One More About Discussions

A bit more about the mechanics of the comments section.

Not to keep up too much navel-gazing/meta-blogging, but after a week during which I paid more attention to the comments section than I have for some time, let me note a few additional thoughts and I want to actually address a couple of specific examples, because they represent types of behavior that I would like to spotlight in the hopes of educating or, at least, explaining.

I suppose it is the professor in me. I am prone to want to give chances for learning and I want expectations to be understood. It is why I can often be patient with commenters who do a poor job of communicating for a while and even try, knowingly in vain in many cases, to point out why the style deployed in problematic.

In a bit of self-reflection in the moment, it occurs to me that I tend to deal with problematic commenters the way I deal with problematic students. First, patient attempt to explain why they are problematic in the hope of getting them on track. Second, a move into sarcasm or humor to highlight the problem. From there making increasingly critical observations and then to a resignation that the student is going to fail no matter what guidance I provide (which means in this context either ceasing to engage the person at all or, in certain cases, deletions or banning).

I used to teach a heavily-discussed based course (25% of the grade was class discussion) and part of my job was to get the shy students to learn to speak up. I used to warn students that if ever stopped trying to get them to speak, they were probably in trouble because they had exhausted my attempts to help them to success.

It is also true that I can tolerate a certain amount of nonsense, or even minor policy violations, from folks who otherwise do what they are supposed to. Good will is an important currency in life that a lot of people fail to invest in.

And look, some folks will find all of that condescending, after all, this is not a classroom. But, of course, I am making an analogy and trying to explain my own thought processes and behaviors. I am being transparent, and I suppose that can be treated as one likes. And look, it is hardly surprising that a professor takes a professorial approach to life, especially in a setting such as this.

To restate to a degree the things that I noted in my post from last weekend: this is a private space with an open door. All are invited to come in, but not all are welcome to stay. The line of delineation is behavior.

Yes, we have a commenting policy. And yes, we are not wholly consistent in applying it (e.g., people often use language that violate the policy or engage in personal attacks). The reality is, this is not a zero tolerance, rules based policy wherein the deployment of an R-rated word leads to deletion. Nor is it is really possible to parse out which comments really constitute “personal attacks” at least not in the sense of taking consistent time to dole out internet justice. I would refer back to the statement above about good will as it pertains to why a commenter who 95% of the time does not engage any questionable activity versus ones who engage almost exclusively in vitriol and/or nonsense.

Beyond, who has time to act as moderator? James is a professor and department head. I am dean of a college. Neither of us has time to police all the comments and make measured judgments about the merits of each.

At any rate, since last weekend I have read almost every comments posted. I do not usually read the open fora (save on occasion). Further, the topic of the quality and nature of conversation here have been a major topic. I have also deleted a number of comments this week. This has, lead to more thoughts on the subject.

I will reiterate what a lot of people have stated: the general quality of the discussions here are quite good. By the standards of the internet, they are amazing. My main regret is that we do lack strong commenters who are from the more rightward ranges of US political space, and I will leave aside why that might be the case here. I would note,too, that despite the claims of some visitors, this is hardly a hive of radical leftism. Quite frankly, the main writers for the site, and almost all of the commenters, are fairly centrist (but, again, that is another discussion).

Let me get down to why I deleted some comments and what really gets one banned. I am going to be more specific than I might otherwise be about commenters in a main post, but I think it is useful.

BTW: I know some folks will want to say that I am giving trolls what they want, i.e., attention. Perhaps so. But, I always have a glimmer of optimism that people can learn. Moreover, this post is a marker that spells out expectations that I can refer back to as needed.

First: Guarneri. Guarneri, who have been posting here for a while, is an example of a particularly unimaginative and tiresome kind of trolling. He has degenerated into hit-and-run insults that detail comment threads and and been more and more nonsensical as time goes by. He is close to being banned. The main problem with this type of commenter is that they contribute nothing to a given comment thread and usually are just deploying some worn out talking point from right wing media.

Second, Paul L. Same deal overall: right wing talking points that he thinks are clever. They aren’t. Paul L. at least sticks around in a given thread, unlike Guarneri, but he doesn’t actually engage in argument. He is the kind of person who thinks that talk radio quips and burns again the libs are effective, but doesn’t understand that they only work when preaching to the choir. He, too, is close to being banned because he just derails discussions.

The main sin in comment derailment. Insults are derailing. Shouting talking points and running way is derailing. Arguing in bad faith consistently is derailing.

I would note, too, that a major reason for having the open forum posts is so that anyone can talk about whatever they like. You can’t derail the topic when there isn’t one, so if folks really want to talk about X, they have that chance. The fact that they choose to derail conversation Y with X is evidence of trolling, not good faith–especially when they have the chance to talk about X on the open forum. (Although insults and the like are still not welcome on those threads).

Disagreement is not the issue. Bring on the disagreement, but have the integrity to back up your position.

Indeed, I would note that the issue that really leads to banning overall is the derailment issue. That is what got Pearce banned. It is what got another commenter who was probably one of the more left-wing types (I forget his moniker). He would drop into a thread and rather insultingly derail the conversation. And he got more beligerent over time. Several others who have been banned fall into the same category (another one, again whose name escapes me, would almost always personally attack the author of the post).

A third example that I wanted to note was barbintheboonies. She showed back up with a persecution complex. She claimed to have been censored. She talked about being attacked. Nonetheless, several commenters went out their way to either offer assistance, or to try and engage her in reasonable conversation. Someone like that is not going to get banned, but she might find herself ignored because of a combination of wild claims, lack of evidence in argumentation, and often general belligerence.

I would ask everyone to try and be polite and kind. I know that it is often tempting to respond with an FU. This isn’t constructive.

To those who wish to engage in argumentation, I ask two things: 1) recognize when talking points are just that (and realize how unpersuasive they are), and 2) evidence is awesome (if we ever start selling OTB t-shirts, that would make a good one). If you really want to change minds, that is a good place to start.

In the detritus that floats around in my head, let me paraphrase a Bible verse (of all things): “Commenters, vex not the site’s authors lest ye be deleted or banned.”

Or, if you prefer a more secular statement: don’t be a jerk. Try to be kind. Build some good will.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Blogosphere
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Joe says:

    And if you can’t be kind, at least be cogent.

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  2. CSK says:

    Forgive me for derailing this thread, but I want to reiterate that Jazz Shaw has again heard from Doug. Doug is okay, appreciates everyone’s concern, and hopes to return online soon.

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  3. CSK says:

    @Joe: Literate and sane are nice, too.

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  4. @Joe: @CSK: Indeed.

    @CSK: Good news. I knew that Jazz Shaw had been in contact, but had not gotten any updates.

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  5. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: This update appeared to be as of late Friday afternoon.

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  6. Kit says:

    Good will is an important currency in life that a lot of people fail to invest in.

    The open forum is good will in action. It’s Cheers where the regulars go to just hang out. When the above mentioned trolls make their rare appearances, it’s to hurl insults and start fights: ugly attitudes wed to ugly opinions. To my mind, they come across as semi-formed, hateful, parodies of people – trolls in every sense. Am I mistaken in thinking they have coarsened with the general culture, and have grown completely unbearable since the election of Trump?

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  7. @Kit: While allowing that this is a subjective opinion, it does feel like in the era of Trump boorishness has increased.

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  8. CSK says:

    @Kit: @Steven L. Taylor: Trump is a boor, and he’s made boorishness acceptable. In fact, he’s made it a sign that one is a real American.

