Author Topic: "Rules of Engagement," article on modern debate-me culture from The New Republic  (Read 6682 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Congratulations guys, you've just driven away the forum's last woman.

We haven't "driven away" anyone. heyalison made an OP that was essentially a bait as noted, and received responses.

Last time I checked, disagreement with heyalison was within the forum rules. Though I consider it very likely that new rules will eventually be added that prohibits disagreement with certain political views, and/or that makes it possible for members with unpopular or minority views to be voted away. Then the forum's demographic will be even more narrow and insular.

Perhaps you and the other self-appointed popular people should take a deep, hard look in the mirror into why this forum's demographics are so narrow? The SGU has something like 350 000 weekly listeners, if I am not mistaken. How many active members has this forum got? 30 maybe, give or take? That would mean that less than 0,1% of the weekly listeners are active here. Sure, some have better things to do. But the potential baseline is sure higher than 0,1%, don't you think?

As we know, Reddit has one potential answer:

Quote
Stay out of the politics forum, it's toxic. Basically a few alt-right troll types, and a few screeching ultra-libs drown out otherwise useful information. Better content on skepticism subreddits.
"I appear as a skeptic, who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel, of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation" - Christopher Hitchens

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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as I;n a woman I'm a target for them

You aren't a "target", or even singled out specifically. And your womanhood has nothing to do with the responses you get, no matter how much you pretend otherwise.

but rather to mock me with sexism and LGBT-phobia.

Can you, or any of your acolytes for that matter, please provide examples of sexism or LGBT-phobia by me or John Albert, or how anyone has mocked you with it? This should be very easy, if it is true.
"I appear as a skeptic, who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel, of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation" - Christopher Hitchens

Online Sawyer

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Can't write everything I would like right now, but I have to point out "I'm sure she'll be back" is itself a real bullshit move.   You have simultaneously pardoned yourself of any wrongdoing, and made a catch 22 for alison where she's damned whether she responds or not.

This looks bad, guys.  Your distrust of alison, or rai, or harry, or anyone else aside ... can you not perceive how this looks to a newcomer to the forums?

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Online John Albert

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What wrong have I done?

I said "she'll be back" because I've been on many different Web forums for decades, and seen this kind of poster innumerable times before. This person has a beef with the community or with some stereotype they perceive as the culture of the community (ie. "skeptics"), and they're on a crusade to defeat or reform the culture.

As for the threats to leave, this isn't even the first time heyalison has threatened to quit the SGU forums. And that kind of guilt-tripping (being a one-note cantor about a single pet peeve, posting polemical screeds at the community, making every argument about themselves, claiming victimhood over disagreements, personally attacking other posters, kvetching to other members via PM, threatening to leave the community) is all part of the M.O.

And when people line up to cry "No, please! Don't go!" all that does is validate their trolling tactics.

Mark my words, we haven't seen the last of this one. She will be back, and then we can have another go-round about how we're just awful, privileged, oppressive racists and misogynists because we value reasoned discussion and ask for evidence to support our claims.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 05:57:32 PM by John Albert »

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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It seems like some people here (not me or John Albert) promote the anti-female trope that men are inherently rational and logical, whereas women are inherently emotional (as if not both of those aspects have their proper places in life). I don't buy into that at all. Sometimes a quote says it best:

Quote from: Carl Sagan
Casual observers of meetings of sceptics, and those who glance at the list of CSICOP Fellows, have noted a great preponderance of men. Others claim disproportionate numbers of women among believers in astrology (horoscopes in most 'women's' but few 'men's' magazines), crystals, ESP and the like. Some commentators suggest that there is something peculiarly male about scepticism. It's hard-driving, competitive, confrontational, toughminded - whereas women, they say, are more accepting, consensus-building, and uninterested in challenging conventional wisdom. But in my experience women scientists have just as finely honed sceptical senses as their male counterparts; that's just part of being a scientist. This criticism, if that's what it is, is presented to the world in the usual ragged disguise: if you discourage women from being sceptical and don't train them in scepticism, then sure enough you may find that many women aren't sceptical. Open the doors and let them in, and they're as sceptical as anybody else.
"I appear as a skeptic, who believes that doubt is the great engine, the great fuel, of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation" - Christopher Hitchens

