First off let me say that I am a staunch defender of this forum.
Lots of really smart people frequent MD, and I know I have learned a lot reading these threads.
It is often the case that threads in this forum become debates, and again, I support that fully. Debates are useful when certain rules are followed, and I see that basic, simple rules are trampled here again and again.
Rule #1 - Be nice. A corollary is, "When confused, ask for clarification, don't make assumptions." We're talking about complex stuff here and the possibility of miscommunication is great.
Rule #2 - Re-read (now there's an assumption ), the fallacies document. I see so many good debates run into the gutter because the debaters resort to the use of fallacies in their arguments. Don't do it! Even if you get away with it, it's a meaningless victory. If you can't make your points without reverting to fallacies, then you're not ready to post!
Yes, apparently one poster used the word "fallacy", and someone complained to the moderators that he felt offended because the word had sexual overtones.
Originally posted by Bert Bates:
No, just an overall sense that interesting debates tend to devolve around here, and that if we all paid a little more attention we could have some truly interesting, lively discussions. I guess I just get disappointed again and again that topics with such promise get lost in the shuffle of carelessness.
MD could adopt Godwins law: http://info.astrian.net/jargon/terms/g/Godwin_s_Law.html
that would stop a few of the more heated discussions...
As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.
One recent thread certainly hit that point.
[ February 09, 2004: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
Acutally two. The first time it happened, I actually invoked Godwin, but things just kept on going.
As I grok it Godwin's Law isn't something which anyone invokes - it's something which happens. It's the embodyment of the observation that once someone has invoked the N**i's or the F***ists (particularly comparing other posters or the other political persuasion to them) that thread is intellectually dead. Not physically dead, alas. Indeed the volume may go up for a while. It's that which eventually chokes off discussion even when the rational posters determine to ignore the cacaphony around them. The effort needed to filter out the nonsense becomes too great....
BTW, many people slide in and out of the irrational state fairly easily. Myself not excluded. Lately I've handled such situations by simply refusing to acknowledge the existance of the raving one until they return to a rational state. Some trollers are in a more or less permanent state of irrationality but that isn't a major problem around here. Yet.
[ February 09, 2004: Message edited by: Bela Bardak ]
Here is a good FAQ on Godwin's Law, for those who may not have heard of it.
So what if we had impartial "fallacy police" to blow the whistle when infractions occur. Man, that would be a tough job...
Are we really trapped in Godwin's law - is there no hope for this type of forum?
Wouldn't it be a point of honor to be involved in a heated debate AND be rigorous in the quality of one's posts?
Granted I made some bold statements, however I also made an effort to give references as well. I received a few references in return and made the effort to read through those sources before posting a rebuttal.
Obviously there were many fallacies of argument being thrown around and I attempted to recall them as best I could so as not to have my argument picked apart and deemed meritless since I did spend time constructing them.
Alas, it was an interesting discussion for the most part and the thread has been graciously put out of its misery.