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit: FWIW, I’m pretty sure Trolls have not gotten worse under Trump. The Internet has always attracted people who will say anything to get a rise out of someone, anyone. They feel they have scored when they get a reaction, especially a lengthy one and even better, an angry one. They appear to use the tools of argument and discussion So it is easy to think that is what they are doing but In reality they are not engaging in discussion in any way.

    And sure, these people are now Trumpers and I’m sure were/are dittoheads and Palinites and so forth. These public figures are essentially trolls themselves and so our local trolls ride on their coattails to generate the reactions they desire. But they are not really supporters. When Trump is gone they’ll forget all about him and instead jump on the coattails of the next *sshole who shows up.

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  10. Gustopher says:

    First: Guarneri. […] He has degenerated into hit-and-run insults that detail comment threads and and been more and more nonsensical as time goes by. […]

    Second, Paul L. Same deal overall: right wing talking points that he thinks are clever. They aren’t. Paul L. at least sticks around in a given thread, unlike Guarneri, but he doesn’t actually engage in argument.

    I think Guarneri’s saving grace is that he doesn’t stick around. He’s like a coarsely ground spice, where a couple of big chunks in a meal adds a touch of bitterness and a punch of flavor. He’s like a caper — a little bit goes a long way.

    And, for a lot of subjects, it’s kind of relevant to know what the crazy right wing talking points are, because 46% of America bathes in them. They’re dumb, hostile and not defensible, and he doesn’t stick around to defend them.

    (Some of his drive by comments are just ad hominem attacks, or are written with enough Wingnuttese to be unintelligible, but sometimes a caper tastes a little off)

    I think the site would be poorer without him.*

    Without him we would be relying upon relatively left-leaning commenters to find and quote the best examples of the right wing talking points to mock, and that selection is problematic. The right wing thinks the left is somehow obsessed with Saul Alinsky, Amanda Marcotte and that woman who photographed herself with a fake severed Trump head… I’m sure the left miscategorizes the right similarly.

    Paul L., however, has just been dumping capers everywhere. He used to engage people more, and while I seldom agreed with him, I thought he added something. Now he’s just trying to score points with an audience that isn’t here, with zingers that make no sense to someone not steeped in wingnuttese.

    I suspect he wants to be banned. I suspect there’s some weird almost sexual desire to force someone to dominate and abuse him.

    ——
    *: I would happily trade Guarneri for someone who can explain why these talking points are meaningful to people on the right, and show some kind of through pattern connecting them, but you build a community with the people you have, not the people you wish you had.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    A third example that I wanted to note was barbintheboonies. She showed back up with a persecution complex. She claimed to have been censored.

    The OTB site sticks in the browser cache for longer than it should. I have not looked at the various headers, but if I go back to a page after posting and don’t hit refresh, my comments appear to be missing. This is made worse by getting the full page, including my comment, in response to posting a comment. (iOS, in the Feedly app, which likely uses WebKit… I haven’t looked at other scenarios)

    Does everyone get this?

    “Timeline” in case in makes no sense:
    – I read the page, it has 12 comments
    – I write my comment, and post
    – I get a page back that has 14 comments (12 original, someone else’s, and mine)
    – I come back ~20 minutes later to see if anyone replied, and get the page with 12 comments
    – I hit refresh (or wander away to get lunch and check then) and now see 17 comments.

    I think that if you start with a bit of a persecution complex, that’s going to look like your comments have been censored. And if asked to show where you were censored later, you won’t find it because the browser-cache timed out and it fetched the page again.

    If you really have a persecution complex, it would look like the hosts uncensored your comments, and then demanded to see where they were missing, all to make you look foolish.

    Without a persecution complex, it might just be confusing.

    Shortening that cache-time might increase load on the server (do we have a lot of lurkers?) so it might not be the right thing.

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  12. @Gustopher: There was a time, well over a decade ago, that I had some knowledge of such things, but long ago stopped worrying about them. I do recall some reasoning behind the caching–but don’t recall nor do I know what to do about it.

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  13. 95 South says:

    Your “mostly nice” commenters are hateful. 95% of their comments meet your standards because they’re all agreeing with each other about how much they hate Republicans. 5% of their comments are hateful because they’re responding to Republicans. Your so called trolls are hateful, and 95% of their comments are abusive because they’re responding to abusive liberals.

    Steve, I’ve read your replies, and you do the same thing. You skip right past patient explanation right to “sarcasm or humor” that would be deleted on a lot of sites. So don’t kid yourself about this site.

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  14. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Less caching means more calls to the server which means higher cost to keep the servers running and no additional ad clicks (do you have ads? with the ad blocker, I don’t know… I’ll drop some money in the patron link when I get a job). Anyway, caching is a trade off.

    I don’t recommend doing anything other than maybe keeping it in mind when someone complains, and then explaining that they aren’t crazy or being censored, there’s a caching problem with the site and some browsers, so hit the refresh button. I think I’ve seen people get tripped up on it twice and it might have been the same person…

    (Not all problems are worth fixing)

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  15. mattbernius says:

    @95 South:

    Steve, I’ve read your replies, and you do the same thing. You skip right past patient explanation right to “sarcasm or humor” that would be deleted on a lot of sites. So don’t kid yourself about this site.

    I realize that this will feed into your existing biases, but if you read *Steven’s* (note: he don’t go by “Steve” — or at least not here — but hey look at you taking liberties that haven’t been given to you) responses that way, then that says far more about your reading comprehension and biases than it does about Steven’s writing ability.

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  16. mattbernius says:

    The biggest problem is that people, in general, don’t like having their opinion questioned. Combine that with the fact that overall tone of commenting on OTB had moved “leftward” over the last decade (or rather most of the more right wing populist commenters have stopped posting).

    Which, to a point Andy made a couple days ago, means that what constitutes a heterodox opinion has shifted and if you post one, its far more likely that you’re going to have people pushing back on that. If you choose to defend or normalize an action of the current President, then you’re probably going to have a tough day (regardless of whether or not you personally are defending him or just the policy).

    Steve, I’ve read your replies, and you do the same thing. You skip right past patient explanation right to “sarcasm or humor” that would be deleted on a lot of sites. So don’t kid yourself about this site.

    Some folks do well under that pressure (see Andy and Hal among others). Other folks frankly get pissy (which isn’t helped by the fact that some commenters do it far more politely than others). But, at the end of the day, you’re choosing to punch that ticket by choosing to contribute to the conversation. So generally speaking, the only one to blame for doing that is yourself.

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  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I think the site would be poorer without [Guarneri].*

    Possibly, but not measurably so. Your suggestion of a Guarneri who would explain the talking points would add in ways that Guarneri does not would make the site richer, though. My own take on the problem is that conservatism is in a stage of intellectual bankruptcy such that the talking points do not get explained because explaining them only reveals their failure. In much the same way as Evangelicalism’s points, they are arguments of faith rather than reason. They can’t be explained only believed.

    Sometimes, as I do here with some questions of Fundy Christian belief, the logic (or lack thereof) that drives the belief can be explained, but that’s not really a defense of the belief itself or an explanation of why it’s reasonable, only why it’s believed.

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  18. Mister Bluster says:

    @95 South:..“mostly nice”

    Like your boyfriend Supreme Leader Kim Jong Trump:

    The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats. Watch out for them, they are human scum!

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  19. @95 South: According to the system, I have written over 12,000 comments. I have little doubt that some of them are testy, and I can think of a few that I regretted because I let anger dictate my response. Indeed, between here and PoliBlog I can think of a couple of times when I was unnecessarily rude and I have honestly tried to avoid that.

    I will say that even those comments would hardly have gotten me deleted from any place I have ever posted–I am not sure why you have to overstate your case.

