Author Topic: Sealioning  (Read 12411 times)

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Offline Gigabyte

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #495 on: October 18, 2018, 12:04:25 PM »
Yeah, I've seen that. Reading all that conflicting information just makes it all the more confusing.

Given that it's a weird and vague concept derived from a dada hipster webcomic, of course nobody can agree on exactly what it's supposed to mean.
It's much more than that.  The "behavior" that is supposed to be the defining characteristic is never actually explained by the comic, even after the author explained it wasn't supposed to be about sealions, but "behaviors", which are neither explained in the comic or the errata commentary.

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The sea lion character is not meant to represent actual sea lions, or any actual animal. It is meant as a metaphorical stand-in for human beings that display certain behaviors. Since behaviors are the result of choice, I would assert that the woman’s objection to sea lions — which, if the metaphor is understood, is read as actually an objection to human beings who exhibit certain behaviors — is not analogous to a prejudice based on race, species, or other immutable characteristics.

If we accept the sealion = "human beings that display certain behaviors", it still means it represents certain "human beings", which is exactly why defining those behaviors is the only thing that clears up any confusion.

But the author doesn't explain what is meant by "human beings that display certain behaviors", which is obviously the issue being discussed in this topic. 





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Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #496 on: October 18, 2018, 12:45:47 PM »
There are literally five panels in the comic that portray various behaviors from the sea lion.

You might have valid questions about how to properly generalize from those panels, and there's obviously additional context readers have used to interpret what sorts of behaviors are implied, but don't act like the source material is totally silent about the behavior the term entails.

Do you think it's possible for someone to "jump into a conversation with endless (apparently) polite, reasonable questions and demands for answers, usually of entry-level topics far below the actual conversation... [in order] to derail discussion, receive criticism (for their ignorance) so as to look like a victim, or to make someone feel overwhelmed and quit talking"? Like, is that a possible behavior that humans might sometimes do?

If not, then big ol' [citation needed].

If so, then what's the problem with attaching the word "sealioning" to that behavior? Not, mind you, what other problems might arise if people wontonly accuse others of engaging in that behavior in order to stop debate, but what's the problem with having a word for that particular combination of behavior and motivation?

(The quoted description is from rationalwiki.)
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 12:55:40 PM by gmalivuk »
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #497 on: October 18, 2018, 12:54:44 PM »
YES, it's ostensibly a bad thing to accuse somebody of 'sealioning.' That's why I don't have to presume or project any ill will onto the accuser. The ill will is evident by the very fact that they're calling the person a 'sealion.'

And you continue to prove that you completely missed the actual point I was making there.

Is that because you're really that dense, or is it because you're again misrepresenting points you disagree with.

I'm not misrepresenting anything, at least not intentionally. I asked you to post examples where I misrepresented somebody's point, and promised I would try to resolve any misunderstanding.

But you ignored that request in favor of continuing to accuse me of misrepresenting. Now who's arguing in bad faith?

And I'll just ignore the childish ad hominem.


You had said that I was "presuming" ill will on the part of the accuser.  My response to that weird claim is that I needn't presume anything, because the accuser's ill will is evident by the very fact that they accused the other person of 'sealioing.'

Calling somebody a "sealion" is an expression of ill will, just calling somebody a "troll" is an expression of ill will, like any other insult is an expression of ill will.
 

It's a bad thing, but unless you think that it's impossible to point out bad traits with anything but ill will, that doesn't actually get you close to your assumptions about the motivations of the accuser.

Calling somebody names is not a well-mannered way to point out bad traits. Disparaging people with slurs is an expression of ill will.

That's the basic difference between civil, reasonable discourse versus being a dick on the Internet. It's a pity that it's the year 2018 and some people in this so-called skeptics community still haven't learned the basics of "netiquette." 


And even if we grant that ill will is definitely part of it in a particular case, that doesn't get you the rest of your assumptions about the purpose and motivation behind the accusation.

Who is "we"? Are you purporting to speak for somebody besides yourself?

I made no assumptions about "purpose or motivation." I've only commented on the way I've seen the term "sealioning" thrown out in actual conversation on the Internet.

In an ongoing discussion, when somebody requests evidence for a claim only to be repeatedly ignored, then gets labeled and mocked as a "sealion" for persisting to ask for evidence for the original claim, it's not too difficult to discern the purpose behind the usage of the word.


I'm not running to solipsism, I'm pointing out that "for all you know" is a bad nonstarter of an argument.

A "bad nonstarter of an argument"?

My whole point was that when somebody is politely trying to have a reasonable conversation, it's presumptuous to assume they're acting out of ill will just because they're arguing a position that you disagree with or asking you to back up your claims. And retaliating with juvenile name-calling only demonstrates an ill temperament on the part of the accuser.


