Author Topic: "Rules of Engagement," article on modern debate-me culture from The New Republic  (Read 8388 times)

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Offline arthwollipot

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Your ongoing insistence that race isn't a thing

Science says it isn't a thing. Take your dispute to the scientists.

Science says that it isn't a biological or genetic thing. But it is absolutely a sociological, psychological, and political thing. Don't ignore that.
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Offline heyalison

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Racial archetypes are not evidenced in the science of genetics, and pointing that out does not indicate that one is a racist or in denial of racism.

That was not what the conversation was about, he knows this, yet here he is again stanning for the plausible deniability of racism and sexism. It's a broke-broke-broken record with this guy. Call a Nazi a Nazi? Can't do that! You're being the divisive one! Call racism racism? No, people deserve the benefit of the doubt, and anyway, Webster's dictionary says you're wrong. Call a piece of shit dude who supports facism a piece of shit? No, you're the problem, calling people ideas pieces of shit is the real problem. Really, it's those SJWs forcing their identity politics that got Trump elected, you know! Privilege is a lie made up by lefties! Really, I'm pro-women, but oh if they ever decide they won't give me the time to argue my pet issues with, then I'll hound them until they do. And I'll have a funny user icon of a seal to show what I really think of harassment.

These are the positions this poster has repeatedly supported. He says he hates Trump, and that he's a progressive guy who supports women and LGBT people, but he seems to push back anytime people from those groups actually define their experience. I'm not sure if John's a troll, an undercover Proud Boy, or just an arrogant dude who found a place in Skepticism to vent his insecurities as superiority and who's a useful idiot for more sinister people. What I do know is the effect is the same, and for a community that loses its shit over anitvaxxers Skeptics seem to have a blind spot or inability to face the creep of alt-right ideology--something with a much larger body count, and with the capacity for much greater harm than even measels outbreaks. Free speech essentialism has bludgeoned the capacity for insight and nuance out of too many of you. 

Online Billzbub

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Racial archetypes are not evidenced in the science of genetics, and pointing that out does not indicate that one is a racist or in denial of racism.

If you had stopped there, then I would have believed that you are trying to defend people who use "race doesn't exist" to say that racism doesn't exist.  But then, you went on to say:

Racism in the US is not the same as it was in the 18th Century, but that certainly doesn't mean that racism isn't a problem in the US anymore. If anything, racism has been on a sharp increase again in the last decade since the 2007-'08 presidential campaign season. It seems that having a black president has stirred up the previously underlying racism in the US, and staunch racists have once again become emboldened to speak their bigotry in public.

...which clearly shows me that you do understand that racism does exist.  So at least you are okay on that point.

I think (and please correct me if I am wrong) what Heyalison is saying is that even though you know that racism exists and is a problem today, you don't understand how a lot of the racist people use the defense that race doesn't exist to perpetuate their racist ideas.  I think that is what brilligtove is accusing Quetzalcoatl of doing.

Quetzalcoatl, I have a couple of questions for you to try to clear things up a bit.
1.  Do you think that racism doesn't exist or isn't important to address because race doesn't exist?
2.  Do you think that people who point out racism (in general I mean, not any specific SGU forums case) are overreacting based on the idea that since race doesn't exist, racism doesn't really mean much?

I think if you clear these things up for us, it would go a long way toward short-circuiting some of this discussion.
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Offline TheIrreverend

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Online John Albert

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Racial archetypes are not evidenced in the science of genetics, and pointing that out does not indicate that one is a racist or in denial of racism.

That was not what the conversation was about, he knows this, yet here he is again stanning for the plausible deniability of racism and sexism.
(click to show/hide)

So you're against having a reasoned discussion, yet personal attacks and insults directed in the third person are what you'd prefer to replace it with?

How do you justify this garbage? Nobody has attacked you personally. A difference of opinion is not a de facto personal attack.

This kind of juvenile nonsense is at the root of many political problems in this era of social media. The echo-chamber culture has made people so brittle about their precious ideologies that they'd prefer to point fingers and hurl insults, rather than engage in a normal conversation over a minor philosophical disagreement.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 07:19:47 AM by John Albert »

Online John Albert

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Racial archetypes are not evidenced in the science of genetics, and pointing that out does not indicate that one is a racist or in denial of racism.

If you had stopped there, then I would have believed that you are trying to defend people who use "race doesn't exist" to say that racism doesn't exist.

Just because I pointed out that race is not defensible by genetics, that doesn't mean I'm defending people who say racism doesn't exist. Why would you expect me to say such a thing?

Even though the concept of "races" is mostly irrelevant from a biological view, I fully acknowledge the existence of "race" as a social construct, ethnic heritage and culture.


But then, you went on to say:

Racism in the US is not the same as it was in the 18th Century, but that certainly doesn't mean that racism isn't a problem in the US anymore. If anything, racism has been on a sharp increase again in the last decade since the 2007-'08 presidential campaign season. It seems that having a black president has stirred up the previously underlying racism in the US, and staunch racists have once again become emboldened to speak their bigotry in public.

...which clearly shows me that you do understand that racism does exist.  So at least you are okay on that point.

