to give up; I don't see a conversation as a war where there is a winner and a loser, I think the best conversations mean that both sides learnt something, and thus everyone wins. With some people you just can't make any point whatsoever, so you never "win" in the sense that both sides come out better informed, I'm tending to think that this is one of those people.

    I could be wrong - I often am and this is the point - but if someone is so insecure about their knowledge that they wont listen in any conversation and they have to dominate it, then they have a really deep psychological issue that is difficult to overcome, and thus Integrals advice sounds more applicable; just nod and move on, particularly if the person is a family member not a casual acquaintance.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2007
  26. Jul 10, 2007 #25
    I just want to disperse knowledge and change minds. His misanthrope disposition doesn't do him really good since essentially he's going to have to rely on other humans at some point. He kind of reminds me of Bill Hicks except he's not a conspiracy theorist.
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