Online Sawyer

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It seems like some people here (not me or John Albert) promote the anti-female trope that men are inherently rational and logical, whereas women are inherently emotional (as if not both of those aspects have their proper places in life). I don't buy into that at all. Sometimes a quote says it best:

Quetz, I could possibly accept the idea that some people here have gone out of their way to interpret your posts in an unfair manner.  But why you expect them to employ the principle of charity when you post stuff like this is beyond me.  Literally zero people on this thread are claiming men are inherently rational and logical and women are inherently emotional.   I almost wish you were just trolling, because I cannot fathom how you have misread people this poorly.

Do you guys honestly expect any of the people you are arguing with to respond to this in a positive manner?

Online John Albert

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Skepticism doesn't mean encouraging bombastic rhetoric, outrageous accusations and personal attacks on behalf of some ideology. It means questioning, examining, and weighing various possibilities, and ultimately reserving judgment until good reason or evidence is presented.

Isn't this forum supposed to be dedicated to promoting skeptical values? What happened to that? That's what the SGU is supposed to be about.

Yet some individuals around here seem so indifferent to the actual practice of skepticism that they turn outright hostile to its very core principles if it runs even slightly askance of their political beliefs. To those individuals, this is not a community devoted to skepticism but a political activist community with "skepticism" taped on as an a pretense. Even some of the moderators here are outspokenly dismissive of skepticism in actual practice.

When some ideologue comes into a community of skeptics and starts personally attacking people for merely using the tools of skepticism, that should be seen as a problem.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 06:06:01 PM by John Albert »

Offline Harry Black

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Debate and skepticism are two different things.
Do not assume people eschew the latter because they refuse to play your game with the former.

The idea that people must engage on the terms you dictate or ignore threads that deal with issues that affect them is absurd and insulting. People are under no such obligation and it says zero  (one way or the other) about the objective truth of their positions.
You asked how many marginalised people have left because of this bullshit? I count 9 off the top of my head.
You can decide to keep on with your arrogant belief that you are the only one doing skepticism right, or decide Im full of shit because I wont name names, but that is the impact you and people like you have had on this community.
Maybe you think its for the best because all of those people were irrational and uncivil.
I would rather have them back than have more of this pseudo intellectual by the numbers debate club that would rather demand other people go quote mining for them than do some introspection.

Online John Albert

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Literally zero people on this thread are claiming men are inherently rational and logical and women are inherently emotional.

Rai said:

         
Yes, those stupid, overly sensitive women and POC just need to elevate themselves to the standards of know-it-all white dudes by education. That is the solution.

What is this supposed to mean? It was obviously intended as sarcasm, in response to a link I posted (to an article and video by a woman of color, BTW) which suggested that people learn how not to take offense at differences of opinions. 

So if Rai thinks the solution is not for everybody alike to learn how to conduct ourselves like reasonable, respectful adults in conversation, then what did he mean?

Are we supposed to use a separate set of standards for "women and POC," besides our normal mode of discussion with white cis male skeptics? Are we supposed to tolerate unfounded accusations and vitriolic personal attacks when they come from "women and POC"? Are we supposed to change the forum rules (as heyalison suggested) in order to hinder nuanced discussion and debate?

This call for a double standard carries the inherent assumption that "women and POC" don't abide reasonable discussion, so any bad behavior on their part must be accommodated.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 07:30:53 PM by John Albert »

Online John Albert

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Debate and skepticism are two different things.
Do not assume people eschew the latter because they refuse to play your game with the former.

Discussing contradictory or competing ideas is inherent to the practice of skepticism.

How do you propose we deal with that, if not by polite, reasonable discussion? Are we to hurl accusations and call each other derogatory names? Because that's the method heyalison chose.


The idea that people must engage on the terms you dictate or ignore threads that deal with issues that affect them is absurd and insulting.

