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Daily Kos would be a very different place.

The differences between debate and discussion are many and varied. Daily Kos is primarily a platform for discussion rather than debate, and I'm very glad that it is.

It has been suggested http://www.dailykos.com/... that diaries, and comments in response to them should be seen primarily in terms of debate and its accompanying protocol.

That would mean, I would think, that the diarist states a proposition to be debated, and then proceeds to lay out their assumptions and conclusions, along with any references they feel might be pertinent, and sits back to wait for a counter proposition to be presented. Any commenter is thus seen either as an opponent or proponent of the debate, and all comments are to be judged by their specific relevance to the original proposition.

Three, and only three, outcomes are available in this paradigm:

you convince your opponent; your opponent convinces you; you agree to disagree.

One of the interesting effects of this assumption is that the diarist is not, in fact, obliged to defend his original assumption; rather, a commenter who proposes a counter proposition is obliged to provide evidence of their own in order to establish them as a legitimate debater. Questioning the assumptions or logic or conclusions of the original diary is then automatically outside the bounds of serious debate, and any commenter who does so can legitimately be called a "bad faith" debater, or otherwise harshly treated as distracting from the smooth flow of the debate.

Within this paradigm, it becomes impossible for an accusation of Conspiracy Theorist to be made. The diarist is merely setting out one side of a potential debate, and all statements within the diary should be taken in the context of the debate point. The fact that CT is by definition not refutable by real data becomes irrelevant because it is incumbent on an opponent to present a better case for the opposition case, rather than on the proponent to justify the proposition. Truth is not a necessary factor in a debate, only the ability to make your points within the specified structure.

Debates are not, at base, intended to produce anything except a decision as to which side had the better debater. Certainly not truth, usually not development of knowledge, seldom any lessening of rancor around a subject. They're equivalent to a tennis match with well trained referees standing on the sidelines judging points, with a win/lose/tie outcome.

There is nothing in the TOS at Daily Kos that says a diary cannot be constructed to set up a formal debate scenario. I can see no reason why there should be. But if that is indeed the intention of any given diary, then formal notice should be given at the top of the diary, along with a formal statement of the subject of the debate, and the names of the referees.

If that is not done, then questions as to the validity of the premises, logic, and conclusions of the diary are legitimate, errors in referencing and interpreting sources can and should be pointed out, previous conclusions by the diarist are fair game unless the discrepancy can be adequately explained, and the presumption of "bad faith" - i.e., breaking the "rules" of the debate - should never come up.

For myself, I read diaries to learn about the subjects contained therein, not to learn about how to be a better debater. The vast majority of the diaries on Daily Kos support that desire on my part. It is only today that I've realized that a few diaries, which are written very much in the same manner as the majority, are in fact not intended to begin conversations with the users here, but to provide their author with a platform upon which debate points can be scored without the incumbrance of a referee.

From that viewpoint, I can accept that all the insults, direct or insinuated, that have been leveled at me were legitimate. I certainly was not adhering to the formal rules of debate, and thus I was a disruption to what the diarist considered should have been the serene flow of point and counterpoint.

Of course, from that viewpoint I also must conclude that the hypotheses and conclusions that the diarist has written about in the last six months or so have little or no reason to have anything to do with reality, and were chosen primarily to serve the diarist's penchant for debate. I congratulate him for having given me a puzzle that has taken me almost seven months to work out. And, if he wishes to continue in that mode, I look forward to seeing him state the terms of his challenges in a more formal manner in subsequent diaries. A list of potential impartial referees who are specifically trained in debating techniques, rather than simply having commenters jump in to call "foul" on a more or less random basis, would also be useful. (Along with the admission that having the original debater calling those fouls is certainly not a part of the rules of debate.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 11:37:40 PM PST

  •  Since this is your diary I feel free to comment (11+ / 0-)

    Six months ago I started avoiding interaction in diaries authored by the one you linked to, though in the interim I have paid attention. What I have observed is you and others maligned for daring to bring up points of discussion and point out irregularities.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the premise of your diary, especially this:

    For myself, I read diaries to learn about the subjects contained therein, not to learn about how to be a better debater. The vast majority of the diaries on Daily Kos support that desire on my part. It is only today that I've realized that a few diaries, which are written very much in the same manner as the majority, are in fact not intended to begin conversations with the users here, but to provide their author with a platform upon which debate points can be scored without the incumbrance of a referee.
    And this, for sure:
    ...I also must conclude that the hypotheses and conclusions that the diarist has written about in the last six months or so have little or no reason to have anything to do with reality, and were chosen primarily to serve the diarist's penchant for debate.
    Although "penchant for debate" is a kind way to put things,  I think Bob Johnson might have been more on target with one of his thoughts in a comment last week.

