What we're about

This group is dedicated to finding common ground on political issues. Our purpose is not to create argument and anger, but respectful political debate in bars in the Ardmore/Havertown/Bryn Mawr area.

There are smart people on both sides of most political issues, and we should all be prepared to listen to the other side. The person who gets angry is the person who has run out of better ideas. We welcome all political viewpoints. Come meet others for a night of fun discussion over drinks.

This is a free speech zone.



Rehearsing is the act of preparing yourself to reply while only giving the appearance of listening.


Judging is the mental-emotional act of looking down at someone, finding fault, from a superior perspective. By judging the person, you invalidate what they are saying without hearing it.


As soon as someone brings up an issue that you don’t want to hear, you block the information by immediately invalidating it. You essentially block out reality.


Identifying means using what others talk about as a platform to launch your own story. Instead of truly listening, your mind races ahead and looks for an opportunity to jump in with your contribution.


Making excuses, sometimes absurdly elaborate, to dismiss someone’s point. Your message is: “I’m not accountable for my own behavior.”


Instead of listening, you like to “help” by giving advice. Sometimes this is done in an important and superior manner leaving the other person feeling not listened to, even put down.


You enjoy playing “devil’s advocate,” more intent on winning an argument (in a forceful way) then on hearing the other person.

Being Right

Once you take a position, you are more motivated to “be right” than to hear others or learn from the discussion.


Derailing means avoiding a topic by abruptly changing the subject on the other person.


This block picks on some small aspect of another person’s presentation to find fault with it in order to obscure the overall message.


A more aggressive version of derailing, counterattacking is an effective technique used to quickly neutralize input that you don’t want to hear.

*The Burke-Paine Society ( https://www.burkepainesociety.org/ ) is a non-partisan national group dedicated to the free and cordial exchange of ideas. Burke-Paine discussions (called "salons") welcome and cherish all people and thoughts.

Please come with an open mind, a respectful attitude and commitment to listening to others.

Upcoming events (4)

Pity the misunderstood Trump voters...

Online event

Darryl Cooper:

"I think I've had discussions with enough Trump supporters who believe the 2020 election was fraudulent to extract a general theory about their perspective. It is also the perspective of most of the people at the Capitol on 1/6, and probably even Trump himself.

Most believe some or all of the theories involving midnight ballots, voting machines, etc, but what you find when you talk to them is that, while they'll defend those positions w/info they got from Hannity or Breitbart or whatever, they're not particularly attached to them.

Here are the facts - actual, confirmed facts - that shape their perspective:

The FBI spied on the 2016 Trump campaign using evidence manufactured by the Clinton campaign. We now know that ALL involved knew it was fake from Day 1 (see: Brennan's July 2016 memo, etc).

These are Tea Party people. The types who give their kids a pocket Constitution for their birthday. The intel community spying on a presidential campaign using fake evidence (incl forged documents) is a big deal to them.

Everyone involved lied about their involvement as long as they could. We only learned the DNC paid for the manufactured evidence because of a court order. Comey denied on TV knowing the DNC paid for it, when we have emails from a year earlier proving that he knew.

This was true with everyone, from CIA Dir Brennan & Adam Schiff - who were on TV saying they'd seen clear evidence of collusion w/Russia, while admitting under oath behind closed doors that they hadn't - all the way down the line. In the end we learned that it was ALL fake.

At first, many Trump ppl were worried there must be some collusion, because every media & intel agency wouldn't make it up out of nothing. When it was clear that they had made it up, people expected a reckoning, and shed many illusions about their gov't when it didn't happen.

Trump supporters know the collusion case front and back. They went from worrying the collusion must be real, to suspecting it might be fake, to realizing it was a scam, then watched as every institution - agencies, the press, Congress, academia - gaslit them for another year.

This is where people whose political identity was largely defined by a naive belief in what they learned in Civics class began to see the outline of a Regime that crossed all institutional boundaries. Because it had stepped out of the shadows to unite against an interloper.

It's hard to describe to people on the left (who are used to thinking of gov't as a conspiracy... Watergate, COINTELPRO, WMD, etc) how shocking & disillusioning this was for people who encourage their sons to enlist in the Army, and hate ppl who don't stand for the Anthem.

They could have managed the shock if it only involved the government. But the behavior of the corporate press is really what radicalized them. They hate journalists more than they hate any politician or gov't official, because they feel most betrayed by them.

This is profoundly disorienting. Many of them don't know for certain whether ballots were faked in November 2020, but they know for absolute certain that the press, the FBI, etc would lie to them if there was. They have every reason to believe that, and it's probably true.

