Stating the Obvious
This blog deals with a vast array of topical issues that almost always have an intellectual perspective. Most of the content touches on hot button issues, largely based on my viewpoint based on any facts I happen to have researched extensively.
The general idea is to engage as many as would have it in intellectual discourse. Unfortunately, as it is exposed to the internet and thus to a wide array of audiences, it is quite an inescapable fact that there will be a select set of people who will be completely inept at such. Apparently, empty barrels do make the most noise and it requires skill to silence them all.
Now, as it would seem, there appears to be a direct correlation between intelligence and the propensity to make oneself heard – so to speak. The trouble is that the people who are often compelled to do so are primarily incapable of doing so without making some rather common mistakes. As these mistakes tend to be repeated ad nauseum, it’s best to address all of them.
With that said, there are some plainly, blatantly obvious things that need to be highlighted in the interest of not repeating the same talking points repeatedly instead of getting to the meat of the debate. Think of this as a kind of crash course for internet trolls with something to say. Thus if you’ve thought of repeating any of these lines, pin that thought and read these notes:
That’s a Generalization/Stereotype! Not all [insert subject matter here] exhibits [insert behaviour or characteristic here]
Generalizations describe a pattern that is true for most elements of the target demographic. The term “generalization” therefore automatically assumes a certain degree of error. It means that while the described pattern is true for most, the description is thus obviously not true for some. That is why the term is thus called a “generalization” as opposed to a “specification“.
I use generalizations quite a bit on this blog. I can do this because human behaviour (like every other animal behaviour) is predictably pattern driven. The unique specificity of those behaviours (which only exists at the individual level) are completely irrelevant on a more macroscopic scale. This only bothers people who are insecure about their own individuality.
If I meant to describe individual personalities, I would have. If I meant to address specific people, I would have. However, if a collective of individuals demonstrate a rote pattern of behaviour, the collective idiosyncrasies of these specific individuals are rendered effectively meaningless in the big picture. It’s like giving credence to a single ant in a threatening swarm.
Furthermore, as there are six billion people on the planet, patterns in behaviour are a far more efficient way of describing cultural propensities. If these consistencies didn’t exist, then we would never have seen these patterns in the first place. Therefore telling me to get to know individuals is stupid – especially when there are billions of idiots doing exactly the same thing.
What’s interesting is that the people who these descriptions do not specifically address are conspicuously silent. Why is it that if a generalization is made about one demographic, those who do not belong to that demographic are unresponsive? That is the hypocritical nature of such responses and is consequently why I never usually begin to take such remarks seriously.
Humans have a remarkably over valued sense of individuality. That is why they find these descriptions offensive – it reduces them to herds of mindless automatons. Well, that’s exactly why these generalizations are used. There is enough herd logic going on to generalize within certain degrees of accuracy – so long as the probability affects the majority of the population.
Genetically speaking, people aren’t very different from each other. So unless you’ve somehow managed to distinguish yourself from the vast lot of ubiquitous similitude that infects the mass mediocrity of humanity’s gene pool, your individuality is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. You are little more than a tiny cog in a cosmic scheme of cause and effect. Get over it.
But that doesn’t happen in [Kathmandu\Szechuan Province\Kandahar\[insert exotic location here]! Therefore, it’s not true!
Unless otherwise stated, where the content of this blog addresses people, it is only relevant to developed and quasi-developed societies in western and northern European civilizations. While I am painfully aware of this, the layman in many readers may not, and think that they may have a point to raise. If this is what’s on your mind, please, be quiet. I already know this.
There’s very little point to mentioning people in China, Afghanistan and other countries where the obvious subject demographic of said post is either clearly non existent or constitutes what is a negligible percentage of the population. Ergo your point, whether you are prepared to recognize it as such or not, is irrelevant. I won’t allow you to straw man your way out of this.
Your point would also be rendered irrelevant if the description obviously applies to cultures manifested by the socio-economic conditions that only exist in certain areas of the world. Criticizing the description by applying it somewhere that it does not is really the same thing as grasping at straws to make an otherwise inconsequential point appear to be vaguely relevant.
Speaking of straw;
You know that technique where people take something you said and simulate it to something that is clearly unrelated in order to make a rebuttal? That’s a form of intellectual dishonesty called a “Straw Man Argument“. While some were obviously unintentional, others were quite blatant. I can usually tell who the main offenders are. They are obviously verbally challenged.
…if you know what I mean.
But I know [insert personally known individual here] that doesn’t exhibit [insert quoted generalized characteristics here]
Your personal experience does not constitute a valid rebuttal against a general case that affects a much vaster population. If I said that “women are emotional creatures“, mentioning your mom, your sister, your boss (or yourself) is like pointing out a single black sheep in a herd of white ones. What you don’t realize is that your black sheep is rather devoid of friends.
While it’s very tempting to use your personal experience as a reference point, remember this; you’re not the only person on this planet. There are billions of people in the world who would love to use their personal experiences as a reference point. If you take the time to back away from the picture for a bit, you’ll realize patterns emerging from these personal experiences.
