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This is a thread for people - particularly teenagers and people in their early 20s - who're worried that some stuff the alt-right says is correct.

This is a thread I wish I'd had access to myself in my early 20s when fascists were bombarding me with propaganda.

I hope it helps.
Firstly, let it be firmly established: the right-wing are liars who lie.

A massive amount of the stuff the alt-right tells you is just a flat-out lie. Here's a far-right US ambassador having to admit, in shame, that he lied about the Netherlands.

Here's anti-trans hate group Mass Resistance admitting to having "concocted" the entire "bathroom intruder" lie in order to convince people to fight the expansion of LGBTQ rights.

Secondly, a lot of right-wing messaging is just a series of subjective statements presented as fact.

It's not a lie for a right-winger to say they find gay men "disgusting" - they probably do. But they won't SAY "I find gay men disgusting." They'll say "gay men ARE disgusting."
This presentation of opinion as fact goes further. Not only will right-wingers attempt to paint their opinion as fact, they'll often attempt to imply that their opinion is also YOUR opinion, and you're just in denial about it.

This is an effective tactic for seeding self-doubt.
A person once contacted me asking me for help over this precise topic, because he was in an interracial relationship he'd unwisely told right-wing trolls about, who proceeded to constantly tell him how "deep down," he "knew" that what he was doing was wrong. It hurt him.
But the thing is, we're living in a world just starting to come out from under half a millennia of white supremacy. There are still massive lingering spectres of that ideology haunting our daily lives. Interracial relationships have been depicted as "unclean" for centuries.
What my friend was feeling was powerful insecurity coded into him by five hundred years of negative social connotations about "breeding outside your race," and white supremacists were trying to pass that off as some sort of genetic imperative.
But remember, at five hundred years old, race theory is a pretty damn recent invention. Human history stretches back thousands of years. Humans were breeding outside of their own tribes and clans for hundreds of thousands of years previously and it also didn't actually ever stop.
Thirdly, as a combination of the previous two points of "straight-up lying" and "presenting opinion as fact," right wingers often set standards that are not well-explained or widely accepted, but act as if they are.

Take this statement: "Africa has produced no great societies."
To respond to that: firstly, nk tchw a-a, kAt-tAHt.
Secondly, let's examine "great society."

That word is both suspiciously specific and ludicrously vague, and like other right-wing yardsticks it's almost always presented without clarification on its meaning. It's simply taken as given that everyone will just KNOW what it means.
That's a common right-wing tactic: make a controversial statement about something with a hidden implication in it. The statement itself doesn't need to be defensible - of course Africa had some "great societies." But you've now established the idea of a "great society" as given.
Now the right wing can pivot to "well, okay, Africa had SOME great societies, but it had LESS great societies than Europe" because people haven't challenged them on what exactly a "great society" is.
Incidentally if you want an example of a "great society" in Africa that isn't Egypt, take Mali. They founded the Sankore Madrasah a century before Oxford University and produced history's richest man, Mansa Musa, who crashed the economy of Cairo by going on a shopping trip.
So we've established some of the rhetorical cheats and sneaks that right-wingers use - lying, presenting opinion as fact, making up rules on the spot. Watch for these very carefully.

This doesn't, however, teach you how to deal with right-wingers who come armed with facts.
Before we start, though, I think there's something else that's fairly important to discuss, and that is how to deal with losing arguments online. This is something that I, as a 31-year-old, still struggle with, and I know that it's something that hits younger people a lot harder.
A lot of people don't understand that not winning an argument doesn't automatically mean you're wrong, and not having an answer to a question doesn't mean you're ignorant.

Debate does not somehow magically decide whose argument is right.
Consider this.


Another man, on the right: "I politely suggest that the Earth is flat. I mean, how many of you have actually SEEN this supposed curvature?"
One of these arguments is correct but badly presented. It won't go down well with the audience, since it involves an unhinged man screaming insults at them.

The other argument is incorrect but well-presented. The audience, even if they disagree, like this polite man more.
By most standards, if the unhinged globe-Earther doesn't provide scientific evidence to support his round-earth theory and just shrieks about how ignorant the people who don't believe it are, the polite flat-Earther who provides vaguely convincing examples will "win the debate."
That a flat-Earther wins a debate because his opponent is a screaming ball of inarticulate rage and swear words doesn't suddenly make the Earth flat. Debate can't change facts.

And here's another awful thing about debate: you can have the more convincing argument and STILL lose.
Not only can debate not magically change facts, IT CANNOT MAGICALLY CONVINCE OTHERS TO BE BOUND BY FACTUAL REALITY.

