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A movement that cannot be criticized cannot achieve positive goals (whitehotharlots.tumblr.com)
260 points by exolymph 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 120 comments





So much for intellectual curiosity and finding answers to open questions in academia.

This is a sad turn of events where asking for evidence is evidence of maliciousness rather than revealing fraud or vacuousness on the side of the person making the claims. If someone makes a claim they certainly should be capable of response. And the institution using outrageously euphemistic language when calling for discipline. What fragile institutions.

This is terrible and taking us to nowhere fast.

Even victims of rape and assault are called as witnesses and aren’t spared, but here, questioning a poor argument is grounds for discipline because it called into question the basis for an ideology with weak underpinnings.


If you attempt to engage critically with a (specific person) regardless of how thorough and respectful you may be....(etc etc -- it won't go over well).

Conversely, if you don’t provide specifics, you’ll be accused of making stuff up.

This is an issue I have thought a great deal about. It isn't peculiar to any particular issue. I think it is a product of the internet age, where we can talk about and also talk with virtually anyone on the planet in real time.

I have wrestled with this a lot because I find social stuff interesting. If I talk about a particular person in order to have a concrete example, I'm in danger of doing real harm to that person. If I don't cite a real world example, people may not believe it or may not be able to comprehend my point.

One of my solutions is I talk about myself a lot. The result: I get accused of being a narcissist and attention monger who "makes everything about me."

¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt. The outcome is slightly mischaracterized with regard to who’s in agree about the facts. There’s clearly some unresolved issues about what exactly happened as the brief makes clear.

Exactly what was said at the hearing following the event was not recorded and the events following are a he said, she said according to the judges opinion.

I believe there shouldn’t have been a hearing in the first place. If it’s true that he was argumentative and disrespectful towards those in authority that’s always a good way to get yourself in trouble regardless if you’re right or wrong.

My thoughts are that there probably shouldn’t have been a hearing and that he handled it poorly even though it shouldn’t have happened. Should that be blamed on “the left’s” intolerance? Idk.


Honestly this Bhattacharya fellow seems either monumentally stupid or monumentally brave. In today’s left-aligned milieus like academia, challenging whatever is coming out of the racial outrage industry is like spitting on Kim Il-Sung’s statue in Pyongyang.

>The hardest part of talking about malignant trends on the broad left is that, well, you’re not allowed to talk about them.

Personally I'm exposed to loads of talking about malignant trends on the broad left, or at least the woke bit. Maybe it's just who I follow on twitter etc but I see far more criticism of woke than I see actual wokeness. Titania McGrath (satire) is quite funny if you enjoy jokes about that. https://mobile.twitter.com/TitaniaMcGrath


People with ptsd will find many comments or behaviors aggressive. All the training in the world won't take away that persons pain. Sadly, the people with ptsd will still have it even if a hundred people are punished after interacting with them.

People who self-diagnose / pretend to have ptsd will pretend to find many comments or behaviors aggressive.

Perhaps I'm naive but I think few people pretend to have that kind of pain. They do indeed have it. It might not arise from a truly traumatic experience but when somebody is under stress they do often react badly to people seen as threats. And people under stress see threats everywhere.

> It might not arise from a truly traumatic experience...

If it is not from life threatening situation it's not PTSD, it can be a serious case of anxiety disorder but you shouldn't confuse those.


It's an interesting question. Is a traumatic experience created in your mind different from one that occurred in the natural world. On the surface perhaps but on a neurological level I don't know.

This post works for me. Why has it been flagged? Is this an example of self-fulfilling prophecy?

I think there is a distinction between holding the belief that `racism exists and is evidentially relatively prevalent in day-to-day life` and the `set of beliefs associated with corporate/academic D&I training`, which include many of the things criticized in this article. They also tends to be class-blind.

Where I think this article goes wrong, however, is when by conflating the two. The "Left" is a broad category. Certainly, some might conflate criticism with "violence", but I think it is a markedly conservative trend to try to conflate corporate D&I training with the Left writ large.


What I find worrisome about this piece:

1. it at no point mentions what the fellow is actually alleged to have said. I'm sure I could find out with a few clicks, but what's up with that?