    I am going to defend myself as follows: I write here for free and I regularly engage the readers–and I try to explain myself.

    Ultimately, of course, you don’t have to read a word I write, let alone the comments I post.

    And Matt is correct, I really don’t go by “Steve” (not that it is a huge deal). I also concur that tonally it comes across like you are trying to be a bit of a jerk.

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @95 South: I question your 95% numbers. But if that’s how you think about people here, it explains your tone.

    And, as a rule of thumb, people here tend to respond to others based on how they tries others treat everyone else.

    Remember that you are a Trumpy conservative commenting at a decidedly non-Trumpy site (center-right to medium left). You’re going to get some push back when posting the FoxNews Talking Points Du Jour — you’ll be asked to defend them, explain how they match yesterday’s, how they match administration actions, and what the fvck Fast and Furious has to do with anything.

    A few folks have sharper elbows. It’s up to you to decide how you want to respond to that. If I were posting at Trumpsville, I would expect to need a thicker skin and let “socialist” comments slide.

    I’d ask a question of you: why are you here?

    If you want to discuss things and get a different perspective, and explain yours, you kind of need to try to speak the language, and acknowledge that there are times when that won’t work.

    If you want to own the libs, well… You’re not doing a good job.

    As far as the horrible people who don’t accept your brilliance as a given and can be short with you… I believe it was Melania Trump who said “#bebest” and Joseph Stalin who said “be the change you want to see in the world.” Two great thinkers at opposite ends of the spectrum with roughly the same message.

    I know this… usually when someone is treating me like I’m an asshole, it’s because I’ve been being an asshole. Not always, but more often than not.

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  21. mattbernius says:

    @Gustopher:

    Remember that you are a Trumpy conservative

    If memory serves, 95 has said before that they don’t want Trump to be re-elected.

    Unfortunately, trying to engage them in any dialog tends to be a frustrating activity. Speaking from personal experience, they tend to be a little confused about what they actually believe or whom they support. All we know for sure is that they try to about “biased news sources” (though not necessarily what that means.

    (Aside: yeah, all of you folks occupy way too much space in my head. I am afraid this is a by-product of the entire anthropologist thing.)

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  22. 95 South says:

    @Gustopher: I don’t care about owning the libs. I read this site to keep up with the libs. (Make no mistake, this site is mostly libs.) I mostly lurk but when I see factual mistakes or delusions I comment. The most common delusion is that the commenters here are slightly-left-leaning-moderates who come here to listen to all viewpoints.

    @Steven L. Taylor: Steven – No offense intended with “Steve”. In my generation it was familiar.

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  23. @95 South:

    No offense intended with “Steve”. In my generation it was familiar.

    Thanks for the clarification. No worries.

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  24. @95 South: BTW, your position regarding my lack of patience lacks an empirical basis.

    1. Banning is rare around here. And the number of people banned on my initiative is probably around three.

    2. Guarneri has been posting drive-by insults for years. Out of dozens? (hundreds?), I deleted the first one this week.

    3. Paul L. has been carrying one about Duke Lacrosse for quite some time. The first time I deleted one of those? This week.

    4. I spent a lot of time trying to help barbintheboonies this week.

    5. When that guy who was posting from an old internet TV showed up, I tried to engage him for quite a while.

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  25. mattbernius says:

    @95 South:

    I read this site to keep up with the libs. (Make no mistake, this site is mostly libs.) I mostly lurk but when I see factual mistakes or delusions I comment.

    First, thanks for writing this. Second, this (intentional or not) speaks volumes. I think we can all acknowledge that relative to posts, you don’t comment a lot. That’s not a normative judgement — just a statement of fact.

    So, the implication of that is that, when all is said and done, you actually don’t find a lot of (1) factual mistakes or (2) delusions (or at least not ones that you value enough to comment on).

    I think that’s the challenge for a lot of conservative commenters (and since you state that you come here to keep up with the “libs” — though I’m curious if your extending that designation to the authors or just the commenters — I have to take it that you self identify as a “con”) who are uncomfortable with Trump (again, if you feel you have to vote for the President in November, I apologize, but I seem to remember you saying you don’t support him) — at some level they have to admit that the opposition, in general, has the facts on their side. So at that point its arguing at the edges and trying to justify to themselves that this is the best option for their overall policy position (despite any fleas that come from lying with this particular dog).

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  26. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    effing this! (he says after his third glass of white wine)

    I fully admit that while I cannot remember anyone’s name that I meet IRL, I have an “evidence map” (that would make any conspiracy theorist proud) in my head of everyone’s posts in this little community (its the dumbest super power ever, but it works in my career as a researcher).

    Posters earn and lose status based on what they write and how they engage. FWIW, I have seem most of the times you’ve tried to engage over the last year. And likewise I’ve seen the results. As the phrase goes, you’ve given people more than enough rope to hang themselves and in most cases they have happily obliged.

    What we are left with, in terms of hard right people, are folks like Guarneri who largely shits something out and leaves and JKB + Paul who both are mainly here to grind their particular axe (or just do a weird sort of right wingish/freeper virtue signalling).

    Unfortunately, folks like Hal and Andy, when they post, get caught up in that. And (the other) Matt on anything involving gun rights. None of them deserve the flack they typically get. The challenge is, especially in Matt’s case with gun issues, folks on both sides (and in this case it’s definitely a fair cop) are apparently well beyond the place of feeling safe for any common discussion.

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  27. 95 South says:

    @mattbernius: I just comment on the really bad ones when I can see no one else is. Like there was an article Steven wrote about how the amount of legislation has been decreasing ever since Gingrich took over in 1994. But that data only holds up if you count legislation in by number of bills. When you count number of pages, the position falls apart. Anyone familiar with the American political system knows it. But when I pointed that out to Steven, he pretended his article still held up. Either he didn’t understand the data, he didn’t try to understand the point I made, or he thought he could just shovel left-wing talking points into the trough and has no respect for the readers. If authors and readers don’t care, why should I.

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  28. @95 South:

    When you count number of pages, the position falls apart.

    Except that it doesn’t. At a minimum, one has to demonstrate that more pages actually means more policy to make the point you were trying to make.

    Anyone familiar with the American political system knows it.

    Oddly enough, I am familiar with the American political system, and yet the notion that bills about about page numbers is not some slam dunk.

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  29. 95 South says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You wrote an article based on cherry-picked data. You should have been honest about it. It takes no effort to say “If you look at the number of pages, there’s no trend, but if you consider the number of bills…”. When I commented about the page length you asked for a reference – why? Because you didn’t know the data, or you didn’t believe you could have missed something so obvious, or you were just filling the trough?

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  30. Erik says:

    @95 South: I don’t know which of you is correct about the page number thing. I do know that when you assume the worst possible interpretation of your interlocutor’s motives, or accuse them of dishonesty, incompetence, or intentional stupidity it is unlikely that they, or others you might be trying to reach who are watching the exchange and are inclined to agree with him will change their mind or position. Since your stated goal in posting is to correct facts or dispel delusions, your approach is undermining your efforts.

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  31. Mister Bluster says:

    @Erik:…Since your stated goal in posting is to correct facts or dispel delusions, your approach is undermining your efforts.

    I believe you are referring to this:
    “When I commented about the page length you asked for a reference – why? Because you didn’t know the data, or you didn’t believe you could have missed something so obvious, or you were just filling the trough?”

    Not that my take on his comment matters but I think he is just being a dick.

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  32. Guarneri says:

    The scolds speak.

