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How to Sabotage Skepticism from the Inside: Entwine the Claim with the Cause PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Cuno   

Ever ordered Sea Monkeys from the back of a comic book? They are not monkeys at all, but brine shrimp, tiny creatures whose eggs survive long periods in a nearly-dry state.

I can only hope that you will join with me in my outrage. Brine shrimp eggs are ripped from their natural habitat and shipped to hatch far from family and friends. Many eggs do not survive the arduous trip. The lucky ones that survive do not live free, but are doomed to an unfulfilling aquarium life as the “property” of snot-nosed kids. It is not unlike the early slave trade in the U.S.

If you are tempted to click “Add Comment,” be forewarned. Should you challenge my likening the brine shrimp trade to the slave trade, or question whether brine shrimp are capable of feeling fulfilled or unfulfilled, or ask me to back up the claim that kids are snot-nosed … I have an ace up my sleeve. I shall call you a racist. Nay, even better, I shall accuse you of being pro-slavery.

It’s a nifty, sleight-of-mind trick that lets me get away with begging the question, setting up a straw man and launching an ad hominem attack, all while looking like I’m defending decency. Heck, I may even fool myself.

If you’d like to try my trick, here are the steps: (1) Make a claim and apply it to a worthy cause. (2) Should people challenge assumptions underlying the claim, accuse them of opposing the cause. (3). Call them names and encourage others to jump on your bandwagon  Thus it will make short work of any opponents. Not only that. You will emerge feeling validated, even justified, eager and ready to launch the process again. And again.

Of course, this doesn’t happen in the real world. Skeptics aren’t so human as to indulge such tactics, wittingly or unwittingly, much less fall for them. Thank goodness for that.

 

 

Steve Cuno is a three-time TAM speaker and regular Randi.org contributor. He is also bald. Disagree with him and he may call you a scalpist. If you have nothing better to do with your time than read Steve’s blogs, click here.

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written by Mrs. A.S., January 18, 2012
I absolutely agree with you without the least hesitation or reservation. (I don't even need to read this post to know I agree with you because I am vehemently anti-scalpism! So, whatever you say I shall readily agree with to prove how truly anti-scalpism I am!) smilies/wink.gif
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written by Sc00ter, January 18, 2012
Great article. Of course the people that really should take this to heart either won't think it's them that are doing it, or will write off their actions as being justified in some way. Good old cognitive dissonance at work.
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written by Streptococcus pyogenes, January 18, 2012
Where would the internet and skeptic community be without straight white men and their passive-aggressive grumbling about being forced to question their assumption that they're too intelligent to be bigots?
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written by Blackmere, January 18, 2012
If you are talking about a specific instance, you should be forthright and name them. By being vague you're opening this up for wild speculation that could bury the point you are trying to make.
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written by tankgrrl, January 18, 2012
Please explain to me how this is a great article? It's just snark. It engages only those in on 'the joke' (such as it is) and it furthers skepticism only in exposing our in-fighting and... that we write like 7th graders whose snark and hyperbole glands just kicked in.

This looks more like something off of Livejournal or a comment on Reddit than a thoughtful article the JREF can stand behind.
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written by tankgrrl, January 18, 2012
Never mind I just got it. The title is "How to Sabotage Skepticism from the Inside".
So this article is a step towards sabotaging skepticism from the inside.
Given the shocked disbelief of skeptics on Twitter that the JREF would promote this sort of school yard taunting, I'd say you're succeeding.
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WTFudge?
written by snutting, January 18, 2012
Sounds like Steve has a bone to pick with someone in the skeptical community.
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written by Emrysmyrddin, January 18, 2012
Because skepticism is all about Bigfoot and aliens. We totes can't attempt to apply it to social justice, or civil rights, or mainstream media claims, or 'everybody just knows'. As soon as you attempt that, you must hand in your shiny Skeptic's Badge (what do you mean, you didn't get yours?). We wouldn't want the skeptical movement to become a laughing-stock, would we? Best just stick to the chupacabra, and leave all that boring, impactful, insightful stuff to, I don't know, women or something.
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Circle the wagons!
written by Idle, January 18, 2012
I read the comments here, and immediately I see Step 3 being thrown into action. For those jumping on the bandwagon, note step 1, applying it to a "WORTHY" cause. Quit being children and accept that maybe someone challenging your tactics is sometimes valid, even if your cause is just. He is NOT attacking your cause. But, ya know, its too late for that, now we have a "bigot" in our midst!
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written by Spurll, January 18, 2012
I agree with Streptococcus pyogenes. This childish taunting avails us nothing, while being deliberately vague enough to evade any criticism by saying, "You just didn't get it. That's not what I was talking about." Remember when Phil Plait said "Don't Be a Dick"?
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written by RedSeaRoadkill, January 18, 2012
tankgrrl: I won't defend Sc00ter's use of "Great article", but I can address your next claim.