2. This is mostly an anxiety-rant about an entire political movement-of-movements that, for the most part, has nothing to do with the specifics of this anecdotal case.

How is this front-page HN material? Sample size?? Connection with something other than ~feelings~ to leftist tendencies more generally? Like, IDK, this does not seem up to our normal burden-of-proof standards.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I think we are showing our bias, allowing mediocre content that we like here....for ~reasons~.... to bubble up without due scrutiny. Wisdom-of-crowds requires a wise crowd. I doubt ours here.


> it at no point mentions what the fellow is actually alleged to have said

Did you not read the article? It has extensive quotes.


This is HN, "don't read TFA" is rule #2.

"Again, none of what I have described is an exaggeration"

But it could well be a selective presentation of the evidence in order to make your case.

There's a reason journalists are at least supposed to attempt to show the other side: so the reader doesn't get snowed, and the writer can keep some small measure of objectivity. Since that hasn't happened here, one should assume this portrayal is not accurate.


Based on reading the court docs [0] OP’s account doesn’t seem selective. There’s audio of the event that led to the complaint and it sounds spot on to how it was described in the blog.

The court docs include lots of info but we’ll need to see the end result. But it seems like the blog post is accurate and UVA is being totally stupid and will waste a lot of money losing this case.

[0] https://casetext.com/case/bhattacharya-v-murray


First off, does every court case's records show 100% the true story? If this were true, wouldn't every court case in history be completely incontrovertible? I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that just because it's been through court does not mean that the whole story is evidenced in court record. But IANAL.

Second, the article goes into things that happened after the audio confrontation, and it's claimed that those are the things that led to his dismissal. I would want to know more about those things, and not just whatever evidence has been accepted by the court, or the interpretation told by this article.


I don’t think anyone is claiming it’s 100% true or complete. But there is literally audio recording of the precipitating event that led to the court case.

We probably will never know everything. But from what we know now, that’s helpful for forming opinions.

The case wasn’t dismissed, and it was explicitly not dismissed and continues. 3/4 counts were dismissed. But one was not, thus its continuing.

It’s inaccurate to say that the case was dismissed.

And of course we want to know more, that’s a given. But in this situation we already know a lot.


Flagged. How predictable.

Thankfully this getting flagged is still routine. Can you imagine how sickening a place this would be if this kind of post didn’t get flagged? It’s horrific, yet parading around as if it was merely legit discourse that is snubbed unfairly by the left.

This is simply the best kind of humor: ambiguous parody

The case was filed more than 2 years ago, but I can't find any follow ups.

Does anyone know if there have been more recent developments? t the very least, has UVa issued a response of any sort?


I found this case from March 31st. [0] UVA filed a motion to dismiss all four counts, judge dismissed three and refused one, so it’s carrying forward.

Seems weird that the state attorney general is defending the university. Is that normal?

Also this was a second year med school student and the “professional conduct complaint” was filed by a professor. So these are all adults, not kids involved.

[0] https://casetext.com/case/bhattacharya-v-murray


I looked it up, and there’s been a motion to dismiss that was partially granted, but the case is still ongoing as far as I can see.

Damn. I really liked the argument like that Battacharya was following. I've been in a similar situation where I explain to people that constantly trying to avoid microaggressions is a waste of time, for the same reasons he raises. In general, the article makes a great point about how the current politically correct movement (and to be honest every PC movement I've seen so far) is unwilling to hear any questioning of its ideological bases.

It's simply a form of control. You can't reason around it because it's not meant to be reasoned with, only submitted to. The #1 red flag in any rotten organization is the punishment of inquiry. Questions are a threat when there is something to hide.

"it should fucking terrify you that a movement that’s been tasked with addressing pressing social problems is designed in such a way that any substantial criticism is met with aggressive punishment. "

Couldn't agree more. As someone very liberal that is also exhausted of wokeness, of the constant normalization of racism against whites, and against asians (as model minorities), this hits the nail on the head.


Same; the worst about this, imo, is the duplicity and hypocrisy. So many people today are using the very tactics that they criticize: division, judgment, hatred, prejudice, exclusion, so on and so on

...Violence

The silencing of dissenting voices

Honest question: Do you think the current deplorable spate of attacks against Asians is being driven by wokeness?

