Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Our Skeptic Forums
 Politics
 The ‘tone’ debate
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 7

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  18:39:11  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally over here, I wrote the below, and have moved it per Kil's request:
Originally posted by Kil, here

A real standout was Phil Plaitís talk, which was on tone. I cornered him after his talk and, because Dave gave me the idea, I asked him about the Overton Window. He knows about it and thinks it applies to some degree. But he doesnít know if itís enough to make up for some of the harshness he has been seeing on some skeptical blogs. One thing that surprised me was that he thought PZ Myers is doing it on purpose with the Overton Window in mind. More on this later.
Yes, please more. Because on the basis of what you've said, Phil (he is an SFN member, after all) doesn't understand the Overton Window.

If this and this are accurate representations of Phil's talk, then he's got some problems. One, "don't be a dick" is being a dick to the people he's trying to convince to change, and thus contradicts his thesis. Two, I don't think he understands to whom the rude folks are being dicks: not the people they want to convince to change. Ken Ham isn't going to ever recant his god-botting, no matter how nice people are to him. Three, the "tone" debate regarding skepticism has to be clearly distinguished from the "tone" debate regarding atheism. Four, where is the evidence supporting his position? Did he present any? This has been the number-one problem with the "tone" debate, overall: when asked for evidence that rude people don't prompt people to change, the "keep it nice" folks haven't presented anything. Meanwhile, we've got plenty of stories of people who say that they needed to be rudely whacked with a cluestick to get them out of their woo-favoring complacency.

I'm all in favor of such evidence being brought to light. I want to know. I especially want to know if my preferred "warrior" style either doesn't work or actively hampers the "diplomats." Right now, the evidence at hand (almost entirely anecdotal) is equivocal and so my choice is based on political expediency and my best tentative conclusions about where the long-term trends are going.

Given what's happening now, my current biggest priority (with regard to any "tone" debate) is to get atheism of any sort to be more socially acceptable. This is where people like PZ Myers shine as far as the Overton Window goes, because we know already that there are people looking at Phil Plait and saying, "well, you may be an atheist, but at least you're not like that PZ Myers guy." That's exactly the sort of thing we want on the atheism front.

So how people get to the point where they find some sort of atheism socially acceptable doesn't really matter. It doesn't even need for people to actually become atheists, or even skeptics, just that the general public gets to the point where they don't regard atheists as an extraordinarily untrustworthy group (that they see atheism as an acceptable position for a person to take, like how moderately religious groups often view each other).

Getting more people to become skeptics is next on my priority list (again, in regards to the "tone" debates). Coupled with a larger acceptance of atheists, I think this will naturally lead to larger and larger groups of people actually becoming atheists.

Then everyone wins and we all ride home on our unicorns that fart rainbows.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  18:40:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And this was Kil's reply, again from over here:
Dave:
One, "don't be a dick" is being a dick to the people he's trying to convince to change, and thus contradicts his thesis.

Naaa... We knew what he meant by that. And In my conversation with him after his talk, he acknowledged that Myers style has been of value. He was speaking more generally since the tone issue has worked its way out of the atheist debate and on to skeptical blogs and posts too. I think that what he was saying is to not let dickyness be the go to as soon as you hear something stupid coming from the other side. As he demonstrated, by a show of hands anyhow, many people in the audience would not have listened to reason if they had been called names right from the git-go. In other words, they were convinced that the position that they held was wrong because of a good presentation of counter points, and not because they were attacked for being stupid or whatever. It's hard to say whether they were lurkers, or if they held woo beliefs and were willing to argue for them. Obviously a show of hands is not very scientific.

And yes, we all know that's not always possible to stay nice. I don't think Plait was calling for us to just be nice all the time. I didn't get that at all. He isn't nice all the time.

As for Plait not understanding the Overton Window, he seemed to get the concept. I'm writing this from memory, remember. I don't know how much I an elaborate on a two minute discussion while I was on my way to the head. But Plait isn't an idiot. And I wouldn't have even brought it up if you hadn't planted the seed in my head, Dave.

Also, If you want to have this discussion, do me a favor and start a thread for it. Instead of writing about what I did tonight, I spent my time on this. That's not why I created this thread.


