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

From: Keith H Duggar <duggar_at_alum.mit.edu>
Date: 4 Jun 2006 19:42:41 -0700
Message-ID: <1149475361.130800.123160@c74g2000cwc.googlegroups.com>


Laurent Bossavit wrote:
> Keith H Duggar wrote :
> > Laurent Bossavit wrote:

Laurent,

Two things up front. First you snipped context that bears directly on comments in your response. Please take care when snipping to maintain relevant material. Second, I aim for precision when writing including my choice of qualifying words. In particular here I am talking about existential versus universal qualifiers which you seem to have either ignored or failed to see as important. To wit:

> > Laurent Bossavit wrote:
> > > When you insult people, you actively discourage them
> > > from listening to you. Worse, you discourage anyone
> > > else who's listening in - and who may have started out
> > > inclined to listen to you.

Notice the /absolute/ claim of your first sentence. Notice the /universal/ qualifier "anyone". Now compare to:

Laurent Bossavit wrote:
> Keith H Duggar wrote :
> > Laurent Bossavit wrote:
> > > 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.

Notice the /partial/ qualifier "not necessarily". Notice the /existential/ qualifier "sometimes". Taking note of these qualifications do you now see how:

> 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.

  1. "you want to 'weed out' people" is certainly /not/ what I said and 2) "you're arguing my point" is demonstrably false?

> 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.

As explained above this has no relation to my goals. And I have stated elsewhere a four step process that I think is reasonable (for dealing with VI if it appears).

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

Notice again your use of absolute, universal qualification. Do you realize how precarious the ground you stand on is? Do you realize the ENTIRE essence of my post was to help us see beyond this black and white view?

> > > If the tone of a speaker's message is designed to
> > > close people's ears [note this original important
> > > context was snipped. I wondered why?]
> >
> > 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.

Since I was talking about the "tone of a speaker's message". Your rather rude "we mean by 'insult'" is irrelevant.

And who is "we"? Do you include me (Keith) in we? I find those words insulting. Was that your intention?

> When someone is hurt or offended, they are less likely to
> listen to you.

For the short term possibly. Hence all the cautionary qualification first made (and pointed out again).

> 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.

Notice again your black and white, absolute claim? Also, there is no need to speculate how I would counter. I have already argued my case in very clear terms. Of course your snipped the paragraph most on point.

> > And again, communication is two-way, are you missing
> > this important fact? You seem to place all
> > responsibility for effective communication on the sender
> > and none on the receiver. This is irrational. Especially
> > since each individual will no doubt receive messages
> > from /numerous/ sources in their lifetime. Hence, I
> > would suggest a more effective strategy is that
> > individuals learn to focus on logic and reason in BOTH
> > /sending/ AND /receiving/.

Compare the suggestion made in my last sentence above to your black and white claim.

> > 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.

Another absolute universal claim. Do you have any evidence to prove this? That is to exclude the possibly of natural rudeness? What about habitual unintentional rudeness? What does the common phrase "they have an abrasive personality" mean? What about "type A" personalities?

[By the way, if you respond at all to the above paragraph, I ask that you leave it entirely intact. That is please do not snip or separate any of the sentences.]

> Social correctness is as much an intellectual effort as
> logical correctness - which tells me of the insulter that
> he is intellectually lazy.

This claim is illogical. Even if social correctness is "as much an intellectual effort" as logical correctness, social incorrectness does not imply intellectually laziness and /a fortiori/ does not imply logical incorrectness. One reason is that intellectual energy is a finite resource. Here is an amusing example of applying such "logic":

  Climbing K2 is as much a physical effort as climbing   Everest - which tells me someone failing to climb K2 is   physically lazy.

Do you see the logical error? Perhaps this was an exaggeration and you meant something less absolute?

(Now I have a sneaking suspicion that upon reading the above you will be tempted to rush to some immediate "response" to "prove me wrong". I would like to caution you against such action. The above logic is so basic that if we disagree here then one of us is in serious logical trouble. So please consider my argument carefully. Be sure to note that the example was made intentionally extreme for amusement and to highlight the logical fallacy. More reasonable yet equally demonstrative examples are easy to construct.)

> > 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 responsibility.

Asymmetry perhaps. Yet that is quite far from your earlier absolutist claims. Also your "the sender initiates the communication" claim is ambiguous. Because we are talking about a communication /thread/ consisting of possibly many send-receive units traveling in both directions. Therefore one could easily argue that the original poster (the creator of a thread) "initiates the communication". Anyhow I have no quarrel with your claim of some asymmetry. I reject your black and white claims and have already given my ultimate conclusion which again you snipped and did not comment on:

> > ... each individual will no doubt receive messages from
> > /numerous/ sources in their lifetime. Hence, I would
> > suggest a more effective strategy is that individuals
> > learn to focus on logic and reason in BOTH /sending/ AND
> > /receiving/.

Received on Sun Jun 04 2006 - 21:42:41 CDT

Original text of this message

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