"It's just snark. It engages only those in on 'the joke' (such as it is) and it furthers skepticism only in exposing our in-fighting and... that we write like 7th graders whose snark and hyperbole glands just kicked in."

It's not just snark. The author is describing an effective (if reprehensible) debating technique, and the logical flaws associated with it. This is exactly germane to this blog, and reasonably of interest to the skeptics who read it. It certainly is also snarky, but this would hardly be the first time such a tone was struck on these pages.

Personally, I would have preferred the author point to a particular implementation rather than leaving it subject to speculation, which is why I disagree with Sc00ter and I think this article is merely good, not great. Had the author cited an example, at least you could have provided a fact-based counter-argument along with your insults.
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written by Maki, January 18, 2012
Likewise. No matter the author's intent or target (We really have no way of knowing for sure), this sort of passive-aggression doesn't help anybody. If you have a specific target, say so, and begin civil discourse.
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written by Baloney, January 18, 2012
Being a bigoted scalpist does not invalidate my claims.
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written by RedSeaRoadkill, January 18, 2012
Maki: Even if there's no specific target, don't you think there's still value in learning to recognize the tactic?
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written by Emrysmyrddin, January 18, 2012
Of course there's value in recognising silencing techniques. Firstly, it's a shame that others don't, something that I think is relevant in this instance; secondly, making this article snide and inspecific is not trying to provoke legitimate debate - it's just trying to provoke. I'm sick of it.
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written by squareone, January 18, 2012
Steve, I humbly suggest that in your eagerness to forward the cause of the baldies (can I use that word?), you are painting the world black and white. Could you consider the possibility that there might be shades of grey? I understand that as a hairy-head, my perceptions are different than yours. Because they are different you may feel compelled to consider them less valid. How would you view the opinions of someone who did not come to baldness so easily as yourself? If someone shaved their head to obtain baldness, would you value their views as a baldy?
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written by Todd W., January 18, 2012
Okay. You want to illustrate poor, logically flawed debating tactics? Go ahead. You want to suggest that this is a problem in the skeptical community, then give some examples. Otherwise, you get an article like this eliciting a "Yeah? And?" response. There is no relevance; no context. Yes, it's snarky, which is fine, but there's also a strong whiff o' whine to it.

JREF deserves stronger, more mature articles than this.
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written by Maki, January 18, 2012
Target or not, it's one thing to bring up an issue and say, "hey, lets talk about this" but it's another all together to throw it in the air and exit with a snarky remark. Any sort of educational intent has been eclipsed by the inflammatory tone.

Nobody has said it yet, but it's borderline trolling, and perhaps I'm being too nice about it.
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written by Bytor, January 18, 2012
Let me start off by saying that I basically agree with the spirit of Steve Cuno's post.

No, he didn't present his argument in the best way, coming across passive-aggressive and a little too snarky, as Maki said, but given the squabbles we've been seeing in the Skeptics movement lately, can you really blame him for not giving specifics? I'd be a little gun-shy myself about naming names in the current atmosphere.

There's a lot of "if you're not with us then you're against us" going on and not very much critical thinking in many of these more heated debates, and i say that not only about the sides that I have argued against, myself, but also about the sides I have argued for. People on both sides using shaming and silencing techniques to shut others up whom they don't agree with rather than using an approach more in line with the skeptic values of evidence-based opinions and rationality.