    Your collective self unawareness is truly amazing. This blogsite went berserk about three years ago and is a shell of its former self. The essays are just biased and fact/perspective selective rants. For example, you plied the Mueller investigation, the Avenatti crapola etc etc for several years as if it was obvious truth. And then………thud. You seem to think that the only politicians who behave like politicians are Republicans or in the Trump Administration. And then………..thud; every wild eyed claim ultimately fizzles.

    As for the commentary, its just self congratulatory pabulum. Reynolds calling Trump Putin’s butt boy. Republicans are all racists. Claims of Trump as a Russian agent. Trump is a crazy man? Seriously, OTB? Seriously? This is your supposed standard of excellence? Look in the mirror, people.

    Ban me if you like, it speaks far more about you than me. Nothing you have written here for a good three years has proven out. Sorry if my mocking you guys incredible bias and analytical ineptitude rubs you the wrong way, but if you actually got something right sometime it would cause me to reconsider. However, I seriously doubt you guys are capable of an honest and balanced assessment. Its Orange Man bad all the time and in all things. You guys are obviously obsessed. Its a sign of what the psychologists call maladaptive behavior response.

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  33. Kurtz says:

    @95 South:

    I looked back at that thread to make sure I remembered it correctly. There is a disconnect. I will try to bridge it. I hope you read and try to get what I am saying. It should help you to feel less attacked in these situations. But you need to set aside any hurt that it may cause.

    First, a timeline:

    Steven posts about a Vox study that shows the number of bills declining since 1994. He shows that, by decade, the number of bills passed has declined. By the 2010s, the number of bills passed has been nearly cut in half from ehat it was in the 1980s. He breaks the data down a little more, but this is sufficient for this discussion.

    You reply that the average page length of legislation has doubled since 1980.

    Let’s stop for a second. This is first part of this that is critical to understand. I’m going to use the debate model for an argument. There is a different one, but this is simpler to explain and sufficient. And both models end up in the same place.

    An argument=claim (an assertion) +warrant (evidence) +impact (how/why the claim matters/significance of the claim)

    So at this point, you have provided a claim: number of pages of legislation has doubled.

    Steven’s reply is to ask for a citation (a warrant). And why pages is a good measure for evaluating whether legislation has declined (an impact.) These are both questions thay “any researcher” (your words, not mine) would ask.

    You provide data from Brookings Instiution. Cool, you provided the second of three required parts of an argument. But you still don’t provide the impact.

    Steven replies that, after plugging the data in his spreadsheet, he cannot find any king of linear relationship im the data. An analysis step that “any researcher” (again, your words) would take. Now, Steven, slightly less politely, but not quite rising to the level of rude, asks for an impact for the second time. Now, I can understand his frustration here, because you have not provided a reason why page length matters more than total number of bills.

    The quote from him that I suspect you felt was impolite or rude:

    And, again, page length doesn’t mean more policy is covered.

    So, what is your point?

    Your reply:

    My point? The data in the article was garbage, and there’s no proof of congressional inaction. Any researcher could see that. What’s your point?

    Now, two things here. He has now twice asked you to justify why your approach to analyzing the data is superior to his. You still do not provide it. To review your not-quite-yet argument:

    a.) page length of legislation has doubled (claim);
    b.) data from Brookings (warrant);
    c.) ???? (significance)

    As someone familiar with several types of competitive debate and highly experienced in competing and judging in one of them, I can say with the highest of confidence that you would lose every ballot from every judge at this point. Why? Because you failed to make a complete argument. Even if every judge knew that you were correct and Steven was wrong, you would still lose, because you did not do your job.

    Let’s keep going.

    Instead, you make a new claim, “the data in the article was garbage.” You fail to warrant or impact that claim. You may reply here, that this was your original claim in different words, but it isn’t. Saying it is garbage is saying that the data is flawed (i.e. gathered incorrectly.)

    “There’s no proof of Congressional inaction.” Steven provided that. You provided a data set that you think is a better indicator of Congressional action. But you never say why it is better. Steven challenged you twice and gave you the opportunity to do so. You didn’t.

    Crucially, he also pointed out that your data showed no pattern with which to conclude anything.

    So at this point, we have two data sets. One of them shows a clear trend. The other does not. Meaning the one that shows a pattern is usable. The other is not. You can still salvage your argument at this point if you show that a.) longer legislation means that big policies were enacted, and it crowded out smaller pieces of legislation; or b.) that the bills made multiple policies that previously would have been done in more bills. You do neither of those things.

    Then you make a rhetorical point, “any researcher can see that.” Which isn’t really a point, it is just combative detritus. And then a rhetorical, combative question.

    Again, if you felt Steven was being rude, fine. I think you’re being too sensitive, but okay he displayed impatience. But you failed to answer a question twice. That question was central to the disagreement. At some point, a busy person who took the time to engage you could reasonably conclude that you are wasting his time.

    Now, tonight. You say the Vox article used “cherry-picked data.” This would be part of a warrant for your previous claim that Vox’s data is “garbage.” It isn’t a complete warrant, because you don’t explain what cherry-picking means in this context. For example, you could say he chose a starting date that made his data look significant, and that if you look further back, the slow down isn’t unusual. But unfortunately for you, the answer to that was in the blog post. The “70s were more prolific than the 80s.”

    From someone who didn’t comment on your exchange with Steven, it really looks like you saw someone else criticize the Vox article, and then came here and repeated what they said.

    ETA: I didn’t quite finish my last thought. In my experience, when someone just repeats critiques they read, without explaining them, it is usually a sign of confirmation bias. Meaning, you either distrust Vox implicitly, or you know the data indicts the party you favor as obstructionist and you don’t want to hear it. If that’s the case, don’t feel bad–we all lose that battle sometime. The corrective action is to #bebest

    And auto-correct errors. Probably not all of them.

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  34. Kurtz says:

    @Guarneri:

    Drew-

    Other than the Reynolds thing, none of what you say is true.

    This may piss some other people off, because they may consider it doxxxing, but if you want to have a conversation in person, we can. I won’t disclose anything about you here, of course. We can meet for dinner or have coffee. I live in Bonita. I’ll come to Naples if you’d prefer.

    Seriously, I would love to see if you are capable of making an argument–or if you’re a jackass because you are anonymous on here.

    And just so you know, I have close friends, work associates and family members who are Conservatives and Libertarians. Some Trump supporters, some not.

    But I get along with all of them, because I don’t take politics personally. Nor do I measure people’s intelligence by their views. I do, however assess the quality of their arguments. There are almost always good points on btoh sides.

    Most of all, I respect them. Why? First, because they are persons. Second, because I have no idea what it’s like to be them. I have not experienced that they have experienced. I have not seen what they have seen. No matter how well I know them, I cannot possibly understand them completely.

    And even though i genuinely like all those people, some of them are jackasses. So if you are as much a jackass in person as you are here, it probably wouldn’t change my opinion of you.

    -Kurtz

    P.S. The “orange man bad” thing just makes you look like a parrot.

    P.P.S. Nothing on this board constitutes maladaptive behavior. Many of the more aggressive people on this board are writers. Writers write. It is productive for them. It is also likely cathartic and does reduce the anxiety they may or may not feel. Expression tends to do that. You would need more evidence to make that claim.

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @Guarneri:

    For example, you plied the Mueller investigation, the Avenatti crapola etc etc for several years as if it was obvious truth. And then……

    …Mueller released a report revealing dozens of indictable offenses. Many of which have since led to indictments and convictions. Some of which were against the President, and therefore not deemed indictable at that time.

    How did you possibly miss that part?

