Archive for the 'Debate and Discussion' category

The last resort of the empowered

May 02 2016 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Debate and Discussion

They know they are wrong. The arguments on both sides have clarified the discussion and pointed the finger clearly at the powerful, the entitled, the entrenched and the beneficiaries. 
In desperation they pull their imagined trump card.

 "We can agree to disagree"

No, we really can't. 

13 responses so far

Reminder

You only get high up in gov bureacracy by being an unusually good liar.

Given this, words are of essentially zero value.

Actions are what confirm intent.

One response so far

Why bother fighting with a chap who calls most scientists "riff raff"?

Oct 13 2014 Published by under Debate and Discussion, Tribe of Science

Well, for some perspective I offer three older posts that addressed a different issue but tend to apply.

Weekend Diversion

Once a person has convinced him or herself that s/he is correct, or has a pretty good take on the world, the notion that s/he is a sap, fool, tool of advertising, subject to the laws of behavioral conditioning, biased, mistaken, illogical and the like is outside of the Overton window. Consequently, anything that suggests to them that they are mistaken, etc, must be flawed, illogical, unfair, below-the-belt, not-cricket, uninformed and/or meaniepants.

How to Argue Part II: On name-calling and ad hominem attacks

This is when it is occasionally necessary to call someone a nasty name and attack their person, as opposed to their argument.
Okay, okay, calm down knickers-knotters and sphincter-ratcheters. We are not talking about the tactics of a specific venue and whether it is in fact better to call someone an asshat straight out (dorm room bullshit session, pub, etc) or elocute around it semi-politely in such a way as they know exactly what you mean. I still maintain that tactically the best approach is to address the act, rather than the person but I allow for exceptions. Nevertheless you need to make some things explicitly clear.
You do not agree that the two of you are on the same side, that you are working for the same goods and that this person is one of the good guys. Rather, you believe that this person is on the bad side and in your estimation closer to the people you both agree are on the bad side, than s/he is to the people you both agree are on the good side of an argument.

How to Argue Part III: Sometimes, it's just time for a good fight

So why get in these fights? Is it a moral flaw? Some might see it that way. A bullying personality? Perhaps, although I'll return to this in a minute. A variance in entertainment preference (sure) similar to those who enjoy boxing, hockey or dogfights (ummm....)? Blowing off steam? Cry in the wilderness? Staking a claim? Street theater?

Happy reading. Make sure to check out the comments from my always perspicacious readers.

2 responses so far

Always good to review Jay Smooth's advice on -ists

Jan 24 2014 Published by under #FWDAOTI, Debate and Discussion

7 responses so far

Discussion

Sep 05 2013 Published by under Debate and Discussion

It's been a bit since I pontificated on discourse. (I know PhysioProffe really misses these types of blather.) I do recommend you read those prior comments.

For today though, a more conciliatory note.

While we might ferociously stick to our position, talking points and arguments in certain scenarios, if we really genuinely want to advance a discussion this can be unwise.

It is essential to drop your position and pugnacity for a second or two and really, genuinely consider where the other person is coming from.

To walk the proverbial mile in their shoes.

And above all else, to think hard about how your stance and opinions appear to other people. This requires including how they perceive you instead of how you perceive yourself.

It can also help to credit the other person's concerns as if they were as important to them as your concerns are to you. Because chances are this is indeed the case.

I find myself in yet another knock down argument with a guy who, I am pretty sure, I share a lot of fundamental concerns with. On the face of it.

Yet I am convinced this guy is almost pathologically unable to genuinely recognize and consider the viewpoint and circumstances of other people.

There are generally two reasons for this.

First, a sort of overweening personal arrogance that, I am sad to report, is endemic to academics. This is the sort of arrogance born of a lifetime of being smarter than most other people, burnished by happening into a position of (modest, this is academics, mind) power in which many people do not challenge you. Underscored by a profession in which, despite the credit being supposed to come from the work you have done, obsessively views accomplishments as the subsidiary outcome of personal worth.

I don't think, after a few go-rounds with this fine chap, that this is the problem.