Perhaps maybe we all need to take a few steps back, a few calming breaths, and then remember that the people we are debating with are our friends - a community we've all chosen to be a part on the basis of shared values and a common outlook on life - and that we all owe each other respect and the humility that we ourselves may be wrong, not just them.

I'd hate for my new found community to splinter up only two years after I found all you guys.
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My goodnesas
written by jj, January 18, 2012
If we're all going to act like this, why don't we just give the keys of the universe to the creationists, homeopaths, and mediums.
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written by seth54, January 18, 2012
Confusion. Anger. Accusation. Complaint. More anger. Clever observation. Rant that misses the point. End of comment.
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written by Bytor, January 18, 2012
I just hope that I am "Clever observation" rather than "Rant that misses the point". :-)
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written by jaznet77, January 18, 2012
You know what, maybe this article is a little snarky, but it almost has to be to represent the disgust associated with the behavior he is talking about. I am not even on the inside of skepticism...i'm not associated with any big names, and I've never been tangled up in any of the messes I've seen played out online, but what I've seen makes me want to call myself a skeptic less and less each day. So, Steve didn't state a specific example, but I don't know that doing what would have aided the point he was trying to make at all. Would referring to an incident that people could go back and forth arguing about have been just as insightful as the pages and pages of ramblings and, "he said she said," that went on between Rebecca Watson and Ben Radford? I don't think it would have. I think what he is talking about here is behavior in general. Maybe I'm wrong, but I am just a person. I can be bias and irrational and emotional. I have certain topics that I care deeply about and don't want to be wrong about, and I have certain issues I will support or disagree with more strongly than others. Recognizing where your biases are and knowing when you're most likely to not think critically is something I think a lot of people need to do. The way people are taking whatever side they think they are on to defend whoever they think they are defending because of whatever event this article might be referring to demonstrates that.
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Cuno comments...
written by Steve Cuno, January 18, 2012
Only a fool steps into the Comments section of his own article. Here I am.

Just wanted to note for the record: Some have suspected DJ Grothe of being the impetus behind my article. Nonsense. It was my idea and mine alone. I submitted it to Randi.org’s volunteer editor, who, in accordance with established practice with long-term contributors to the site, ran it without consulting her boss or DJ.

I phoned DJ this morning and asked if, had he known about the post, he would have have nixed it. He said three things: 1) He would probably have allowed the piece to run, in a spirit of open dialog, however, 2) he would have asked me to be more specific in order to avoid the very firestorm I seem to have caused. 3) He agrees with my observations about THE BEHAVIOR, which both he and I have observed ON BOTH SIDES of various conflicts within the skeptical community, and not just recently.

I might add that despite repercussions directed at DJ that should rightly be directed at me, he was thoughtful and warm when I called. Can't help but like the guy.

—Steve Cuno
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written by tankgrrl, January 18, 2012
"3) He agrees with my observations about THE BEHAVIOR, which both he and I have observed ON BOTH SIDES of various conflicts within the skeptical community, and not just recently. "

Steve, that behavior has been alive and well on the Internet and in society for decades and centuries, respectively. Just pointing to it [sideways, in this case] does nothing. The 'both sides' guilt that DJ mentioned, I hasten to point out, now includes this article. You have, all the while intending to slyly spoof the wrapping of one thing in another as a bludgeon, wrapped one thing in another to use it as a bludgeon. Your use of snarky passive-aggression while avoiding specifics is substance-less and, I stand by my characterization of it as 'playground'. Yes, the behaviour exists, yes it's bad, but just pointing out a bad behaviour doesn't bolster your wrapped-inside argument... because you didn't present one. You implied which side you are on in a certain argument for those who were already in the know on said argument and wouldn't miss your not-so-subtle clues.

If this had been posted on your personal blog, I would have considered it just a single opinion and an instance of that other behavior (snarky passive-aggression - not the one you're trying to call out, silencing) and moved on. But posting on Swift is different, for reasons I hope I don't have to outline here.