    When this comment is read by the minions I will most likely join you, with honor, on that long list of "bad faith actors" :-)

    "People need to learn to distinguish clear critiques on policy issues, from those that use racism as part of their message." Denise Oliver Velez

    by Oke on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 12:37:02 AM PST

    •  Thank you. I want to point out, though, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oke, Tortmaster, Yasuragi, Sylv, Hey338Too

      in all fairness, that there need not have been any intent to deceive, no matter what the outcome appeared to be. I have known other debaters who were monofocused on that structure to as great an extent.

      I simply hadn't realized that this was an instance of such, until a particularly good comment by 3rdOption made me shift perspective. A huge number of comments that I have seen as totally unjustified become legitimate - I can, to a certain extent, see myself making them in the formal context of a sport with agreed upon rules.

      I simply do not choose to think of this site as an arena, but others may not be able to see it as anything else. It certainly gets contentious enough to support that opinion at times.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 12:53:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes... (9+ / 0-)

    a relationship between two posters becomes irreparably damaged, at which point, nothing one person can say or do will ever be taken seriously.

    I personally have several people here who will never view one of my comments to them as being made in good-faith.

    I feel the same way about theirs.

    In my view, I think you and Ray might be at a similar point, though I very well could be wrong.

    One thing I'm rather certain about, however, is that you feel your interactions with him, and his diaries, have wronged you to a degree that makes diaires like this one, along with your persistent commenting in his, of continued vital importance to you.

    So I guess in that sense he was successful, because he can now count you amongst his most devoted followers.

    And to think, some people have actually characterized me that way. All I did was tip/rec his diaries, and, when I saw assholes show up to start being assholes, took his side when I felt he was being picked on unfairly.

    That made me a sycophant, a "fan club member," a "lap dog," and other various terms so cleverly offered by said assholes.

    But enough about me. This diary is about you and your umbrage, and we should keep the focus on that.

    I hope you find a resolution to this matter that will allow you to put it behind you, once and for all.




    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ Garcia

    by DeadHead on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 12:53:57 AM PST

    •  I've don't believe siab's been an asshole to Ray (4+ / 0-)

      and you say that is why you go after folks, but I have observed you go after siab many times.
      So does that mean you think siab's been an asshole to Ray?
      And what exactly constitutes being an asshole in a Ray diary? Seems anything less than 100% agreement and worship is grounds for being a troll and/or bad faith actor.

      And yes, I am one of the people that this fits:

      I personally have several people here who will never view one of my comments to them as being made in good-faith.
      Seen too much of you in action to believe otherwise.

      Now you can throw it back at me but there's ten years of my comment history to prove I have had negative words with others a small percentage of the time and sure haven't given cause for people to wonder if I'm following them around.

      "People need to learn to distinguish clear critiques on policy issues, from those that use racism as part of their message." Denise Oliver Velez

      by Oke on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 01:07:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dkmich, Sandino, Ray Pensador
        I've don't believe siab's been an asshole to Ray
        That makes two of us.
        and you say that is why you go after folks, but I have observed you go after siab many times.
        No, that isn't what I said, that's you changing my word "defending" into your term "going after." Please don't misrepresent my words. If you've seen me "go after" her, please provide me with some links, so I can apologize for doing so, if, after reconsideration, I find it's warranted.
        So does that mean you think siab's been an asshole to Ray?
        No. I didn't mention her as being one of the assholes to whom I referred, that's you thinking I was implying it when I wasn't. If that's what I thought about her, I would've said so.
        And what exactly constitutes being an asshole in a Ray diary?
        Oh, the usual stuff. Ad hominems, direct insults, allusions to mental health issues, unfounded claims of CT, nitpicking minor details of the diary that are inconsequential to the overall message if the diary, painting anyone calling out the aforementioned behaviors as being "minions," "lap dogs," "worshippers," "defenders," etc.
        Seems anything less than 100% agreement and worship is grounds for being a troll and/or bad faith actor.
        Hardly. That sounds like something ardent Obama supporters would do.
        And yes, I am one of the people that this fits:
        I personally have several people here who will never view one of my comments to them as being made in good-faith.
        Seen too much of you in action to believe otherwise.
        I know, I remember your one-sided, context-free call-out diary about me like it was yesterday. And given your misrepresentations of my comment in this comment of yours, I can without a doubt say the feeling is mutual.
        Now you can throw it back at me but there's ten years of my comment history to prove I have had negative words with others a small percentage of the time and sure haven't given cause for people to wonder if I'm following them around.
        Good for you. Perhaps you can suggest to those who think people are following them around that they might want to check comments posted, timestamps of comments, and check whether a person was in a diary before they arrived themselves, prior to making petulant, whiny claims that aren't supported by facts.

