Re: Why result to insults instead of reasoned arguements? Was: The wisdom of the object mentors

From: Laurent Bossavit <>
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2006 10:55:51 +0200
Message-ID: <>


> Thank God.

Ah. Religion. ;)

> > When you insult people, you actively discourage them from
> > listening to you.
> Not necessarily. Again, communication is bidirectional and
> hence the effect depends on both sender and receiver. In
> addition, communicating with someone who is both ignorant
> and "thin skinned" can be an EXTREMELY tedious undertaking.
> Sometimes it is best to weed them out as soon as possible.

You're arguing my point: you want to "weed out" people by insulting them; that is, discourage them from continuing the conversation, i.e. from listening to you. If you want that, save yourself the effort of an argument - stick to the insults until you've weeded out whoever had to be weeded out.

And how about thick-skinned ignorants and thin-skinned smart people ? The insult tactic fails against the first, and unnecessarily turns away the second.

Also, empirically... How does this "weeding out" tactic seem to be working out for insulters in this forum ?

> Perhaps but where is this "designed to close ..." coming
> from? How do you know this is the design goal of a given
> message?

That's what we mean by "insult" - words intended to offend or hurt. When someone is hurt or offended, they are less likely to listen to you.

You might counter that the insulter's intent is *only* to hurt, that people not listening is a consequence of hurting that he does not intend. But the insulter is responsible for the consequences of his acts, both direct and indirect.

> Aren't some people simply rude by nature with no
> need to design rudeness? Might those people also be highly
> intelligent and right at the same time?

People are not rude "by nature" but because they are unwilling to make the effort. Social correctness is as much an intellectual effort as logical correctness - which tells me of the insulter that he is intellectually lazy.

> You seem to place all responsibility for
> effective communication on the sender and none on the
> receiver. This is irrational.

The sender initiates the communication - and in a forum such as this one there is one sender and many receivers. The asymmetry yields a corresponding asymmetry in responsibilty.

> > It seems to me, then, that it's a safer bet to listen to
> > people who are polite and respectful.
> What do you mean by "safer"?

I mean "a surer bet", or some such expression; if two people are arguing, and one of them is insulting the other, I should *first* check the message of the polite one for proper logical content, and only if I don't find it there check the insulter's message. Because insults are not a rational form of argumentation, that's the correct order of priorities if the payoff I'm after is information content.

Laurent Received on Sun Jun 04 2006 - 10:55:51 CEST

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