It's not presuming ill will, it's concluding it through other social cues. The same way anyone else evaluates ill will or bad faith or trolling or malice or all manner of other motivation-dependent traits we might ascribe to another person.

Okay, so that's why I've asked to see some real-life examples of this 'sealioning' behavior in actual practice on the Internet. I want to see what kind of "social cues" are being used to determine ill will on the part of the accused.

Because, as I've said before, the only way I have ever seen this term used in actual practice was to terminate a discussion with a somebody of a differing viewpoint. I've seen people get accused of 'sealioning' for simply requesting evidence to back up some claim that another has repeatedly made, but I've never, ever actually seen somebody politely hounding another person into a debate that they didn't wish to have.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 01:15:16 PM by John Albert »

Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #498 on: October 18, 2018, 01:28:34 PM »
YES, it's ostensibly a bad thing to accuse somebody of 'sealioning.' That's why I don't have to presume or project any ill will onto the accuser. The ill will is evident by the very fact that they're calling the person a 'sealion.'

And you continue to prove that you completely missed the actual point I was making there.

Is that because you're really that dense, or is it because you're again misrepresenting points you disagree with.

I'm not misrepresenting anything, at least not intentionally. I asked you to post examples where I misrepresented somebody's point, and promised I would try to resolve any misunderstanding.
So you're really just that bad at reading and understanding complete sentences? Even when they're your own sentences just with some words bolded for emphasis?

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I made no assumptions about "purpose or motivation." I've only commented on the way I've seen the term "sealioning" thrown out in actual conversation on the Internet.

In an ongoing discussion, when somebody requests evidence for a claim only to be repeatedly ignored, then gets labeled and mocked as a "sealion" for persisting to ask for evidence for the original claim, it's not too difficult to discern the purpose behind the usage of the word.
You're assuming the purpose based on a pattern of behavior, but it's unreasonable for anyone else to do the same?

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My whole point was that when somebody is politely trying to have a reasonable conversation, it's presumptuous to assume they're acting out of ill will just because they're arguing a position that you disagree with or asking you to back up your claims. And retaliating with juvenile name-calling only demonstrates an ill temperament on the part of the accuser.
You're begging the question here, by stating at the start that the person is politely trying to have a reasonable conversation, and that the other person's response is "just because" they disagree.

Yes obviously if one person is genuinely politely trying to have a conversation, and the other person accuses them of sealioning just because they disagree, then that's bad. But you have no more way of knowing the truth of either side of that exchange than I do when I say if one person is feigning politeness to derail a conversation then it's reasonable for the other to respond by naming their behavior for the dishonest JAQing off that it is.

I'm not saying your version of the exchange never happens. (That rationalwiki description even points out that newcomers can easily be mistaken for sealions because people wrongly assume that their basic 101-level questions are disingenuous.) I'm just saying that you're relying on that version of events, where you presuppose the motivations of both sides, to argue against the use of the word even in cases where those presuppositions are wrong.

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Because, as I've said before, the only way I have ever seen this term used in actual practice was to terminate a discussion with a somebody of a differing viewpoint. I've seen people get accused of 'sealioning' for simply requesting evidence to back up some claim that another has repeatedly made
And you know all of that about purpose and reasoning how, exactly?

Did the people tell you why they were throwing out the label? Do you know for sure that there was never a prior pattern of behavior that would lead them to conclude the requests were not so simple and genuine? Do you know the purpose was to terminate the discussion and not, say, to get the other person to simply start engaging in better faith?

The point I keep coming back to here is you keep ascribing purpose and motivations to other people, while at the same time complaining when anyone else does the same thing.

(Incidentally, I think it's bad to have that double standard on your part, and makes it shitty to try to discuss this with you. But I'm not pointing it out due to ill will, or just because you disagree with me, and I'm not trying to terminate the discussion. Just to make that clear since you apparently are fine with ascribing those motivations to strangers.)
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better...is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

Offline John Albert

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #499 on: October 18, 2018, 02:18:20 PM »
So you're really just that bad at reading and understanding complete sentences?

More personal insults? Really? 


Yes obviously if one person is genuinely politely trying to have a conversation, and the other person accuses them of sealioning just because they disagree, then that's bad. But you have no more way of knowing the truth of either side of that exchange than I do when I say if one person is feigning politeness to derail a conversation then it's reasonable for the other to respond by naming their behavior for the dishonest JAQing off that it is.

Well I do know that I'm sitting here sincerely trying to have a polite, reasonable conversation with you, and you keep hurling insults back at me.

So maybe your perception of the sincerity of politeness just comes down to how much patience you're willing to grant another person who just happens to disagree with you about a particular topic. Maybe instead of presuming that the other person's politeness is insincere, you might want to start the conversation off on the other foot and work on cultivating a little politeness yourself.