Well gee, thanks for giving me the "okay" on that one particular "point." ;)


I think (and please correct me if I am wrong) what Heyalison is saying is that even though you know that racism exists and is a problem today, you don't understand how a lot of the racist people use the defense that race doesn't exist to perpetuate their racist ideas.

I don't doubt that's what heyalison thinks, and as usual she has me completely wrong. I don't think heyalison even bothered to read what I wrote. Maybe my writing just sucks. Either way, I'm pretty sure heyalison is just picking a fight as she so often does. 

Even the original topic and the linked article is irrelevant to the discourse here on the SGU forums. That article does not make a case for debate being a bad thing.

It specifically addresses a particular style of online harassment that some bigots use to bully trans people: couching their personal attacks as "debate" by goading the trans person into the position of intellectually defending of their own personal gender identity. That is a vile tactic, and I'm glad to say I haven't seen anybody doing it around here. I would imagine such behavior would run afoul of the new hate speech rule at any rate.

Posting that article looks like a flimsy excuse to go on a rant against the practice of reasonably discussing our disagreements.


I think that is what brilligtove is accusing Quetzalcoatl of doing.

Yes, brilligtove literally accused Quetzalcoatl of denying that racism exists.

So I went back and reread all of Quetzalcoatl's early posts in this thread, and found nothing even hinting that be might believe that. Then I went back through brilligtove's posts in this thread, and I found this bit of spillover from the "Canada ranked #1 country in the world for Quality of Life" thread.

Brill referred to a post by Quetz in that thread, wherein he responded to a claim by brilligtove that segregation in Canada is rare, whereas in the US it is frequent and active. Quetz correctly pointed out that the US and Canada have both enacted anti-segregation policies and says it's unfair to compare the pre-Civil Rights Era US to current Canada, which seems reasonable. But he also compared the race situation in the US to that of Sweden, and obviously doesn't seem to understand why race relations play such an important role in US politics.

He also doubles down on the denial of cultural appropriation, which is unsurprising given the discussion has trended toward skepticism of the concept.

Then Quetzalcoatl says something that I found a bit unseemly: "The American success at integration has been considered something we should learn from."

Well, um, yeah... there are undeniably a great many lessons to be learned from the American approach to integration, and race relations in general. But "success" is not exactly the word I would use...

So what's the takeaway? Did Quetz really deny that racism exists? Not explicitly, no.

But he does seem to diminish its importance, at least from a contemporary American liberal perspective. I think it's probably a misunderstanding due to the cultural gap. Sweden is a very different country from the US. Our country is plagued by a horrific and dishonorable history of systemic oppression, race slavery, and genocide, which we seem loathe to address in a forthright and repentant manner. That's why issues of race are so divisive here in the US, and why many of us are so defensive about it. We live with it every day, but I don't necessarily expect everybody from other countries to fully understand how fucked-up this country really is.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 03:47:23 PM by John Albert »

Offline brilligtove

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Check out the thread about how Canada is a great place to live. I was pretty direct in attempting to pin him down on racism and segregation today. I was shocked and appalled by his answers.
evidence trumps experience | performance over perfection | responsibility – authority = scapegoat | emotions motivate; data doesn't

Offline heyalison

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Ah, fuck this place. It's a white man free speech zone. What is the point of pretending you have a hate speech policy if you just let the hate seep in around the edges, especially if most of the (white male) moderation here clearly has bias against (non-white male) people pointing out hate. This forum exists to protect the platforms of white men pushing the discussion further into hate.

Online John Albert

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Check out the thread about how Canada is a great place to live. I was pretty direct in attempting to pin him down on racism and segregation today. I was shocked and appalled by his answers.

Which thread is that? Is it "Canada ranked #1 country in the world for Quality of Life"? I just checked that thread, and the last post was from March 26.

Could you please post a link to your conversation with Quetzalcoatl from today?



Ah, fuck this place. It's a white man free speech zone. What is the point of pretending you have a hate speech policy if you just let the hate seep in around the edges, especially if most of the (white male) moderation here clearly has bias against (non-white male) people pointing out hate. This forum exists to protect the platforms of white men pushing the discussion further into hate.

If any "hate" is "seeping in" to this forum, it's coming from people who hurl insults because they lack the social skills to handle disagreements like a reasonable adult.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 08:01:53 AM by John Albert »

Online Harry Black

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Yeah, the problem is definitely with the women, trans people, queer people and people of colour that keep leaving because they lack social skills.

Offline brilligtove

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Which thread is that? Is it "Canada ranked #1 country in the world for Quality of Life"? I just checked that thread, and the last post was from March 26.

Could you please post a link to your conversation with Quetzalcoatl from today?

Try this one: https://sguforums.com/index.php/topic,50948.msg9602863.html#msg9602863
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Offline Sawyer

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If any "hate" is "seeping in" to this forum, it's coming from people who hurl insults because they lack the social skills to handle disagreements like a reasonable adult.

Hot take:  every single person here spending >15 minutes a day arguing with pseudo-anonymous strangers about skepticism does not possess the social skills of a "reasonable adult."

