The audience who would see this kind of course/site are likely people who pretty much already have their head screwed on the right way. It would be much better to train them in effective rhetoric so they can counter the bullshit in real arguments.
We keep forgetting that people tend to support policies and politicians for largely social and psychological reasons, not because of facts and ideology. The former are where the real battle is fought.
I spend a lot of time debating with people who disagree with me politically. It's nearly impossible to have a factual debate. So stop trying. Instead, make your point based on common morals, do it with compassion and generosity of spirit, and don't allow the goalposts of the debate to be moved. Throw in like two of couple of your choicest facts and sources, but don't expect them to help. Move on and repeat.
> Rational People: Use data and reason to arrive at truth. (This group is mostly imaginary.)
> Word-Thinkers: Use labels, word definitions, and analogies to create the illusion of rational thinking. This group is 99% of the world.
> Persuaders: Use simplicity, repetition, emotion, habit, aspirations, visual communication, and other tools of persuasion to program other people and themselves. This group is about 1% of the population and effectively control the word-thinkers of the world.
Over the last couple of years though, it seems that he's become obsessed with this whole "master persuader" idea. It made for interesting reading for the first month or so, but it's slowly taken over all of his other content to the point that he now seems afraid to actually express an opinion of his own, instead trying to angle his posts as a "persuasion". He actually seems to be spiralling into madness.
I just checked back and at least he's re-enabled comments now, so maybe there will be some entertaining reading there again (the comments were always the best part).
But then fact checking is too time consuming, many times I do it, but not often enough. And you can't just wipe clean from your memory whatever you heard. This is the genius behind repetition: if unchallenged, it sticks to your subconscious, whether you want it or not, especially when spoken by people you happen to respect.
So here's the problem, even those of us with a logical, science-oriented mind, that studied the right things in school, even us need help. Do you think that us developers are immune to yellow journalism? Think again. Here's one concrete proof that we can swallow bullshit whole, much like everybody else: https://twitter.com/timbray/status/810157215478755328
The answer is always education and even if you educate a tiny minority, those people can then educate others. And personally I feel like I need that education as well.
Are you saying we bought the bullshit when Oracle claimed they wouldn't monetize it? If that's the case, that was never a verifiable statement, or better yet, was never an immutable state either way. I don't think anyone convinced themselves they knew anything from that claim.
That's not the same thing as accepting that someone claims that man landed on the moon. While still hard to verify (really), it still either happened or not. Monetizing Java could change at any time, what was the case yesterday might be changed today, and could be back again tomorrow.
Newton is, I guess, an example of someone very critical in one context and less critical in another (scientific historians rush to correct me).
Still, though, I don't think we can all do enough work on training young people to at least have the tools to think critically. Studying medieval history at 17 changed my entire way of thinking about credibility. I think I'd be a much less critical thinker if I had not had that experience.
And that's something most people choose to ignore, that even "how to think" is something that evolves, and our current standards were created by many people improving on what came before them.
I observe that we tend to make an implicit assumption that most statements contain an opinion, perception, and anectotes. It gets harder to think everything in terms of data, e.g. I could ask "What people? Did you perform a study yourself?" for your statement, however, if it aligns with my perception or makes sense even without hard data, I'm not going to do it.
> Studying medieval history at 17 changed my entire way of thinking about credibility
Any books you would recommend?
You contextualize this as related to politics. But, I've noticed, in certain fora, that it's nigh-on impossible, even for something as measurable as energy production. And that's just inputs and outputs where the units of measurement are already agreed to! :-O
What's the difference? What causes some topics to be amenable to rational debate (or even discussion that doesn't go off the rails) and not? Politics, economics (because it's related to politics?), and religion - no. No rationality to be had there. Anything that have to do with harmful invisible vapors (vaccines, electromagnetics, radiation, environmental toxins) and health - no. Any form of "alternative lifestyle", including digital nomadicism (!) - no. Law - all over the map. Computer programming - all over the map.
In fact, right now, I'm trying to think of something that humans debate rationally, and I'm having a difficult time thinking of one (I'm sure they exist - but I'm only lightly caffeinated so far).
Regardless of my inability to think of topics that we (humans) can debate about rationally, why do some topics "work" for rationality and some not?
> Move on and repeat.
Why? You just said it almost never helps.
Yeah, great question! I didn't really address that part.
What I really meant is that I almost never "win" the argument. I've overtly changed someone's mind before, but that's like 10% of the time, at best. So making that my goal wouldn't be a good idea.
More often, I can get the other person to expand their point of view, even just a little bit. I can gain some credibility in their minds as someone they may disagree with, but can respect. And it opens the door to the perception that maybe the point of view I represent isn't directly opposed to their tribe. For people I tend to debate repeatedly, I can tell there's a shift over time.
Not to mention the fact that I'm not always right. I learn a lot from people who aren't already inclined to mindlessly Like everything I post. Debating people makes me a better thinker and persuader.
But I think most importantly, I do it for the audience. I suspect that in many of these debates, the lurkers are much less entrenched in their point of view than me or the person I'm debating with. Those are the people I really want to move. And that's a big reason why it's crucial to be civil, sincere, and avoid blowing up on people. Nothing turns off a neutral onlooker like someone being an asshole, even if it's righteous.
[ It still baffles me why people would take on a non-rational position on (say) power generation. It's just engineering and physics. Anyone can look up the math in any library - it doesn't really even change that often! ]
Most people take the analysis provided to them by their trusted authorities: newspapers, magazines, television, public figures, esteemed friends and family; and form their world view based off of that. "Team" membership and identification also are prominent.
I finally learned this and, after long denial about it, now "know" this as a fact about the universe. Or at least humans. That humans operate 1000% out of beliefs and that they didn't come to those beliefs rationally. And that you can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.
It's actually been hard for me to come to grips with this emotionally and to integrate it into my day-to-day operational instincts/intuition.
Most people don't know how to think critically. You're right about the target audience, people who are already interested will take it.
As an aside, I read a book on rhetoric (Thank You for Arguing) written by a guy who is extremely passionate about it, to the point where he persuaded me to teach it to my 4yo. It was extremely effective. He picked up negotiation quickly, and has been analyzing (if you ask him, he can tell you whether his argument is ethos, pathos, or logos) and tuning his arguments as he gets older. Now he uses negotiation and reasoning for everything. While I feel like sometimes it works against me (I have to negotiate everything with him), he now knows how to compromise in a negotiation so that arguments don't end in tantrums. And I honestly feel like he'll be better off with that one skill than he ever would with a trust fund or inheritance.
I mean, you can argue facts all day long but if someone believes that having a bigger gun makes them right -- what's the point? You really think Kim Jong-un is going to listen to reason when he has nukes?
This statement, my friends, is how most persuasion works in the world.
No facts, just statements like:
"You really think...?"
If the person responds with "It's plausible - why not?", then you say:
"I mean, Come On!"