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  36. t says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’d ask a question of you: why are you here?

    i’ve been lurking here for at least 5 years. i remember when there was the cursing filter. i remember the guy that used to wear the SF giants gear in his avatar. the guy that passed away (ron?) like 3-4 years ago…i remember the guy who had the white hair and beard and ran that blog that was pretty racist. i remember the guy who had the avatar of the troll face with the big nose, i remember that guy who went to harvard law school and graduated in 1992 because that was his user name…

    i used to come here because the comments were really good and so were the articles. but tbh in the past 2 years its gone really downhill. the reason for this has been discussed many times on here and i dont think its going to be solved anytime soon so at this point i just come here to hate-read and downvote the comments. not because i necessarily disagree with them but because i cant stand the personalities that write the comments because i get so exasperated with you people

    i know i seem to be coming out of nowhere causing all this uproar and discussion and people getting angry at me but i have been posting here for a long time albeit infrequently which is why i did not know about the idiosyncrasies of posting here in the previous thread.

    anyway ill wrap this up because none of you care what i say anyway, but i especially know that dessttijillll guy dosent care what i have to say, he told me to go f- myself AND called me a jackass…even after he told me to “post something pithy”… so i did, but then he gets all mad and starts cussing at me and calling me names (but he wasnt banned or even given a warning for this?) and this was even after he admitted to intentionally derailing threads….which is what you supposedly banned james pearce for?

    oh and my original email was added to the spam filter because i used the word “ass” in one of my posts like 18 months ago…but people like that destilijill guy can call me a jackass and tell me to go f- myself with impunity?

    PS: if andre de’ kenji reads this and can get in touch with pearce can you please let him know that i hope he is doing well and i miss him posting here. he was one of the best things about this place if only because it was something different and unique and its a shame you all drove him away.

    (pps dont ban for me for abusing the downvotes system, i’m only being honest. it just feels like the only way to disagree with a comment without dealing with the shitstorm that you get for disagreeing with someone that has a lot of sway here)

    ppps: again i’m only posting all this and speaking up because you banned james and i think it was unwarranted and i just wanted to get this out there. his only crime was not taking this hellsite as seriously as the rest of us do.

    # f r e e j a m e s

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  37. t says:

    oh fuck i forgot to add something so now i have to double post like destisljiss

    i have become everything i’ve ever hated.

    anyway if you downvote tyrell you dont get the show.

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  38. MarkedMan says:

    @t: My subjective impression of the interactions you refer to are very different. Except for your last comment about Tyrell which is dead on.

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  39. 95 South says:

    @Kurtz: An accurate recap, but a bad analogy. I didn’t think of it as a debate, with two equals sharing a stage. I saw it as a submitted paper. Steven cites his academic background often enough. He presented an article with data and a conclusion. Uninformed people could read it and believe it met a standard. So I pointed to the flaw in his data. His article was entitled “Congressional (In)Action” and while passed bills is only a proxy for one aspect of Congressional action, it’s even weaker when you realize that Congress is producing a steady amount of pages. There’s been a lot of talk about how bills are getting longer – half the health care debate revolved around the size of the bill. So it wasn’t my role to refute his article, and I didn’t think I had to. I expected him to pull it when he saw the weakness in his methodology. I know this isn’t a peer-review website, but if a layman found a mistake I made in my field, I’d fix it free of charge.

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  40. 95 South says:

    @t: This. It’s like Stalin thinking he got smarter during the 1930’s because by the end of the decade no one was disagreeing with him.

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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @t: I was musing about your comments about your interaction with Destijl and remembered that on at least one occasion he’s really gone after me in multiple threads. Even in the middle of that, though, I never put him in the same category as Guarneri or other sh*tposters. Yes, he can occasionally overreact and lash out. Sadly, I have to admit I also am occasionally guilty of that too. The key here is “occasionally”.

    He doesn’t tend to make his arguments based on research into facts but is more about feelings and life experiences, Which is completely fine because he isn’t bringing a lot of garbage nonsense and claiming it is true without proof, or with laughable, easily refuted garbage proof.

    And yes, he pulls threads off track and sometimes I find that annoying, but he’s doing it by talking about music or food, not by heaping insults on everyone. And, well, all threads die eventually and if I see 5 or 6 posts of his in a row, especially ones recommending bands, I know that thread is good and dead.

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  42. MarkedMan says:

    @95 South: I don’t share the opinion, but that was actually a pretty good analogy. Mind if I borrow it in the future?

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  43. 95 South says:

    @MarkedMan: Thanks. Go for it.

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  44. @95 South:

    You wrote an article based on cherry-picked data. You should have been honest about it. It takes no effort to say “If you look at the number of pages, there’s no trend, but if you consider the number of bills…”. When I commented about the page length you asked for a reference – why? Because you didn’t know the data, or you didn’t believe you could have missed something so obvious, or you were just filling the trough?

    It is because that isn’t how it works. The issue of legislative activity is not about page counts, it is about numbers of bills. Now, is it possible that some bills with longer page counts are somehow consolidations of issues that in the past were separate? Sure. But it is in no way that simple.

    I asked for you to provide a reason for your position–that is not unreasonable. The fact that you simply intuit it must be so is not an argument nor is it evidence.

    If asking you to back up your position is being impatient and/or rude then I plead guilty.

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  45. @Guarneri: The problem with your alleged superiority is that you never actually provide any evidence of it. You basically ring the doorbell and run away. That isn’t what someone who has the knowledge needed to school us does.

    You behave like a child and expect to be treated like Moses down from the mountaintop.

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  46. @Kurtz: Thank you for the refresher. I remembered having a back and forth on the page number issue, but did not go back and look at the post and thread.

    I think you capture my position quite well. I really wanted him to explain why he was so convinced that page length was pivotal (I though maybe he had at least read something). I should still have the page number info in a spreadsheet, but as I recall the claim he was making didn’t really show the pattern he said it did.

    And I very much plead guilty to this:

    At some point, a busy person who took the time to engage you could reasonably conclude that you are wasting his time.

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  47. Kit says:

    @t:

    i just come here to hate-read and downvote the comments. not because i necessarily disagree with them but because i cant stand the personalities that write the comments because i get so exasperated with you people

    That must be the most pathetic thing that I’ve read all week. Can your life really be so empty that you are reduced to that?

    anyway if you downvote tyrell you dont get the show.

    [insert slow disbelieving head shake]

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  48. Tyrell says:

    @Kit: While it may seem that way, there were some bad things in the ’50’s and ’60’s: segregation was legal and prevalent, conversations seemed to be filled with more coarseness and bad words, gossip was prevalent, there was smoking everywhere, regular tv had more violence, and there was little in way of counseling and help. There was a sort of “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” and “shape up or ship out”. I remember getting “blessed out” was a common thing. There was also the constant threat of a total nuclear war. However, the news media seemed more professional. They broadcast the news, not opinions and partisan political agendas. If they gave opinions, it was labeled as such and differing views were encouraged. Now if someone has a different view, they are shouted down and threatened. We saw professionals such as Walter Conkrite, David Brinkley, and the amazing Charles Kuralt. They would be shocked at what they see today. Instant news seems to have taken everything down to a common denominator of sensationalism and sleaze. And the corrosive effects of the social media.
    Back then at least twice we came very close to nuclear war: Berlin and Cuba. One huge problem today is the addiction and abuse of legal drugs. More die from that then from car wrecks?! Are you kidding me? Yet this gets short shrift on the news and from politicians, while it should be talked about constantly. Probably not “bombshell” enough.
    “It’s not news” Larry King

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  49. @95 South:

    An accurate recap, but a bad analogy. I didn’t think of it as a debate, with two equals sharing a stage. I saw it as a submitted paper.

    If you think it was an accurate recap, and yet still don’t see the problem, then you are proving that engaging you is pointless.

