The notorious political commentator Ben Shapiro has a great motto: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
I have many disagreements with Shapiro, but I will admit that this is a brilliant phrase. Facts will always trump feelings. An adverse reaction to a counterview, even a highly explosive temper tantrum, can’t overturn overwhelming evidence that contradicts your opinion.
No matter how emotional you get about a particular topic, your feelings on the subject don’t hold much weight if you don’t have proof backing up your rhetoric.
A person can have a visceral response to controversial issues, but feelings alone don’t prove anything. It’s imperative to do quality research and find evidence and data that confirms your beliefs. You would be doing your side of a contentious debate a great disservice if you didn’t do your homework on the subject.
If all you brought was emotional junk, nobody (at least nobody who thinks critically) could take you seriously — even if your conclusions happened to be right.
However, with all this said, feelings and emotionally charged rhetoric can play an extremely powerful role in argumentation. Passion is very useful when swaying an audience to your side.
For me, there have been some people who, with a combination of great analytical skills, comprehensive research and gravitating charisma, were able to change my mind on subjects on which I previously held a polar opposite view.
One of these people is progressive political commentator Kyle Kulinski.
I initially despised Kyle Kulinski. I hated him so much that I literally got sick every time I watched his show.
But even though I strongly opposed him, I couldn’t deny that he’s an honest, ethical person who’s very ardent about the political policies he advocates for.
Kyle Kulinski was arguing for the things he believed in so intensely that I couldn’t help but continue to watch him. Over time I started to examine the evidence he was presenting for his positions. In the end he changed my views on many subjects, and I largely credit him for my political paradigm shift.
It was Kyle’s ferventness that kept me watching (even at a time when I couldn’t stand him), but it was the facts he was presenting that ultimately convinced me.
Kyle’s passionate rhetoric is one of the things that has made his show so popular, but he doesn’t rely on appeals to emotion. Kyle always does comprehensive research, and he never shortchanges his audience on the actual evidence.
One area where Kyle perfectly combines his rhetorical skills with quality research is on the issue of health care. Reforming our health care system is something that Kyle cares deeply about. He strongly advocates for single-payer universal health care. The reason he’s so adamant about improving the health care system is because his father died from cancer in 2011.
Kyle’s father had been experiencing back pain for a long time, but he didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford to see a doctor. Eventually his symptoms became so severe that he went to the emergency room. He was diagnosed with cancer that had metastasized to his spine. He died shortly afterward.
Kyle believes that if his father had health care and got treatment early, his life could’ve been prolonged, or even saved. It’s his righteous fury at this societal injustice — and his desire to correct it — that drives Kyle in his activism.
However, Kyle also recognizes that his family’s personal tragedy is not enough to prove his position. He knows his anger is not enough justification to completely overhaul our health care system.
Kyle has done a ton of research and has gathered mounds of evidence supporting single-payer health care. He’s able to supplement his fiery tangents with facts, statistics and data that show why single-payer would be beneficial for the United States.
I would highly recommend listening to all of Kyle’s material on this topic. I especially enjoyed it when he appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and addressed a common question proponents of single-payer are frequently asked: How can the United States afford to give everybody health care? Citing a study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kyle explained how single-payer would actually save the United States $5 trillion over the course of 10 years. When put on the spot, Kyle is able to give detailed answers and thorough explanations in favor of single-payer.
It’s possible that Kyle’s conclusions could be wrong, or that his interpretation of the statistics and data might be faulty, but he at least makes an honest attempt to show the validity of his views. The emotion he exudes only serves to enhance his presentation.
We need to recognize that pure emotion can never be a substitute for a real argument. However, if passion is combined with evidence, it can be a very powerful force. Being passionate about a cause can jumpstart your activism, but your message will only have legitimacy with sophisticated arguments.
Facts and feelings can fight together, and with the proper mix, they’re a perfect duo.
Eric Goldin is a Santa Clarita resident.