While it may be hard for some to believe, I write this comment with full seriousness and not as a joke. This really is how most persuasion works.
It's been mentioned multiple times on HN, but Influence, by Cialdini, is a great read. Especially the chapter on Social Proof.
I've seen this in action in the engineering world. You can have your data, as well as your error-free mathematics (no calculus, I promise! Just a few lines of algebra) to back your argument up. And the other person (PhD, no less) only needs to look at someone who shares his view of how the system under examination works to reject my mathematics.
Hence, his social proof was stronger than my mathematical proof.
I used to get upset about how I was working amongst the top engineers in one of the top companies in the world, and how illogical they seemed. But then I read the book and realized that's the "natural" order of things, and most people will not escape it.
Academia was a nice place where this was less of a problem.
It can be that the PhD's "view of how the system under examination works" indicates that your mathematics doesn't actually apply to the system. At that point, it doesn't matter how error-free your mathematics is.
Is the PhD right about that? They might have higher odds than you, not by virtue of being a PhD, but perhaps by virtue of being more of a domain expert. (Though even that is no guarantee...)
If they pointed out that it doesn't apply, sure.
However, this is how it usually happened (meant to put in the original post but forgot):
He looks at his colleague and asks "Have you ever heard of this?" The other person shakes his head. Hence, rejected.
That's why the chapter is called social proof.
No commentary about my mathematics, or how applicable it is.
I'm not talking really complex stuff. We had a model of a physical process (equations) that they had put into their software. The equations were in a reference document we all had access to. Occasionally they would say something like "This cannot be modeled because the equation in our model is not monotonic". At which point I take the equation, compute the derivative (sorry, this example did have calculus), and show that it is monotonic.
Response: "Look, everyone knows such a system is not monotonic!" (note again the socialness of their proof)
I'll give you a reverse example.
(Details varied to simplify the example).
We had a circuit (netlist) whose output (e.g. current) we were interested in. I was tasked with tweaking some of the components such that we hit a target current. I did it, but did not modify any components' capacitance. However, some of the frequency output was impacted, which we normally control by varying the capacitances in the circuit.
Their response: You screwed up - we told you not to change the capacitance!
Me: The capacitances are all the same. They are unchanged. You can verify for yourself.
Them: Impossible. I've been doing this for 15 years, and have never heard of the frequency changing for reasons other than capacitance.
Me: Here are the actual equations for the frequency measurement that you're worried has changed (I know them because I coded them into the system!). Capacitance is not an explicit input, but can creep in indirectly. It's not obvious to me from the equations what role capacitance even plays here (linear, quadratic, exponential, lognormal, etc). Can you point out to me why you're so certain?
Them: Look. The frequency never changes unless you change the capacitance. Everyone who has done this for years knows that (and he was right - everyone did say that). Go redo all this work.
So I redid it with the exact same result (wasn't really hard - I version controlled my work).
Them: Unacceptable. I will not accept this work unless you can explain to me why the frequency is changing when it shouldn't.
Me: It's a complex circuit. I didn't design it. I'm not a circuits guy. I don't know the intricacies.
Them: You're going to have to figure it out.
Me: I'll go to the circuit designer (in another team).
(Walk to his cube - he's out for a week on vacation).
Them: Sorry, we cannot continue this work unless this is resolved.
(Twiddle my thumbs for a week till the designer returns. Then ask him).
Circuit Designer: Of course it can change even if the capacitances don't change. Why are they saying it only changes with capacitance? Based on what?
Me: Based on (making the quotes symbol with hands) "everyone knows". (Yes, I really did respond that way - the absurdity was getting to me by then).
Designer: Let me talk to them.
Overall, 2 weeks wasted because "everyone knows". I think in the whole team, I was the only one who questioned the tribal wisdom. Whenever someone joined the team, they were taught this incorrect tribal wisdom. I was in the (un)fortunate position to have done some work that just happened to go against the tribal wisdom. I had to defend myself, and that forced me to question the wisdom (once I determined I had done all the steps correctly).
But they did not have to explain why they believed what they did. I had to explain why I did not believe what they did. They were the ones making an assertion about the relationship between capacitance and frequency. However, it was my job to disprove it - not their job to prove it. Essentially, I was put in a position to prove a negative, because they already had their proof (social proof). My proof was very clear: I had a clear counterexample to their theory, but it didn't hold up to their proof. They were not willing to examine my counterexample.
The guy grilling me who wasted 2 weeks wasn't just anyone. He was one of the most senior engineers in the company. Very sharp guy who deserved his post. Not an idiot.
But even they fall prey to social proof.
>I thought it was self evident that Kim Jong-un wouldn't listen to reason once he had nukes, but perhaps you know better.
Thing is, I don't know better! Tell me how you know better.
And "self-evident" is really code for "everyone knows..."
If I said "Sure, I think he can listen to reason just like all the other nuclear leaders", what is your response?
And, to be fair, that argument seems to work for a lot of people (looking at you, Putin, Assad, etc).
Well, that is one theory for sure. But it's a tough one to argue when the reality is that having a bigger gun generally does mean you're right.
Your comment was perfect as a lead up to this story about this Table of Knowledge group in Iowa:
I bet there are a large number of these informal groups around the country. Listening to how they reason and what their units of reasoning are, which are not necessarily facts, is elucidating.
Problem is, the truth is pretty hard to determine based on the usual suspects (studies, facts etc):
"I worry that most smart people have not learned that a list of dozens of studies, several meta-analyses, hundreds of experts, and expert surveys showing almost all academics support your thesis – can still be bullshit." -- http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/12/beware-the-man-of-one-s...
Yikes. what we really need is to discuss the practicality of citing studies performed by third-parties, and of trying to "prove" truth individually rather than collect evidence over time, as a community.
> do it with compassion and generosity of spirit
This is just good-faith, and it needn't be "compassion and generosity" which can easily be abused.
I'd worry a lot about the personal/existential implications. Gramsci says that the demagogue is the first one bitten by the snake of his own demagoguery.
I'd like to see the principle of calling bullshit taught in high schools.
Things can improve, and in fact, they have improved quite a bit over the last several centuries.
The appeal to authority of the ancient Greeks is sometimes a good one I guess, but not always. For instance, the Greeks "knew" a lot of things that they were flat wrong about.
My guess is that the type of person who falls victim to 'bullshit' theory or messages is not the kind of person who is willing to dedicate time to an online course about learning to be more critical in thought. 'Bullshit' thinking has been largely successful because its an effortless pathway to establishing an opinion on something (queue System 1/System 2 thinking).
Conversely, the people who would be willing to read this sort of content are likely the people who are already reasonable skeptical about what they take as face value.
>you're outside of most of the big popular groups
Story of my life
I know exactly how and why it happens, too. It's human nature to want to be liked and be successful. It is human nature to go with the flow when funding is at stake. It is human nature to want to be accepted by one's peers and to impress one's superiors. Also, it is extremely hard to innovate these days when so many people are out there doing the exact same things as you are.
