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virtue

Discussion Culture and Dissidence

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I feel it's very unfortunate for the Western discussion culture that there are more and more instances of divisive topics on which the strongly opinionated supporters, whether pro or contra, ask for heavy-handed control or regulation of dissident speech. I really hope that everyone is having a blast in their safe spaces and walled gardens, I really do.

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Posted (edited)

Does this include the recent controls and regulations limiting covid conspiracy theories on social media? 

Edited by Bindi
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Sadly, there are conversations some people might want to have that can only take place within walled gardens.  Outside the garden, there are people who are sarcastic or hostile or maybe just wilfully misinformed.  Many aren´t interested or capable of participating in the kind of botanical discussion an experienced gardener might yearn for. In these circumstances, trying to have a conversation that welcomes all voices, as good as that sounds, is an exercise in futility.  Such conversations needlessly amplify negativity  -- and who needs that?  Wiser to move inside the garden walls.

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Is there any role for trying to protect people from potentially harmful and divisive misinformation?

I recognize there are many difficult questions surrounding such an undertaking, who is the arbiter of truth, for example.

On the other hand, there are blatant examples of aggressive misinformation campaigns on social media which can have profound effects on health related decisions, elections, and the like. 

I really enjoyed Sacha Baron Cohen's talk on the subject a few years back...

 

 

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2 hours ago, Bindi said:

Does this include the recent controls and regulations limiting covid conspiracy theories on social media? 

 

It sure does. But, you will have to notice that it's a reaction to de facto bubbles of Covid19 conspiracies that have been working through by the saturation of airspace in a manner which attempts forcibly to hijack and subvert the regular discussion space that academics and general public are already having. It's no longer civil discussion of awareness and learning, but direct attempts to mar the reputation of societal institutions, which would then justify the alternative discussion standard.

 

Conspiracy theories require bubbles and protected talking space or they would be ousted really quick, hence they are propagated in an uncivil manner in the first place.

 

1 hour ago, liminal_luke said:

Outside the garden, there are people who are sarcastic or hostile or maybe just wilfully misinformed.

 

What does that tell you about the society in general then?

 

Quote

Many aren´t interested or capable of participating in the kind of botanical discussion an experienced gardener might yearn for. In these circumstances, trying to have a conversation that welcomes all voices, as good as that sounds, is an exercise in futility.  Such conversations needlessly amplify negativity  -- and who needs that?  Wiser to move inside the garden walls.

 

According to my observations, most of divisive speech begins to fester after hostile accusations have been made. Who will stand up and take the blame? Should someone become the scapegoat for everyone's benefit?

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Just now, ralis said:

Latest CDC COVID-19 map. Recent spikes are primarily in ant-vaccine communities. How long will it take for people to wake up!

 

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

 

Sorry ralis, but I was hoping that this thread would be a meta discussion without going into any particular topic detail like this.

 

Covid19 is already featured in many topics around TDB and I don't see why this should be another platform for it.

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, virtue said:

 

Sorry ralis, but I was hoping that this thread would be a meta discussion without going into any particular topic detail like this.

 

Covid19 is already featured in many topics around TDB and I don't see why this should be another platform for it.

 

Given the recent discussion here my post is relevant in that a few here post conspiracy laden BS which is a danger to many! Facts overrule BS!

Edited by ralis

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Sometimes heated debate tends to result in people becoming more entrenched in their views. People become more extreme in their position and unwilling to give ground.

 

In my view, that's to our mutual detriment, since debate serves the purpose of dialectics, and helps us arrive at more nuanced views. 

 

I think though debate shouldn't be censored, as long as it centres on ideas.

 

As soon as it strays into personal attacks, (ie. accusations of stupidity), then the debate turns into an argument, and it stops being about mutual edification.

 

I'm guilty of this too. Its easy for this to happen when discussing a particularly serious topic.

 

I think as long as we stay polite and respectful, and try to understand each other, I don't see any grounds for debate to be curtailed, either here or elsewhere on social media. 

 

Just my two penn'orth. 

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8 hours ago, ralis said:

How long will it take for people to wake up!

 

Who knows?

People have different ideas about what's best for themselves and others, even when the stakes are high. And we are now in an era when facts have less solidity in people's minds, like it or not. It's a rather concrete demonstration of the Buddhist view that our minds create our reality.

 

While this particular situation is a very challenging one, there are others and there will no doubt be more, perhaps even more polarizing while that is currently difficult to envision. At an intellectual level it is fascinating, at a visceral and emotional level horrifying, and technology seems to be accelerating this trend and the potential for disaster. 

 

At some level, we need to find a way to live with this fact.... or not.