Honestly: I believe that the spate of attacks against Asians is being spurred by the news coverage of it. The media created a narrative of Asian American hate crimes, which did exist, but the “trend” they created increased the intensity of it. Just like school shootings or celebrity suicides, the news coverage fuels more of the same.

What do the FBI stats say compared to other groups. I imagine we have stats that will tell us what’s happening. Who’s commuting what and where.

NYC has stats on these crimes. NYC is also progressive and yet has a lot of this kind of crime.


Does the FBI publish stats on whether the attacker was left or right?

You can be progressive in one place while not solving the big systemic issue in another.

Stats are just numbers. If you police one area much more strongly, you will get higher numbers. Same when people in that area are poor, you would get more property crime.

The fact that the numbers stay high point to a failure of policing as the correct approach. More of a failed approach apparently does not fix it.


These are crimes reported by victims so I think it’s not the same as buying weed or knocking a bodega and getting caught.

Indeed, but even responsiveness to reporting depends on kind of policing, and the kind of victim. You get very different responses, that even not including the social bias for reporting certain crimes by specific people, and whether vigilantism is seen as the answer, or silence - with reporting seen as waste of time.

Jewish people are the highest in 2019, like 63% when I looked. From that, I came to the conclusion that the stats are mostly driven by those who are more active in identification and reporting of potentially racist behavior.

I don’t necessarily think it speaks to the amount of hate crime fully.


But can you accept the criticism that you just might be trying to silence criticism yourself?

(Especially when you level charges with no proof, or use tiny examples as a counterweight to actually big problems. One of your points is valid, most are not a real thing.)


Why was this flagged @dang?

Isn't it because people flagged it? They aren't required to provide a reason.

Usually these get taken down because there is nothing new to say about them.


I'm assuming this is satire

The first graph is about how criticism on and of the left is akin to literal physical violence

Thats a fox news talking point


This notion of words as violence is not new and it is certainly not satire.

I have heard it stated as matter-of-fact many times over the past 10+ years by other people in the Bay Area.


The fact it's so difficult to differentiate between the mission statement of an informal group and their actual behavior only adds to the problem. Maybe a group behaves well in your locality but badly in someone else's. How are we to tally up thousands of incidents and say "Oh ok this group has a 90% positivity rate so you should feel friendly towards them."? It's impossible.

"The hardest part of talking about malignant trends on the broad left is that, well, you’re not allowed to talk about them. It’s no exaggeration to say that criticism has become fully conflated with violence. If you attempt to engage critically with a left-liberal writer–regardless of how thorough and respectful you may be, and regardless of how powerful, public, or insulated the subject of the criticism–you will be accused of dismissing and erasing the writer, of inciting violence against the writer, and of committing some form of genocide against whichever identity groups the writer belongs to."

ITT: a bunch of people talking about malignant trends on the left and somehow not being accused of genocide!


"This issue can be discussed openly without fear of consequence", said throwaway998876

Right now nobody can discuss politics. Where there was once a chance to influence or change a mind that's impossible now. For that very same reason that's why the source of political knowledge is comedians ONLY.

From the left-wing mass media you have your typical comedians like stephen colbert. In the podcast scene you have folks like Joe rogan. On the right wing you have folks like steven crowder. They are all comedians.

Only comedians are allowed to criticize or discuss politics. Which is only true in the USA. Outside the USA? Hell Canada just to the north actively fines comedians for jokes. RCMP arrest book authors. Canada once had a ton of fantastic comedians but they have basically been forced to leave the country.


It’s seems like there’s a gap in this story, at least as it’s presented by the article. The article says he was baited into a meeting, and then two weeks after the meeting was when the real trouble began. Did he in fact say something genuinely unconscionable during that meeting? If so, saying you were “baited” isn’t automatic immunity.

So much of what the article says makes me want to pick up the pitch forks, but it’s also clear this article has an anti-left goal in mind, so I’d like to understand more before letting myself get emotional about it.

I say it has an anti-left goal, because it’s framing the issue of community ostracization on the basis of different beliefs as a specifically left issue. Go try talking about the benefits of socialism in a far right community and see how that goes.