By the way, you've only noted that DJ said you went about this the wrong way (but noted that he agreed with the premise of your article had it been presented differently). You haven't said YOU think you went about it all wrong.
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written by Mrs. A.S., January 18, 2012
WOW!!! Seems we want Steve to name names and be specific so we can call him out for the secret very bad "ism" he must possess. (Oh, no! Is he for my cause or against my cause? I can't tell, so I can't call him a whateverist.) I think Steve's only cause is to promote good argumentation practices for skeptics by illustrating bad ones. What is wrong with pointing out a debating technique which is something, as skeptics, we should guard against? Moreover, what is wrong with pointing out that technique through the use of satire and humor, using an example unlikely to offend anyone except, perhaps, snot-nosed kids. Eureka!! Steve is a snot-nosed kidist!!!

If you're finding this post so offensive, perhaps it is because you have abandoned the fundamental principles of skepticism for another worthy cause, and Steve's post has served as a mirror which reflected something you would rather not see. Fight your worthy cause, whatever it might be!!! But, if you claim to be a skeptic, fight that cause without compromising the basic tenets of skepticism.
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Irony, snark, and pointlessness
written by bkthorp, January 18, 2012
Dear all:

When did skeptics get so down on irony and snark? I thought they were some of the more useful weapons in our collective arsenal. Sometimes, saying "please allow me to present an alternate view" is less appropriate than saying "I must now point out some serious BS." The latter carries a whiff of moral opprobrium, which, last I checked, is a genuine human emotion, and not always uncalled for.

As to Steve's lack of examples: What the author has done here is explain a rather subtle logical fallacy. The nature of logical fallacies is that they appear over and over again with slightly different shadings in a variety of situations, and are deployed as weapons in all kinds of conflicts. If Steve had brought up a specific example, he ran the risk of being mistaken for a partisan in one of those conflicts, rather than an observer of a phenomenon. Perhaps Swiftians are too mature of intellect to make such errors, but there's reason to wonder. After all, even without Steve's having raised examples, readers have assumed they know the conflicts to which he refers, and seem eager to argue the merits of those cases rather than the reality of the rhetorical mechanism Steve has described. So I can't see that it's made much difference.

A more profitable line of inquiry might be: Is the mechanism Steve has described real? Is it a bad thing? And if it is real, and if it is a bad thing, can anyone recall an instance in which they've seen that mechanism in action?

- BKT
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written by Bytor, January 18, 2012
Sometimes I wonder if Skepticism is experiencing it's own Eternal September analogue? (Though not necessarily with students.)
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Byton, it's disturbing that people have to personalize everything.
written by jj, January 18, 2012
That does seem to be what's happening here.

Until we stop letting people lead us into this kind of death spiral, skepticism will be less effective than Sylvia Browne.
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written by RedSeaRoadkill, January 18, 2012
bkthorp:

I wholeheartedly agree that the argument is valid, and beneficial, without citing a specific example. The only reason to expect an example in this case is the title, in which Steve makes the argument that this tactic and its concomitant logical fallacies are 'sabotaging skepticism from the inside.' This strongly implies someone on the 'inside' of skepticism is engaging in this kind of sabotage. Once we're being that specific, I think we deserve to have that accusation backed up with a reference, especially when recent events provide a few plausible choices.
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My $.02
written by badrescher, January 18, 2012
Great piece, Steve. IMO, as with Phil's DBAD speech, calling out specific people/incidents would completely derail the purpose of the piece (provided I have interpreted it correctly). The majority of the comments here serve, ironically, as great examples of the kind of thought that leads to the behavior you've described. jj noted "personalizing", which I think is a good description of a set of major roadblocks to rational thinking that we often discuss. To see so much of it here is disheartening.
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written by RedSeaRoadkill, January 18, 2012
I realized upon re-reading my last post I gave the wrong impression -- I would overall prefer NOT pointing out specific examples, as badrescher points out. What I would have most preferred is a less-accusatory title.
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written by AmyD, January 18, 2012
I am a long time reader of JREF and I am a little disappointed in this article. I don't know the back story, but it just rubs me the wrong way for a few reasons. One is the snarkiness and the assumption that we skeptics should know better about something, something that isn't fully described but we should know about it anyway. Second, it says we shouldn't fall for labels. Sounds good, but then again, about 90% of the time I read someone writing something like that, there have been details left out and the person crying about "political correctness" really should be reevaluating what he or she said and dang it in these 90% cases I often find myself thinking that I would love for them to, for once, turn themselves around and start defending their mother and sisters or neighbors of another race or GLBT that they previously slighted and therefore earned them some label they didn't want, and not themselves, again. I know I don't know anything about what happened but that's what it makes me think, and really, the author should be telling us the story and not the conclusions anyway, for just this reason. Skeptics don't want the conclusions, we want the facts first.
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written by kenhamer, January 18, 2012
I sure wish I knew what this post/thread is about.
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Done and done...
written by amira, January 18, 2012
Tankgirl, I don't know what Twitter you're on but manufacturing reality by implying that the "shocked disbelief of skeptics on Twitter" is something more than a small clan of clingy supporters is completely intellectually dishonest. All I see here is another desperate attempt to remain the biggest star on the Z list. The one thing I do see on Twitter is the person who you defend complimenting you on your posts here. And voila, more comments by you magically pop up.