    There’s been a lot of talk about how bills are getting longer – half the health care debate revolved around the size of the bill.

    This actually supports my position, not yours. First, “a lot of talk” is not evidence. Second, the health care bill is not a common example. Aside from the fact that it was passed a decade ago now, it represents the kind of comprehensive policy reform that we simply do not see out of the Congress very often, and even less so in last couple of decades. Also, while it is long, it is still focused on a specific policy area.

    For your argument to work (i.e., the more pages are leading to less bills) then the more pages would have to cover more policy areas.

    So it wasn’t my role to refute his article, and I didn’t think I had to.

    This makes no sense. You make a claim that I am wrong, but can’t demonstrate why, but expect me to pull the post?

    So I pointed to the flaw in his data.

    The data were bill counts, as reported by Congress. Where is the flaw in the data?

    I expected him to pull it when he saw the weakness in his methodology.

    The methodology was a very basic historical comparison. What was the flaw in the methodology?

    The problem is that you come across as not even understanding the claims you are making.

    (I think you want to claim that my conclusion was flawed and that I am using the wrong data–but you never made the case for either).

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  50. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Screw these trolls. They aren’t good faith actors and dont deserve to be treated as such. There are conservatives commentator here that have bedside manner and are treated respectfully even though they express a minority opinion. I’ve been pretty open about my biases and feelings about white people and yet no one has been an arse towards me.

    There is a flavor of white man…mostly southern white men…that think they can ride into any gathering and punk everyone there and not get called on their bull$hit. It use to be they only did it to blacks and women. But now, they despise “the Libs” more… so they address them with the same bravado formerly reserved for those groups.

    So save the crocodile tears for someone that gives a damn. You come into a host’s house, there are ways to express your opinions without being a dick. Others have done it. Your real beef is that people dont curl up into the fetal position and back down from your John Wayne impersonations. In there world, the white “conservative” is the only person allowed to throw a punch or defend themselves. They are also the only ones allowed to insult people because its deserved and they had it coming. Its 2020 not 1920… that John Wayne act is played

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  51. Stormy Dragon says:

    There’s two complete distinct sorts of “bad” commenters that need to be considered separately:

    The first is the one that’s actually trying to have a good faith discussion and is just bad at it.

    The second, and this is where Guaneri and Paul L come in, is the sort that’s not actually even trying to have a discussion. They’re not actually even trying to change the minds of other commenters, they’re performing. The purpose of a discussion is not to determine what the truth is, but rather to demonstrate the intensity of one’s will. When Paul L keeps repeating the same bad talking point over and over regardless of what anyone says in response, it shows how committed he is to his movement. And in his mind, when everyone else gives up and moves on, he wins because they all gave up before he did.

    Again, the excellent “The Alt-right Playbook” series has a lot more about this:
    The Alt-Right Playbook: Control the Conversation

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  52. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Unfortunately a not insignificant portion of people here (and elsewhere) apparently never got training in how to critically read an argument, let alone try to form one.

    They think they are making cogent points and don’t see that often those of us who are pushing back aren’t trying to “trap” them but are simply doing it to understand what they are attempting to say/argue.

    I am not sure how to overcome that issue.

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  53. @mattbernius: It is difficult-especially when folks really don’t want a fully open interchange, but rather want to defend their position (often without even fully articulating it).

    to understand what they are attempting to say/argue.

    Indeed. My question to 95 about page length were based in the desire to understand why he thought page length disproved my point. Just making a statement is neither argument nor evidence. Sigh.

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  54. Kurtz says:

    @95 South:

    It’s not an analogy. A debate is a debate no matter the context. What constitutes an argument, as opposed to an assertion, remain the same even in informal settings.

    After my explanation, you still do not give a reason why page numbers are a better proxy. It has been pointed out to you three times, and you refuse to do so.

    You come closest in this post when you cite the length of Obamacare. Much of the debate was indeed about the length of the legislation.

    What you fail to say is that those highlighting it’s size were the ones arguing against it. This implies the opposite of your argument. That the GOP doesn’t like long bills.

    And again, the page numbers thing is silly, because it is all over the map. There is no linear relationship. What this means is that despite fewer number of bills being passed with each decade, pages numbers don’t follow a similar pattern. If legislation Assuming they are getting longer across the board is not supported by your own data.

    After a lengthy post, you still don’t understand it. Even if it was analagous to an academic paper, peer reviewers would break down the opposing views the same way. They would see that you’re just asserting things.

    After your response, I am quite convinced my ETA was right on: you read an article and disagreed with it, because you can’t imagine that the GOP is obstructionist. So you read some criticism of it, are satisfied by that criticism regardless of whether it is true or not, and repeated it here. You have zero ground to criticize anyone else’s intellectual integrity.

    So, my question is, can you form an argument after being told exactly how to do it?

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  55. @t:

    pps dont ban for me for abusing the downvotes system, i’m only being honest.

    No one is going to be banned for downvotes. Indeed, I don’t think there is any way to know who voted up and who voted down.

    # f r e e j a m e s

    On this topic, please let everyone note: the person in question does not wish to be freed and has requested that he no longer be a subject of discussion on this site. I would ask that everyone respect his wishes.

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  56. t says:

    @Kit: @Kit:

    That must be the most pathetic thing that I’ve read all week. Can your life really be so empty that you are reduced to that?

    yes.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    On this topic, please let everyone note: the person in question does not wish to be freed and has requested that he no longer be a subject of discussion on this site.

    then i guess ill go. i’ve said what i feel i had to say.

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  57. t says:

    o hell, i have to do the destittslsjjsislslisjl thing again…

    i am a bad person.

    @MarkedMan:

    Except for your last comment about Tyrell which is dead on.

    thank you. he’s let the mask slip a few times in his comments and you really have to look for them, but they are there.

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  58. @Kurtz: BTW: thanks for your cogent diagnosis.

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  59. wr says:

    @t: “at this point i just come here to hate-read and downvote the comments. not because i necessarily disagree with them but because i cant stand the personalities that write the comments because i get so exasperated with you people”

    Perhaps the quality of your life would improve if you stopped wasting your time reading and responding to comments by people you can’t stand. There are billions of people in this world, and I’m sure there are communities where you will find people whose thoughts are much more amenable to you.

    But if you decide, for whatever reason, that the best use of this time is to hang out with people who consistently make you angry, and then you decide to explain how horrible they all are, please don’t be surprised if some of them tell you to fuck off.

    There’s a guy who occasionally stands on the sidewalk across the street from my apartment building and screams obscenities for hours. Maybe you think I should invite him in for a chat about whatever is making him so unhappy. Instead I close the windows and turn up the music until he goes away. That’s also my preferred approach with a poster who comes here specifically to say that he hates everyone here. I don’t really understand why you’d expect anything else.

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  60. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is difficult-especially when folks really don’t want a fully open interchange, but rather want to defend their position (often without even fully articulating it).

    This is an important point: it feels like a lot of this is driven by a fear of being wrong. And that is something that is incredibly difficult to get past. Honestly, giving up on always being right was probably the greatest gift I got from Grad School.

    You really cannot learn to build arguments without getting things wrong at first and then having those issues pointed out to you.

    However that definitely takes developing a strong enough ego to be comfortable being wrong.

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  61. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius: @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’ve made the same point Matt is making about analyzing arguments in several threads around here.

    I’ve met many people with undergraduate degrees who show no sign of learning anything at all. Worse than that, they show they don’t understand that the primary function of an education is to learn process, not content. In fact, Conservatives have long attacked John Dewey’s ideas about this very aspect of education.