You can have a stack of scientific studies two yards thick that says vaccines do not cause autism and present them all to an anti-vaxxer, and all the anti-vaxxer has to say to make it meaningless is "I don't believe you."

Debate cannot compel a person to be rational.
Worse, if your argument didn't convince the audience, your opponent's refusal to concede the debate to you can sometimes make you look weak or ineffectual, since hey, if your argument had so much scientific backing and is SO "obviously true," how come you couldn't convince them?
This is something that right-wingers know, but pretend not to: that debate is not a process that establishes truth, but a platform for convincing others to side with you, regardless of what is actually true.

Losing an argument with a right-winger doesn't make them right.
For someone to be an open fascist hurling racist abuse on the internet, they're going to be pretty dedicated to their cause. You are probably not going to convince them to stop, and I cannot stress this enough:

Failing to convince them to stop doesn't make you a failure.
But feeling like a failure can also make you feel like maybe there's some more to their ideas than you thought. That can lead you towards believing the things they say.

That's what happened to me.

But. What I didn't realise is that right-wingers even use FACTS deceptively.
Let's examine this by using two of the most common arguments that right-wingers use against black people.

CW: racism, obviously

The two most common arguments about black people revolve around crime and IQ. Let's address the crime one first.
This argument goes something like "in America, black people commit more crime."

Then some crime statistics of some description will be trotted out that show black people as a far higher percentage of convictions for a certain crime than their percentage of the population.
Now this evidence, on its own, seems like convincing support for the argument.

But what is the argument actually saying? "Black people commit more crimes."

This is a statement about crimes committed, not crime convictions. That's a sneaky little switch-up.
The right-winger HAS successfully provided evidence that black people get convicted of a certain crime more often, but they've banked on the fact that you won't notice that WASN'T what they were ACTUALLY arguing.
I'm going to throw some statistics of my own at you here, but I'll explain why I'm bringing them up.

First of all: FBI statistics show that for the majority of ALL reported crimes, convictions are not reached. Heck, for most crimes, no ARREST is made.

Next: although weight of evidence suggests that there's no serious difference between how many white and black people use marijuana, black people are at least three times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people.

Third: there is a statistically proven tendency for jurors to find black defendants guilty more often than white defendants in the same circumstances.

Fourth: statistically, black people are SEVEN TIMES more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white people. vox.com/policy-and-pol…
And finally: black people make up fully half of ALL wrongful convictions for ANY crime in the last 30 years. edition.cnn.com/2017/03/07/pol…
So let's put these together.

1. Most crimes go unsolved.
2. There's crimes black people are no more likely to commit but far more likely to be arrested for.
3. Black people are more likely to be found guilty by juries in general.
4. Black people are vastly more likely to be wrongfully found guilty for murder.
5. Black people are more likely to be wrongfully found guilty for pretty much any crime.

Oh, and black people get longer sentences for the same crime than white people. vox.com/identities/201…
So we can now say, with confidence: yes, black people ARE convicted of crimes at a rate disproportionate to their percentage of the population... but on reflection, that says more about the justice system than it does about black people.

But that wasn't the argument.
The argument was "black people commit more crime."

Now I feel like I could just present that article about how white and black people smoke pot at the same rate but black people get arrested three times more often and leave it at that, but I'm not that lazy.
"Black people commit more crime."

This statement isn't making an argument about crime statistics. It's actually making an argument about a quality of black people. The crime statistics aren't evidence so much as they're props; set dressing to hide the nature of the argument.
What they're actually arguing is that there is some innate characteristic of black people (and this usually connects to the IQ thing) that makes them inherently more likely to do crimes.

But they kind of can't... say that, because then you'd immediately cotton on to their game.
What they're trying to do here is treat the supposed criminality of black people as a given without having to discuss it too deeply. They want to pre-emptively move the discussion onto what we should do about it by pretending we've already established that it's true.
Another reason really don't want to discuss why poverty and crime might be a problem in black communities is because history tends to suggest that it's due to racism.

Like... white people would literally burn black neighbourhoods if they got successful.

African Americans lived through 246 years of slavery in which they had no rights, no property, no representation and little to no ability to legally better themselves.

Even black freemen were at risk of being abducted and sold as slaves.
Even after slavery was abolished, former they lived through another 89 years of segregation, abuse and inferior legal personhood.

Yeah, you know Ruby Bridges, the girl in this famous Norman Rockwell painting?