(That rationalwiki description even points out that newcomers can easily be mistaken for sealions because people wrongly assume that their basic 101-level questions are disingenuous.)

So this RationalWiki page offers yet another definition of 'sealioning.' Instead of harassing somebody into an unwanted argument, now it's about wasting people's time by asking lots of very basic questions. I'll just add that one to the ever-growing heap.


I'm just saying that you're relying on that version of events, where you presuppose the motivations of both sides, to argue against the use of the word even in cases where those presuppositions are wrong.

How do you know whether your presuppositions are right or wrong? When in doubt, is it really best to hurl accusations of ill will toward another person who's engaging the discussion in polite language?

If somebody's questions really are derailing a conversation (as opposed to merely expressing a dissenting opinion from others in the discussion), then the derailment is the real issue. The fact that they're politely requesting information is not the offense per se. Derailments happen all the time through nobody's own fault, and on Web forums it's usually a matter for the moderators. Maybe a new thread needs to be split off to accommodate the digression.

If on the other hand they're just asking for evidence to back up claims that others feel ought to be taken for granted, then the burden of proof is still on the claimant. It's extremely rude and uncharitable to respond by excoriating them with namecalling.


Did the people tell you why they were throwing out the label? Do you know for sure that there was never a prior pattern of behavior that would lead them to conclude the requests were not so simple and genuine? Do you know the purpose was to terminate the discussion and not, say, to get the other person to simply start engaging in better faith?

Discussions can often devolve down to meta-arguing. Sometimes a meta-discussion is necessary to correct misunderstandings. But it's more productive to address the specific bad behavior (derailing the conversation, repeating the same question, bickering, harassment, etc.) than to just characterize the person with a glib ad hominem like 'sealioning.'

Ad hominem accusations are themselves bad faith arguments. Calling somebody names is not a reasonable or effective way to encourage them to start engaging in better faith.


The point I keep coming back to here is you keep ascribing purpose and motivations to other people, while at the same time complaining when anyone else does the same thing.

I am not "ascribing" motivations and purpose.

"Sealion," like "troll," is a slur. Slurs exist for a purpose of their own, to besmirch, discredit, marginalize, and even censure the other person in the eyes of the community. When somebody calls another person by a pejorative, they're trying to lower that person's social standing by foisting a stereotype onto them. To call somebody a 'sealion' is to liken them to the character in that webcomic. It's a dogwhistle for, "this guy is an undercover troll trying to disrupt our conversation. We should all just ignore him." Conveying that perception is the express purpose for the word's existence.

So let's dispense with this silly notion that it's a double-standard to acknowledge there's a motive behind slandering another person in an Internet discussion, or that there's no purpose behind calling somebody a name.


Do you think it's possible for someone to "jump into a conversation with endless (apparently) polite, reasonable questions and demands for answers, usually of entry-level topics far below the actual conversation... [in order] to derail discussion, receive criticism (for their ignorance) so as to look like a victim, or to make someone feel overwhelmed and quit talking"? Like, is that a possible behavior that humans might sometimes do?

That's up to interpretation. I wouldn't necessarily assume ill will on the part of the questioner. Sometimes people want to participate in a conversation but aren't quite up to the level of everyone else's understanding.

In that case, the right thing to do is proffer some links to the information they're asking for. If you want to be snarky about it, you could even put the link into LMGTFY.

But like I said, the especial tactic of derailment by way of polite questioning is not a thing I've ever encountered online. Maybe the difference is that I have far more patience for ignorant newbies than the average person who would throw out accusations of "sealioning."

On the other hand, I have encountered plenty of people who get very irritable about having their opinions challenged, being asked to support their claims or explain some concept that they deem to be beneath their "pay grade." I've seen this behavior quite often on IRC, where some regulars will viciously berate newbies coming into a channel with questions. I've also seen a similar attitude among people of certain political inclinations, who take their own politics for granted and expect everybody to be on the same page or else deem them unworthy of time and attention. I never understood that kind of elitism. Not everybody has the same skill set, education, or upbringing, and everybody has to start somewhere. The concept of "sealioning" appears to have originated in that spirit of self-righteous intolerance.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2018, 03:50:45 PM by John Albert »

Offline gmalivuk

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #500 on: October 18, 2018, 03:29:56 PM »
Alright, I'm done trying to get you to acknowledge that you're making the same kinds of assumptions about other people's motivations that you complain about everyone else making. I'm out.
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Offline Gigabyte

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #501 on: October 18, 2018, 03:34:20 PM »
I checked Twitter and the term is still being used.  I've just observed it in the wild, so to speak.

Just last week somebody reminded me that every day there is something like 10,000 people who will discover something new (to them) that you probably just take for granted.  Every day.  Because there are so many new people coming into our world, everything to them is new.  And unless you are a hermit or something, you will interact with them at some point.