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I claim no expertise here but this all seems to exemplify the strong contractive (which can appear as divisive) dynamic of Metal. We're all disappearing into our own 'walled gardens' for whatever reason makes sense to us. If it is the current Wu Xing dynamic then so be it but I appreciate the efforts of @steve et al to try and reach across the walls and keep some balance in the face of the zeitgeist.

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Moderator message: The OP has requested that this thread be about meta-issues around the culture of discussion and dissidence, and not about particular issues, ie Covid.  Please respect this intention.

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5 hours ago, Vajra Fist said:

Sometimes heated debate tends to result in people becoming more entrenched in their views. People become more extreme in their position and unwilling to give ground.

 

In my view, that's to our mutual detriment, since debate serves the purpose of dialectics, and helps us arrive at more nuanced views. 

 

I think though debate shouldn't be censored, as long as it centres on ideas.

 

As soon as it strays into personal attacks, (ie. accusations of stupidity), then the debate turns into an argument, and it stops being about mutual edification.

 

I'm guilty of this too. Its easy for this to happen when discussing a particularly serious topic.

 

I think as long as we stay polite and respectful, and try to understand each other, I don't see any grounds for debate to be curtailed, either here or elsewhere on social media. 

 

Just my two penn'orth. 

 

I agree with you but I find that what occurs on social media, here perhaps just a little less, is not debate.

Debate involves advancing positions and providing supportive evidence with some degree of organization and mutually agreed upon rules and guidelines.

Most of what passes for "debate" online is often electronically shouted opinions and gratuitous assertions, with little or no supporting evidence. There is also the specter of suppression of information, flooding of misinformation, corruption of authoritative sources, questionable reliability and similar corruption of alternative sources, thresholds for accepting the veracity of information, and related factors which make intelligent and civil debate extremely challenging in the information age.

Fortunately there is the ignore button...

(one reason to avoid becoming a moderator, moderators can't ignore anyone :lol:)

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It is an interesting development. 

 

In ancient India, there was the idea of the pramana, or means of valid knowledge. If two schools were going to engage, they would have to find common pramanas. For example, Buddhism accepted direct perception, inference and verbal testimony, but not scripture such as the Vedas. So when a Vedantin debated a Buddhist, they would restrict themselves to those pramanas, and save the Vedic interpretation for other Vedantins. 

 

These days, we have no common pramanas. I am not surprised, since the rejection of "facts" and "experise" was clearly seen with the post-modernist, post-structuralist push in academia. 

 

In addition, tolerance for any discomfort has fallen to an unusual low, and new media have arisen allowing us to build little worlds unto ourselves. People often treat disagreements like actual blows, which puts me in a strange position as a habitual disagree-er. Strange times. 

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3 minutes ago, steve said:

agree with you but I find that what occurs on social media, here perhaps just a little less, is not debate.

 

True. Scott Adams (yes, the one from Dilbert) came onto Sam Harris' podcast to discuss Trump (which he was very pro) and made a very interesting observation. People liked Trump not because he told the truth, but told a story that they felt was true, i.e. "emotional truths." This has really opened my eyes in many ways--- truth is now arbitrated by feeling. You can see this in spiritual teachings where folks don't do practices, they just adopt "what resonates." 

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Posted (edited)

If anyone whom I see as being in dire need of good advice on the subject cared to take mine, here's what I would suggest.

 

If you hear someone's opinion that differs from your own, don't be in a rush to slap them with a label prefabricated for the occasion.  And don't ask them about their credentials (sarcastically, as a way to imply they dare not have an opinion that differs from your own.)  Instead, try asking them why they think what they think. 

 

A simple "why do you think so" is the inroad into an exchange of opinions -- that is, if your goal is building an inroad into human interactions, into any which mind that is not a carbon copy of your own -- rather than a concrete wall, a moat and a fortress against any and all such minds and any and all of their thoughts.  Ask them about their experience and understanding.  Get curious about how exactly they'd arrived at conclusions that differ from your own.  If you can see their point, re-evaluate your own position or don't re-evaluate it, depending on how open you are to the very idea.  If you don't believe their experience and don't find their understanding convincing, politely stop the conversation and walk away.  

 

Example.  Don't ask someone who tells you that they don't want to stick a pin into an electrical outlet for fear of electrical shock if they're an electrician.  Ask them "why do you think it's dangerous" instead.  Don't ask someone who believes that drunk people should refrain from driving if they're a police officer.  Ask them "why do you think it's dangerous" instead.  Don't ask someone who asserts that it's not prudent to light a bunch of candles in your home and leave them unattended if they're a fire department chief.  