She's younger than my mother. Apartheid is one generation ago.
Segregation forced black people to live in specific parts of cities, wherein there were not only fewer local job and education opportunities since they were considered less worthy, but also if they ventured outside those zones, people could just legally refuse to serve them.
It's relevant to note that while segregation is against the law, a lot of cities such as Baltimore are still de-facto segregated today along precisely the same lines they were back then. @ContraPoints, who lives in Baltimore, has talked a lot about this.

Events have to be examined in their historical context, and it turns out you can't look at crime statistics in isolation and say "well, guess black people just do crime more."

If you deprive people of equal opportunities for centuries, it turns out they won't experience equality
For the majority of American history, black people were consistently and intentionally denied the same avenues to success that white people had.

And when black people had the sheer temerity to achieve success on their own terms, white people destroyed it.
*deep breath*

So let's talk about IQ

The term "Intelligenzquotient" was coined by German psychologist William Stern in 1912, who was attempting to find more standardised method of measuring a person's intelligence for the purpose of identifying learning disabilities.
Since that time, it's become one of the most hotly debated topics in psychology and neuroscience and a cornerstone of scientific racism.

There is, incidentally, a historical trend of hotly debated topics in psychology and neuroscience becoming cornerstones of scientific racism.
IQ is, broadly, meant to be a measure of abstract reasoning as an attempt to capture a general factor of intelligence, and it's not... overwhelmingly good at doing even that.

It is certainly not a measure of a person's capacity to gainfully exist in human society.
I asked my friend @AlixWzl, who is a Doctor of Evolutionary Genetics, "what is IQ, actually?"

They had this to say on the matter:
"Given an equal ability to perform under timed test conditions, and given an equal exposure to practice with these types of questions prior to the test, the person with a higher IQ score probably has a faster reasoning and problem solving capacity."

- @AlixWzl
My friend @CoronaCoreanici, a doctorate student in pure math, also present in the conversation, remarked:

"Modern IQ tests (and ESPECIALLY historic ones) have a tendency to slant towards puzzle-solving and cultural bias."
To this, @AlixWzl added:

"If you do a UK Mensa IQ test you actually do two papers, the second of which is aimed to reduce the biases @CoronaCoreanici mentions, with a score above particular thresholds on either qualifying you for membership."
So to clarify even Mensa is aware that IQ tests tend to have cultural biases and actively compensate for it.

Here's @KorpsPropaganda, a Mensa member, discussing IQ's complete insufficiency as a measure of intellect:
There is also considerable evidence that environmental factors can strongly affect IQ. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…
So when a right-winger trots out a study suggesting black people score lower on IQ tests than white people, ask them what they actually mean by it, what they're actually suggesting.

They never seem to suggest the existence of white people with low IQ is an equally pressing issue
There's another reason why attempting to correlate race and IQ doesn't really work.

Remember I told you earlier how right-wingers tend to make up arbitrary rules that they don't explain or justify?

Sit back. Take a deep breath.

What if I told you: RACE IS ONE OF THOSE RULES
You heard me.

There exists no scientific basis for a unified category of "black" people, or "white" people for that matter. Human genetic diversity cannot be demonstrated to work in a way that even remotely matches traditional racial groupings.

I mean, it should already have been fairly obvious from the fact that whiteness originally excluded Irish people (by comparing them to Africans, of course) and yet eventually reclassified them as white when it needed to bolster its numbers.
The entirety of race theory is scientifically equivalent to seeing a panther and assuming that it's a completely different species of cat rather than a melanistic leopard when you can clearly see the goddamn rosettes.
You can't make scientifically accurate suggestions about black people having some genetic predisposition towards having lower IQs because it would require you to scientifically define "black person" in a way that doesn't just touch on skin colour or facial structure.
Because you'll find that, once you round up all the people in America with a certain skin colour or facial structure, all those people have a genetic palette so diverse that there'll be few if any generalised genetic trends which all of them follow.
So alright, "scientific" racism is nonsense, I've kind of hammered that drum until it broke.

This thread is running really long so let's tail off with one more example of how right-wingers twist statistics, one I can directly relate to.
CW: Homophobia, HIV/AIDS

Right-wingers often point to the fact that the highest incidence of new HIV cases is among gay men, and usually this accompanies some sort of statement about how this proves that gay men are filthy and disease-ridden.

Let's dissect this claim.
The statistical portion of this claim is correct. In 2017, according to CDC statistics, gay and bisexual men accounted for 66% (25,748) of all HIV diagnoses and 82% of HIV diagnoses among males.

But let's consider a few things.