This leaves me with the second problem. Wherein the inability to budge off talking points, the refusal to see complexity of human trajectories and the blindness to others' lived experience comes from a theological adherence to a higher calling.

Religion, in essence.

It does funny things to people.

I do my fair share of preaching around this blog. And I do my fair share of sticking to my talking points.

But anyone who has been around long knows that what I'm really addicted to is the differential lived experiences of those of you more or less in the broader envelopes of academics, academic science and particularly the subfields that fall under the broad scope of Biology.

I am addicted to walking the mile in your smelly-arsed shoes folks.

8 responses so far

Observation about OPEN EVERYTHING!!!!1111!! Revolutionaries

Feb 21 2013 Published by under Conduct of Science, Debate and Discussion, FWDAOTI

They sure do get huffy when they themselves are the ones being subjected to open peer review.

13 responses so far

Open Thred

Yeah....

I'm getting bored with current conversations around and about. And I'm not feeling the blog muse.

What do YOU want to talk about?

52 responses so far

Innocence

Sep 26 2011 Published by under Debate and Discussion, Uncategorized

As you are probably aware there was a lot of hoopla from the lefty libby dirty hippies in the US and kibitzing OldEuro types on social media because the State of Georgia killed this guy. The reasons are pretty well captured in the accompanying article

Davis has repeatedly said he did not kill MacPhail, and seven out of nine witnesses who gave evidence at his trial in 1991 have recanted or changed their testimony.

No murder weapon was ever found, no DNA evidence or fingerprints tie him to the crime, and other witnesses have since said the murder was committed by another man -- a state's witness who testified against him.

This is not hard to grasp.

I have donated to the Innocence Project because I believe in this part of their mission statement.

The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.

I did not do so because I oppose capital punishment. As it happens, another unhappy soul was also executed recently, this time in the State of Texas.

Texas executed Lawrence Brewer, a white supremacist who was unquestionably guilty of the gruesome dragging death slaying of a black man in 1998.

I intentionally linked to the leftie-libby DFH argument that these are morally and ethically the same events because I disagree. here's his crux:

The death of James Byrd Jr. -- the black man who was tied to the back of a pickup truck in Jasper, Texas and dragged to his death -- is shocking to recall, almost 15 years later. His murder is almost unimaginably cruel; it is impossible to read the details without being overcome with anger and revulsion. Yet this is what James Byrd's sister had to say on the eve of Lawrence Brewer's execution: "If I saw him face to face, I'd tell him I forgive him for what he did. Otherwise I'd be like him."

I pay exactly as much attention to victims' pleas for mercy as I do to their pleas for vengeance. The reason we have a rule of law in the first place is that justice and punishment have to come from a reasonably detached (blind lady justice?), societal point of view. Remember Dukakis and his famous flail on the question of what he would do if his wife were raped? I think Kerry managed to ass that one up too. The real answer Dems should espouse is my answer.

"I'd want to go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch. Are you fucking kidding? Anyone would. And given half a chance I damn well would. But there is no place for that sort of gutter, BronzeAge revenge-of-the-powerful jurisprudence in a just society. And THAT is why I support the rule of law."

But in a democratic society we also meander towards approximations via what is, at root, barely managed democracy. The will of the people, so to speak. And the will of this person is that we, as a society and after due process, execute a guy like Lawrence Brewer. And this asshole too. People like this. maybe this gang of assholes.

But I also think our crime solving and crime convicting systems suck and are tremendously error prone. And have incredibly naked and thoroughly established racial and socio-economic biases.

So I donate to a project that wants to improve that. Even if they do, at root, have goals that are at odds with my support of capital punishment as a valid societal option.

61 responses so far

Pick 'em

When people opine:

"You have to pick your battles"

it isn't that I disagree. Really.

I just always want to know,

"So which battle *did* you pick?"

For some reason this is not well received.

15 responses so far

Query

Mar 04 2011 Published by under #FWDAOTI, BlogBlather, Debate and Discussion

What animals could you take in hand to hand* combat?

*damn pedantic scientists

32 responses so far

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