A few weeks back, I was arguing this point with my (insanely people-aware) wife, who was disagreeing with me. As an example, she pulled out a classic spouse-stealer scenario. Most wives behaving nearly perfectly, while dealing with day-to-day stresses can be easily out-maneuvered by a conniving bitch (or vice versa with a game master, vs. a decent guy). I've watched more than one marriage destroyed by a determined interloper who was simply a better player than the prior spouse. Of course, in these cases, warnings do no good...kinda sucks.
While my wife is (as usual) correct metaphysically (pertaining to that which IS)...that does not mean that I should accept her position as an epistemological (pertaining to that which one knows) matter. While there are some cases where (in a 2-player system) there is one aggressor and one victim...there are 800x as many cases where (in a 2-player system) both parties are to blame, while at least one of the parties thinks that they are a victim. In other words...even though such a thing is known to happen in rare cases, it is FAR more common that both parties are to blame, but one (or both) of them is taking the victim role, and acting blameless when they are not.
It's like taking a test for a rare 1 in a Million genetic disorder, that has a 1 in 1000 false positive rate. If you get a positive test...you're still a thousand to 1 against having the disorder. Insistences that it's the other guy's fault should be assumed to be false, unless you have awful good evidence to the contrary.
Compounding the problem is the FACT that as a general rule, folks come to conclusions first, and then backfill with reasons for their conclusions. Later, they forget the ordering...and conclude that their reasons came before their conclusions because that's how it's supposed to work. So...one has to take anyone's explanations with a grain of salt. The more convincing the speaker, the more salt needed. Persuasiveness is a skill, not a reality-pointer (I'm working in C right now...forgive me).
So, what we're left with is that
- Almost all 2-party problems are "the fault of" both participants, not just 1
- Most folks in 2-party problems don't think they're part of the problem.
- Folks who argue persuasively that they're not part of the problem strongly indicate persuasive skill first, and truth 28th.
- This is double-plus true for yourself convincing yourself.
- Simplest solution is therefore to assume that we can skip the "almost" in (a). If you're part of a problem, you helped to cause it, and near enough to half that it doesn't matter.
- Whether you should do something about it is a different question. Status maneuvering, game theory, and brinkmanship, even inside very close relationships, are all part of having a monkeybrain. Cope.
Now my interesting claim:
Claims about how other folks freedom ought to be restricted are highly analagous to claims that the other person is wholly to blame in a conflict. They may analytically be true in some small portion of the cases. Most of the time, however, it is MUCH better explained as a good-sounding rhetorical trick wherein benefits are transferred from the constrained party to the speaker, and epistemologically, you really ought to assume that it's always a trick. Historically, all such pronouncements have (somehow) managed to transfer power from the restricted party to the folks arguing for restrictions...or to the people supporting their causes (baptists & bootleggers).