    I think higher education should probably re-think common core. Students should probably be required to take a formal logic class and a real philosophy class. Not to mention a rigorous class on government. I would also argue that rigor is often missing in general education classes.

    As far as the exchange about legislation, I have no doubt that Steven, if given ample reason, would change his argument.

    Without realizing it, 95 revealed something about his integrity when he said that Steven should have taken the post down omce confronted with 95’s ‘analysis.’ In this situation, an intellectual with integrity would not delete the post. Rather they would write a mea culpa, detailing how they were wrong, and then place a note on the errant post, linking to the new one.

    Self-awareness is a discipline that must be practiced to maintain.

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  62. t says:

    @wr:

    There’s a guy who occasionally stands on the sidewalk across the street from my apartment building and screams obscenities for hours.

    i know how he feels.

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  63. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..The fact that you simply intuit it must be so is not an argument nor is it evidence.

    “Insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth, in spite of the fact that much of the most important truth is first suggested by its means.”

    Bertrand Russell in “Mysticism and Logic” (1918)

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  64. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius:

    I was fortunate enough to have an English teacher in 11th grade who emphasized that being wrong is okay.

    In fact, I was fortunate to go to the high school I went attended. Despite being a relatively small school in a rural suburb of a shitty, minor barely-a-metro, I had several excellent teachers.

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  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @95 South:

    I just comment on the really bad ones when I can see no one else is.

    That’s interesting. I see your comments as mostly incoherent snark. Hmmm…

    (Of course, I may be one of “the really bad ones,” who can know?)

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  66. Kit says:

    @mattbernius:

    This is an important point: it feels like a lot of this is driven by a fear of being wrong.

    I think you set the bar far too high here, and that @Jim Brown 32 gets it right: people some never intend to “argue” in good faith. I think you might be too decent a fellow to realize that not everyone shares your high ideals.

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  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I know that it isn’t accurate (because I trust him to be honest about himself), but the first time de stilj posted one of his multi post meanderings, I assumed that he was baked. I still can’t get past thinking like that about him.

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  68. Kurtz says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It’s funny, because there is a certain amount of THC intoxication that results in my mind purring perfectly to bang out cogent, creative thought rather quickly.

    It is difficult to get right. And one toke over the line, Sweet Jesus, and it’s gone.

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  69. @Kurtz:

    As far as the exchange about legislation, I have no doubt that Steven, if given ample reason, would change his argument.

    If 95 could have demonstrated that page length was indicative of policy action, that would have been a useful thing to consider. Further, if he could demonstrate that the Congress was actually just as productive using a different metric than bills passed, that would have required a re-assessment of my position.

    That’s how it works (or, should).

    Nonetheless, it becomes maddening when the response is basically “because” rather than “this is why, and here are some data or specific examples to make my point.” It becomes especially maddening when the person I am interacting with assert things like “any researcher could see that” or “Anyone familiar with the American political system knows it” while at the same time misusing basic terms like “data” and “methodology” (or even “cherry-picking”).

    And then there is this:

    Steven cites his academic background often enough

    I get caught in a Catch-22. If I cite my background, I am being self-important or self-aggrandizing. But at the same time I am supposed to accept that an anonymous commenter, whose background I do not know, is some kind of expert who is so knowledgeable that I am supposed to accept their criticisms just because they say so.

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  70. Kit says:

    @Kurtz:

    Students should probably be required to take a formal logic class and a real philosophy class

    The hands-down most brilliant guy I ever met taught philosophy. He once told me that only two types of students entered his general-admission Logic class: those who already knew everything apart from the formal names, and those who were never going to learn.

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  71. Kurtz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    First, thank you for interacting with the commenters. I know you have to carve out time you do not have to do it, so I want you to know that is much appreciated.

    Second, I’ve long thought people take their right to an opinion seriously without taking the opinion itself seriously.

    There is a popular notion that opinions cannot be wrong. It’s BS. But even if it you allow that view, opinions can be lots of other things that warrant dismissal. To name a few: ahistorical, contrary to evidence, unevidenced, unfounded, poorly worded to the point of meaninglessness, tangential to the topic, etc.

    A quick example of the last one. I watched a clip of Bret Weinstein and Jordan Peterson. Weinstein, an Evolutionary Biologist, thus intimately familiar with the mechanisms of genetics, says that race is not a biological category. Peterson’s response was, “my research shows concientiousness is predictive of financial success.”

    This is what a policy debater learns very early as an example of lack of clash. Meaning, instead of engaging an argument, they make an unrelated claim.

    This is one of the reasons why I frequently bash Peterson. He is qualified to do exactly on thing: write self-help books. To assign value to his opinion in any other area is to be derelict in your intellectual duties.

    But to a lay audience who found his books helpful, hus successful advice gives undue weight to his opinions, even when he is not qualified to offer that opinion.

    As an aside, his public persona, like his colleague in this area, Ben Shapiro, is so plainly contrived that it irks me that his reputation is that of a serious intellectual.

    We saw the same thing with Ben Carson in 2016. People who supported him seemed to think his status as an eminent Neurosurgeon meant he could be a good President.

    Even ignoring that his qualifications in his specialty in no way gives him the training to practice medicine in any other discipline. Meaning, he’s the wrong guy to control diabetes or figure out what disease you caught on your vacation to South Africa.

    It certainly confers zero expertise in policy-making.

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  72. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The second, and this is where Guaneri and Paul L come in, is the sort that’s not actually even trying to have a discussion. […] When Paul L keeps repeating the same bad talking point over and over regardless of what anyone says in response, it shows how committed he is to his movement. And in his mind, when everyone else gives up and moves on, he wins because they all gave up before he did.

    Again, the excellent “The Alt-right Playbook” series has a lot more about this:
    The Alt-Right Playbook: Control the Conversation

    This is why I don’t really mind Guarneri — he doesn’t attempt to control the conversation, or he is just really bad at it.

    Some of his comments are completely worthless — ad hominem attacks, or popping in to gloat on some perceived win that only he can see, often involving Avenetti. But others give us a brief view of the right wing talking points that are common and selected by the right wing.

    Those latter ones sound useless, but so much of America has absorbed them that I think there is a value to knowing them. Without Guarneri, our only exposure might be Teve quoting random tweets — which becomes a strong liberal characterizing the right, with all the problems that creates of a news bubble.

    Guarneri helps pop that bubble.

    He’s also a fvcking moron and ineffective troll, so I prefer to call him Guanoberries. It amuses me, and it gives him a little of the attention he craves, so it’s a win-win.

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  73. @Kurtz:

    First, thank you for interacting with the commenters. I know you have to carve out time you do not have to do it, so I want you to know that is much appreciated.

    Thanks–I very much appreciate you saying so.

    There is a popular notion that opinions cannot be wrong. It’s BS.

    Indeed.

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  74. MarkedMan says:

    @Kurtz: You’ve use “ETA” in the past but I have to admit I’m not familiar with the terminology. What is it?

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  75. @Gustopher:

    Guarneri helps pop that bubble.

    I am not sure he does. Indeed, I wish he (or someone) could help make sure the bubble doesn’t overtake us.

    What Guarneri does, actually, is make it appear that “the other side” really is just idiots all the way down.

    If an educated professional actually thinks that his Avenatti ejaculations are clever it just makes it seems like no wonder he supports Trump. It helps confirm biases, rather than challenge them.

    That is why I said the other day that his really more sad than annoying at this point.