        In any case, the diarist should be thankful she has friends like you to swoop in and dishonestly paraphrase, revise the record, and cast aspersions on those who've commented in her diary in a disagreeable manner.

        Well done.




        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ Garcia

        by DeadHead on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 02:03:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The diarist has never read a comment by Oke (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yasuragi, terrybuck, erratic, Sylv

          before, to her knowledge, and, not knowing the backstory, is wondering why the hell you felt compelled to take each other apart in this diary, genuinely wishes you'd done it somewhere else, and hopes that if you need to continue it, you move it somewhere more private.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 02:43:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes... (2+ / 0-)

            Because I asked her to reply to my top level comment to your diary, didn't I?

            I'm sorry, but when someone posts such nonsensical gibberish in reply to one of my comments, I feel compelled to reply.

            And given the rather ardent defense of you she offered, I figured you were at least somewhat familiar with each other.

            Apparently you aren't, and her speaking on your behalf was merely a pretense for her airing some of her dirty laundry with me.

            Whatever the case, I've said what I wanted to say, so I'll again wish you a pleasant evening morning.




            Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ Garcia

            by DeadHead on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:11:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm afraid I'm guilty of that as well. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            I apologize.

            Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. -- Albert Einstein

            by Yasuragi on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:51:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I would take what you say far more (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, Hey338Too

          seriously if you called out those you perceive to be assholes on both sides.  You don't.  No matter the level of bad behavior of those with whom you agree, you never call them out.

          The fact is, I have a great deal of respect for you when you're not being contentious.  But those moments are few and far between.   Mostly, I see you showing contempt to those who disagree with you or your allies.

          Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. -- Albert Einstein

          by Yasuragi on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:50:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Please see my comment to Deadhead (0+ / 0-)

        here.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 02:46:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure where I take apart Deadhead. In my (0+ / 0-)

          comment I am mainly addressing what read as a is veiled reference to you being an asshole in Ray's diaries.  
          But after the tone of your comments I will not comment in any other of your diaries.
          After months of serious life issues and health problems I just started commenting again recently and I now regret choosing this diary as one to come in and try to support.

          "People need to learn to distinguish clear critiques on policy issues, from those that use racism as part of their message." Denise Oliver Velez

          by Oke on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 09:57:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  okay, I need to backtrack here. I do wish I'd (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erratic, serendipityisabitch

            never commented in here, but for an additional reason that is the biggest factor.
            A lot is weighing heavy on my mind this week and I was up having a sleepless night over what's coming up this week.
            In the morning I go in for a very necessary back surgery. I have multiple other health problems and have been told I could very well end up not coming off the respirator for several days. I just hope I am back to comment at all some day soon.
            Lesson learned-- don't comment when I have so much on my mind.

            "People need to learn to distinguish clear critiques on policy issues, from those that use racism as part of their message." Denise Oliver Velez

            by Oke on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 11:03:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  On the contrary. This diary is about a change in (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeadHead, Yasuragi, Brecht, erratic, Sylv, Hey338Too

      perspective that I had on reading 3rdOption's excellent last comment in Ray's diary.

      At this point, I don't feel wronged at all, though I confess that I couldn't figure out before why my comments tended to provoke such pushback, and was seeing Ray as indignant for no reason.

      I'd forgotten a large number of scuffles I'd formerly gotten into, way back in the day, with someone who was trained in debating procedures and saw that procedure as the way discussion about beliefs/opinions should always be conducted. It took me a long time to figure out, because he was also quite open to new perspectives, as long as he got a chance to walk away and digest them before making any comments about them. Debate doesn't really give you that chance, since defense of the original argument is part of the game.

      If I go back into Ray's diaries, I hope to temper my comments in light of this perspective. But I really would like there to be a neutral referee.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 01:10:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great call out dairy (5+ / 0-)

    just enough meta fluff to avoid banning, probably.