Slightly edited, as they all will be, now that I'm at my own computer and not drunk or flying on caffein.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  19:05:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Naaa... We knew what he meant by that. And In my conversation with him after his talk, he acknowledged that Myers style has been of value. He was speaking more generally since the tone issue has worked its way out of the atheist debate and on to skeptical blogs and posts too. I think that what he was saying is to not let dickyness be the go to as soon as you hear something stupid coming from the other side.
I'm pretty sure that would be the result of the frustration mentioned in the second link I posted, above.
As he demonstrated, by a show of hands anyhow, many people in the audience would not have listened to reason if they had been called names right from the git-go. In other words, they were convinced that the position that they held was wrong because of a good presentation of counter points, and not because they were attacked for being stupid or whatever. It's hard to say whether they were lurkers, or if they held woo beliefs and were willing to argue for them. Obviously a show of hands is not very scientific.
No, I think it's a horrible demonstration, because he was asking a self-selected sample to put themselves in a hypothetical situation in which they'd be demeaned and then asking their reaction, and of course they're not going to say, "oh, yeah, my conclusions are subject to belittling." And as I said above, the targets of dickishness aren't the people who the people being dicks want to convince, so the show-of-hands is in answer to the wrong question. The question should have been, "say that you're a follower of some woo-meister, and someone wrote an article showing that person to be wrong, wrong, wrong and used personal insults in the same article. Would you (as a person who holds the woo leader in high esteem) be less inclined to listen to the reasons why the woo is wrong because of the insults?"

Since saying "yes" to that question indicates a person who is less interested in the truth than in the tone, I think at a convention of skeptics, there'd be a lot fewer hands going up.

And, as I said above, this could be and should be tested. I'd love to see this sort of hypothesis vetted scientifically. Because what the "tone" debate lacks most of all is actual evidence.
And yes, we all know that's not always possible to stay nice. I don't think Plait was calling for us to just be nice all the time. I didn't get that at all. He isn't nice all the time.
And those on the other side aren't arguing for 100% ridicule, either. Of course.
As for Plait not understanding the Overton Window, he seemed to get the concept. I'm writing this from memory, remember. I don't know how much I an elaborate on a two minute discussion while I was on my way to the head. But Plait isn't an idiot. And I wouldn't have even brought it up if you hadn't planted the seed in my head, Dave.
I'm not saying that Dr. Plait is an idiot. I'm saying I think he misunderstands things. But it could just be, as you suggest, the short format doesn't lead naturally to nuance. Did his talk have a Q&A session? If so, I'm surprised that nobody else asked about the Overton Window.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  20:04:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave:
No, I think it's a horrible demonstration, because he was asking a self-selected sample to put themselves in a hypothetical situation in which they'd be demeaned and then asking their reaction, and of course they're not going to say, "oh, yeah, my conclusions are subject to belittling."


Ooops! I left out a very important thing. He asked for a show of hands from those who were once believers in woo, or had some other untenable position, (religion?) if they would have come over to skepticism if they had been attacked for their beliefs rather than presented with convincing arguments for why they shouldnít hold those beliefs. For example, being a very long time skeptic, I had no reason to raise my hand, and I didnít. The question wasn't directed at me no matter where I come down on the tone debate.

My assumption is that those that did raise their hand probably did so because they more recently let go of a foolish belief. And in doing that, they started looking into what skeptics and thinking critically was about and eventually wound up at a skepticís convention.

And yes. It is a hypothetical question. But it was directed at only one segment of the audience.

Dave:
I'd love to see this sort of hypothesis vetted scientifically. Because what the "tone" debate lacks most of all is actual evidence.


I know of at least one blogger, Daniel Loxton, who is trying to find the answer from a scientific perspective.

Bring on the Science of Honey and Vinegar


Dave:
Did his talk have a Q&A session? If so, I'm surprised that nobody else asked about the Overton Window.

I tried. But there were lots of people asking questions ahead of me, and because of the time allotted to each speaker, I didnít get the chance to ask it publicly. But I did ask itÖ

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  21:02:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Ooops! I left out a very important thing. He asked for a show of hands from those who were once believers in woo, or had some other untenable position, (religion?) if they would have come over to skepticism if they had been attacked for their beliefs rather than presented with convincing arguments for why they shouldnít hold those beliefs. For example, being a very long time skeptic, I had no reason to raise my hand, and I didnít. The question wasn't directed at me no matter where I come down on the tone debate.

My assumption is that those that did raise their hand probably did so because they more recently let go of a foolish belief. And in doing that, they started looking into what skeptics and thinking critically was about and eventually wound up at a skepticís convention.