You do realize that the point of the follow up meeting is to bait the heretic into saying something truly unconscionable? It’s like trying to get bitten by a dog so you can put it down: punish it for something non-transgressive, confusing them; threaten severe consequences, scaring them; and then initiate conflict to extract the maximally emotional response.

I agree, it is framed as a problem with Left thought, but all movements have their sacred cows and dogma. Except I don't think nuanced criticism of Trump economic policy is going to result in anything more than being called a soy boy -- they are insensitive to criticism like that.

In contrast, academia has long and twisty schemes of thought. But previously if you were 'wrong' you just didn't get any grant money or significant publications and pretty soon you had to leave (if you didn't have tenure, but even if you did you could lose students, lab/office space, favourite subjects).

Now, having divergent opinions can result in something akin to bees ejecting an intruder from the hive. I don't believe that this particular case is representative though; far more often it seems like nothing is done.


>> it’s also clear this article has an anti-left goal in mind

I feel that positioning things in terms of PRO vs ANTI is not accurate or helpful in many cases, including this one.

Is reasoned criticism necessarily ANTI in nature? I do not think so.



Thank you for that, great read

I thought Scott Lilienfeld spelled out very clearly the problems with microaggressions in his paper "Microaggressions: Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence". It's behind a paywall but the gist can be read here: https://aeon.co/essays/why-a-moratorium-on-microaggressions-...

In the paper he suggested areas for further study that could affirm the idea, but I've not seen any, based on the Google Scholar search I set up.


Top post on hn with 0 comments; seems fitting given the topic.

edit: welp, this comment is now completely irrelevant.


I expect many comments here will be made using new accounts.

imo hn is fairly moderate when it comes to social issues. I think the user base (being mostly tech/eng/stem ppl) approach social issues with a similar logical approach they use in their most aspects of their work/lives; sometimes they/we can be critical to a fault (but I'd take that over left/right political extremes any day).

Am I totally off? I'm interested to hear how others would rate hn on a scale of 1-10 (lower = more liberal).


Collectively, HN is more classically liberal than anything. There are some strong leftists and some strong libertarians, but generally Marx or Ayn Rand aren't regarded too highly. Centrist liberal enlightenment values are much more en vogue; think Biden, Macron, Trudeau, Merkel, The Economist, free markets but some government is useful, climate change is real. Generally anti-trumpism but also anti-"woke"/left.

A 1-dimensional scale is missing quite a lot in terms of politics. But if you mean classically liberal, it's a 2 out of 10. If you mean US liberal-conservative politics, it's a 3 out of 10.


I tend to agree with your assessment; 'classically liberal' is a good way to put it.

> free markets but some government is useful, climate change is real, anti-trump, anti-woke.

yep that describes me. However as a 'classical liberal' I personally like Obama's politics over Biden, Macron, Trudeau, and Merkel. Also I enjoy reading both Marx and Rand.


dang banned anyone with an original opinion from the right under the guise of civility

Ideologues of every flavor say that - they just swap in $hated-object to complain about. The irony is how isomorphic all these enemies are.

Plenty of examples at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26148870, and there are a lot more where those came from.


That’s a little harsh. Politically charged arguments are just not in the spirit of HN in dang’s opinion

I agree with the idea of having a space where we aren't constantly culture warring, but you have to bear in mind that if you ban political speech then you still inherently permit status quo political speech. And the status quo here is California liberalism.

Nobody has banned politics on HN. There are a zillion explanations of this at https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&so....

Tedious, eternal flamewar is another matter. The point of HN is to have a place on the internet that isn't dominated by that.

As for "the status quo here is California liberalism", everyone thinks HN is dominated by the other side. The GP made the opposite claim (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26732300). In both cases it is imaginary.


I know you don't ban politics, that's why I chose the specific phrase "culture warring" - I think its a good policy. I think my phrasing after that point was just bad though as I didn't mean to b expand that scope to political speech in general.

Could well be confirmation bias on my part that this place seems to skew Californian in politics.


Posts that masquerade as “legitimate dissenting opinions just not getting a fair shake from the left by golly” but which really seek to undermine structures by which systemic racism can possibly be called out and held accountable for harm (like the framework of microaggressions) deserve to be flagged and shut down. They don’t serve any free speech or intellectual honesty purpose to preserve discourse and the psychological safety to disagree, and they are roundly disingenuous tools for filibustering actual legit discourse and progress. It’s just taking crass tools of hate groups and dressing them up with five dollar words and armchair discussion of academic freedom of expression, when really it’s just hostile noise jamming against progress.