  •  You missed the pont of debate entirely. (6+ / 0-)

    A debate is not a contest to determine the better debater, is is to formalize arguments through a system that seeks to eliminate as much supposition and distraction as possible. Logical fallacies don't work in formal debate, yet are the overwhelming majority of content here and across the culture.

    In the end, the benefit of the formal debate is to the audience. With no smoke screen to hide and divert, the basic arguments are stripped bare for the audience to decide.

    As for what appears to be the real purpose of this particular diary, I'm reminded of a song lyric,
    "...nobody's right, when everybody's wrong".

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 03:42:14 AM PST

    •  I understand the point of debate, I think. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, erratic, Hey338Too

      Though much of what is commonly called debate bears little resemblance to what I think was the original concept. Nye vs. Ham, for instance, while called a debate, fell far short of "eliminating as much supposition and distraction as possible".

      What I was talking about were the specific formalities - the rules that sometimes do as much to obscure real attention to the basics of the argument as does the presence of fallacious argument. Both, I think, can and have been used to create the type of smokescreen you are talking about.

      More specifically, when the core premise of an argument is unverifiable, being able to demand that counter-assertions by a commenter be proven before the discussion can continue tends to bias the discussion in favor of the original proposer. Which is why I was why I suggested referees.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:09:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are taking this place too seriously. It is an (6+ / 0-)

    Echo Chamber. If you don't agree with a diary, simply move on to the next diary you agree with and support it. No minds or politics will be changed here, those who agree will stick around and those who disagree will go elsewhere. This is the way all political forums work.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:43:23 AM PST

    •  Maybe, but I'm learning a lot. Makes it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, VirginiaJeff, erratic, Hey338Too

      worthwhile for me, both in the diaries I agree with and those I disagree with. Sometimes more in the ones I disagree with, because they make me think. Ymmv.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:48:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it's multiple interlocking and nested chambers :) (4+ / 0-)

      I don't necessarily agree with your recommendation to "simply move on" whenever one doesn't agree with a diary — it depends — but I agree that opinion change here tends to be marginal and/or gradual.

      "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:00:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think that's necessarily the case. (4+ / 0-)
      No minds or politics will be changed here, those who agree will stick around and those who disagree will go elsewhere.
      I can think of a few issues where my mind has been changed over the course of a few years, perhaps not just because of this site but certainly with a role played by this site.

      In those cases, it wasn't a matter of the One Great Argument and some kind of "A-ha" moment in my head, but rather a result of reading a series of dialogues and debates back and forth—on this site and elsewhere—that slowly and steadily broke down the arguments I was making in my own mind for my former position.

      Generally, I'd agree that once someone commits to commenting on something, they're probably not going to change their mind very easily; there aren't a lot of cases in comment threads where one is going to convince one's interlocutor. But these comments aren't read only by those who are participating in the thread.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:32:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've been blogging for years and have gotten many, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dianna

      many messages from people telling me I helped them change their minds about different topics. Likewise, I've learned a great deal from others who have presented compelling arguments that have shaped my views. I believe one can learn something every day.

      •  Ray, can you point to an example of (0+ / 0-)

        something about which you've changed your mind?

        Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. -- Albert Einstein

        by Yasuragi on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 08:03:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I recently had a very contentious debate with (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yasuragi, Brecht, SpecialKinFlag, ZhenRen

          ZhenRen about anarchism and at the end of the exchange I admitted publicly that because of his strong and principled argument he made me change my mind, and I ended up apologizing to him.

          Also, the other day I hide-rated a comment (my fifth in the whole time I've been here).  Someone objected and I promised to review the site guidelines.  After reading the guidelines and the comment from the poster I determined that the commenter was right and I was wrong; I said so publicly in the thread I removed the HR.

          I have no problem doing that with anybody on any topic, with good-faith commenters.

    •  I've seen some remarkable epiphanies (4+ / 0-)

      take place here, contrary to your comment.  As JamesGG noted above me.

      And it's those moments I believe we all strive for when arguing a point.  Well... when arguing to explain a point.  When arguing for the sake of argument... not so much.

      Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. -- Albert Einstein

      by Yasuragi on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 08:02:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, I would disagree with that... (4+ / 0-)
      No minds or politics will be changed here...
      I rarely expect to "change the diarist's mind."  Many, if not most, diaries are written by those who have already established their considered opinion.

      However, there are (potentially) tens of thousands of persons who will read the diary/comments because they have not yet developed their considered opinion.

      So, while I'm not much for abbreviated "you're right/you're wrong" comments, I AM prone to offer my opinion (and, usually, some hard data) for the benefit of those third parties, whether or not I am in agreement with the diarist.