Unfortunately, all that behavior has taken humanity down some dark paths before.
Obviously it's not about them. There are still millions that understand the problem and are willing to think more critically -- but don't have all the skills, expertise etc to distinguish bullshit in its myriad forms.
Some statistics bullshit in the media for example is obvious, but other is so well hidden, it takes deeper knowledge of math and statistics, or abstract reasoning etc to recognize it.
>Conversely, the people who would be willing to read this sort of content are likely the people who are already reasonable skeptical about what they take as face value.
Reasonable skeptical people are getting duped every day in all kinds of subtle ways. Having the skills to recognize those, would be nice.
Is it going to help the situation, by providing some accessible resources that will help some people? I'd say so. There'll be more people with a better understanding of bullshit.
What more can you really expect from an initiative?
I agree that the demographic coverage is not even remotely 100%. Would it be fair to generalize your 'target audience critique' as "this can not possibly be of help to the unwashed masses"?
Here's my take on the general demographic critique. (This equally and critically applies to 'encryption & privacy' efforts that we geeks keep circling back to here and elsewhere.)
First a categorical definition from uncle Marx so that attendant HN Marxists do not accuse me of 'petite bourgoise' biases :)
I agree with Marx: The lumpen proletariat, as you note, are "not the kind of [people] who [are] willing to dedicate time to an online course." Equally, as we famously know, they remain unmoved by the fact that their idle chatter and exchanges of pixelated naughty bits are recorded and reviewed by "public servants" in service of the establishment class.
Thus, per this view, it is (as you point out) a /waste/ of effort to either try to equip them with cognitive tools, or, "user friendly" privacy tools.
One of my little pet theories is that the 1% -- the ratios are rough/symbolic -- require the psychological assent of the 10%. And, in my view, the 1% are critically depdendent on them for the operation and maintenance of the establishment order.
This 10% is courted, conditioned, and then integrated into the establishment order. Sometimes they are identified in school, taken under the wing of a mentor who gently shape their thoughts into a form suitable for fitting into the available slots. Others effectively auto-integrate by identifying with the 'attractive' propaganda of the establishment order. All end up as useful servants of the establishment.
Most of us are not familiar with mechanics and psychology of power.
To affect change in society, whether in 1000BC, or 2017 AD, the participation of the 10% is of absolute critical importance. The lumpen proletariat are moved to action only under the duress of severe hunger. Anything else, they don't budge.
All our efforts towards the betterment of our society should focus attention on the 10%.
Educate the young potential, and recovering older, members of 10%, and, provide them secure communication (which most certainly must not sacrifice technical rigour at the alter of the false god of "[general] usability").
May I suggest that maybe you are not attuned to nth-order bullshit? It's relatively harmless, but it's out there.
In a way, seeing through all the bullshit is a feat of almost superhuman strength, even more so without falling prey to cynicism or nihilism.
Even? I'd say mostly -- or at least on par.
And if anything does go wrong you can blame the original bullshitter so you don't have to take responsibility when it turns out you were wrong.
Anyway here is one that isn't on their list:
And to this I asked:
- Is there even a definition of "critical thinking"?
- (As a psychology major) Is there evidence that this is a sound objective concept (rather than something everyone thinks only they have)?
- Is there any objective measure of critical thinking? If not, how can you have any objective reason to believe your courses increases critical thinking?
And to this they said various forms of "I don't know." I guess they had never really thought about it critically.
Nothing like some Youtube channels, where presenter spends one hour deconstructing some study, to its sources and sources of the sources.
"Academics get paid for being clever, not for being right."
-- Donald Norman
And I am not sure what to expect from a statistical course build around TED Talks, blog posts and NY Times articles. With chapters named like "The natural ecology of bullshit"...
I don't know what you think that case study was about, but it isn't about whether the number was true or not. It is about whether that number represents something that is in line with the point of the article.
> And I am not sure what to expect from a statistical course build around TED Talks, blog posts and NY Times articles.
I wouldn't either, but it isn't a statistical course and it isn't build around TED Talks.
It is not about learning what they are saying in a TED Talk, but about dissecting the TED Talk and understanding why you shouldn't just accept the content of it.
All the case studies are examples of bullshit.
 http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300208238 - There's a brief interview with the author that introduces the book on there.
It's laudable to fight this, just very prone to disillusion.
The things which do matter to them however they care deeply about. And so it's much more accurate IMO to talk about misaligned perspectives rather than whether people don't care about the truth.
Maybe marketing can be elevated to the same standard as phishing, where effort is put into deceiving our filters?
If so, this would be a very useful course for a marketeer to attend ;)
(Funny little story, btw: The NYT reviewed that book, without being able to ever mention its title or, well, subject :-)
And Cohen's "Deeper into Bullshit":
edit: now that the site is back up, I can see both are part of the week 1 syllabus!
That said, why does it have to be set up like a college course? Not only did looking at the site bring back memories of freshman year crit analysis courses, the way in which their proposed structure is laid out is completely out of sync with the way in which people absorb information today.
Fake news is shared widely because it's easy and doesn't require much mental exertion of the sharer/reader. The people most likely to share this kind of provocative "viral" content do not even have a working common-sense bullshit meter. Yet the well-meaning people behind the course think they're ready move from 200 word blog posts with a black-and-white view of the world to college-level reading?
I'd suggest looking at the UX/UI of an app like Google Primer (bite sized lessons on digital marketing) and see if that model can be applied here. Probably not Primer is designed to provide on-the-go info while this is designed as an actual college course.
I'm definitely curious about Susan Fiske's article, about how social networks encourage unmoderated academic "trash talk" . Andy Gelman has a pretty negative critique of the article here .
edit: why the downvote?
This is exactly what public education systems should be teaching. I'd almost say that next to basic literacy and mathematics, this is the most valuable subject to teach. It lays the groundwork for so much else.
Or putting in other words: analysis is an art not a science.
It's not like people suddenly decided to disregard truth and not believe in actual truths.
It's that we have just realized that interpretation is not the same as truth and have now been made aware that there are other interpretations of the facts than our own.
We don't live in a post-truth world, we live in a world were the truth is confused with difference of opinion.
"post-truth" doesn't mean people have decided to disregard truth, it means that factual truth is no longer a relevant factor in in the effectiveness of political arguments for many people. See Karl Rove's quote about the "reality-based" community (which may or may not be apocryphal) versus the American empire which simply creates whatever reality it likes.
It mostly means:
"Some people can't accept Trump got elected, so when e.g. criticism of him being sexist/rapist etc because of some comments back in the day is discarded, they call it a post-truth world. At the same time, it's not post-truth when the same people discard allegations of rape for Bill Clinton and his wife helping with cover up".
Or, as I'd put it:, both party voters could not give a rats arse about the truth, but the Democratic party has a better stronghold on academics, columnists, intellectuals and "hi-bro" journalists, etc., the sort of people who would just single out the others' disregard of the truth as "post-truth".