As mentioned before, generalizations automatically assume a certain degree of error for all cases. Therefore if your mom, sister, boss (or yourself) does not apply to the generalization, then congratulations – you freak of nature. Yours is a lone voice in the vast quietness of the others to whom it applies. Your personal experience is only an intense one, not a valid one.
People frequently make this kind of faulty rebuttal just to validate themselves (or someone they know). However, the validation is pointless, because the scales being compared are incompatible. You can’t compare 1.3 billion Chinese with Lucy Liu. If I use a generalization, I’m not trying to describe just one person. Thus your rebuttal fails for exactly that reason alone.
In your experience, of course not (despite the fact that this is most likely a lie). Whenever people use this kind of argument, they’re making two mistakes at the same time. The first is to assume quite fallaciously that their personal experience automatically obtains for everyone else’s. The second is that they assume that they can speak for everyone else like themselves.
This kind of presupposition is a fallacy called “Cognitive Distortion”. It’s largely based on the assumption that if those of us who are demographically alike all think exactly alike. We are deliberately distorting the cognitive process of everyone else we assume to be like us in an attempt at shoring up tepid support for what is obviously a weak and hole ridden argument.
If you find that you need to assume that all white people are as racist as you are, or that all women want to be exactly equal to men like you do, or that all black people genuinely want to not like rap music and fried chicken like you don’t, or any other presupposition that puts you in the speaker’s chair for a large cross section of the population, then you are at fault for this.
Nobody is dumb enough to think that their personal experience obtains for everyone else. If you’re really that intellectually challenged, then don’t feel bad when your comment doesn’t show up. I have a particularly low tolerance level for the obnoxious kind of stupidity that tends to rear its ugly head from time to time using this technique. It doesn’t advance the debate.
You’re a [racist / misogynist / atheist / creationist / sexist / chauvenist / democrat / republican / insert favourite description here]
If you find yourself thinking any of the above or similar things, chances are you have either completely misread, misunderstood or misinterpreted the content of any of the material you’re reading. I rarely take sides on any issue I discuss here. Therefore, to avoid looking stupid, ask questions. Asking a simple question can save you a great deal of embarrassment in the future.
Ask me what I meant when I said this or that. Invite me to clarify something to you instead of making off on a long rant on something completely irrelevant or unrelated. If your very first response is more than 3 sentences long and it is in deep and passionate opposition to what I’ve written here, then chances are you’re making an assumption that is probably very flawed.
The only exception are a few long time regulars to this blog who “get it” and are not likely to make those mistakes. However, if you’re responding for the first time and you think you’ve been offended, then please, spare yourself the embarrassment – ask for clarification. If not, then I will make an example of you and believe me, I’ve become exceedingly efficient at it.
So why are you here? If this blog really sucked, why were you compelled to respond? If this space on the internet was so bad, why would you come back and torture yourself like that? You’re obviously too stupid to realize that you’re so hooked that you can’t keep yourself away. Your declaration thus says something fairly obvious about your pathetic, needless existence:
You’re a troll.
You’re a prime example of an utter waste of DNA. You are positive affirmation that there are definitely too many people in the world with an internet connection. The sole purpose of your existence is to show up your incompetence by discouraging others who are obviously better than you. Get off my internet and get a life (preferably one with a money back guarantee).
Some unusually smart ass with an internet connection. If you need to ask this question at all, then there’s only one thing in that sentence that differentiates me from you (and 80% of this planet’s population coincidentally). Can you figure out what that is? I tell you what, I’ll give you three tries. Get it right, and I’ll send you a cookie. It should still be mostly fresh once it arrives.
People have a remarkable talent for using inconsequential demographic data to certify the validity of an argument. If that were a logically consistent propensity, then I guess we could reject Einstein’s theory of relativity because he has German blood. Nonsense right? Exactly. Yet many World War II veterans would – although it was Einstein’s ideas that ended the war.
While I do concur that environments shape minds, not all minds are thereby environmentally inextricable. Since this phenomenon is extremely rare, it becomes incredibly difficult to then facilitate discourse with someone who thinks this is has any relevance in a debate. That’s why I make a very positive effort to keep my and your personal attributes out of all of our debates.
They contribute nothing.
When you come to this blog, if you have any interest in engaging in debate, leave the speaker out of it. State the facts, use references where applicable and bring your rational A-Game; provided that you even have one. Failure to do so will only incur a flame war, and trust me, you will lose. However I’m not interested in starting flame wars. They don’t advance debate.
If you were black and a white man said to you that black people have serious self esteem issues, do you think you’d treat this with the same level of aloofness that a white person would? If I was American and I said that Americans are greedy, would you feel offended if you were Canadian?
Did you hear what judge Sotomayor said about her being a wise latina judge as compared to white men? How do you think white people felt about that remark? Do you think topics are touchy because of what was said, how it was said or when it was said? In the context of touchy topics, none of that is relevant in a hot debate.
People colour code words based on who said it. Nothing more.
I’ve learned (the hard way) of a critical flaw in the psychology of the common man (i.e. you and your sub 110 IQ kin) The message is never as important as the person that said it. You people (yes, you people) are not sophisticated enough to appreciate a message in and of itself. You are largely incapable of differentiating between when the message is biased or unbiased.
