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
 Community Forums
 General Discussion
 Carl Sagan's Crazy Train
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2012 :  23:48:56  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think this essay is worth some discussion:

CARL SAGAN’S CRAZY TRAIN


Daniel Loxton:
Steven Novella’s post last week on the complex topic of the ethics of speech was inspired by consideration of the ethics of “colloquial use of the term ‘crazy.’” This is an area of interest to me. I have often argued both for professional restraint in the things skeptics say and the manner in which we say them; and, for the importance of ongoing conversation on the ethics and efficacy of skeptical practice. But Novella’s post also had excellent timing, as I was already planning on touching on some of the thorny ethics at the intersection between skepticism and mental illness.

I should say at the outset that I have little in the way of solutions to offer. That’s natural and proper: I am not a mental health professional, so it should seem surprising (or reckless) if I had many answers—insofar as answers even exist. My professional experience in skepticism does suggest some troubling questions, however. As well, many people have personal or family experience with the tragedies of mental illness, serious addiction, or both. My own life has been no exception, so I confess that I feel acutely aware the topic.
That said, let’s look at some angles of interest.


There are several links missing from the above quote in this cut and paste, but I trust that you will read the blog, and check the links.

So. How careful should we be in our use of language when talking with or about people whose beliefs are unlikely and deserving of a healthy dose of skepticism?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project

On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

Saudi Arabia
1265 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  01:24:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Sanely challenged" maybe?

Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  04:39:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Loxton's position seems incoherent. He insists that listeners have some responsibility to be less thin-skinned, but then immediately tells an anecdote in which he "unreservedly" shoulders 100% of the responsibility for his word choice.

But what he an Novella both seem to be missing is the concept of "splash damage." It's not about the speaker or the intended audience, it's about the social atmosphere. The use of ableist terms helps to foster an atmosphere in which ableism is acceptable, just like the use of sexist terms and gendered insults helps to maintain the sexist society we currently live in. Imagine that the term in question wasn't "crazy," but was instead "nigger," and you'd think Loxton would have much more than "little in the way of solutions to offer." The solution seems obvious: if your goal is a world in which there is less ableism, then you should use less of the ableist language, and try to correct people around you who use it, too. I've recently been consciously working to eliminate the word "bitch" from my vocabulary for these reasons.

(What concerns me most of all - but is really off-topic here - is Loxton's parenthetical criticism of "there is no right to not be offended." Suggesting that there is a right to not be offended is to say that causing offense is a human rights issue, which implies that authorities and governments should step in to protect those whose rights have been trampled merely by being offended. This is not a slippery-slope argument; the idea that people have a right to not be offended logically leads to the conclusion that government censorship of "offensive" language and acts, like anti-blasphemy laws, is not only tolerable but proper.)

- 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

Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  06:14:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

"Sanely challenged" maybe?


Rationally Impaired

Suffering from an eviditiary deficiency

Thor's Special Children.

We should delineate between merely illogical and illucid.


Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  10:22:35   [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:
Imagine that the term in question wasn't "crazy," but was instead "nigger," and you'd think Loxton would have much more than "little in the way of solutions to offer."

I think he's saying that "crazy" implies mental illness and we shouldn't be capricious in our use of the term, being that there really are mentally ill people with ideas that fall into our wheelhouse and who really are mentally ill. But then, most of the people with "crazy" ideas aren't mentally ill. Substituting the word "nigger" which is almost always a racist pejorative which anyone with a social conscious will reject is something different, I think. Same goes for the use of the word "bitch." No woman is really a female dog, for example. And a black person is a black person. But is a person with a "crazy" idea really a mentally ill person? In this case, it's possible. But we seem to be pretty free with not separating the idea from the person who holds it. We often simply call them crazy. The implication is that the person is mentally ill, even though we may not really believe that the person is. Being wrong is usually not the same as being mentally ill.

Also, If we are going to eliminate sexist and racist phrases from our language, why give a pass on words like "crazy" which is disparaging to a segment of our population who really do suffer from mental illness ("crazy" is not in the DSM) by lumping in with them someone we don't agree with, even when their ideas are demonstrably false? Are we not making fun of the mentally ill when we do that? How are we not? I think what Daniel is saying is that we've been a bit too loose with the term. It's a cheap shot (I'm saying that) and not particularly accurate, except when it is. And it's one that I too use all too often. The blog got me to thinking...



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
26001 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  11:59:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Like being brown-skinned or being female, having a mental illness isn't the fault of the mentally ill person, and so they shouldn't be seen as second-class citizens. Terms like "crazy" are denigrating to all of them (like "nigger" is to brown people, "bitch" is to women, and "gay" is to homosexuals when used pejoratively), and thus contribute to an atmosphere in which both casual and institutional discrimination against the mentally ill thrive, and stigmatization can delay or prevent them from seeking help. (Much the same applies to "retard" and "idiot" and "moron" with regards to the developmentally challenged, and I'm trying to purge my vocab of them, too, but it's damn hard while driving on the highways around here.)

Loxton appears to be focused on not offending people in his intended audience (as did his objections to confrontationalism, if I remember correctly). I'm saying that we should instead look at the larger picture, as above, because it provides clear reasons for avoiding the use of such words, reasons that Loxton seems to be having trouble finding, if that's what his tentativeness indicates.

- 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
13462 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  12:35:25   [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
Why not bring your thoughts up on his blog, Dave?

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
26001 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2012 :  16:13:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Why not bring your thoughts up on his blog, Dave?
'Cause you seemed to be looking for comments here. And I'm all in favor of that.

- 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

alienist
Skeptic Friend

USA
210 Posts

Posted - 10/03/2012 :  19:06:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send alienist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I try to avoid calling someone crazy. Although I have to admit with other psychiatrists I do call certain people crazy. I also try to aviod calling someone schizophrenic, instead saying the person has schizophrenia. The word crazy is hard to avoid because it really is in our language and culture. I do agree it is important not to call a person crazy. It is a way of putting someone down.

I was wondering if it is okay to call an idea crazy or saying my 5 year old is driving me crazy

What especially bothers me is when people misue the word schizophrenic. People thinks it means having 2 opposing thoughts or having multiple personalities. interestingly, that idea of schizophrenia being "2 people" led me to read about schizophrenia in high school.

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well! - Joe Ancis
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 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 0.14 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000