And yes. It is a hypothetical question. But it was directed at only one segment of the audience.
No, I understood that very important thing. The question was still directed at a segment of the audience who are not the targets of the "warriors'" rudeness, which is what makes it a bad question from the start.

Look, it is a commonplace occurrence that the people I call "tone critics" confuse this particular small part of the "tone" debate. The "warriors" don't generally heap abuse on Joe Schmoe who happens to like Sylvia Browne (for example). They heap abuse on Sylvia Browne. So any tone critic whose premise is that the general public won't listen to the warriors because the general public doesn't like to be abused is getting the target wrong. The warriors aren't abusing the general public, they're abusing the promulgators of woo.

Undoubtedly, some segment of the general public will self-identify with their woo leaders, and thus personalize any attacks made, but that's inescapable no matter what your tone is. You and I, Kil, have both seen the mildest, impersonal criticisms get turned into insane personal attacks by those who don't want to have their beliefs criticized.

And so obviously we also definitely cannot have the "tone" debate require that nobody take personal offense at anything any skeptic says, because that'll be an impossible standard.

Another common tone-critic straw man revolves around the use of words like "rather than." The warrior "style" isn't to just ridicule people, it's to ridicule them for particular logical or political failures. They don't just say, "Sylvia Browne is an idiot," they say, "Sylvia Browne is an idiot, and here's why..." or "here's why 'mediums' are idiots, and here's an example of Sylvia Browne being exactly such an idiot." So anytime I read or hear someone saying something like, "PZ Myers' whole shtick is to insult people," I know that they're either badly misinformed or trying to score political points as being "anti-PZ."

That last, of course, is where the tone critics tend to become horribly hypocritical, in that they can't seem to resist becoming tremendously rude and abusive when trying to counter a "warrior" being rude and abusive. And if simply being rude and abusive turns people off an argument, then the tone critics are turning the general public away from skepticism (and/or atheism) by allowing themselves to behave like those they criticize. And from an Overton Window perspective, the best scenario is for the "nice" atheists to be nice all the time, and so it'd probably be best if they just publicly ignored the "warriors."
I know of at least one blogger, Daniel Loxton, who is trying to find the answer from a scientific perspective.

Bring on the Science of Honey and Vinegar
I think it's a bad sign for Loxton's project that after ten days, only four more studies have been brought to light, and they all seem to say (as one commenter noted) that obnoxious asshats like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter shouldn't really be millionaires. Hell, look at Judge Judy, who is often maximally contemptuous yet thoroughly adored by her audience (to the point where she makes ten times more per year than the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States).
I tried. But there were lots of people asking questions ahead of me, and because of the time allotted to each speaker, I didnít get the chance to ask it publicly. But I did ask itÖ
Yeah, but nuts.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  21:41:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, okay. I really don't know where to go with this. Maybe I will press Michelle for studies. Maybe the tone debate is a load of malarky and we should just carry on as we always have. Maybe what has come out of the atheist debate is an over sensitivity to tone when in reality we haven't changed what we do at all. I have to think about it for a while.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/12/2010 :  21:56:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm pretty sure I've made my position on the "tone" debate known. I have no problem with being rude to people who are selling falsehoods. In my personal philosophy and worldview the intentional distortion of fact is far more rude or dickish than telling people they are fucking retards. I think this is a reality for the majority of people too. Ask yourself what would make you step out of a long term relationship (like marriage). Rudeness and dickish arguing or lying and cheating? Not saying both of those wouldn't be a good reason, but which one is less tolerable?


As for the recipients of the rudeness, I'm more or less with Dave_W on this. The primary targets of my rude criticisms are not the people I would try to convince they are wrong. Not even their close followers. It's the genuinely, honestly uninformed/undecided who are the ones I (and I think skeptics in general) should be trying to convince or inform, and we shouldn't engage in rudeness with them. But Ken Ham and his ilk? Fuck them. Rude, sharp, pointy, mean-spirited criticism is the perfect tool. Make them look like idiots (not that they need much help honestly), along with the destruction of their arguments, and it may improve our chances of convincing the fence sitters and uninformed.

It is interesting that there is a lack of hard data on this topic. In politics it seems to be the "common wisdom" that dirty pool works, and works well. There almost has to be some legit sociological work out there on this, I have no idea where to even start looking though.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  05:57:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So how people get to the point where they find some sort of atheism socially acceptable doesn't really matter. It doesn't even need for people to actually become atheists, or even skeptics, just that the general public gets to the point where they don't regard atheists as an extraordinarily untrustworthy group (that they see atheism as an acceptable position for a person to take, like how moderately religious groups often view each other).