If I were to take on any kind of demographic affiliation and name, people would foolishly (and predictably) preempt anything I say because of where I’m from, my racial affiliation, my gender, my educational background and anything else about me they can use as ammo, except what I said. Most people are naturally simple-minded like that. They can’t help themselves.
If you actually believe that a person and their opinions are one in the same, then you’ve just proven my point. A person’s genetic characteristics or their political or social affiliation may have no bearing whatsoever on their opinions. They may be co-relational, but not necessarily co-dependent. There is a certain skill in determining the difference and that skill is quite rare.
Since this is a concept that is apparently too complex to teach to most people (too many thick skulls on this planet, and I have a girlfriend to satisfy, so…) I’d rather take out the one thing that would automatically produce these silly opinions and thus keep the conversation on track. The only reason why you care about what I say, is simply because you don’t know me.
If you still don’t understand, then don’t worry about it. Either way, it won’t make a difference in the price of rice in Japan. Oops! I just gave away a hint about my identity! Dang!
Please don’t comment here with that kind of attitude – unless you’re willing to provide proof. I have found that people seem to care more about their opinions than the facts. If you’re going to write me a long winded comment about why I’m wrong, you’d best be damn sure to provide proof. Remember, I’m particularly skilled in viciously defending the right to common sense.
If however your sole purpose is to come on here to sound off for cathartic purposes, then there are professional shrinks available with whom you can do that. As I am not a professional shrink, none of that nonsense is welcome here. I tend to know better than to argue with a pathological idiot. Although, to be honest, I have been quite wrong about that in the past.
If that is true, then you do not need comment. Doing so only exposes your ineptitude as it will be deleted. That’s why such comments will never appear anywhere on here. If I wanted to entertain a conversation with children, I would have made that explicitly clear in the post.
In fact, any kind of comment that does not necessarily forward the discussion or contribute some meaningful opinion will be deleted. If I feel our discussion has lost its usefulness, then I will discontinue it. If afterward you continue to spam the site even after it’s obvious I have discontinued the discussion, you will be banned. There shall be no exceptions whatsoever.
What was that? Did you say something naughty? Chances are I won’t get the chance to read it. WordPress’ Akismet spam blocking engine has been upgraded with a nifty little plugin that parses text for improper language. It’s not just dirty words that’re caught. Any other generally unacceptable language is killed as well – automatically. So the effect will be effectively lost.
Rest assured that if you say something naughty, it’ll be deleted long before I get the chance to read it. So if you’ve written yourself a nice long response to anything I’ve written here and thought to throw in a nice word or two towards the end, your valiant efforts will all be in vain.
Therefore if you have a potty mouth, an attitude problem, a 4×2 plank up yours, sand in your vagina or all of the above, don’t waste your time commenting on here. Even if the software isn’t completely idiot proof, I certainly am not. I have an extremely low tolerance level for stupidity and I deliberate moderate for any kind of commentary that may incite flame wars.
Let this be a warning to trolls: I enjoy stealing your thunder.
I’m interested in debate – intellectual discourse on many hot button issues. I’m more interested in the really meaningful discussions that teach me something new. I don’t think I’m always right. My opinion may be wrong and I will gladly concede defeat if your point can be adequately proven to my satisfaction. Don’t be dismayed. It has happened before.
However, don’t be fooled. Bring your A-game to the debate, because I don’t let go of my position easily, even if I think you have a point. So long as you keep the discussion civil and avoid ad hominem remarks, I can guarantee you that we will have a fun and enjoyable discussion. This I can promise you with a great deal of certitude. 😉
Don’t be afraid to point out any grammar or spelling errors. While I always aim for perfection, even with the best software tools at one’s disposal, a little too much exuberance on my part sometimes causes me to miss one or two baddies in the body of work. So call ’em as you see ’em. In fact, I would greatly appreciate all such comments be e-mailed to me at this address:
When you’re replying to a comment, you can embrace your words with the following tags to produce the following effect:
1. <strong> </strong> tags make your text appear bold
2. <em> </em> tags to make it italicised
3. Embrace web addresses in <a href=”http://www.website.com”>URL Tags</a> so that it appears like this: Visit Google to do web search. If you post the raw URL in your comments, you run the risk of having it spammed.
4. Use <blockquote> </blockquote> tags around quotes to give a blocked quote effect like this:
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
When responding to comments, the block quotes are incredibly useful. You could use a combination of the above tags and quote someone’s comments in your response by typing exactly as follows:
<blockquote><strong>Who said it:</strong> “<em>What they said.</em>”</blockquote>
to give this effect:
Who said it: “What they said.“
When debates get THICK with LONG responses, it would make it a lot easier to read the large blocks of text if they were HTML coded like that in the comments box.
FireFox for the win.
I get a lot of comments asking for certain topics to be covered. If you’d like to suggest a topic for discussion, you can also use the e-mail provided earlier. But also remember that I usually have a schedule of topics that I always have in development. I make an effort to read all my e-mails. I’ll get them where ever I am even if I’m not near a computer. You can contact me at:
I’ll be waiting to hear from you.