This article is completely on point. I've been following this story for far too long (thanks to one side beating that poor dead horse) and all I can say is that as a woman who has been in the environment of all the people involved in this ridiculous clusterf*ck the only time I feel left out and not welcome is around the less successful women who pepper the outer edges of the movement (non professionals, bloggers and their entourage).

I know this is off topic but enough is enough. I haven't seen one woman ever say a thing about how these women treat women they don't have in their circle at conferences and conventions. Personally, I was never mistreated by men at any time and the only time I felt uncomfortable was when I was getting the stare down by women (and their male friends/partners) who are vaguely recognized as peripheral characters. Male and female scientists, organizers, writers etc (oddly enough, except the 1 or 2 well known men that hang with the women in question) always have a wonderful way of making me feel like I have a place in the skeptic's movement. This is not the case with the women involved in this debacle of a non story.

Meta arguments are for people who can't find another way to get attention.

p.s. As a disclaimer: the lady's childish and strange territorial behavior that I've witnessed at conventions doesn't take away from anything negative that may have happened to her/them. End.
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written by Todd W., January 18, 2012
Like I said in my earlier comment, after reading this article, I was left just thinking, "And?" Implying that there is some controversy within the skeptical movement, where there are, presumably, a number of individuals taking one side or another, but then not saying what the problem actually is, strikes me as rather pointless. "Hey! There's a controversy! Umm...that's all I got. Carry on." I'm not calling for names, but at least give some context. I don't know the background of what prompted this post. I have suspicions, but there's no meat to the article to ground it in anything constructive.

Telling us that we need to apply skepticism even to ourselves and whatever cause we are arguing for (or against)? Well, no duh. If there is a problem and we want to, as a community, fix that problem, then talk about the problem itself instead of pussyfooting around the issue with vague assertions and strained analogies. Like I said, it's all well and good to talk in the abstract about argumentation and logical fallacies, but if you're applying it to a situation, give something to make it relevant.

And finally, I have no problem with the snark, but if you're going to tinge your post with whine, at least give us a bit of cheeze, too.
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Interesting
written by Autahskeptic, January 18, 2012
Im not sure what so many of you are upset about. Have you ever been called something you're not because you disagreed with someone? Remember when the vaccine people called Steven novella a baby eater?
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Magic?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Mrs. A.S., January 19, 2012
Fascinating, Tankgrrl! You're saying that the original post has to be about Rebecca Watson and/or Skepchick. There have been a number of controversies in the skeptic community in the past, many of which have resulted in the type of behavior Steve has described in his post. Vilifying people's motivations and name-calling are par for the course in heated debates. But, these types of debating techniques are not the hallmark of well-reasoned, evidence-based argumentation which we should be engaging in as skeptics.

I don't understand why you would want to associate Rebecca Watson and/or Skepchick with the type of behavior Steve is discussing in his post.
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..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
More personalization, more personalization, and yet more personalization
written by jj, January 19, 2012
The more people insist on taking everything personally, the more we give power to the Sylvias and such.