 

Don't ask someone with an opinion about this or that health issue if they're an MD.  Most people aren't electricians, police officers, fire department chiefs or MDs.  Most people who can cook aren't knowledgeable about all the technicalities of steel, aluminum or cast iron production underlying their pots and pans.  Most people who use devices with batteries have no idea about cobalt and lithium mining.  Most people who eat food they bought at a supermarket have never farmed in their life. 

 

Question their experience and understanding on the basis of "you're this or that label I have for the likes of you" and/or on the basis of "you're not an expert" and be counted as terminally stupid. 

 

Ask them about their experience and understanding instead, and have a conversation where you can agree or disagree -- or walk away without such conversation if you are smart enough to comprehend that you actually live on different planets.  Your very own planet is not the only one with intelligent life.  There's 7.5 billion others and they are not all carbon copies of yours.  Let that sink in.   

 

Do not invade their planet.  Do not nuke it.  Do not conquer it.  Do not attempt to establish your absolute dictatorship over it.  In other words, don't be terminally stupid.  Don't be irredeemably evil while thinking you're being righteous.  What's righteous on your planet is irredeemably evil in someone else's world.  Live in your own and let live -- or build a bridge of understanding and communicate.  This could work on a forum, in real life, or in a Galactic Federation of advanced civilizations.  The opposite?  Nowhere ever.       

Edited by Taomeow
Typo corrected
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Posted (edited)

This thread is off to a good start. Good work everyone, I really appreciate your input!

 

Why was I motivated to start this thread?

 

Many years ago I was much less tolerant than I am these days, and this especially applied to some of others' opinions that I held to be stupid or ill-founded. What changed? I learned from my own mistakes that everyone is processing something and in this regard I am no different even if I happened to entertain a provably superior position. The worst would be if it lead to a mind of righteous anger or stubborn pride. In contrast, respecting others' free will and journey to wisdom gives me plentiful opportunity to observe and correct my own flaws of impatience and ignorance, which I have come to see as the most healing attitude in most situations. Improving in this requires accepting that there is nothing to win through verbal exchanges, but only accessing various types of learning as possible consequences.

 

These days I think that it's not any particular opinion that matters as much as having sound reasoning skills and real calmness to support it. Then we can actually discuss and learn instead of bickering or arguing.

 

Let's put the previous observation in another way: Even if I managed to convince some people to change their opinion on a topic, this isn't necessarily wisdom giving or encouraging them to act better in all circumstances. I would call it good discussion and excellent resolution if I can demonstrate and subtly impart the skills to attaining clarity and compassion which others may apply everywhere. Whether we parted ways with conflicting opinions is of no consequence here; what matters is that there was learning and growth as human beings.

Edited by virtue
tuning language
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21 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

Sadly, there are conversations some people might want to have that can only take place within walled gardens.  Outside the garden, there are people who are sarcastic or hostile or maybe just wilfully misinformed.  Many aren´t interested or capable of participating in the kind of botanical discussion an experienced gardener might yearn for. In these circumstances, trying to have a conversation that welcomes all voices, as good as that sounds, is an exercise in futility.  Such conversations needlessly amplify negativity  -- and who needs that?  Wiser to move inside the garden walls.

 

Oh yeah !    To  one of my best friends and confidantes  ( worked with, lived with etc etc )  ; " One day I will tell you what actually went on behind the scenes during our Supreme Court  case  and how we managed it    .... but when we are out in the surf ! "   ( far from the beach and snoopers , interfering noise from the surf , face the ocean so no lip reading from shore ,  no where to conceal listening devices, etc

 

Thinking I am paranoid or overcautious  ?    ... well, I cant say can I  ,   I cant justify that without 'letting the cat out the bag'  .

 

I enjoy conversations within the walled garden  , the most recent thread in esoteric section is a good example .  The author could not have written that without a vast background and reading in the subjects presented , and one with a similar background will be able to communicate relevantly   and quickly a vast opus , in a few sentences  .... nearly like a symbolic  image can convey a  vast amount of info for those that can  'read ' it and understand  .

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Posted (edited)

In general I dislike making decisions out of fear, or when people peddle fear as a motivation.  We live in a world where while there's real horrors, most often scares are over blown.. for media, if it bleeds it leads.  But, sometimes the boogeyman is real.  There are psychopaths, sadists and regular people having a string of bad luck, stretched past their rationality.  When Covid hit, I wondered what took so long, I had the same thought on 9/11.  

 

When weighing real dangers, I try not to be overly influenced by anecdotal stories, and rely on a multitude of experts.  Trying to get opinions on both sides, giving more weight to the ones I find have the greatest expertise.  I'm willing to trust experts, but I'm not willing to be first in line or the back quadrant either.  

 

Better to see how the numbers are evolving as the data unfolds.  Science is about setting up models, how well is real life data following the models?  

Edited by thelerner

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