Turns out there is good money in just making up crap and printing it.
The only two things I could identify as uniquely a problem today that weren't problems in the past are A: the money is coming out of journalism faster than it can adapt to it and B: the incredibly immediate pressures to be first and get the most clicks. The latter being a thing that has always been present to some degree, since journalists have always made money by attracting eyeballs in one form or another, but the immediacy of the pressure today I'd say is a quantitative change that becomes a qualitative change by sheer size.
But I'm still unconvinced this is a new low, rather than one that we're detecting. Journalism has some nasty stuff in its history. It certainly hasn't reached a new low if you step outside of the United States. The press still hasn't quite reached Pravda lows, but I will conceded it is currently engaged in a full burn towards it.
What people often forget is that at the same token lies can be spread so can corrections to those lies.
There is no objective transcendence between facts and politics decisions.
You can believe that climate change is created by humans and still decide not to do anything about it because you also believe that technology will solve most of those problem, or that there are bigger problems (astroid hitting earth for instance) etc.
We are absolutely in a new mode of politics, one that transcends mere differences of opinion. To pretend otherwise does everyone a disservice.
"I never had sexual relations with that woman".
"Read my lips: there will be no more taxes".
"It depends on what the definition of is is".
"I will close down Guantanamo Bay".
> "I never had sexual relations with that woman".
Wait, there's a sex tape of Bill Clinton?
In all seriousness, quotes are all good, but you would benefit from saying what it is you hope to achieve by them.
Because no one sure didn't seem to care about the numerous Trump ones.
So by all means. Prove me wrong.
I would love for you to show me how people cared as much about truth now.
People didn't vote on Trump because of those things that politfact measured. There weren't watching the debates to figure out who was the most well argued person based on some basic idea of their rhetorical skills.
They voted on trump for all the things that Politifacts didn't measure but which matter to people and on those he was not lying.
Also Hillary won the popular vote so even on that account she won and he didn't.
Nothing new here.
> People didn't vote on Trump because of those things that politfact measured. There weren't watching the debates to figure out who was the most well argued person based on some basic idea of their rhetorical skills.
I have not mentioned "well argued" nor talked about rhetoric. I've talked about speaking the truth or lying. You can speak the truth as an illiterate 5 year old.
Are you deliberately changing your arguments/moving goal posts between all your responses?
which is meaningless.
And he was impeached for that, which is exactly the point.
Besides the question was whether truth mattered more in politics. The decision to take his law license was from some state bar, not related to some political process.
To be fair, it seems like he tried. He just failed?
He was playing it too safe to bring about the drastic measures needed to close gitmo.
Or don't care. Some people in the US are so far under water, they are desperate for change; such that they'd back Trump whatever.
Sexual allegations? Who cares if he can actually tries to bring back my job...
Note, I say this without any implication of whether the allegations are true. My point is, people might not care either way. A sexual predator that fixes things is better than an someone virtuous that does nothing.
The only disservice is to claim that things are somehow different when they are in fact the same.
Some people say that this age was in the '50s. Others, the 1880s. Some even claim it was the 1790s.
Mostly, they're just barking mad.
The idea that politics is or should somehow be based on facts is misguided. We have science for facts what we choose to do with those facts is were politics come in.
> We have science for facts what we choose to do with those facts is were politics come in.
The second sentence explicitly contradicts the first one. By your second one you are saying that politics is based on the facts that science provides. Or rather, should be.
But facts aren't the only things which are used in politics.
What you seem to want to have is a technocratic system.
Is that an "elite" approach then?
Of course, what I describe above is an ideal - politics is a mucky business and the essence of a democracy is essentially that we get to choose between the liars. However, what I do have difficulty with is the idea that reasoning from actual factual data or scientific hypotheses has no role in politics.
Not because we are uniformed but because our perspectives are different and our perspectives are different because it affects us differently.
And so the real danger here is to go along with this romantic notion that facts used to be more meaningful when in fact it was only that perspectives were more aligned than they are today.
No you can't. This is why we are living in "post-truth". Meaning it's not truth anymore.
You are right in that either one can win, but only one can be true.
Of course both sides can put forth true arguments in a political debate. I'm having a hard time coming up with a real world example, both because I don't want to push buttons that force you down a knee-jerk path on the button I push when I don't really care about it, and because we're really not used to seeing honest debates in the political arena.
But when society faces a decision A or B, each side can completely honestly tout the benefits of their decision and the costs of the other decision, both of which will exist. And God Almighty could come down from on high and hand us the exact, true, and full consequences of each decision, and those who benefit from one decision can completely honestly argue in its favor while those who may not benefit could completely honestly argue against it, which could be completely different sets of people for each decision. (There's almost never a decision that benefits everybody, even before we get into questions like relative amounts of benefit, or how society as a whole benefits.)
An argument containing elements of truth, or even somehow consisting entirely of truth, does not make it correct, because it still won't be the complete truth, which may well contain a superior argument for a different decision in it. But we don't have access to complete truth.
I was stating that two opposing arguments can't both be true, because then there is no truth.
We are not talking about some rhetorical analysis of language and I never meant it in that sense which the context of this discussion should have made clear. If not then I am remedying that now.
I would urge you to give me examples in politics which can't have two different political outcomes both potentially true.
There have always been made up stories and lies and propaganda and conspiracy theories it's nothing new it's just become much more obvious now and thus actually allowed us to live in a more truth based world rather than the previous ignorant believe that there are only one way to look at things.
Politics is about choice not about truth.
Before the media/Democrats can credibly criticise "fake news", they first need to regain the people's trust.
When Obama was elected they said Post-racial america, and we now know how much it is not.
So, now some butt-hurt people from election came up with Post-Truth, even though people were constantly conned into stuff that is untrue, like WMDs or you can keep your doctor.
After much thought, I forward the motion for Post-Post-Prepending Era.
This made me chortle
Marketing opinion. This page: http://callingbullshit.org/case_studies.html should be made homepage content, for it is their most compelling and clear value statement and takes little space. It took me too long to find naturally, and I didn't feel fulfilled on the bullshit pitch till I did. If you don't want to move it, perhaps call them examples instead of case studies, if you want to reach a general audience.
Serendipity. These professors made a course/website "bullshit" the title. Which I think's funny because I just uploaded a youtube video in a tophat/leopard print about how smart people should be more aggressive spreading their ideas.
Interestingly enough, the claim about bullshit lacking an exact synonym is false. Not only does bull by itself mean precisely the same thing, but in fact its use predates the compound formation by three centuries. The use of shit in bullshit is an intensifier, as in shitstorm or shitfit, though presumably the rather evocative image of bovine excrement was also a factor.
From the Google dictionary:
stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense.
"much of what he says is sheer bull"
early 17th century: of unknown origin.
1. stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense.
early 20th century: from bull (3) + shit.
