by Judith Curry
Motivated by discussion initiated by Brandon Shollenberger, I put together a post that discusses conduct for effective rational discussion and blog netiqette.
A code of conduct for effective rational discussion
I just came across an excellent post at Evolving Thoughts, entitled “A code of conduct for effective rational discussion” (h/t Bob Grumbine), based upon Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments by Edward T. Damer.
I am doing this because of a major confusion that I have recently and over the years encountered, thinking that argument is about winning. It is not. It is about reaching the best conclusion one can from the premises one has access to. In simpler terms, it’s about approaching truth.
In The Sophist, Plato rightly attacks those who treat oratory and argument as a game in which the prize is to sway, by any means possible, one’s audience. This is something that can be achieved almost without any logic or reason at all, as politicians (and one 20th century politician in particular, but we shan’t Godwinise the post before we begin) so often demonstrate. A critical and honest population is the only guard against this evil. And for that, you need to know the rules of debate. This list is better than Plato’s dialogues.
Click on each for a discussion:
- The Fallibility Principle
- The Truth-Seeking Principle
- The Clarity Principle
- The Burden of Proof Principle
- The Principle of Charity
- The Relevance Principle
- The Acceptability Principle
- The Sufficiency Principle
- The Rebuttal Principle
- The Resolution Principle
- The Suspension of Judgement Principle
- The Reconsideration Principle
- Fleck’s Addendum
How NOT to do it
JT provides an interesting link on how NOT to engage in fruitful blogospheric discussion
Climate Etc. netiquette
Strategies for making effective posts:
- Respond to the argument, not to the person. What another participant stated on another blog in another context should not be used to discredit or otherwise challenge the participant. Changing your mind in response to new evidence and arguments is valued here.
- Only respond to comments that you feel are deserving of your attention, and ignore the rest. By being ignored, commenters who are not deemed interesting by others will give up and go elsewhere.
- Don’t take criticisms personally, don’t rise to “bait” or attempts at “gotchas.” Make the points YOU want to make.
- If you make a mistake, acknowledge it. Email me if you would like a “take back”, which is strikethrough of your comment that absolves you from any further expectation of defense or discussion of the comment.
- Be patient with people having less technical expertise or background than yourself.
The following will not be tolerated here:
- Comments using offensive words will be flagged by the spam filter.
- No ad hominem attacks, slurs or personal insults. Do not attribute motives to another participant.
- Snarkiness is not appreciated here; nastiness and excessive rudeness are not allowed.
- Don’t grind your personal axes by filling up the comments with extensive posts that are not deemed relevant or interesting in the context of blog objectives.
I have not banned anyone or put them into moderation (yet), although I have deleted some inflammatory posts that were without substance. I would prefer not to put individuals into “detention” since this will open the blog to criticism that I am censoring view points.
The simplest solution to problems with with irrelevant, pointless or rude posts is for the other commenters to ignore the posts or send me an email; they will lose interest and go away. I will try to keep on top of this a bit more.
And finally, i think the two types of threads (technical vs discussion) helps distill a signal and promotes more meaningful discussion on the technical threads, while the discussion threads have much more latitude and can be fun and interesting in a different way.
I am open to suggestions on how to improve things.
Happy New Year!