They watched the press behave like animals for four years. Tens of millions of people will always see Kavanaugh as a gang rapist, based on nothing, because of CNN. And CNN seems proud of that. They led a lynch mob against a high school kid. They cheered on a summer of riots.

They always claimed the media had liberal bias, fine, whatever. They still thought the press would admit truth if they were cornered. Now they don't. It's a different thing to watch them invent stories whole cloth in order to destroy regular lives and spark mass violence."


Jeff Bezos’ flight is an ego trip, yes, but it sets the stage for so much more

Glenn Reynolds (1):

"Tuesday morning, Jeff Bezos is scheduled to take off for outer space. Showing faith in his engineers, he will ride the first passenger flight of his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. With him will go, among others, the oldest and youngest people ever to fly into space. (Bezos, of course, will be the richest.)

Many dismiss this as just a billionaire’s ego trip, the next step beyond superyachts and private jets. But there’s much more going on here than ego.

As I wrote in my recent book, “America’s New Destiny in Space,” we’re now in the third phase of human spaceflight. In the first “visionary” phase, people wrote, planned and dreamed, but only small rockets, a la Robert Goddard’s, got off the ground. In the second, “command economy” phase, governments got involved and built spaceships, space stations and moon rockets.

The command economy phase proved the visionaries right about what could be done, but it was very expensive. When the political reasons for going into space shrank, so did the budgets.

But now Bezos, along with fellow billionaires Elon Musk of SpaceX and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, and other companies like RocketLab and Sierra Nevada, are moving us into the third phase: the sustainable phase. That’s when spaceflight generates enough revenue to pay for itself.

These companies are already earning money in varying degrees — Musk even created a customer for SpaceX in his Starlink satellite internet service — and bid fair to become profitable in time.

Driving down costs is key. SpaceX has already dropped the price of getting a pound to orbit by a factor of 20; Musk promises that his new rocket will drop it again by a factor of better than 10. It takes roughly the same amount of energy to get from New York to London as it does to fly from the Earth to orbit. The reason it’s cheaper to fly to London is that we’ve had a lot more practice. As aircraft manufacturers and airlines competed, the technology got better and more efficient. Competition among space companies will do the same.

As Harvard/Smithsonian astrophysicist Martin Elvis noted in his recent book “Asteroids,” there’s a lot of wealth out there to be gathered, if you’ve got the technology to gather it: everything from asteroids full of valuable materials, to solar energy that’s much stronger and easier to gather than it is on Earth (the Chinese are working on this, as are we). Again, we just need to improve our ability to get there. Practice and competition are the keys, and Bezos’ flight is part of that process. This is much more than just a space superyacht.

Plus, a message to Elon Musk: Don’t emulate Bezos and Branson by flying yourself. Unlike them, you’re irreplaceable in your company. Stay on the ground — and send me instead!"

Glenn H. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, has written numerous books on space and space law.

(1) https://nypost.com/2021/07/19/bezos-flight-is-an-ego-trip-but-it-sets-the-stage-for-much-more/

How ‘equity’ ideology plunged South Africa into inequality and chaos

How about story no one is reporting on?

South Africa, once an inspiration to the liberal* world order, is in serious trouble.

Is Africa's most successful country (and its only multicultural, free-trading democracy) about to descend into chaos and misery?

Does the pursuit of "equity" make racial tribalism and violence inevitable?

Rian Malan reports:

"Van Wyksdorp, South Africa – As South Africa erupted into chaos, my thoughts turned to the United States — a great country brought low by the same toxic and demented racial politics that set afire my homeland last week.

As I write, shell-shocked South Africans are trying to muster a response to an orgy of arson and looting. Cargo vessels are being turned away from some of our largest harbors, because it’s too dangerous to unload them. Hundreds of thousands face hunger thanks to the destruction of warehouses and disruption of food-supply chains. Tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses have been destroyed; the property damage is incalculable.

....The overarching truth is that an idea pushed South Africa to the brink. You guys know this idea, because it animates the sermons of critical race theorists trying to force you to take the knee and atone for your supposed sins. I am going to call it the Beautiful Idea, because it is beautiful in a way — but also dangerous.

The Beautiful Idea holds that all humans are born with identical gifts and should turn out to be clones of one another in a just society. Conversely, any situation in which disparity survives is in itself proof of injustice. This is the line promoted by CRT pundit Ibram X. Kendi, who blames all racial disparities on racist policies.

But what policies is he talking about? Kendi is reluctant to be drawn on this score, and with good reason: He can’t name the policies, because they don’t exist anymore. In your country, all discriminatory laws have been repealed, all forms of overt racism outlawed ......

.....And so we come to the moral of this story. It’s a warning about the practical consequences of ideas like those propounded by Kendi and CRT superstar Robin DiAngelo, who in the name of “equity” maintains it is racist to talk of work ethic or to expect all workers to show up on time, regardless of race.