I call BS.
There's a lot of depth of analytics required when you're spending a billion dollar marketing budget that goes well beyond correlation causation basics.
Sigh, I miss Jon Stewart.
Am a little disappointed actually, that would be a handy reference. Though naturally such a thing would almost immediately devolve into arguments about the degree to which anything is bullshit, but that could still be valuable.
We all have blind spots, we just have different blind spots.
I laughed hard after reading Week 3:
Week 3. The natural ecology of bullshit. Where do we find bullshit? Why news media provide bullshit. TED talks and the marketplace for upscale bullshit. Why social media provide ideal conditions for the growth and spread of bullshit.
> but recently a fake news story actually provoked nuclear threats issued by twitter.
Nuclear threats issued by Twitter. What a world we live in.
Perhaps only in British use (?) - but 'rubbish' and 'nonsense' can both be used to replace 'bullshit', other than qua faeces.
"SILENT RISK :NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB" ( pdf )
"Taleb: The Intellectual Yet Idiot"
Shallow "facting" does not help the the cause.
I call bullshit on the existence of "social sciences". Even the best attempts at controlled, reproducible experiments were laughable, so at most we can call them "social studies".
I am calling bullshit on this.
However I made a more efficient approach at solving this : http://TrumpTweets.io
The manifesto : http://TrumpTweets.io/manifesto
It feels like preaching to the choir. It is also fairly antagonistic, which people generally respond defensively too.
It looks like it was pretty fun to build though!
Scott Adams, talking about Scott Adams in the third person, while pretending not to be Scott Adams:
-  plannedchaos -21 points 4 months ago
If an idiot and a genius disagree, the idiot generally thinks the genius is wrong. He also has a lot of idiot reasons to back his idiot belief. That's how the idiot mind is wired.
It's fair to say you disagree with Adams. But you can't rule out the hypothesis that you're too dumb to understand what he's saying.
And he's a certified genius. Just sayin'.
He is a climate change denier with the senseless circular reasoning, that if he can't understand the science of climate change himself, why should he ever trust climate scientists and other experts in the field, because their models are complicated.
Later in the thread, when presented with any scientific explanation of climate change, he reverts to repeating "how can I trust it?", all the while accusing climate scientists of having a financial incentive to push climate change, not providing proof himself.
I'm no denier either, but you'll have to pardon me if I choose to not join the unthinking hordes who insist we must do something now, and no we will not think while we are doing this. Dissension is explicitly not allowed.
Oh, is that not exaaaaaaaaaaaactly what the message is? Of course not, but there is some truth there. There are highly trained scientists who don't fully support the party line, and they are not allowed to speak. I believe it is not an intellectually honest conversation, and I'm old enough to remember other situations where dissent was not allowed and it turned out not so good.
Also, don't forget that Scott is a humorist author, and part of his schtick is to deliberately cause outrage, especially with people who take themselves way too seriously.
Perhaps climate scientists don't know with completely precision everything there is to know about climate change. But as far as anyone can tell no one has a more accurate picture. "This theory may be imperfect [not even 'is imperfect'; we just don't know] so we should disregard it completely" is a Nirvana fallacy.
Don't be surprised when people don't trust you if you don't disclose that fact.
Until the scientific community comes clean, as well as "polices" the outspoken public advocates, the climate change cause will always have this Achilles heel - I am not pointing it out to win an argument, I am pointing it out in the hopes that they fix the problem, as I believe the theory is mostly correct.
Society as a whole can decide how they want to approach convincing their fellow citizens to act in a certain manner.
Look down your nose at me all you want, but we all have to live with the consequences of how the chosen path plays out. The way it has played out on planet Earth, 2017 A.D. is that Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. I hope everyone enjoys the ride they helped create.
"He who controls the weather, will control the world. He who controls gravity, will control the universe. He who controls time, will never be around." -Thomas Frey
Enjoy 2016 through 2020.
"Yes, science is very certain on that. You will die."
"So, you know everything there is to know about livers or cancers, with complete precision?"
"What? Of course not, why would anyone even think that?"
"Hah, I thought so, now I won't trust you!"
Oh wait, that's not completely true, they say the scientific community is "98% in agreement", but they are dishonest about what exactly the 98% of scientists are agreeing to.
And I'm not sure what you mean by "dishonest", because I think the mainstream media's position is roughly "If we don't cut out fossil fuel we'll be in deep shit pretty soon (say, before 2100, probably sooner)", and it is a statement I think >90% of climate scientists would agree on.
(Actually, I think many would argue we're in deep shit now. E.g., massive reef death in Australia.)
My observation is that the scientific community is making assertions of what is more or less the current understanding of the state of global warming to the best of their knowledge. Advocates and opportunists are taking this and converting it to something like "98% percent of scientists agree that global warming is 100% caused by man and we are absolutely doomed if we do not do something right now." (obviously I am being somewhat hyperbolic.)
So the scientists are observing this and thinking to themselves "What these people are saying is not technically true, but it seems like most likely an effective approach to invoke action amongst the general public, so we'll just keep our mouths shut." It may very well turn out that this is in fact the most pragmatic approach.
What I am saying is, it may turn out that this isn't the most pragmatic approach. Addressing climate change costs money, and lots of it. People generally don't like spending money unless there is a very obvious and more or less immediate benefit. Now imagine a convincing leader comes along who validates this distrust, and can point to legitimate cracks in these assertions (actually, I don't think Trump even had to do this, but don't underestimate the power of YouTube propaganda videos)....you might just find yourself with a president that you never would have imagined could have been elected.
It's interesting in a thread where we're generally talking about the nature of public conversation, where I am actually mostly on the side of believing that man-made climate change is a real thing, but my sense is that most people think (or speak as if at least) I am completely incorrect in the things I say, that there is no disagreement in the scientific community on some of the specifics. It's really quite an extraordinary claim. (iirc, this is one of the big reasons Joel Spolsky quit blogging, he found that he had to qualify every single sentence with multiple sentences of disclaimers, as too many people refused to discuss in an intellectually honest way, always nitpicking individual statements while completely ignoring the spirit of the discussion. Likely putting words in his mouth somewhat, but you get the idea.)
And we're still waiting for you to define what you meant by "speak" and list more names, when you claimed that "There are highly trained scientists who don't fully support the party line, and they are not allowed to speak," offered Judith Curry as your only evidence, and then disclaimed "I must pre-emptively add that no, indeed, she wasn't in fact literally prevented from speaking". If not "literally prevented from speaking", then what exactly do you mean?
Next time you find yourself writing a disclaimer for what you just wrote in the previous paragraph, please reconsider simply rewriting the paragraph so it's not hyperbolic, is literally true, and exaaaaaaaaaaaactly quotes and cites the source.
Your claim she was prevented from speaking in any sense of the word is objectively false, and you've refused to provide any more evidence or examples when requested. She said herself that: "Nobody and certainly not myself is claiming that I am persecuted or there is a plot that is out to get me." Except for you, apparently.