      Will I "change the diarist's mind"? Probably not.

      Could I "change the mind" of thousands of third-party readers? Absolutely.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 09:26:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  debates are boring. (6+ / 0-)

    discussion is better.

    i've had people "attack" my "credibility" as if I gave a fuck about credibility. We're nobodies on the internet. Nothing we say here really has an effect on anything.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:21:00 AM PST

    •  Much better. But I disagree that there is no (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, Brecht, erratic, Hey338Too

      effect - there have been many times that I shifted perspective during the course of writing a comment, and some while reading them. What people, including myself, say here has changed me, and that's not necessarily a small thing.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 06:31:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think you captured many of my frustrations... (10+ / 0-)

    ...with the version of "debate" promulgated by the person you're writing about here.

    That would mean, I would think, that the diarist states a proposition to be debated, and then proceeds to lay out their assumptions and conclusions, along with any references they feel might be pertinent, and sits back to wait for a counter proposition to be presented.
    That's not how it works in the classic debate format; in that format, one participant takes the Pro side of the proposition, and the other takes the Anti side.

    The person taking the Pro side is obligated to provide sufficient support (evidence and reason) for the proposition in question; the person taking the Anti side, however, is not obligated to present a "counter proposition."

    The Anti side's job, like the defense in a trial, is simply to show that the Pro side's arguments don't hold water. They can do that through "counter proposition," but they don't have to; they can simply settle for pointing out where the Pro side's arguments fall short, by highlighting places where Pro needs to present more evidence or where Pro's reasoning is invalid.

    On several occasions, I have found myself in a discussion with the person you're writing about here, where I have highlighted points in his posts where he needed to present more evidence for a given proposition; his response has generally been to re-present the same, insufficient evidence he presented in his original post, to suggest that the proposition was self-evident, and/or to question my motivations. (Perhaps ironically, the person you're writing about here tends to exhibit many of the behaviors he decries in others.) Throughout such discussions, it has been clear that he did not understand that it is the obligation of the person arguing for a proposition to present sufficient evidence and reason to support it, and not the obligation of the person arguing against the proposition to "prove it wrong" or present a viable alternative proposition.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:23:12 AM PST

  •  I don't think this is correct (6+ / 0-)

    Maybe I'm misconstruing the formal debate analogy, but those diaries don't look like any kind of debate I've ever seen.

    I think they aspire to provide a place where people who agree on the basic premises or Gestalt can get together, enjoy each other's company, and talk about the things they mostly agree about (presumably in a way that leads to positive change).

    The Gestalt is crucial. not just in these diaries, but in many diaries on DKos. I've often commented on a diary that makes assertions about election fraud based on my own assumption that the diary is about those assertions. If anything, I've more often been challenged on my motives than on my facts and arguments, which of course leaves me to fume to myself, "I'm not posting in bad faith, you are — it's as if you don't think the truth matters at all." But it seems to me that for the people who rec those diaries and react indignantly to critics, they are defending the truth they find in the Gestalt — which is not my Gestalt, so I'm not the one to put it into words — and my fussy empirical critiques are about as welcome as military analysis is in IGTNT diaries.

    How many times have you been told that one of your comments is a nitpick or of a peripheral issue, even if it appears to engage the core proposition of the diary? Well, the core proposition of the diary isn't argued in the diary: it's prior to the diary.

    How many times have you been told some variation on "If you don't agree, why don't you leave?", and maybe scratched your head about how that could make any sense on a discussion board? It's even OK to disagree about some things as long as you clearly agree on the Gestalt — but if you don't appear to agree on the Gestalt, then even statements of agreement are likely to be viewed as bad faith. You are not of the tribe.

    Many of Ray's diaries have provided an ideological rationale for those dynamics, but I think similar dynamics play out in a wide variety of diaries, all factions in the meta wars, etc. etc.

    "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

    by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:31:27 AM PST

    •  Yep... (5+ / 0-)

      I just made a similar comment in RP's current diary, substituting "metanarration" for "Gestalt." It's not debate, but rather the presentation and celebration of "a" (not necessarily "the") Truth in accord with one's predetermined views.

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:52:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's really interesting (4+ / 0-)

        I generally avoid the word "metanarrative" because I don't feel I have the right critical theory chops to use it (and/or critique it), but it seems to fit pretty well — almost certainly better than Gestalt in its original sense.