I wouldn't agree with every characterization that heyalison has offered, but her central point stands.  It does not matter one bit if the frequent posters here all perceive *themselves* as being fair, rational, friendly, open-minded etc.  If you come off like an asshole to other people, then that's who you are to them.  Trying to tell them that their perception of you is wrong won't do a damn thing.



I can't remember if I've written about this before here, but on another forum I used to visit there was a section for one single guy to rant about his political agenda.  He unironically titled the thread "I'm Smart and My Opinion Matters."  I found it maddening that someone who was white, heterosexual, financially well off, conservative, and male would be so self-centered and petty to preemptively declare his authority in the thread title, but he certainly lived up to his reputation.  He was very good at making it appear that he was in a serious discussion with other people, but he never showed any real self-awareness when he was wrong about something or when he was just coming off like a massive douche.  And the even the thread format itself gave him a natural advantage in any discussion, since anyone posting was forced to accept his initial framing of an issue, yet he had no obligation to respond to more pertinent criticisms (although I generally thought he was a moron, he clearly was bright enough to capitalize on this advantage).

I now can't un-see this phenomena when dealing with certain people on this forum.  They are more subtle about it and probably often unaware of it, but their writing style (and frequency of posts) just screams "Hey I'm one of the important people here, so I get to quarterback this one".  And if it looks like this to me, it must look ten times worse to someone who is new here, or a woman, or an ethnic minority, or someone who has already heard negative things about skeptics.  If people here cannot understand that problem or won't do anything to mitigate it, then I agree with alison - fuck 'em.  Enjoy your super special white male circlejerk community.

Online John Albert

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Yeah, the problem is definitely with the women, trans people, queer people and people of colour that keep leaving because they lack social skills.

Who said anything about women, trans people, queer people or people of color? I'm referring to people who can't handle a simple disagreement on any subject without resorting to cheap personal attacks. That character flaw seems to cross all socioeconomic boundaries.

I'm not going to call out names, but over the past few months we seem to have "lost" a couple posters who frequently lashed out and attacked other posters without provocation. I don't know how many of those people were queer, trans, female, or people of color, but I don't miss that annoyance any more than I miss the shitposting of the alt-righters. When somebody's being an insufferable asshole I tend to not really think too much about their demographic stats.


If any "hate" is "seeping in" to this forum, it's coming from people who hurl insults because they lack the social skills to handle disagreements like a reasonable adult.

Hot take:  every single person here spending >15 minutes a day arguing with pseudo-anonymous strangers about skepticism does not possess the social skills of a "reasonable adult."

Isn't that to be expected in any community?

I know plenty of intelligent, reasonable, decent, and charming queer people and people of color who can chat knowledgeably on a variety of topics without being a raging asshole. But as far as I know they're not especially into skepticism or fans of the SGU, and I'm not going to invite them to some niche Web forum to serve as token minorities.


I wouldn't agree with every characterization that heyalison has offered, but her central point stands.  It does not matter one bit if the frequent posters here all perceive *themselves* as being fair, rational, friendly, open-minded etc.  If you come off like an asshole to other people, then that's who you are to them.  Trying to tell them that their perception of you is wrong won't do a damn thing.

Right, but aren't there are boundaries that we can all agree upon?

Such as provoking arguments for the mere sake of conflict, demanding that the forum rules be changed in order to hinder nuanced discussion, calling people names, constantly bringing people's race and gender into the discussion, and associating them with vile political ideologies simply for having a slight difference of opinion... do you consider this reasonable or civil behavior?


I can't remember if I've written about this before here, but on another forum I used to visit there was a section for one single guy to rant about his political agenda.  He unironically titled the thread "I'm Smart and My Opinion Matters."  I found it maddening that someone who was white, heterosexual, financially well off, conservative, and male would be so self-centered and petty to preemptively declare his authority in the thread title

That's pretty obnoxious, narcissistic behavior for a Web forum, no matter what his social status. A Web forum is a community, not anyone's personal blog. The whole premise is kind of rude, even if they're nice about it.

I could see an exception if it's intended as comedy, and the person is genuinely funny. I know a guy who started an "advice column" thread on a Web forum and everybody loved it so much that he had business cards printed up that advertised himself as a "Life Coach," and handed them out at meetups.

Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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This reminds me of SGU's social justice threads:

https://twitter.com/mikeabrusci/status/1126884763585908736

Because they usually don't go well.
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Ah, fuck this place. It's a white man free speech zone. What is the point of pretending you have a hate speech policy if you just let the hate seep in around the edges, especially if most of the (white male) moderation here clearly has bias against (non-white male) people pointing out hate. This forum exists to protect the platforms of white men pushing the discussion further into hate.

The mods are not at all biased against you. While warnings are not public, from what I understand, three warnings within a short period of time usually results in suspension for a week. You engage in personal attacks a lot, and seemingly don't receive warnings for it, to any significant extent. I don't know, it's not really my business, but I doubt you have received a single warning, as the personal attacks go on unabated.

If I engaged in 10% of the amount of personal attacks you engage in, I would immediately receive warnings. And I promise you, Harry Black and The Latinist would be delighted to give me warnings.
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