[flagged]


Flamewar comments and personal attacks are not cool and will get you banned here, regardless of how right you are or feel you are. Please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and use HN as intended.

sounds suspiciously actually like you don’t know what systemic racism is...

"no u" isn't a very good comeback.

Systemic _anything_ is that thing perpetuated through systemic effects. In the case of racism it's a structural effect that lasts long after the prolonged and intentional oppression of certain minority groups. Things like a lack of generational wealth, de facto segregation, racial profiling in policing and so on.

The thing with systemic effects in general is that they're not perpetuated intentionally, but are emergent properties of relationships within a complex system. There are ways to unpick and understand why these problems are occurring and prevent their continuation, but I'm sorry to say that I'm just not seeing that coming from the progressive movement at the moment. I care deeply about systems theory and its applicability in solving some of our pressing social problems, but I'm not seeing its use in social activism. Instead the tactics of corporate D&I seem actively designed to look good while not really doing anything. Same with microaggression and unconscious bias training; all they're going to do is put well meaning people on the defensive when interacting with marginalised people for fear of saying something offensive, and that's not going to help anybody.


> a lack of generational wealth, de facto segregation, racial profiling in policing and so on.

That's what's always bugged me about people saying "systemic racism". They never could tell me what it is. You are the first person I have read who can actually say something concrete, something I can actually understand.

I had assumed that, because nobody could actually say what it is, that it was just a nebulous term being tossed around to make whites feel guilty. Now I'm going to have to re-think that.

So, congratulations. You made me think. That's about the highest compliment possible on HN...


Thanks, I'm glad I could help.

FWIW sometimes I'm not sure that the people using the term know what it means either. They often use it but then the attempted solution is basically to call out perceived racism in individuals, which will obviously do nothing to help these problems. The root self perpetuating problem is the poverty trap, combined with the racial aspects of segregation and profiling.

Systemic solutions would be things like investing more into inner city schools than the national average, targeted educational and entrepreneurial assistance for enterprising people from poor black backgrounds (I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the current progressive outreach programs are taken up by already-middle-class black people, which doesn't help solve the problem, but I hope I'm wrong) and other measures designed to provide ladders out of poverty to a large number of people at once. You basically need to provide elevated opportunities.


That you feel you are identifying solutions, or even a definition, not understood or pursued by people creating things like microinequity training, just reveals your ignorance.

I think my earlier comment which you described as a “no u” comeback was actually really apt and crystal clearly accurate based on your follow-ups.


You have not provided any evidence for this claim. And in fact, the very concept of "microinequity" (whatever that might mean) is at the opposite end of the spectrum from anything systemic.

K

> Instead the tactics of corporate D&I seem actively designed to look good while not really doing anything

You just described the Shirky Principle :)


I’m inclined to agree with you, but my sense of the status quo here is more libertarian than anything else. Might be confirmation bias.

I think some of the older membership is libertarian. I'm from the UK and my impression of California politics is that there's a strange mix of libertarianism, liberalism and leftism but that all three have strong socially liberal characteristics.

Is that why every RMS post gets nuked from orbit no matter the comment count?

RMS?

Richard M. Stallman

And yet he hardly needs to given that any such opinions will be flagkilled in seconds. It's pure spite.

This is why I view HN via a telegram bot that posts the top links. Let’s me see what was flagged.

You can also turn on "showdead" in your profile settings.

I always browse with showdead on.


Why was this flagged?

I dont know. Maybe someone is trying help prove the point of the article?

Politics is generally off topic. Things that are likely to give rise to flame wars are also generally discouraged.

You may agree or disagree on whether this particular one is worth discussing, but that's probably the general idea behind the flagging.


One reason is that it encourages wrong-think in healthy discussions. /s

Questioning why something is flagged is also against the 'HN Hivemind'. Now get in line. /s


It's user flagged, not mod flagged.

How is the difference indicated?

Because words are violence now.

Probably because it's quite arguably not hacker news.