It is exactly these values that have brought South Africa to its knees. We created a society where nothing was expected of blacks save “blackness.” Honor and diligence were not demanded of government appointees. Sloth was tolerated. Failures and corruption went unpunished. Blind pursuit of equity began to achieve its opposite: a staggering equality gap among blacks themselves, with a fortunate few benefitting hugely and the masses sinking into abject misery.

Most black South Africans recognize this. By 2021, only 3 percent of them cited racism as a serious problem, according to a survey by the Institute of Race Relations. The same survey found that 83 percent of black South Africans were in full or partial agreement with the following statement: “Politicians are talking about racism to excuse their own failures.”

Which brings us to the slender silver lining in this dark story. Many black South Africans who oppose this lawlessness were out in force last week, manning roadblocks to keep the mobs away from their homes and businesses.

I can hear their voices on the radio, clamoring for change. By the sound of it, they want a country where human outcomes are determined by the content of one’s character, not by pigmentation or friends in the ruling party.

Martin Luther King would appreciate their message.

Kendi & Co. wouldn’t."

Read the whole thing because it is a shame I only have enough space to excerpt part of it: https://nypost.com/2021/07/19/how-equity-ideology-plunged-south-africa-into-inequality-and-chaos/

*That would be small "l" liberalism: the old-fashioned stuff that favored economic and personal freedom, as codified in the Bill of Rights

Who won the factual argument? Recognizing cognitive dissonance

I have been hosting meetups since 2018, and I think I might be something of an expert on watching people confront issues and different facts.

I have watched people get tongue-tied, bewildered, and I have seen people driven nearly to violence.

It is called "cognitive dissonance:" the point at which a person is unable to ignore facts that contradict their beliefs. They get anxious, angry, and defensive.

Not only have I witnessed it, but I have often been an offender. If you get angry at people for merely mentioning facts, you probably are too (1).

There are several remarkably consistent "tells" to watch for when you think someone doesn't have his facts straight and is going into cognitive dissonance.

For example, Janet says: "the Sun always rises in the east."

Now imagine that a person knows nothing about the Sun, but they have been persuaded that the Sun rises IN THE WEST. From their point of view, anyone who says the Sun rises in the east is just a poorly informed person.

How will a person experiencing cognitive dissonance react to a person telling the factual truth?

Tell # 1: Misstating what the other person is saying. This often begins as "so, what you are really saying is....."

They will then paraphrase you with something no one would say. Depending on how nice they are, they might throw some shade.Like so:

"So Janet, what you are really saying is the Sun follows your rules?" (2)

Tell # 2: Arguing over definitions of words whose definitions are not disputed (3).


"Janet, what do you mean by "rise?"

Tell # 3: The personal attack.


"There goes Janet again, with her Sun nonsense."

Tell #4: Linking you with others who have nothing to do with your argument.

Example: "Only Trump voters say that the Sun rises in the east. Are you are a Sun-denier too, Janet?"

Tell # 5: Willful blindness.

This one is the weirdest: they simply refuse to see an inconvenient fact. You can show the most undeniable fact, and they will not see it. I've seen people describe something as a "fact" that was completely disproved moments to them before.

It's almost like they've been hypnotized. In a sense, they have been: they have been persuaded.

A rational person is convinced in her opinion by facts. A persuaded person has come to his opinion by feelings.

Everyone thinks they are right and everyone thinks their values are good values. Many (most?) people come to their facts because of their values: Few people protesting police were motivated by the murky (and reassuring) statistics about police racial violence (4).

But they FEEL deeply that police gunning down innocent black men is wrong (of course), and they have committed to the cause. Once they have done that, the facts don't matter. Their self-image is too tied up in it to change directions.

We are now in a world where facts don't matter, and we are experiencing cognitive dissonance in a big way.

It is why our politics are so nasty. Those five things are a guide to who has lost the rational argument(5).

Here are target-rich environments for cognitive dissonance:



Once you see cognitive dissonance, you'll see it everywhere. The person expressing it is practically admitting defeat on facts. When someone proves you wrong, the only rational response is a thank you.

(1) Note: people who think differently from you are always ill-informed, and they think exactly the same about you.

Never forget that.

(2) This induces anger intentionally. They would prefer a shouting match that no one wins. The alternative is admitting defeat. In a shouting match, no one wins.

(3) Being questioned about Monica Lewinsky under oath, Bill Clinton actually said “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

(4) https://www.meetup.com/Ardmore-Intellectual-Discussion-Meetup/events/271404628/

(5) Who wields power is another matter.

Past events (132)

Let’s give Critical Race Theory a try

Online event

Photos (188)