Please, folks, try to avoid the personal attacks.
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Why does [person's name] hate seamonkeys?
written by doctoratlantis, January 19, 2012
It drives me crazy to see [person's name] post stuff that viciously attacks other people in the [specific community name]. I have a friend that really likes to write about [noun] and they wrote something that [same person's name] disagreed with. And then [a popular blogger] and [a popular blogger] jumped in and the attacks were all about my friend and less about the [adjective] topic of contention. Sometimes people are wrong but it doesn't make them a [noun] or [adjective][plural noun]. In a perfect world people who are part of the same [adjective] community would work to move the causes of that movement forward without [gerund]-over other people just because they hold dissenting views. It comes down, I think to the question of whether one's goals are to [verb] or to [verb]. If the latter is the goal, surely as a community we would be [adjective] if we tried harder to focus on issues rather than [noun]. I believe we should save our vitriol for [adjective][plural noun] like Kevin Trudeau. But that's just my opinion - and opinions are like [plural body part]: everyone has one and they all [verb].
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@tankgrrl
written by badrescher, January 19, 2012
Asking Steve to name names completely defeats the purpose of the post and derails the conversation, allowing individual biases to be used to judge whether the criticism is valid. Instead, the conversation should be about the behavior in general and should serve to prevent such behavior in the future (a worthwhile goal) rather than beat a dead horse about whether or not it has occurred in the past (not as productive).

The single biggest roadblock to good reasoning is to use context to judge the validity of an argument. Steve understands this. It's scary that so much of the community does not.
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written by Mrs. A.S., January 19, 2012
I think it is pretty clear what the article is about. Steve is talking about ways in which issues get debated which as good skeptics we should avoid. You seem to want to personalize his post to Rebecca Watson and/or Skepchick in particular.

IMO, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking about an issue at a high level, which is what Steve has done. Does every discussion about skepticism and what is required of us as skeptics have to turn into a flame war about particular individuals or groups?

Perhaps you have layered your personal disagreements with sc00ter or others onto what Steve has said. Please, take a step back and look at this post in the way I believe Steve intended. He's talking to all of us about how we should engage in debate as skeptics by illustrating bad debating techniques which tend to occur in all heated debates. We're all human, and all of us have been guilty of what Steve is talking about including Steve, I'm sure. (And I'm sure Steve would be willing and happy to admit it. I am willing and happy to plead guilty as charged. Thanks for the reminder that I need to do better, Steve!)
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@doctoratlantis
written by badrescher, January 19, 2012
The post has a bit more content to it. He is fairly specific about the behavior he finds counterproductive. He just doesn't provide a specific real-life example to illustrate. He DOES provide a fictional example and it's pretty clear what he's saying. I see nothing wrong with avoiding a conversation about a real-life controversy that would drowned out his point.

And, quite frankly, I'm baffled why this conversation continues.
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written by tankgrrl, January 19, 2012
OK. From the down-voting it's clear I'm the bad guy here. I will sit down and shut up.
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The Balducci Manoeuver Revealed, or Do Android Tankgrrls Wear Slightly Sweaty Tanktops?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Honest introspection provides better results than narcissism.
written by squareone, January 19, 2012
Steve providing suggestions that skeptics can communicate most effectively by making sound arguments and considering other's point of view is nothing new. This has been a common theme in his writing and speaking for years. If you read this and thought "Yeah, thanks for the reminder" welcome to the club. If you read this and thought "this is totally about me" perhaps you should take it up with yourself.
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written by The Central Scrutinizer, January 19, 2012
You're so vain, you probably think this thread is about you, don't you?
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written by Mark P, January 19, 2012
Some of you need to be given examples? Where have you been while avoiding the modern earth?

Man-hating riding the wave of feminism.
Ultra-gun-lovers hiding behind the cloak of "loving the constitution".
Hackers trying to pretend that they are "keeping the internet free".
Tobacco company directors using the "freedom of choice" motif.

Very few women are actually man-haters, but when you do meet one they wheel out the strategy listed in the article, big time – it's you who becomes the woman hater (even if you are female, note) . Not all gun owners are nutcases, but try to suggest to the nutcases that guns are dangerous and should be limited, and they suggest you can't be a patriot!