        I don't want to punch too hard on "Truth in accord with one's predetermined views," because I think social identity is crucial here. Cheering for a diarist can be sort of like cheering for a sports team. It often has manifest political content that "Go Yankees/Red Sox/[...]!" lacks, but neither one  generally is grounded in adherence to specific propositions. Many of the political debates on DKos are no more or less substantive than sports arguments among fans of rival teams.

        "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

        by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 06:55:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm almost in full agreement with you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark, Yasuragi, Hey338Too

      It was the conjunction of the debate challenge to Markos, plus the discussion/definition of what he considers a debate is and how it is to be held in the linked diary, plus 3rdOption's comment to Brecht (I think) saying that it was a good discussion that hadn't moved into being a debate that made something click.

      I don't see him as seeing himself in any particular tribe, no matter what the patterns are of others in his diaries. Commenter dynamics were not my focus here, though they are certainly as interesting overall.

      The core propositions of the diaries may seem hidden because, I think, they are generally written as the conclusions, rather than as hypotheses. Thus, any disagreement with the hypotheses or evidence presented will tend to be off topic, or nitpicking, from the diarist's standpoint. Additionally, they have no bearing on whether a case built from them will be correct, because the case isn't being built from them.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:01:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, but that wasn't a debate challenge (4+ / 0-)

        (Honestly I'm too tired and distracted to make my points precisely, but please construe that my "yeah, buts" are more like "yes, ands.")

        I'd like to debate two simple issues with you: Do you have any prove that I suffer from paranoia?  If you don't, what prompted you to write such a highly offensive missive referencing my person?

        Second, is this site a fraud?  In other words, is this site a tool of the corporatist Democratic party establishment passing itself off as something else?

        OK, let's look at those, briefly.

        kos was pounding the table, not offering a medical diagnosis. Almost invariably, when kos pounds the table, someone picks a fight based on a loose interpretation of what he said. One could reasonably say that kos started the fight — but it wasn't a fight about whether Ray suffers from paranoia.

        That second "issue"... well, y'know, this isn't a debate, it's a rumble. Team Veal Pen in the house! kos brought it, Ray is bringing it right back. Why am I so bored? :)

        I don't think Ray uses the "tribe" language, but I think he most definitely sees himself as part of a tribe: the tribe of people who are willing to speak truth to power and oppose The System.

        I don't think the core propositions have to appear in the diary at all, although I agree that sometimes they are stated as (or revealed within) conclusions that don't necessarily seem to follow from the premises.

        "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

        by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:37:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that's sort of what I meant, actually. ;) (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yasuragi, Hey338Too, HudsonValleyMark

          Thinking about it, I might have put debate in quotes, but I actually was trying to hold a middle course in the diary.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:53:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  oh, doh :) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            serendipityisabitch

            I think that "you convince your opponent; your opponent convinces you; you agree to disagree," taken at face value, leads in one direction. And we do sometimes see situations in comments where at least one party is open to being convinced. But in the cases you're considering, it seems that the only likely outcomes are "you agree to disagree" (which, in practice, usually means that the critic drops the issue) or "the argument continues until someone finally wanders off."

            So there's a certain logic to the view that it's obstructionist to openly disagree with someone who won't engage your views on the merits.

            "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

            by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 10:04:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have now read your last statement at least (0+ / 0-)

              six times, paused, reread most of the thread, and come back. I am still not absolutely sure what you are saying. It must have been a hell of a conference.

              Let me try it another way. By these rules, one gets to ignore, or trash, any argument that someone else might win. As long as the core of an argument is effectively unverifiable, there is no way to argue effectively against it. The attempt to shift the argument away from that core means you're arguing with "someone who won't engage your views on the merits."

              At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

              by serendipityisabitch on Fri Mar 07, 2014 at 04:54:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  heh (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                serendipityisabitch

                On my last statement, I mean something like: I can see why some people think that if you have the temerity to try to argue with someone who hasn't shown any interest in substantive give-and-take, then you're at fault as surely as if you did it in a pootie diary.

                By these rules, one gets to ignore, or trash, any argument that someone else might win. As long as the core of an argument is effectively unverifiable, there is no way to argue effectively against it.
                I probably would have said "unfalsifiable," but yes, I think that's exactly right.

                "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

                by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 06:24:11 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  oh, meant to say (4+ / 0-)

        Actual group dynamics are inchoate and multifaceted. Perceptual accentuation of differences runs rampant, leading to objectively silly generalizations about, say, "Ray apologists" or "swarmers." The group dynamics exist, but it's very hard to describe them accurately.