That any of them would have the slightest interest in asking you about something they literally just heard about, is an opportunity to educate and even entertain them with your knowledge.  If you respond in any way as hostile, arrogant or rude, you lost that slim chance to make a difference in our world.  Young minds may know nothing about sealioning (or gamergate) or a million other things. But they usually can spot condescending, rude or hostile behavior in an instant.

And in the case of sealioning, telling them to Google it is a terrible idea. Like the term gamergate, the meaning seems to be up to each person to interpret.   I can't tell you what it actually means, because it is a made up word that has no time tested and socially agreed on definition.  But I can certainly see how a person is trying to use the term.



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Offline John Albert

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #502 on: October 18, 2018, 03:41:07 PM »
Alright, I'm done trying to get you to acknowledge that you're making the same kinds of assumptions about other people's motivations that you complain about everyone else making.

If you read my last post, you will see that I have acknowledged what you said, and explained why it's incorrect.

When you characterize somebody by using a slur, no assumption of purpose is necessary. The purpose is implicit to the slur: you are attempting to disparage them by linking them to the stereotype connoted by that slur. 

Offline Gigabyte

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #503 on: October 18, 2018, 03:47:31 PM »


When you characterize somebody by using a slur, no assumption of purpose is necessary.
  Well actually we do assume when we think that.  The dispute is when the person using a slur thinks it is justified, so in their mind it's not a slur.  It's just a proper label.
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Offline John Albert

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #504 on: October 18, 2018, 04:06:06 PM »
The purpose of a disparagement is to disparage.

If you call somebody an "idiot," the implication is that they're mentally deficient.

If you call somebody a "liar," the implication is that they're untruthful.

If you call somebody a "sealion," the implication is that they're dishonestly trying to harass you and waste your time.

The purpose is evident merely by the choice of words, without any need to assume.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 05:09:09 PM by John Albert »

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #505 on: October 20, 2018, 11:43:51 PM »
You’re a sealion, John.  And, yes, that was meant to disparage you.

And I assume that you already know this because, despite your protestations that the term is meaningless, your reactions throughout this thread indicate that you understand perfectly well what it means and you know that it applies to you. That’s what’s upsetting you: not some abstract principle but the knowledge that the shoe fits and a desire not to be forced to wear it.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2018, 11:46:52 PM by The Latinist »
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline John Albert

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #506 on: October 21, 2018, 08:11:52 PM »
You’re a sealion, John.  And, yes, that was meant to disparage you.

And I assume that you already know this because, despite your protestations that the term is meaningless, your reactions throughout this thread indicate that you understand perfectly well what it means and you know that it applies to you. That’s what’s upsetting you: not some abstract principle but the knowledge that the shoe fits and a desire not to be forced to wear it.

Bugger off with the ad hominems.

You can't be bothered to show evidence, so you resort to namecalling. So you're just proving my point.

"Sealion" accusations don't upset me. I just think it's an ill-conceived ad hominem used to evade the burden of proof by trying to malign the skeptic for demanding evidence.

And this thread has turned out to be a suitable object lesson to demonstrate that anti-skepticism in action.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2018, 11:23:56 PM by John Albert »

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #507 on: October 22, 2018, 12:03:56 AM »
You’re a sealion, John.  And, yes, that was meant to disparage you.

And I assume that you already know this because, despite your protestations that the term is meaningless, your reactions throughout this thread indicate that you understand perfectly well what it means and you know that it applies to you. That’s what’s upsetting you: not some abstract principle but the knowledge that the shoe fits and a desire not to be forced to wear it.

Bugger off with the ad hominems.

You can't be bothered to show evidence, so you resort to namecalling. So you're just proving my point.

"Sealion" accusations don't upset me. I just think it's an ill-conceived ad hominem used to evade the burden of proof by trying to malign the skeptic for demanding evidence.

And this thread has turned out to be a suitable object lesson to demonstrate that anti-skepticism in action.

My statement was not an argument, and therefore not an ad hominem. It was just an insult. But congrats on proving that you know how to spell at least one Latin phrase, even if you don’t know the meaning of the fallacy.  Here, have a fish.

I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline John Albert

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #508 on: October 22, 2018, 12:08:31 AM »
My statement was not an argument, and therefore not an ad hominem. It was just an insult.

That's even worse.

     
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In the end, insulting someone is proof of one’s own ignorance. It is a sign that the insulting party has nothing constructive to add and has run out of ideas. Anytime a person insults someone instead of responding to the argument itself, they lose the debate by default. They have given up the moral high ground and will no doubt be disregarded in the future.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 12:11:05 AM by John Albert »

Offline The Latinist

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Re: Sealioning
« Reply #509 on: October 22, 2018, 12:24:33 AM »
Here, John, have another fish.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

 

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