The examples are so legion that it's hard to stop thinking of them. Not that it's particularly modern:
Anti-Americanism in 1970s Germany hiding behind the skirts of anti-nuclear protests.
Slave owners hiding behind "state's rights"
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...
written by ash, January 20, 2012
A supplement to the OP:

If you find yourself arguing against someone with a cause and are unable to win them over, do not consider the possibility that they are correct. Instead, accuse them of mixing the claim with the cause.

Don't do this directly by using specific examples or providing evidence. That would simply return you to the nightmare of engaging people who don't agree with every word you say. Instead, make up a cause using examples from comics books or advertising directed at kids. This will emphasize your opponents' silly, childlike nature.

If many people support your opponents, make sure to use words like “bandwagon”. You want readers to assume their supporters have not been won by argument, but are simply a bunch of bleating sheep. Accuse them of calling people names. Don't be concerned that people on both sides of the argument have done this. Remember, this is all just hypothetical!

Make sure to use a provocative title when posting this so people understand the radical danger you and all of skepticism face.

Finally, feel great about yourself. You're a True Skeptic, and you couldn't possibly be wrong.
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@Mark P
written by Todd W., January 20, 2012
Okay, great. A bunch of examples. But, at least for me, the criticism I have is that Steve's article implied that there was some specific problem of the nature he describes currently affecting the skeptical movement and which threatens to bring it toppling down. By not providing any examples, his post doesn't do much beyond suggesting that we all need to be vigilant about our own behavior and apply the same skepticism to ourselves as we do to claims from those outside the skeptical movement. Again, no duh. It's a good reminder, but it does nothing to address whatever problem he's hinting currently exists, if there even is one.

Some, not just tankgrrl, have suggested that he's writing about issues around Rebecca Watson and/or Skepchick. It's not clear, though, if that was his intention. So, instead of addressing whatever controversy/disagreement/pissing match he seems to think is plaguing skeptics and working to remedy the situation, his post just serves to create argumentation where none may really exist. Just look at this thread.

His advice is good, but tying it to "sabotaging skepticisim from the inside" muddies the message.
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@ash
written by badrescher, January 20, 2012
Your label of that as "a supplement" adds to its straw man appeal. The comment is filled with assumptions about motivations and follows much of the behavior outlined in the OP. I continue to be amazed at the amount of irony that any good post produces in the comment section.
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But The Cool Thing, Lowly rated comment [Show]
...
written by Vic333, January 21, 2012
While it may seem snarky at first, the post's method of removing specific examples and focusing on tactics is a good way to examine behavior. And, rather than trying to make the lesson fit a specific case, I believe it would be far more productive to just be aware of such behaviors in the future.
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If you find yourself reacting defensively to this post...
written by Tristan, January 22, 2012
... perhaps it might be a good idea to examine your conscience for signs of guilt?
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or...
written by Tristan, January 22, 2012
... you could make yourself feel better by clicking the "vote down" button.

Go on, hit that thing! You know you want to. Hit it until all those bad feelings go away.
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don't cha know?
written by laursaurus, January 26, 2012
This is obviously talking about Randi coming out as a lukewarmer.
Because that meant he was denying global warming and propollution.
It made him ONE OF THEM!
smilies/wink.gif
Just pointing out that this argument from ideology has been around long before girls were over pinkified.
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Dirty Laundry?
written by laursaurus, January 26, 2012
"Perhaps we should ask the author to clear this up then, since the post obviously did not. As for my 'wants', it's nothing to do with my 'wants'. This is exactly the reason why this sort of article is counter-productive, it leaves all this dirty laundry up in the air so no one can pull anything down and try to get it washed."

Interesting metaphor. "Wash"...??? Ideologically-charged term there.
The saying is "don't air your dirty laundry." IOW, the sage advice is not to advertise your personal problems and expect to other people to mind their own business. How exactly did Steve's article disclose anything that qualifies as TMI?
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Re: Dirty Laundry
written by badrescher, January 26, 2012
I'm pretty sure the idea was to wash ALL of it rather than argue over whether a specific item was 'dirty' or not.
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Re: re: Dirty Laundry
written by laursaurus, January 26, 2012
Ok, I think I get it.
Do you think she just wanted to iron things out? smilies/grin.gif
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