HN has always been about a wide variety of topics.

While true, I'm pretty sure this falls in the gray area. Lots of people are here to get tech and cool geek info.

This whole article reads like a Kafkaeque horror story. Such a shame that this is what parts of the social justice movement have become. I say "some parts" because it is a subset. There are lots of people in the progressive movement who are not this crazy. And, in the same manner, there are conservatives who disavow QAnon and it ilk.

Still, sadly there's too many on either side... Hopefully the pendulums will swing back to the center.


QAnon is fringe. Social Justice is mainstream progressivism. There is no QAnon equivalent to diversity and inclusion policy/training in industry or academia. It is not socially acceptable to discuss QAnon except critically. There is no comparison here, this is the thrust of the social justice movement, and even if one accepts that a minority of progressives believe in this sort of extremism, the unfortunate fact is that it is being forced into society from the top down, with training, quotas, "mental health," and the like.

A majority of social justice is mainstream progressivism. $15/hr min wage, higher taxes on the 1%, etc. But there is a subset of the left which has gone nuts. This article is a prefect example of it. And the fringe left doesn't have to mirror QAnon, but if they're both espousing their own "truths" without the scrutiny of facts, then they're both wrong.

Totally agree with you on your statement "There is no QAnon equivalent to diversity and inclusion policy/training in industry". The private sector is a lot more grounded than academia. Mostly for the better, sometimes for the worse.


non-non-coiners should give this a read and reflect too

> The hardest part of talking about malignant trends on the broad left is that, well, you’re not allowed to talk about them. It’s no exaggeration to say that criticism has become fully conflated with violence. If you attempt to engage critically with a left-liberal writer–regardless of how thorough and respectful you may be, and regardless of how powerful, public, or insulated the subject of the criticism–you will be accused of dismissing and erasing the writer, of inciting violence against the writer, and of committing some form of genocide against whichever identity groups the writer belongs to.

Such boogyman victim complex that also only singles out only one particular ideology, showing it's colors, most likely.

Yes, I've certainly engaged those too absorbed in politics to be able to handle criticism, whatever the political allegiance might be, but most persons are far more reasonable than what the article makes anything out to be.

A minority of persons does what the article describes, and this certainly isn't isolated to this so-called “broad left”. — that the writer singles out that alone is reason to be suspicious.

> You’d think a group that obsesses over power differentials and their own marginalization would have some grasp of this. Regardless of which side you fall into with this particular culture war, it should fucking terrify you that a movement that’s been tasked with addressing pressing social problems is designed in such a way that any substantial criticism is met with aggressive punishment.

Many groups obsess over power differentials and everyone who argues politics from such “groups” seems to consider himself the victim and oppressed. They all have their cherry picked statistics to show it, and they all ignore the statistics of the other side and the statistics deal with matters that are so divergent from one another that it's really impossible to tell who has it “worse”, but all are convinced it is they.

This isn't isolated to the so-called “broad left”; this is a function of special interest group politics.

Also, it has to be said, I estimate a 95% chance this article is both written by someone inside of the U.S.A., who also failed to even consider that a world outside of the U.S.A. exists when writing it. — it carries the stench of this style.


This is petty identity politics framed as a criticism of petty identity politics.

Yes, it's a low quality article. I agreed with the title, but after reading it decided not to upvote. When I returned to read comments, it's flagged.

No, it's a high quality article. I agreed with the title, but after reading it decided to upvote. When I returned to read comments, it's flagged.

Don't you think your mocking the parent's words is petty? That's the kind of attitude I was criticizing.

> The problem is that he attempted to question the ideological firmaments of contemporary anti-racist training. These firmaments are protected with aggressive viciousness precisely because they cannot withstand scrutiny. Had Bhattacharya merely scoffed at them, or even if he had been outright condescending and dismissive, he probably would not have received such a severe punishment. The problem was that he was right, and his accusers knew it.

This line of reasoning doesn't seem logical to me, but perhaps someone can explain it to me. I don't see how responding with "aggressive viciousness" leads to a conclusion that one knows their position doesn't make sense and that they are in the wrong. This reminds me of reasoning I might associate with a children's playground: "you got mad when I said it, so the rumor must be true!"