By any definition of the word "speak", Judith Curry often speaks a hell of a lot of hyperbolic hot air, words which you yourself heard and parroted without fact checking, whether she's staring straight into the camera and blinking up a storm at literally 85 BPM while bloviating on FOX News: https://youtu.be/g5LpwL4NKbw https://youtu.be/HiTbd4Mc3kk , or spreading climate change denial lies on live national television, in front of Congress, in research papers, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, on climate change denial web sites, and on her widely read blog.
I would like to ask you a question and I hope you can answer it honestly: do you believe in the notion that there is a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law?
I believe there is, and I think it is in part the problem all of western society is suffering from in these conversations. My core belief, I guess, is that all is not well in the scientific community. I genuinely believe there is substantial peer pressure applied to any scientist who does not toe the line. It is plausible that speaking out could literally end your career. That there are relatively few people complaining is not necessarily proof that there is no problem, that could simply be the effect of the silencing.
Is this true? I don't know for sure, but there are signs. If it is true, even partially, I think it is a big deal. I would hope HN would be a place where we could discuss such things in good faith. My perception is, that's not happening. My perception is that any point I raise is dismissed on a technicality.
Take for example:
"And climate scientists are responsible for Donald Trump getting elected how exactly?"
Of course no single person or group is responsible. So take that same logic and go through all of the speculated causes, and each of those you can say "<x> is responsible for Donald Trump getting elected how exactly? And your end result is, you have discarded every single one of those theories, when the reality is, it was likely some combination of many of them.
I think I'll leave it at that, you can choose how you'd like to react to this.
So once again, please define what you mean by "not allowed to speak", and list the names of scientists who were not allowed to speak, by that definition.
Also, the doc was technically wrong. He should of said "high probability", not "Yes, science is very certain".
Here's something she allowed herself to speak:
"Once we get over this little bump of activism, if the Trump administration will put us on a slightly reassuring and saner footing, that will allow all this to die down," she said. "We can always hope." -Judith Curry
Good luck with that long term plan that depends on Trump putting us on a saner footing!
Are you really sure she isn't allowed to speak? She's on FOX News an awful lot.
And is it really true that people blink when they're lying? Starting at 3:00 I counted Judith Curry blinking 85 times in 60 seconds during this recent Tucker Carson interview on FOX News. At that rate, she must have blinked 387 times during that 4:33 minute interview! Forget about the Butterfly Effect: her eyelash fluttering itself could affect global climate patterns!
I could say to you: why are you talking about mammal excrement? Oh, "of course" I shouldn't have used that interpretation of the word, right?
Will you extend the same courtesy to me?
Will you define exactly what you mean by the term "not allowed to speak", and list the names of scientists who were not allowed to speak?
Fair point. Could you find a link where he "deliberately causes outrage" to the opposite camp that "take themselves also too seriously" completely denying the same science theory. I am genuinely curious, because up until recently I also had similar opinion about him (a humorist author approach). Now, I kind of doubt this.
I still read him though because I think he continues to raise interesting points (if not always valid) and observations, but I (as someone mostly on "his side" of the political spectrum) often find what he writes a bit repulsive.
You're not a good troll.
Also, don't forget that Trump is a reality TV show host, and part of his schtick is to deliberately cause outrage, especially with people who take themselves way too seriously.
Look at how this mildly (at best) informed senator encounters facts that don't support his hypothesis, look at how he, an amateur, speaks to a top scientist!
I believe many if not most scientists are at least partially lying to people, and by lying I don't mean they are accidentally mistaken, I mean that they know that some of what they are saying is speculative, but they pass it off as established fact. I look forward to stopping thinking this way when the scientific community admits to this.
I suppose (sigh) that I must pre-emptively add that no, indeed, she wasn't in fact literally prevented from speaking. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide for themselves whether all is well in this situation.
Did somebody interrupt her, and that's the best proof you can come up with of your assertion "There are highly trained scientists who don't fully support the party line, and they are not allowed to speak."
Being highly criticized by your peers is not the same as not being allowed to speak.
Do you have any better examples of scientists who were not allowed to speak -- perhaps a scientist who hasn't actually testified in front of Congress on live national television, written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, boasts of having a total of 12,000 citations of her publications, and a blog that gets on average about 12,000 ‘hits’ per day, and 300-400 comments?
Or is that all you've got?
Here, let's try a different approach: would you be willing to admit that in human society there is this behavior where peer pressure is sometimes used to persuade people to behave in one way or another? Please note that I am not asking you if that is the case here (that would be my next question), at this point I am simply asking if you are willing to admit that it is a legitimate phenomenon?
Don't move the goalposts. Explain and defend your original argument by defining exactly what you mean by "speaking", if not literally "speaking", and listing the names of highly trained scientists who are not allowed to "speak" because they don't support the party line.
My assertion is that this is an untrue statement.
PS: Why didn't you answer my question?
conventions already exist.
If I say "99% of cats prefer whiskers", this needn't mean that of a worldwide population of 12,000 cats, exactly 11,880 prefer whiskers. It's understood as a statistical statement.
If I hold a gun to your head and tell you not to speak, it is understood you are not being allowed to speak, despite the fact that you are still able to do so. "not allowed" can conventionally mean "influenced in speaking freely".
In this case, whatever the standard of "not allowed" is, we don't need a formal definition when we have the actual example to hand; The implication here is no due respect is given to the scientist because they have an opposing view, marginalising opposition (e.g other scientists will not be keen to get the same treatment, and so less likely to speak up).
You have the rose to smell, there's no need to argue it's name.
Characterizing her as "not allowed to speak" or somehow oppressed and silenced by mainstream scientists is totally off base, since she herself has said: "I flat out don’t care; my feelings aren’t hurt, I don’t feel like my professional status is being jeopardized or challenged or whatever. I flat out don’t care at this point."
Judith herself obviously has quite a backbone and seems to be able to take this environment on, the more important point is: is there some truth to what she says? Is there in fact a lack of complete honesty in the scientific community, are some people "strongly encouraged" to not say certain things whether not it has a solid grounding in science?
If you don't mean "literally speak", then what exactly do you mean? What qualifies as "speaking"? Testifying in front of Congress on live national television? Writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal? Boasting of having a total of 12,000 citations of her publications, and a blog that gets on average about 12,000 ‘hits’ per day, and 300-400 comments? None of that counts as speech?
First, define "speech", then list the names of highly trained scientists who aren't allowed to speak because they don't fully support the party line.
Don't forget, sometimes you don't see certain things because they have been eliminated, and a natural reaction might be to assume that they never existed. The idea that disagreements occur in professional environments I don't think is very controversial on HN, but what I seem to be hearing today is that HN believes that these disagreements do not occur in the field of science. There is certainly a very long history of disagreement in science, it is one of the primary strengths of the scientific method. And yet now, it has disappeared? That would certainly appear to be the case, all I'm saying is, I doubt that is the actual reality.
