Blind Spat

blind spat / blynd zp(e)t /  n.  an argument where neither side can see the other's point.

      SECOND                                                     MASS

AMENDMENT                                         SHOOTINGS

This term derives from the so-called 'blind spot', a region of the retina where the optic nerve exits the eyeball and therefore has no room for light-sensitive cells; this leaves a hole in your field of vision.

That's why evolution has worked so hard to provide us with two eyes that work in tandem, each filling in the other's blind spot with information from its (slightly) different perspective.

You can use the same technique opticians use to locate your blind spot to locate your political blind spot:

Close your left eye (or ignore the New York Times) and keep your right on the SECOND AMENDMENT.


Move your head towards the screen until - poof - ​​the MASS SHOOTINGS simply vanish. 

Now, close your right eye (or turn off Fox News) and keep your left on MASS SHOOTINGS. Voila!

Come on, don't just sit there nodding sagely like a couch potato who thinks he can get in shape by watching MMA videos. Go through the steps, like a kegel exercise.

Clearly, shouting at someone to "look at the facts" is pointless if they can't even see them.

The situation seems hopeless, but it's actually much worse.

In a normal brain, information from each eye passes through the corpus callosum, a neural superhighway that connects the left and right hemispheres. In the 1970s, Harvard neuropsychologist Roger Sperry blocked this highway as part of his infamous "split brain" experiments.


The results were bizarre. His victims were unable to name simple objects the lobe that recognizes things was unable to communicate with the lobe that labeled them.

Stranger still, Sperry's victims developed two identities inside the same skull, each unaware of the other's existence.

If that sounds familiar it's because we're in the middle of a similar experiment. Journalism was once the corpus callosum that knit our political hemispheres together.

But now that we've replaced them with DYI echo chambers on social media, the lobes of our collective mind stopped communicating.

Like Sperry's split brain victims, each of us now fills our media blind spot with whatever is at hand. And because we intuitively know the missing information "comes from away", as the Irish would put it, there's a natural tendency to fill the hole with what Carl Jung would call "shadow content" ― our worst fears about ourselves, our internal Other.

The standard method of assimilating this Other is decades of expensive therapy. But let's not get crazy here. There's a much cheaper route.

The evolution of our body politic has provided us with two eyes. That's why modern governments are called "bicameral". Legislatures in Canada, America, Australia, and even post-Brexit Britain are all set up this way.

One house is representational - the number of seats is based on the population of a province or state. The other, usually called the senate, is not. Each region has the same number of seats, regardless of population. This helps to protect the minority, aka, Other, from what Madison called "the tyranny of the majority".

So we already have two good eyes ― all we have to do is use them, as we've done since the modern age began. And until we relearn the recently lost art of communicating with our ideological opponents, instead of cowering in fear from the enemy within, we of the Facebook generation are doomed to live in the Land of the Blind Spat.