No that's not playground reasoning. If someone points out a contradiction in your reasoning and your only response is to label their pointing out of a contradiction 'dangerous', you are quite literally showcasing the hollowness of your argument.

No, people can be right and still be dismissive.

If someone comes to me and tells me 2+2=5, and I say "no, dummy, get out of here", that doesn't make them right. Sometimes people don't want to have to deal with nonsense.


What if you say “2+2=5” and someone comes up and says “respectfully it seems 2+2 should equal 4” and rather than engaging in a discussion you have them kicked out of school, that probably means your argument is not sound and is not defendable.

I agree. Being dismissive doesn't mean you're right, either. It would be quite foolish of me to claim otherwise.

Someone choosing to respond by labeling a contradiction as "dangerous" does not mean there is no proper response, and certainly doesn't (to me) literally showcase the hollowness of an argument. I genuinely don't understand this reasoning, which to me seems like a massive leap.

I'd just like to clarify - you are saying their inability to produce a counterpoint is irrelevant to their argument because there might exist a possible counterpoint not yet articulated that validates their argument?

I think they are talking about sea-lioning (https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sea-lioning)

Requiring someone to always respond fully to any challenge with evidence, no matter how many times the same points are made or how irrelevant the dispute is to the substance of the issue, is unreasonable.


It’s unreasonable to present things as fact without evidence. The difference between sealioning and people citing no evidence or poor evidence is important.

If I’m presenting evidence based material, I’d rather err on the side of too much discussion about quality of evidence than firing or expelling the single person who asked questions of my evidence.


There's that quote of disputed origin that goes "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

The author of this article would like the reader to draw the conclusion that the Adams camp responded with "aggressive viciousness precisely because they cannot withstand scrutiny."

The author could be right, could be wrong, responding with "aggressive viciousness" doesn't really tell you anything about how well someone could support their position, it really only tells you that the person didn't and instead resorted to "aggressive viciousness."

Now we could infer that if you have good reasons for your positions you need not resort to "aggressive viciousness" and could instead use less aggressive non-vicious reasoning to support your position. Is that inference valid? I don't know, I don't particularly have a dog in the fight.

If I call your mom an idiot and you say you'll knock my block off for doing so, I could rightly say you responded with "aggressive viciousness." That doesn't really bolster my claim that your mom is an idiot nor does it imply that you could not support with evidence the case that your mom is not an idiot. The analogy here falls a bit flat because something like "your mom is an idiot" is rather inflammatory and so a strong visceral reaction makes sense in that context, where in the drawn out academic setting that is referenced in the post there would be ample time to make a calm reasoned case.

So should you draw the inference the author wants? That the actions outlined are "aggressive viciousness" and that they are that way because the "firmaments [...] cannot withstand scrutiny." That's up to you. Does it follow from a purely logical set of reasoning, not really, which to the author's credit they readily admit by labeling this section "Now for conjecture:"


Essentially, yes. In other words, I wouldn't endorse their line of argument or discussion, but I also wouldn't use it to dismiss the point being argued.

How would you dismiss points being argued if not on the ability of their proponents to argue them?

On their merits? Participants in a debate are not avatars of their side of the argument. One guy fails to make a counterpoint, ok. Doesn't mean he's wrong.

How do you evaluate the merits of an argument?

Critical thinking, reasoning skills, historical and subject knowledge. I'm sure you could think of more techniques if you put your mind to it.

No those are just tools, you evaluate an argument based on the chain of reasoning from premise to conclusion. Critical thinking is how you produce an apparent contradiction in an argument. Once you put this to the person articulating an argument, given all arguments are articulated by people, and they cannot provide a counterpoint to make the chain of reasoning logically sound. You have to reject that argument or else there is no point in arguing - there are no grounds to reject an argument.

That it is possible there exists a potential argument that links the premise to the same conclusion doesn't save the particular argument presented. Being right for the wrong reasons is still being wrong.


What one party may characterize as an "inability to produce a counterpoint", another party may characterize as "unwilling to waste time arguing with some moron who doesn't understand the self-evident point".

There are 100 other possible explanations, but I think anyone can agree that not replying to every "counterargument" in a social setting doesn't mean that someone is wrong.




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