> You failed to prove she was "not allowed to speak"
Do you have nothing to prove, then?
Is the implication that there is good reason to feel either might have been true? Is the same true of other scientists considering joining her position?
That's a great question. At least for myself, I don't immediately trust her (why would I without reading a substantial part of her work) - it is that when someone asks obviously informed questions, and answers are refused, I assume the person being asked the question is lying.
In the youtube video, the senator is very clearing presenting himself as being far more informed on the topic than he is. He is (perhaps unknowingly) being dishonest, so I trust her more.
Do you trust what this guy says about blinking and lying?
Have you ever read and listened to the words she's actually written and said? Or did you only listen to Tucker Carlson's leading questions and slanted innuendo while interviewing her on FOX News? And how much do you think they're paying her to come on the show and stare into the camera and lie while blinking at 85 BPM?
She directly contradicts your claims (and her own) in her own words: "Nobody and certainly not myself is claiming that I am persecuted or there is a plot that is out to get me." -Judith Curry http://www.keithkloor.com/?p=3734 -- you're the one who's incorrectly claiming that she was somehow "silenced".
The late great Stephen Schneider said:
"So they make this assertion that they’re being systematically excluded, because they have no other argument, they no have evidence for the assertion. Let them do a study. Let them show us the letters of all the papers that have been rejected. What we did is look at real evidence, independently collected: How many papers, and how many citations. That’s independent, and the only way you can claim it isn’t true is to invoke some massive conspiracy that is frankly laughable." -Stephen Schneider https://thinkprogress.org/interview-with-scientist-stephen-s...
So show us your evidence. Give us the names of scientists who have been silenced, or retract your false claim and conspiracy theory. But there is no doubt: Judith Curry is most certainly not one of those silenced scientists you hypothesize.
And remember what Stephen Schneider also said: "We've seen a lot of strawmen from Judy lately. It is frankly shocking to see such a good scientist take that kind of a turn to sloppy thinking. I have no explanation for it." -Steven Schneider http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101101/full/news.2010.577.ht...
"hear, hear, tell us what it sounded like, this tree that fell in the woods while no one was around!"
The late Stephen Schneider also made the same point:
"So they make this assertion that they’re being systematically excluded, because they have no other argument, they no have evidence for the assertion. Let them do a study. Let them show us the letters of all the papers that have been rejected. What we did is look at real evidence, independently collected: How many papers, and how many citations. That’s independent, and the only way you can claim it isn’t true is to invoke some massive conspiracy that is frankly laughable." -Stephen Schneider
And remember what Stephen Schneider also said about the person whose words and conspiracy theories you and misterman are parroting: "We've seen a lot of strawmen from Judy lately. It is frankly shocking to see such a good scientist take that kind of a turn to sloppy thinking. I have no explanation for it." -Steven Schneider
> you and misterman are parroting
I didn't parrot anything, try reading my posts.
> "We've seen a lot of strawmen from Judy lately."
And what has Judith said about Steve?
> There are highly trained scientists who don't fully support the party line, and they are invited to congressional hearings, publish books and papers, and keep a personal blog where they can discuss anything, and nobody can tell them to GTFO because they're tenured professors, but they may ultimately decide to resign, because working in an environment where everyone else think you're being crazy is just too stressful.
Yeah, I can sympathize with the last part, but I must tell it doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
James Annan (2010-11-06). Where's the beef, Curry?. James' Empty Blog. Retrieved on 2010-11-12. “She's really building up quite a history of throwing up vague or demonstrably wrong claims, then running away when shown to be wrong. Here on the no-feedback climate sensitivity, for example. Gryposaurus took her to task here on aerosols and D&A (based partly on comments from Gavin) and found her response lacking. Here is Eric Steig refuting her absurd claim about the IPCC that "they will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC." Her eventual response (which had to be dragged out of her through repeated challenges that she kept on ducking) was merely to dismiss it as an "anecdote", even though one single case serves to refutes her claim. Well, I don't think I got quite such a rapturous response as Eric did, with my attempts to improve the AR4 drafts, but I certainly didn't get trampled and discredited either - merely made to feel mildly unwelcome, which I find tends to happen when I criticise people outside the IPCC too. But they did change the report in various ways. While I'm not an unalloyed fan of the IPCC process, my experience is not what she describes it as. So make that two anecdotes. Maybe I'm an "insider" too, in her book :-) If she ever deigns to address the substantive point on probability, maybe she can let me know, but I'm not holding my breath. Her main tactic seems to be throwing up layers upon layers of an increasing shaky edifice as quickly as possible hoping that no-one will notice that the foundations are collapsing as quickly as people can read.”
In her own words:
"Nobody and certainly not myself is claiming that I am persecuted or there is a plot that is out to get me." -Judith Curry, October 23, 2010 at 4:43 pm, http://www.keithkloor.com/?p=3734
Or are you refusing to define your terms and provide any evidence, because you claim without any evidence that these theoretical silent scientists actually exist, but cannot be measured or counted, like undetectable dark matter in white lab coats?
That's not very scientific of you. (Or of Judith Curry, whose words you claim to quote. If she really promotes unscientific "silent scientist" conspiracy theories like that, then no wonder her colleagues are so critical of her! Calling bullshit isn't censorship, and she's anything but silent herself. So please link to your source where Judith Curry actually said those words that you quote.)
As un-silent, outspoken, widely published and nationally televised as Judith Curry is, she's said "I don’t feel like my professional status is being jeopardized or challenged or whatever" . So Judith Curry's case is actually evidence that dissenting scientists (and even ones who "literally say" ridiculous things like you quoted her saying) are NOT bullied into silence.
"Judith A. Curry is chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She runs a climate blog and has been invited by Republicans on several occasions to testify at climate hearings about uncertainties in climate understanding and predictions. Climate scientists criticize her uncertainty-focused climate outreach communication for containing elementary mistakes and inflammatory assertions unsupported by evidence. Curry is a regular at Anthony Watts' denier blog, as well as Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit, another denier site. She has further embarrassed herself (and her university) by using refuted denier talking points and defending the Wegman Report, eventually admitting she hadn't even read it in the first place." 
"Curry receives ongoing funding from the fossil fuel industry. In an interview with Curry for a October 2010 Scientific American profile, Michael Lemonick reports (pers. comm.) that he asked Curry about potential conflicts of interest, and she responded,
"I do receive some funding from the fossil fuel industry. My company...does hurricane forecasting...for an oil company, since 2007. During this period I have been both a strong advocate for the IPCC, and more recently a critic of the IPCC, there is no correlation of this funding with my public statements."
"Criticisms of outreach communication:
Curry's contrarian-leaning "public outreach" public communication is criticized by prominent climate scientists and other science-aligned climate bloggers for a propensity toward "inflammatory language and over-the-top accusations ...with the...absence of any concrete evidence and [with] errors in matters of simple fact.".