Maybe we need to organize a parade. Some nice colorful floats and candy for the kids would make us seem like really nice guys. The general public would love us. We can come up with some cool slogans like " Atheism, It's not just for breakfast anymore". I think it would be really fun. I love a parade.

Who's with me?

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  08:32:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dude:
It is interesting that there is a lack of hard data on this topic.

I'm not so sure there is a lack of hard data on the subject. I bounced this off of Michelle and asked her to dig up some studies a week or so ago. Her response:
Way! too many studies to even begin to give ya one or two. The fact is, there are thousands that seem to say that if a person is more attractive (physically or otherwise) they are more persuasive. And um, duh. And this has always been my argument on why not to be the asshole skeptic. Because people turn off to assholes, even if they are right.

Even Penn and Teller know this, (don't care if Penn thinks he's abrasive and all punk rock). Fact is, they toss naked women about because they know it will get people to watch. They use the word "bullshit" because they know it will get people to watch. They use humor to get us in there and laughing and feeling good. And then they hit with the message. It works! People don't hear when they are feeling defensive or yucky about themselves. So, they get us feeling happy and on their team and then they hit the message. And people hear.

Am I missing something? This seems common sense to me...

...James Randi...you can be firm in your beliefs, strong about your skepticism...and hella fun and friendly at the same time. Fucking South Park, for gods sakes. These are people that get the message out but don't necessarily beat you up for your stupitiy. James Randi James Randi James Randi. He shamed the shams, but not the people that didn't know. He just very cooly showed the shams, right? He didn't make everyone feel like shit for believing in them.


I guess I should press her for studies. But I am starting to believe that this whole tone issue is a bunch of malarky, as I said above. I think I got sucked in, because in general, and this is no secret, I have pushed for our forum to be reasonably civil. I know for a fact that we have chased people away who are not comfortable with attack methods. Even skeptics! I received the "so long to you guy's" PM's. But perhaps that's really another issue, and only tangentially related to the current debate.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  08:58:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kil, you and Michelle seem to be missing a major point here.

I'd say it's self evident that you have a better chance of convincing a person if you are being nice... to them.

But that isn't what this is about. This is about being rude to those you will never convince. It's about sharply criticizing the statements and ideas of the Ken Hams and Kevin Trudeaus, tearing up their false arguments, and kicking them in the face for being such assholes and liars in the first place.

This is about attacking the purveyors of lies, not about attacking those who have bought into those lies.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  09:10:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
But I am starting to believe that this whole tone issue is a bunch of malarky, as I said above. I think I got sucked in, because in general, and this is no secret, I have pushed for our forum to be reasonably civil. I know for a fact that we have chased people away who are not comfortable with attack methods. Even skeptics! I received the "so long to you guy's" PM's. But perhaps that's really another issue, and only tangentially related to the current debate.


Being nice 100% of the time is impossible. Just using myself as an example. I can be sweet as pie but sometimes I can be a raging Atheist asshole. It depends on the subject we are talking about, the attitude of the person I am debating, and my mood at the time. Remember that Atheists are just people like everyone else.
I think it's obvious that nice people with charisma get a lot farther. Look at Joel Osteen's following compared to Fred Phelps' as an example.
I suppose reminding people that you attract more flies with sugar than vineger is a good thing to do... but that's all you can really do.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  10:03:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Penn & Teller section is completely apt. They're not being nice, they're being rude and obnoxious! They're being "asshole skeptics," yet Michelle thinks it's both a successful strategy and what should never be done? This is self-contradictory.

Perhaps that's why it's so clearly not "common sense."

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  10:05:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock

I suppose reminding people that you attract more flies with sugar than vineger is a good thing to do... but that's all you can really do.
But you attract even more flies with a big, steaming pile of poop.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  10:09:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

Kil, you and Michelle seem to be missing a major point here.

I'd say it's self evident that you have a better chance of convincing a person if you are being nice... to them.

But that isn't what this is about. This is about being rude to those you will never convince. It's about sharply criticizing the statements and ideas of the Ken Hams and Kevin Trudeaus, tearing up their false arguments, and kicking them in the face for being such assholes and liars in the first place.

