Forum manners in an ideal world

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Aug 24 2013 2:46 PM

I have been reading a book by a philosopher on the human mind and evolution with which I thoroughly diagree (Daniel C. Dennett's Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking). However, he has many useful ideas and uses many thinkers I admire including Anatol Rapoport. Dennett's summary of Rapoport:

1. You should attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."

2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Admittedly they, while good guidelines, fail to be consistently practical in the forums. So I have created my own list of guidelines for how to avoid looking like a bigoted idjit, a goal I think everyone with any interest in apologetics shares:

1. Topic: You should attempt to express your own position clearly rather than stating the others' position poorly. Show humility in the limits of your knowledge.

2. Domain: Don't use a  broader brush than justified - just as there exist differences between Baptists, so here exist differences between Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Republicans, Asians ...

3. Language: Ban the use of the pet phrases of your own tradition - they mean nothing outside your tradition. "liberals", "infidels", "idjits" mean different things to different groups. Abrasive language is a marker for our fears and ignorance. Cherry-picked facts are as useless as no facts.

4. Complexity: Don't solely blame religion when economic, social, cultural and ethnic issues are also in play. The Irish Catholic/Protestant issue has roots in English rule and Scottish immigrants more than the Reformation.

My point? Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by giving others reasons to hate or fear us. With the Noet expansion, don't we have a perfect opportunity to witness to the non-believer through the tone and content of our communication?

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Alan Charles Gielczyk | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2013 4:49 PM

Great points Martha! I would like to clarify your point #3. I believe you mean, correct me if I am wrong, more than derogatory terms. For example, as a Reformed Christian I should avoid  pet terms such as "elect" for it will mean something completely different to an Arminian.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2013 5:03 PM

Alan Charles Gielczyk:
I should avoid  pet terms such as "elect" for it will mean something completely different to an Arminian.

exactly

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2013 5:10 PM

MJ. Smith:
My point? Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by giving others reasons to hate or fear us. With the Noet expansion, don't we have a perfect opportunity to witness to the non-believer through the tone and content of our communication?

Good points here.

Maybe we should add some other common sense points here too like:

  1. Don't caricature a position for the purpose of dismissing the caricature.
  2. Not every disagreement is worthy a response.
  3. I'm not likely to change anyone's mind about whatever we disagree on.
  4. Not everyone is interested in my unique perspective on this topic/passage/point of theology/etc.
  5. If you're not asking for help, or trying to help someone who has asked for it, ask yourself what you hope to accomplish.
  6. As a general rule, avoid generalizations. Wink
  7. Delay posting when you're feeling anxious, defensive, angry, or any other strong emotion. If it's worth saying, it will be worth saying tomorrow.
  8. Never think you know someone's motives, if they haven't specifically stated them.
  9. No one here actually fits in your "box" about who you think they are.

There are probably some more.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2013 5:15 PM

nice additions, Richard.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Sleiman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2013 7:14 PM

MJ. Smith:
My point? Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by giving others reasons to hate or fear us. With the Noet expansion, don't we have a perfect opportunity to witness to the non-believer through the tone and content of our communication?
Where's that 'chapeau bas' emoticon when you need it? Very well expressed and I agree wholeheartedly. I have learned this the hard way (translation: I have made myself sound like an idiot numerous times before). May I suggest this be 'stickied' or supplemented to the forum's rules?

MJ. Smith:
1. You should attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."
In other words, Seek first to understand then to be understood (from Steven Covey's 7 habits). More often than not, people forget about listening emphatically and tend to start thinking of what to say in response even before the other person finishes his/her statement. 

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Paul Golder | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 24 2013 7:36 PM

Richard DeRuiter:
I'm not likely to change anyone's mind about whatever we disagree on.

I fear that if this was heeded, the internet would be a quiet, lonely place. (insert photo of a tumbleweed rolling down the street of a ghost town here)

"As any translator will attest, a literal translation is no translation at all."

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 10:59 AM

There are some geat posts in this thread. That especially to MJ. and Richard.

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Niko | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 11:01 AM

MJ. Smith:

My point? Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by giving others reasons to hate or fear us. With the Noet expansion, don't we have a perfect opportunity to witness to the non-believer through the tone and content of our communication?

Maybe I didn't understand because of having a simple mind and english being not my native language, but does buying Noet make you instantly a non-believer?

My first book for Libronix was Waltke-O'Connor. I bought it because it was easier to have in my laptop than carrying that big book. Later on I have added L4 OL plus many resources relating to ancient languages. Although being a christian I still consider  ancient languages to be my main motive for my Logos library. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 11:21 AM

Niko:
does buying Noet make you instantly a non-believer?

Smile Nope ... but non-believers have more reason to purchase Noet than Logos

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 1:15 PM

Peace!    *smile*                        Thanks to all who have contributed to this very pleasant and helpful thread.  I will be bookmarking it and re-reading it a number of times.