"...Examples of the unreliability of Curry's blog publications are illustrated by Michael Tobis and James Annan, who both showed basic flaws in her understanding of uncertainty and probability, or at least an irresponsible level of sloppiness in expressing herself. Arthur Smith pointed out an under-grad level misunderstanding in her own field's basic terminology," said Coby Beck.
Climate scientist James Annan has provided examples (with rebuttals) of assertions made by Curry on topics like no-feedback climate sensitivity, aerosols, climate change detection&attribution, and the IPCC tolerance of challengers; he finds there's a pattern of "throwing up vague or demonstrably wrong claims, then running away when shown to be wrong",
"Willingness to criticize based on second-hand info from contrarian, inexpert sources:
"In a 2010 comment she called blogger Deep Climate's detailed and well-documented investigation into the Wegman Report "one of the most reprehensible attacks on a reputable scientist that I have seen" even as she revealed in her incorrect synopsis of the charges that she had not even read it for herself. ... [i.e.] she shows herself ready to publicly criticise someone else in the strongest terms based entirely on second hand information gleaned from places like Climate Audit and Watts Up With That."
"Offering off-the-cuff, uninformed criticism of mainstream climate science:
Gavin Schmidt has criticised Curry for "not knowing enough about what she has chosen to talk about, for not thinking clearly about the claims she has made with respect to the IPCC, and for flinging serious accusations at other scientists without just cause.". (It goes on and on... see .)
"We've seen a lot of strawmen from Judy lately," [Stanford University's Stephen H.] Schneider  said. "It is frankly shocking to see such a good scientist take that kind of a turn to sloppy thinking. I have no explanation for it." 
So do you have any examples better than Judith Curry?
 The Judith Curry Phenomenon: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101101/full/news.2010.577.ht...
Of course I meant she is not allowed to speak, quite literally. What else could it possibly mean after all, right?
So, in the spirit of this discussion, I will have to concede that what I was trying to articulate is absolutely 100% incorrect as it is based on a false premise, that she is literally not allowed to speak. Indeed, she is on camera numerous times speaking, which proves absolutely that I am wrong.
You win Don Hopkins. Congratulations.
It's this style of argumentation that makes your position seem less convincing.
If it were simply about facts and data, you would be able to rely on facts and data to demonstrate your point and convince your opponent and other readers.
Instead, you've used aggression and ridicule, and relied on multiple argumentative fallacies (most notably, appeal to authority and consensus fallacy) in your quest to win the argument.
The causes of good science and effective solutions for climate change - both of which I care a lot about - are harmed, not helped, by this style of debate.
I recently heard of the term "Steel man" argument, which is the opposite of "Straw man".
With a "Steel man" argument, you demonstrate your sincere commitment to finding truth by taking a charitable view of your opponent's position and arguing against the most formidable version of it.
If you were to try that on this topic, perhaps you might start by going through the list of scientists named on this Wikipedia page , and understanding the basis and the details of each of their reasons for skepticism (it varies a lot between them).
However what I see online is a large, vocal portion of those who claim to be MRAs are more about aggressive and toxic misogyny than anything else. See Scott Adams and sibling comment for more info.
Because of this I don't associate the terms mens' rights with any productive discussion.
There are more nuanced takes on male issues I have seen, such as /r/menslib on reddit. As far as I know they also distance themselves from the term MRA.
Described in The Guardian as a "toxic technoculture on a spectrum of digital misogyny": https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/14/the-red-p...
The term "red pill" is also common on 4chan's "politically incorrect" /pol/ board where taking the red pill is usually used to mean embracing conservative political thought and other related ideologies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_pill_and_blue_pill
It would be possible if there was a general perception that men were generally and historically, in the context in which one is an activist, oppressed based on their sex, such that being an activist for greater rights for men was consistent with pro-equality interest rather than anti-women interests.
However, there are very few societies on the world where that view is dominant or even a wide minority view, either internally or for external observers, so it's very hard to be a "men's rights activist" without the general perception being that one is acting out an anti-woman worldview.
Oppression is about liberty for which there is little proof which gender has more. The number of working profession which is excluded for women is exactly the same number for men in countries where both women and men are employed in similar numbers (such as Sweden). Men are equally or even more forbidden to enter areas which are assigned female roles, and the studies that look at this (such as one about the teaching profession) acknowledge that feminism has made some minor progress to make it acceptable to women to move to typical male roles but not the reverse.
Womens right activist has fought a long time that their movement isn't about anti-men world-view, so why is it acceptable to draw that same conclusion on all men's rights activist?
On whether it matters....I had a long conversation on the phone with an old friend yesterday, he is going through a divorce and has so far been bankrupted, been dismissed from his job (due to being obligated to take too many days off to prepare for court), he only gets supervised visits with his son, etc. I predict he will commit suicide within 5 years.
Are you suggesting:
(1) That it is sad that people assess the likely motivations of actors based on their assessment of the facts of the context of those actor's actions in general, or
(2) That it is sad in specific that people don't see men as factually being an oppressed group such that lobbying for greater rights for them than they currently is something other than attempt to establish dominance at the expense of not-men.
In either case, I'd have to say that, no, I don't think it's particularly sad.
#2 is closer to it, but it's not completely clear what you mean so I can't say whether I agree or not.
Take for instance:
"Men are an oppressed group: True or False"
To me, that seems to be the question you are asking (pardon me if I'm wrong or putting words in your mouth). To me, that question is worse than useless.
If you were thinking in terms of word associations and analogies, this disclaimer wouldn't matter because it's the association of words that's important, not the argument itself. And here you're ignoring the argument and focusing on word associations which he explains clearly are not his point. I see people making this kind of argument all the time, and it makes using analogies in any way other than emotional association usually pointless because someone will always find a way to focus on their emotional response to the words rather than the arguments. Doesn't this perfectly illustrate his point?
It seems like he was manipulating people into having this kind of negative reaction to prove his point that people don't focus on arguments.
Literally, or he just used a metaphor?
I can say "black people are like bowling balls, they are both black".
You could respond "oh my god! black people are people, not objects! How dare you!"
But this would not be a reasonable response - The implication of the metaphor was not that black people share the property of being an object. That would be a purposeful mis-interpretation.
Granted, the use of metaphor can sometimes be suspect, precisely because of the ambiguity of implication, but that's all it is - ambiguous in meaning/intent.
One of the later 1% that does not even care what he's persuading people about. Just plays the game for fun.
In this case also, it would be seen as arrogant to tell someone they aren't smart enough to understand your argument, but not so with a third party, i.e. maybe it's appropriate for playing devils advocate informally.
That said, he was also antagonizing if using "idiot", rather than being more polite himself. If he spoke through his own handle, he might have cared more about civility.
Meanwhile, the rest of this thread devolves to pedantry about definitions and analogies.
Good persuasion :)
His team might have smart people on it, that does not make the people who voted for him smart.