        I'm going to be in Full Conference Mode for prolly at least the next 12 hours.

        "Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure they are right." —E. E. Schattschneider

        by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:46:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I commend you for taking that linked (4+ / 0-)

    diary seriously.  Personally I saw it as little more than the diarist's usual tactic of trying to control feedback by imposing "protocol" and guidelines.  And that's not his function.  

    •  Well, I tried to take it seriously, but evidently (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi, Hey338Too

      that was not seen as a believable stance. I always take his diaries seriously, which I believe may be one of the problems I've had with commenting in them. Because I keep spotting contradictions. Worse, I keep double checking.

      If you look, though, at how debate is defined there (effectively along the lines that set his protocols), and see him as believing he has the job of enforcing the rules he has stated, then a lot of the seeming contradictions that show up in his comments, and between diaries, make a lot more sense.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 06:27:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think lots of people really like to argue, about (6+ / 0-)

    anything, and that's not a debate either. I remember one kos member who si no longer with us, and she admitted she liked to argue, was good at it etc., etc. Some people are very clever with words.

    I don't like to argue so mostly step away or agree to disagree.

    Trying to honestly communicate with humans we do not even know, can't see, with weird ID names (lol) is difficult at best.

    I can sense some things about posters, but wouldn't bet money that my 'sensors' are correct 100% of the time.

    "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    "It's said that the honest man has nothing to hide. Not true. The honest man has to hide himself, because honest men are the prime targets of those who lie."

    by roseeriter on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 06:10:06 AM PST

    •  Absolutely true. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      roseeriter, Yasuragi, erratic, Sylv
      Trying to honestly communicate with humans we do not even know, can't see, with weird ID names (lol) is difficult at best.
      That is what makes trying to do it such a challenge.

      Even worse is trying to project honest disagreement without stepping on a multitude of toes. I don't particularly like to argue, although I'm getting better at it since I found this site, but I do want, very much, to make sure that any argument I accept is well based. So a lot of my comments are questions, some of them very minor ones, some not, that address some incongruity that I see in what has been written. Discussion, rather than debate, is my preferred choice for that kind of interaction.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:09:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes a diary is just intended to make you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    go "Hmmmmmm."

    (h/t Arsenio Hall)

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:13:19 AM PST

  •  there alas seems to be a recent trend at DKos (6+ / 0-)

    to reduce any "discussion" OR "debate" to simple-minded accusations that anyone who disagrees with anyone about anything must be a troll or a shill or a paid provocateur or a corporate tool or a GOP/MIC apologist blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda etc etc etc.

    Not just in the diaries that immediately leap to mind (and which recently got the big swat-down from Kos), but in lots of other diary areas too---GMO diaries, nuclear-power/Fukushima diaries, gunz diaries, I/P diaries, even Crimea/Ukraine diaries, to name just a few.

    It is nothing more or less than a way to shut down people who disagree with one by delegitimizing them and rejecting anything they say a priori without having to actually answer (or even listen to) any of it.  It is exactly the equivalent of the Goppers screaming "SOCIALIST!!!!" at anyone they don't like, to shout them down and shut them up.

    It is silly, stupid and wrong, and it should not be tolerated by anyone here on any side of any issue.

    And I'm fucking tired of seeing it.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 07:26:54 AM PST

  •  Hi Serendipity! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    Interesting diary! One dominant pattern that I've noticed at DK is that often conflicts that seem aggressive in nature (eg people attacking or insulting other commenters or their positions) are actually defensive - people act aggressively in order to protect something that's important to them - their worldview, their opinion, their cause... Most of us here (including myself) have developed defensive structures to protect our version of these things, and that defensive structure guides how we respond to perceived attacks on them.

    Since there's no standardization for these defensive structures, it's easy for defensive responses to trigger and escalate into conflict and hardened positions. I've seen plenty of conflicts where the participants on both sides are passionately devoted to good things, and that passion is expressed as very aggressive conflict between individuals who share much more common ground, than whatever it is they're disagreeing about.

    Some people have more elaborate or intense structures - I feel that's primarily based on personality and personal life experiences. I've gotten into several conflicts with others here on DK, only to later learn things about my "opponent" that inspired my respect or sympathy.