This is about attacking the purveyors of lies, not about attacking those who have bought into those lies.



I'm not missing the point. That's why I have said that this tone issue might be a bunch of malarky. I am aware that I will not change the mind of a "true believer" no matter what I say. In the case of a forum, however, I'm playing to lurkers. If I tell someone that he's just full of shit, closed case, end of debate, what will the lurkers learn?

The hard part is doing it over and over again. Sometimes I just want to rip their stinking heads off. Sometimes I do. And sometimes I regret losing my temper.

Occasionally, if I remain calm, and do some research to invalidate a claim that I know is wrong, I get to learn something that I didn't know. Current thinking in some area of science. New studies, etc.

Believe me. I have no problem with calling someone like Kent Hovind or a Sylvia Browne a lying sack of shit.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  10:23:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

The Penn & Teller section is completely apt. They're not being nice, they're being rude and obnoxious! They're being "asshole skeptics," yet Michelle thinks it's both a successful strategy and what should never be done? This is self-contradictory.

Perhaps that's why it's so clearly not "common sense."

I think you missed her point. They surround themselves with things that people do find attractive. If Penn & Teller came out, on their own, and did their thing without the props and the all of the things they do to entertain the audience during the show, which is what she means by attractive, they would, in her view, fail at what they are trying to do, which is to convince people that they are right about something.

She's saying that they make it entertaining. Entertainment=attractive in their case.

She's not limiting being "attractive" to any single element. Good looks or being nice, for example. It's a package deal.

She is, of course, looking at how it sells from a psychological standpoint. Ask her and she will tell you that she thinks Penn is pretty much an asshole.

And most of us can't surround our message, while being assholes, with a whole bunch of great entertainment. They are in a unique position that way.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 07/13/2010 :  11:00:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
If I tell someone that he's just full of shit, closed case, end of debate, what will the lurkers learn?
Ok, I feel you are missing the point, despite your protests. The tone issue is not a dichotomy between rational, carefully-researched debate versus hurling empty insults. If you tell someone he's just full of shit, case closed, then he may well tune you out because you haven't explained why he's full of shit. But that isn't a argument about "tone," that's an argument against lack of content. The question of tone needs to be considered separate from content.

Penn and Teller are a good example. They usually (not always) have good reasons for labeling something "bullshit," and they lay out those reasons during the course of the show. That's the content. The manner in which they present these reasons is the tone, and as Dave said they are pretty much at the far end of the "asshole" spectrum. They don't strain themselves to behave civilly. They aren't respectful of other people's beliefs. They do resort to ridicule and name-calling. Yet many people respond positively to their message.

Michelle said:
And um, duh. And this has always been my argument on why not to be the asshole skeptic. Because people turn off to assholes, even if they are right.
Yet this sentiment is totally contradicted by the success of Penn and Teller's approach.

Even Penn and Teller know this, (don't care if Penn thinks he's abrasive and all punk rock). Fact is, they toss naked women about because they know it will get people to watch. They use the word "bullshit" because they know it will get people to watch. They use humor to get us in there and laughing and feeling good. And then they hit with the message. It works! People don't hear when they are feeling defensive or yucky about themselves. So, they get us feeling happy and on their team and then they hit the message. And people hear.
Ok, it seems what Michelle is actually trying to say here is that assholes can be extremely persuasive when you already agree with what they are saying. This is a fact Rush Limbaugh exploits daily. So sure, if you think psychics who talk to the dead are frauds, then it's entertaining as hell to see P&T expose them as frauds. But if you think psychics are real and have an emotionally invested belief in them, then P&T's abrasive rhetoric will probably turn you off. So the question seems to be, how much of whether people "hear" P&T's message has anything to do with tone and how much has to do with their pre-existing beliefs? I have a feeling that the degree a person finds P&T "entertaining" almost entirely depends on the degree they find their own beliefs targeted for ridicule.

Originally posted by Kil
I am aware that I will not change the mind of a "true believer" no matter what I say. In the case of a forum, however, I'm playing to lurkers.
Then the lesson of Penn and Teller is that ridicule and mockery is a poor tool for converting believers but an excellent tool for persuading lurkers and fence-sitters. One cannot make blanket statements like "people turn off to assholes even if they are right" because it completely depends on which type of audience we're discussing. A receptive audience often embraces assholes.



"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 07/13/2010 11:09:07
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 7 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 1.64 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000