I never dictated terms, other than to suggest people not act like assholes.


People are under no such obligation and it says zero  (one way or the other) about the objective truth of their positions.

On the contrary, the way somebody responds to criticism or questioning can often tell us a lot about the truth of their position. It happens all the time. If you want examples, take a look through The President Trump Thread.


You asked how many marginalised people have left because of this bullshit? I count 9 off the top of my head.

I didn't ask that. But what "bullshit" are you attributing their leaving?

I can count several posters who were unable or unwilling to engage respectfully with others, and are no longer around. I can't say I miss them.


You can decide to keep on with your arrogant belief that you are the only one doing skepticism right

I never said I was "the only one doing skepticism right."

Nor am I the one who started a thread entitled "The Rules of Engagement" wherein I purport to tell everyone else not to debate ideas I disagree with.

I said that skepticism is practiced by "questioning, examining, weighing various possibilities, and ultimately reserving judgment until good reason or evidence is presented."

I also said that personal attacks in the course of a discussion is not the right way to do skepticism.

Do you take exception to that?


Maybe you think its for the best because all of those people were irrational and uncivil.

In some cases, yes. For what reason would you advocate to keep uncivil people around? The irrationality is not the problem, mind you. It's the incivility.

« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 06:07:51 PM by John Albert »

Online Sawyer

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I never dictated terms, other than to suggest people not act like assholes.


Okay so this is stepping on a lot of peoples' toes, but you're dictating the terms of many discussions here just by virtue of having high post frequency.

This is one of the things that I just don't understand about you, and Quetz, and even several of the people who are on my "side" on this topic.  You seem very invested in this forum and curious about how it operates, but somehow are oblivious to some very obvious social dynamics of a forums general (and potentially how those dynamics could be changed with a bit of effort).  Most "controversial" forum threads are dominated by the same five or six people posting over and over.  They quarterback those threads, and even when someone new throws a wrench into the topic, it still tends to get reframed by the more frequent posters.  Heyalison's critiques of skeptics aside, I don't think there's anything particularly unique about us in this regard - you see this on virtually every forum I've ever visited.  But as skeptics, I find it odd that there's not more curiosity or introspection on this phenomena.  Because it absolutely boxes new people out of discussion, it absolutely make the personalities/styles of a handful of people the norm, and it absolutely keeps our community looking like every other lame nerd community - white, heterosexual, and male.  If people here would simply realize that on many topics they actually have very little that's interesting to contribute, and accept that a conversation may go somewhere that they don't agree with, and that they don't instantly have to jump in to reframe it every 20 minutes or freak out when someone dares express emotion - I don't see how that would be a bad thing for us.  While I won't accuse people of pushing back against this as automatically being racist/sexist/homophobic, I will continue to mock them, because I think they are at best being really, really, really stupid.

Anyway if you guys still can't see how your obsession with constantly reframing the narrative in every single post is off-putting (or perhaps you don't even believe that you're doing it?), there's nowhere to go from here. 

Online John Albert

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I never dictated terms, other than to suggest people not act like assholes.


Okay so this is stepping on a lot of peoples' toes, but you're dictating the terms of many discussions here just by virtue of having high post frequency.

Having a high post frequency is 'dictating terms'?


This is one of the things that I just don't understand about you, and Quetz, and even several of the people who are on my "side" on this topic.  You seem very invested in this forum and curious about how it operates, but somehow are oblivious to some very obvious social dynamics of a forums general (and potentially how those dynamics could be changed with a bit of effort).

Yes, I obviously invest quite a lot of time and attention to this forum. I am interested in the subjects being discussed well as the values which the SGU promotes. I began posting here because I figured this community for a group who appreciate rigorous, fact-based discussion of relevant issues.

I don't know what you mean by "very obvious social dynamics of a forums general." I have been a member of many Web forums ever since the late 1990s, and I was on Usenet for 3 or 4 years before that. I've served as a moderator on Web forums, as well as a number of social media groups. So I'm well aware of the social dynamics of various types of groups.

Why are you saddling me with maintaining the social dynamics of the entire group, just because I may have reached some different conclusions than you on particular issues?