Statistics suggest that roughly 3.9% of men identify as LGBTQ. The male population of the United States in 2017 was estimated to be about 160 million, which would put the population of LGBTQ men at about 6,240,000.

(Obviously there's some slight inaccuracy here because "LGBTQ man" would include straight trans men who only have sex with women, cisgender gay men who are either asexual or otherwise don't have sex with men plus various other groups, but it's the best I can do with limited data)
So in 2017, 25,748 new HIV infections were registered among the male LGBTQ population of 6,240,000.

Now, to provide a pessimistic estimate, I will inflate this number by 1/7th, since statistics suggest 1 in 7 people with HIV are unaware of it. That puts us at 29,426.
So with our pessimistic estimate, the new infection rate of HIV among the male LGBTQ population of America is...


That's not even half a percent. That's not even 4 in 100, it's less than 1 in 200. It's probably even less, due to the fact that I highballed my numbers.
Now, that's only new cases. CDC statistics as of 2015 suggested that about 1,100,000 US citizens over the age of 13 were suffering from HIV. If we take the 66% from the new infections surveillance as a ballpark figure for how many of these people are LGBTQ men, we get 726,000.
Now *that's* a bit more alarming, isn't it? That would suggest that 11% of LGBTQ men in the US have HIV.

So of course what I've done here is extrapolated with a lot of incomplete data and made intentionally skewed inflations or deflations, which is a classic right-wing tactic.
I also left out a very important piece of information: hiv.gov, which cites CDC statistics, says "gay or bisexual," but the official CDC statistics they cite only use the curiously specific phrase "men who have sex with men."
If you actually read the cited report, the word "bisexual" appears only once, while "LGBT" and "gay" do not appear at all.

Now: why does the CDC report use that oddly specific phrase, "men who have sex with men" instead of "gay" or "homosexual?"

The answer: because the CDC is not talking about a sexual orientation. It is talking about a specific form of sexual contact. Not every man who has sex with a man will consider themselves gay, bisexual, or any other form of LGBTQ identity, even if other people might.
There's actually a fairly large number of men who have sex with men that, when asked to pick their sexual orientation on a survey, would pick "straight."

This would deliver inaccurate information to the CDC, so they don't ask "are you gay?" They ask "who do you have sex with?"
You may also notice that this has the inverse effect of demonstrating that surveys aren't necessarily a reliable way of measuring America's LGBTQ population, and indeed that the definition of what LGBTQ actually *is* is somewhat flexible.
But this all leads back to the question of "why is HIV infection so prevalent among men who have sex with men?"

Well firstly, the majority of men who have sex with men are gay. So they won't have sex with women. A sexually transmitted disease is... mostly transmitted via sex.
The HIV epidemic started among men who have sex with men, and thus by extension, the gay community. So, naturally, given that the primary mode of HIV transmission is sex... it stayed mostly within the circle of men who have sex with men.
But why did the epidemic get so bad? Was it the fault of the LGBTQ community?

Oh, no, wait, it was the Reagans.

Because of course it was. theguardian.com/us-news/2016/m…
The CDC and the NIH did not take appropriate action to curb the epidemic because Reagan didn't instruct them to. Because he and his administration thought the whole thing was a good laugh.

Like I said earlier: nothing exists in a vacuum. Nothing "just happens." There's always history and there's always a series of previous events that lead up to current ones. Right-wing propaganda revolves around stripping things from their context, pretending things are isolated.
Right-wing propaganda, in essence, is pretending that the various crimes of their ancestors never happened and that everything exists in a nonspecific now where history doesn't really count unless they say it does.
What's the best piece of advice I can give you for avoiding it?

Talk to black people. Talk to LGBTQ people, particularly lesbians and transgender folk. Talk to women. Talk to differently abled people. Ask them their life experiences, and listen. Just listen to them.
Don't... hassle people, obviously, but engage with their experiences and try to gain an understanding of the difficulties they face in their lives that you might not.

Try to understand how you might contribute to those difficulties, whether or not you mean to.
Try to understand that oppression and prejudice doesn't always look like jackboots, hooded robes and guns. Sometimes it's not obvious. Sometimes it can be in a system that continues reinforcing prejudices from hundreds of years ago by pretending they no longer exist.
Also... just block right-wingers if you don't feel like you can win an argument with them. You don't owe them your time or your attention.

And if you lose an argument, remember: not winning an argument against them doesn't mean you're wrong.
I'll compile all of this together into something more easily readable at some point, like I do with most of my Twitter threads. For now, I hope some of this stuff helps you guys.
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