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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Ward Walker | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 6:11 PM

Paul Golder:

Richard DeRuiter:
I'm not likely to change anyone's mind about whatever we disagree on.

I fear that if this was heeded, the internet would be a quiet, lonely place. (insert photo of a tumbleweed rolling down the street of a ghost town here)

Can do:

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 6:20 PM

Looks like Oklahoma. Notice the utility pole is leaning to the left. A tornado must have gone through here. 

Ward Walker:

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 25 2013 6:56 PM

Looks like the ghost town is down to foundations only ... at least nothing above grass height. I like itBig Smile

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Butters | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 6:56 AM

I am in the middle of writing a book on American conservative philosophy (its roots, what it is, how it is misunderstood even by alleged Conservatives, etc.), and I have a chapter on "feminized discourse" that is germane to this thread.  And I have a lot to say that some might or might not find interesting; I don't know how far we can or should push this thread.  Prolly I'll just post this up and people will get mad at me and that will be the end of it.  Stick out tongue

I agree with much of what has been said; for example, it is not only appropriate but essential to understand your adversary's position.  Indeed, you should ideally understand it better than they do.  

Well and fine.  

However, I have noticed that there is a decided aversion in this forum (and elsewhere) to feisty and spirited debate; that is what I personally grew up on, and I must say it’s a bit of a culture shock to meet people (in both the virtual and real world, and here) who put such an overwhelming premium on being sensitive, “perspectival” etc.  

And yet, that^ is not quite true after all.

What is a bit closer to the truth is that demands that people be more “sensitive” and “nuanced” and “perspectival” (and all the other ways we try to feminize what such people call “discourse”) are usually made when a person doesn’t agree with the content of the post, irrespective of the "mode of discourse" employed.  

I have many times been told in seminars that my "discourse" is "phallic" - by both men and women who believe they deserve to be affirmed at every point in the conversation; and that their viewpoints ought to be confirmed no matter how wrong-headed.  This is why Aristotle is so despised in some circles: his modal logic is as inexorable as it is powerful.  

This is a sad state of affairs and the result of years and years of mis-training people into believing that their viewpoint is just as valid as anyone else's merely because they hold it; who have been insulated from "penetrating" questioning for so long that they are not used to having to defend their positions cogently; and, indeed, cannot do so.  

In other words, these demands are more often than not ways of insulating oneself from penetrating analysis and rigorous thinking; as well as ways of controlling conversations and debate so that it conforms to one's own viewpoint.  

I have seen it over and over again in this forum:  if a post expresses a consensus opinion content-wise, one can be as impolite (“snarky”) as one likes and it goes un-noticed; whereas, if a post’s content expresses a non-consensus position, it is perceive it as impolite, however politely written.  I have noticed (and noted) this on many threads in this forum.  

In short, it seems to me that for many people perceptions of “polite” or “impolite” posts are highly (if not almost completely) mediated by whether that person agrees or disagrees with the content of the post.

As for me, my education and upbringing was entirely conducted upon spirited debate and often in tutorials with very intimidating and able adversaries as tutors; I am very used to the rough and tumble of verbal debate and do not mind at all a bit of feistiness - indeed, I relish it.  And look on with chagrin at its loss in a verbal culture that has been so Carol Gilligan-ated and feminized.  

~Butters Smile

“To love means loving the unlovable.  To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.  Faith means believing the unbelievable.  Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” ~Chesterton

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 7:05 AM

Butters, recognizing you're trying very hard, but I just have never seen someone paint the behavior discussed by the good apostle Paul (Rom 12-13) as feminine. I'll have to read your book.


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Paul Golder | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 7:22 AM

Paul's behavior seems to reflect the circumstance at hand. Sometime he was quite prepared to "throw down", as it were:

"You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!"

"As any translator will attest, a literal translation is no translation at all."

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JRS | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 7:29 AM

Butters contra mundum.

How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose, and bring near to Thee(Psa 65:4a)

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 7:29 AM

Paul Golder:
you will take no other view than mine

I like that.

Paul Golder:
I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!"

Paul, are you saying the Apostle started the movement to feminize the Bible?

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David Ames | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 7:32 AM

Butters:

As for me, my education and upbringing was entirely conducted upon spirited debate and often in tutorials with very intimidating and able adversaries as tutors; I am very used to the rough and tumble of verbal debate and do not mind at all a bit of feistiness - indeed, I relish it.  And look on with chagrin at its loss in a verbal culture that has been so Carol Gilligan-ated and feminized.  

MOST of the time we almost do OK - then every 18 months or so we go off the deep end on who is and who is not a REAL Christian.

The internet is still new - we are NOT face to face and we are not used to 100,000 others being involved.  

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