Most "controversial" forum threads are dominated by the same five or six people posting over and over.  They quarterback those threads, and even when someone new throws a wrench into the topic, it still tends to get reframed by the more frequent posters.

"Controversial" is subjective. You may deem some particular subject controversial while others may not. As for myself, there are numerous ongoing debates in various threads, in which I take little interest and no part.

What you describe as "reframing" is really just an ongoing discussion. What you call, "reframing" just means somebody has a difference of opinion, which happens. It's not the end of the goddamn world.

This is a skeptics forum after all. If you post in a forum full of skeptics about your favorite therapeutic technique, fad diet, political viewpoint or pet social theory, you should not be surprised to receive some questioning, requests for evidence to back up your claims, even pushback or rebuttals to your viewpoint. That is the nature of skeptical discourse.


But as skeptics, I find it odd that there's not more curiosity or introspection on this phenomena.

Which phenomena?

That observation that some people choose to believe in things because those things "feel" right to them, despite a lack of evidence?

The observation that a community predicated on skepticism, who try to base their beliefs on evidence will tend to reject non-evidenced claims?


Because it absolutely boxes new people out of discussion, it absolutely make the personalities/styles of a handful of people the norm, and it absolutely keeps our community looking like every other lame nerd community - white, heterosexual, and male.

It doesn't necessarily box new people out. People can make their own decisions, and we can discuss those reasonably even if we disagree. There needn't be a problem so long as people aren't dicks about it.

But some people insist on being dicks about it. They assert that their beliefs are transcendent over mere evidence and reason, that their beliefs are true even if they're  based on misinformation and fallacies. These people often react badly when confronted with their own cognitive dissonance, so they evade those confrontations by characterizing anyone who disagrees as some kind of villain. So instead of engaging on good faith, they viciously attack the naysayers with accusations and invective.

The question is, how do we deal with people like that?

Let's not pretend this problem is all about race, gender, sexual preference. Plenty of nonwhites, women, and LGBTQ people can be dicks about their beliefs, just like many white males are. By the same token, many women, people of color, and LGBTQ people are capable of being reasonable and cordial about disagreements.


If people here would simply realize that on many topics they actually have very little that's interesting to contribute

Interesting to whom? To you, and only those who agree with your politics?


and accept that a conversation may go somewhere that they don't agree with, and that they don't instantly have to jump in to reframe it every 20 minutes or freak out when someone dares express emotion - I don't see how that would be a bad thing for us.

 While I won't accuse people of pushing back against this as automatically being racist/sexist/homophobic, I will continue to mock them, because I think they are at best being really, really, really stupid.

Anyway if you guys still can't see how your obsession with constantly reframing the narrative in every single post is off-putting (or perhaps you don't even believe that you're doing it?), there's nowhere to go from here.

This obsession with "narratives" and "talking points" is a big part of the problem. Some people think their preferred narrative is inherently more important than others, so they're unwilling to be reasonable or respectful to anybody who disagrees.

Hint: If you want an echo chamber where your narratives aren't questioned or challenged, maybe a skeptic forum isn't the place for you.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2019, 07:38:01 PM by John Albert »

Offline arthwollipot

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Some people just don't get it, ever

I wouldn't bother. John Albert is completely self-blind, on this subject as he is on sealioning, which is a behaviour which he is again demonstrating clearly. He honestly believes that he is doing nothing wrong, and will not accept any suggestions to the contrary.
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Online CarbShark

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Hey, Allison, if you’re still listening, just ignore them. It easy to do. It’s a setting on your profile.

We need you around here more than we need them.


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Offline Rai

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Some people just don't get it, ever

I wouldn't bother. John Albert is completely self-blind, on this subject as he is on sealioning, which is a behaviour which he is again demonstrating clearly. He honestly believes that he is doing nothing wrong, and will not accept any suggestions to the contrary.

I am not sure why I am even trying at this stage *looks up at the "I am the best and most sceptic and did nothing wrong ever and all of you should be like me" walls of text*

 

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