    I was at an AA meeting yesterday, and ended up sitting beside a large angry drunk guy, who kept chanting "Fuck you", and "You're a drunk", and "I'm awesome" at whoever was speaking, in a very aggressive way. It was provocative and intimidating, but I didn't feel very threatened, because it seemed clear that he was acting out of fear and negative feelings about himself. He was in a bad place in his life, and his aggressive actions in the meeting were an attempt to protect himself. Granted, not a very constructive attempt, but it would have been easy for me or others to react to his behavior in ways that would have escalated or worsened the situation. Some people left the room, some asked him to respect whoever was talking, and most tried to ignore him. In the end, he left the meeting.

    The point being, I guess, that people are going to keep smashing up against each other and getting into conflicts. All that we have control over is how we respond, and how we treat others.

    I appreciate your perspective and approach - carry on!

    •  I can't argue about the defensive structures. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic

      Mine have been tested a lot in the past year or two, though happily I think I've taken some of them apart.

      But there is a limit, however flexible, to how far my sympathy extends when I'm on the receiving end of some of those defensive structures, even though I realize that many of them are not even visible to the people employing them. What I try to do is to separate the defensive structure from the person, as I try to separate the comment from the commenter. That X does Y that I don't like doesn't mean X is evil, but it does mean that I'll watch out for Y in the future.

      There are unfortunately a number of people who automatically take civility for snark - and there's not a whole lot I can do about it.

      Speaking of which, would you consider a reprise of your diary on civility? I think it did some good the first time, and it might be useful again.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 10:33:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cheers, Serendipity! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        And agreed, sympathy only goes so far. And there's nothing wrong with defensive structures - it's good to try to practice awareness of one's own, and to keep in mind when you're in conflict with someone, that they're likely acting protectively about something that's important and meaningful to them. When I interact with someone with a very strong defensive structure, I try to keep in mind that they are likely reacting to something that may have nothing to do with me or my position, or even the issue - we all carry our pasts with us.

        Thanks for reminding me of that diary - I went through some of my past diaries to try to find it - did you mean this one?The Daily Kos Rec Community

  •  One key distinction between debate and discussion: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    For many, "debate" implies sources and references. In that respect, it's quite similar to writing a research paper; even as one draws original conclusions, the general expectation is that footnotes, bibliographies and the like (remember the "works cited" page?) will be provided as references to the information used in drawing said conclusions.

    "Discussion" is quite the opposite. While participants may choose to provide links to such sources and references, the general expectation is that we're just "letting fly" with our opinions. Most op-eds, for instance, don't include footnotes.

    You can see the tension between the two well before pie fights or acrimonious comments emerge. How often do we see someone respond to a diary/comment with "links?", "I'd pay more attention if you had some numbers to back that up?", or other statements along those lines? I would suggest that those commentators are looking for "debate" rather than "discussion." By the same token, the folks who simply don't provide (or respond to) hard data, sources or references aren't interested in "debate;" they're looking for simple "discussion."

    I was just involved in a series of diaries that illustrated this rather well.  (Unfortunately, the diarist deleted all of them, so I can't provide links.) The diarist made sweeping statements concerning various diplomatic documents and treaties, but cited little specific language from any of them and did not provide links to any of the text(s) in question. My comments (full disclosure: I disagreed with his premise) used the specific language of the documents in question, with links to the text(s) so that others could draw their own conclusions about both my arguments and his. My comments went largely ignored by the diarist.

    I'll readily admit that I find "debate"-style diaries/comments much more appealing than I do their "just let 'er rip" counterparts.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 09:49:22 AM PST

    •  Hmm. I'm not sure. When I ask for links, it (0+ / 0-)

      generally means that the diarist has gotten me interested in something and I want to know more, and figure that the diarist can give me a more focused selection than a blind search, but that may just be me.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 10:45:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, sure... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        I don't think this is a universal "either/or" situation - we all fit somewhere on the line between the two, depending on the subject matter.

        That's part of the conflict, too.  There are topics on which I consider myself well-informed/well-educated, and I lean toward 'debate' in those cases - but you don't necessarily know my information/education level on that topic, right?

        I've actually had people respond to my comments in "discussion" conversations with, "What, no links from you? No hard data?"  **laugh**

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 01:59:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Grmph. Two days ago, I did a "links?" and (0+ / 0-)

          was told "oh, come on, that's common knowledge".

          I'm just fine with what I do know, but I know damn well it's not necessarily what somebody else knows - especially since I got interested in politics really, really late.

          Knowledge/ignorance is a multidimensional spectrum, and I keep trying to remember that the people who are reading a particular comment may be almost anywhere along it. Some of the time, I manage to do it, some not.

          My main irk in that area is the people who confuse, whether intentionally or un-,  ignorance with stupidity.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 04:36:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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