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  76. Gustopher says:

    @t:

    anyway ill wrap this up because none of you care what i say anyway, but i especially know that dessttijillll guy dosent care what i have to say, he told me to go f- myself AND called me a jackass…even after he told me to “post something pithy”… so i did, but then he gets all mad and starts cussing at me and calling me names (but he wasnt banned or even given a warning for this?) and this was even after he admitted to intentionally derailing threads….which is what you supposedly banned [person who prefers to not be discussed] for?

    I’m not going to defend de stijl but I will note he has sharp elbows and a good heart and he likes to share things he loves. And like all of us he has his ups and downs.

    Unlike he who has apparently contacted Dr. Taylor and asked not to be discussed, de Stijl derails dying threads rather than active threads. An important distinction. It doesn’t affect other people as much. And he’s been better about it now that we have open threads.

    I would imagine that if he suddenly arrived here, he would give Dr. Taylor heartburn but everyone knows him and says ”that’s just de Stijl”. He gets on my nerves at times too, but he does have a good heart.

    Think of him like Tyrell.

    But, now that I have rambled, I can get to the point I wanted to make — there’s a balance with how strictly rules are enforced (and how strict those rules are). Too loose, and an online community can get a bit cliquey and hostile to newcomers who don’t know the unwritten rules and get frustrated. Too tight and the community doesn’t gel — everyone is walking on eggshells.

    OTB might be a bit too loose. If I were in charge, I would put back the potty mouth filter — not because I think there’s a big difference between referring to someone as a “fvcking moron” rather than a “fucking moron”, but just because having to deliberately misspell obscenities makes people pause for an instant and remember that there are standards.

    oh and my original email was added to the spam filter because i used the word “ass” in one of my posts like 18 months ago…but people like that destilijill guy can call me a jackass and tell me to go f- myself with impunity?

    I’m going to assume that you’re missing something there, or that someone here made a mistake. And you found a way around it, so maybe don’t dwell on it so much either way?

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  77. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t think he helps pop that bubble very much, but there’s no one else doing it better.

    Good lord, we could use someone better.

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  78. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And since you’re interacting… the last Open Thread is a little old, could you create a new one?

    Kthxbai

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  79. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    “Edited to add”

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  80. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kit: The telltale sign that this “T” cowboy is nothing but a bomb thrower is he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge that both page length AND # of Bills could BOTH be important factors in determining Congressional productivity…which is fair to say. An argument COULD have been made (as was pointed out during the exchange) that # of Bills as the sole metric shows a larger productivity dropoff than actually existing. But no… Dr. Taylor HAD TO BE WRONG. This is a domination tactic not a conversation tactic. It’s what we sum up in my tribes as, “Even when the White Man is wrong.. he’s right.”

    It’s easy to route out a bad faith debater…a bad faith person concedes nothing. Good faith debaters can reconfigure a common framework to understand a tension point to work past it (eg both page length AND # bills can be important metrics). But that’s not what these people want. They’ve had it drummed into them that YOU are the things that’s standing in the way of having an America they love. They aren’t interested in consensus. Trust me, the only thing that makes people like that take pause is when you demonstrate you’re not the one.

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  81. Jax says:

    As you can tell, Steven, we like our Open Threads, even when there’s lively conversation on a Front Pager’s posts! (Ehrmagerd….does that need an apostrophe?! I’m so unsure of myself now…..thanks, Teve!!! 😉 )

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  82. wr says:

    @Gustopher: “just because having to deliberately misspell obscenities makes people pause for an instant and remember that there are standards.”

    I have to say I feel exactly the opposite way. I hate the infantilization of things like “fvcking” –and even worse, “the f bomb,” as if this word is not used by everyone every day and has some kind of magical power . I celebrate the fact that people can now say fuck on USA and FX – one more step towards treating American citizens as adults instead of children. Using the misspellings give words power they don’t deserve, and it makes my skin crawl.

    (And yes, I also cringe at “the n word” and think that phrasing grants it a power it doesn’t deserve. If you look at moves from the 1970s you can feel the power draining out of it through appropriation — much as happened with “queer,” for instance. But I also know this isn’t my fight to fight, and that it’s something people get really emotional over… and my life is too short to spend it on this issue…)

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  83. Gustopher says:

    @wr: You’re not wrong about the infantilization. It’s dumb. Flat out stupid. And I don’t think harsh language is a problem.

    But, a lot of people need a gentle reminder to behave. It doesn’t really matter what that reminder is. And it needs to be easily automated.

    Plus, it amuses me to see someone’s ad hominem attacks with silly misspellings.

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  84. Kurtz says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Two different people. It was 95 South who took issue with the number of bills data.

    Twice now, I have given, word for word how to make the arguments they want to make. Once to Paul L. about the 2nd Amendment. Once to 95 about the bills data.

    And to your point, they don’t even pay attention when given the answers.

    I do that to show them that I understand their argument. I do that to show that I accept that intelligent people can disagree. Bit it falls on deaf ears, because their intent isn’t discussion.

    I think they are really invested in the idea that the only racism and sexism that exist are directed at White Males. So they feel oppressed and will only pay attention to things they can use to claim that.

    I also think they are invested in two contradictory ideas: that the Left isn’t rooted in intellectualism and that the Left talks down to them and tells them how to live.

    But if you were to evaluate writing styles, it is clear that the regular commenters they feel so tortured by can use syntax and grammar to clearly articulate their ideas. They, by contrast write garbled, chaotic posts. It is pretty easy to spot which group is exercising an ordered mind.

    For what it’s worth, based on what’s been posted in both threads on this, page length is a poor proxy. But like anyone else with an ounce of integrity, I am willing to be shown that it is worth looking at.

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  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kurtz: I never hung with stoners when I was young, but I did run with the big dogs as consumer of alcohol and many drunks have similar qualities. I extrapolate based on what people tell me about pot. You, Reynolds, Timothy Leary all tell the same sorts of enlightenment tales about pharmacopeia, but I’ve never known or seen any 3rd party confirmations.

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  86. t says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    The telltale sign that this “T” cowboy is nothing but a bomb thrower is he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge that both page length AND # of Bills could BOTH be important factors in determining Congressional productivity…which is fair to say.

    have they tried increasing the font size to 14?

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  87. Kurtz says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Yeah. It’s just something I’ve noticed in myself. And as I said, it’s actually a really difficult balance to maintain with weed. I don’t smoke these days because my doctor drug tests me to make sure I am not selling my Adderall on the street. He prefers I not smoke.

    After having smoked for many years, it hasn’t really required much adjustment. But that’s probably because I need the Adderall to get past working in poorly compensated, dead-end jobs. Maybe I will actually finish undergrad after two failed attempts.

    As far as psychedelics, I don’t think they changed me much. I get the impression that dosing LSD in the 60s was much more enlightening than it is now. I think that society was so button-down that it probably took a radical chemical experience to break the strong social conditioning. That’s not as much an issue now.

    But I’m probably a bit different from most. At one time, I had no problem getting some high quality coke and… reading Sartre.

    Were they a little enlightening for me? In an academic way maybe. It has informed my views on conciousness. I certainly had a few remarkable experiences, both good and bad, that have stuck with me. But looking back on it, it has made it easier to understand abstract arguments about the nature of mind. I think it is because I have experienced a chemical-induced alteration of how the senses form a representation of an environment.

    But it should be noted that there is ongoing research into possible clinical use of psychadelics in mental healthcare.

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  88. Jax says:

    @Kurtz: I am highly in favor of medicinal use of psychedelics for certain issues. From personal experience, psilocybin in small, controlled doses helped me break out of the cycle of depression and addiction to harder substances that I was using to self-medicate for the depression.

    I do still enjoy my wine and a good scotch now and then, and I would smoke weed if it was legal in my state, but….it’s a far cry from where I used to be sitting.

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