Category Archives: Communication

A Response to Seth Andrews’ response to an interview with Steve Shives

Please see the comment left by Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist on the video below.

Seth wrote a response to a good many people who have unsubscribed to his channel as a response to this video. I honestly believe that Seth is surprised, in the way that a Christian might be surprised to get pushback on what to them is perfectly normal. I hope to help clarify why some people might respond to the video in the way that they did.

First, I can understand why Seth would be annoyed. By unsubbing, it harms him financially. That’s a real-world consequence. The second is that he is the interviewer, not the guest. It’s not rational to unsub because of one interview. A whole series of interviews that promote non-rational ideologies might make for a different case. It is a mistake to assume that one interview represents the endorsement of a point

On the other hand, subs are legitimate feedback, as is unsubbing. This, I imagine is no different than ratings on radio. This is the world of politics. I can also see that Seth’s attitude toward commenting is rather paternal “I’m doing this for the good of the community,” which is also Steve Shive’s attitude. My thoughts are that “the community” might need my additional input, but not the removal of someone else’s. Mute them for yourself, but not for others. They’re adults, and it’s up to them to decide what to read or not, and how to handle it or not. I can see why, upon Seth’s announcement of a paternal approach to moderation why some might unsubscribe, their needs and desires are different than what Seth offers. I think that’s perfectly fair.

Added to that, based on this interview, one gets the sense that Seth has merely glossed on the subject of Feminism, and has not taken the time to dive into the very few arguments for and against. One need not be a university educated theologian to find the flaws of theism, and the disconnects with reality. One need not know all of the historical details and minutiae of thousands of writers lives to look at the basic ideas promoted by Feminism. Many people believe that Feminism is about “women’s rights” in the way that many people believe that being a Christian means “being a good neighbour.” They believe that the label represents good intentions. One can be a good person without the belief “a god exists,” and one can treat people impartially and fairly without the belief that “women are oppressed.”

Seth says “I don’t allow them to define Feminism for me.” This is exactly the same argument of “Well, MY god is…” Stop arguing about the definition of a word, throw it away, and think about the concrete claims, it’s presuppositions, and their relationship to the physical world. Further, Seth misrepresents the non-Feminist point of view in the same kind of ways that Christians misrepresent Atheist. “White men are oppressed” is as valid a representation of the non-Feminist position as is “Atheism means believing there is no god” is an accurate representation of the Atheist position. These claims start with the presupposition that “the other side” is the inverse of their own position.

Do you think the label matters? Yes, they do, and they should be discarded, until people can think past them. We don’t care about what people think, we care about what they do. We also acknowledge that ideas inform action. It is the framework of ideas that inform behaviours, and the derived actions that count, not a putative and brief descriptive overview of what the ideas represent.

It is as eye-rollingly frustrating to those of us who have thought the issues though to hear what is essentially the arguments of “cultural Feminism” as it is to you, Seth, to hear the same bland arguments made by “cultural Christianity.”

I think that we all share the same general goal of “making a better world.” I claim that if this to be achieved, that it will be done purely on a behavioural level, on a daily basis, and it starts with the concrete thinking of whether promoted beliefs match reality and are intentionally followed up with real actions, by real people who have considered the real consequences for other real people in the real world. To the degree that we endorse poorly considered messages, we are throwing sand in society’s gears and work against our own best intentions.

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On dictionaries

Let us remember that the purpose of a dictionary is not to offer one, comprehensive, infallible statement of what something is.

It is a tool designed to present the best possible, brief, verbal pointer to a concept so that people may better understand and communicate. As a device based on language, it falls prey to the very kind or errors that it attempts to prevent or remediate. Were it otherwise, all dictionaries would have precisely the very same definition, without exception.

“The dictionary definition of X is…” at most a guideline. A dictionary’s definition is a starting point for a conversation, not an end point. Its purpose is to ease communication and understanding.

The real hard work and responsibility of genuine conversation and communication, is up to us, and not to be fobbed off on the tool.

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More effective communication techniques

This is just another addition to my scratchpad of tricks that I’m learning that work well in creating good conversations with people who are used to conflict as a means of discourse.

1. Replace the word “you” with “one” or “we” or even “I.”

2. Speak to the idea, not the person. Replace “You are” with “this idea.”

3. Speak to a person’s behaviour, or speech, not to their intentions or motivations and especially not their sense of self. Do not say “You think,” use “you said.” Better yet, use “Your previous comment read…”

4. Assume that even if we are arguing diametrically opposite ideas, that we are are colleagues striving to find a workable solution to our mutual problem.

If we are to challenge ideas, and we want our ideas to be listened to, we must first disconnect them from the promoter of the idea, so that our interlocutor can see the idea at a distance, and not as a part of themselves, and then include them in our group.

5. Understand that any insult that comes your way, is an sign that your interlocutor does not have the tools to express their aims, needs or fundamental ideas. It is merely a clumsy attempt to accomplish something, to meet a need, even if they don’t know what they are trying to accomplish.

6. I find that taking someone’s idea, role-reversing it, or presenting the same argument, but in a slightly different context and asking them “Do you accept this idea?” is far more effective at getting the person to see their own argument in a new light.

7. When someone makes a good, true or even slightly useful distinction, acknowledge it, and build on that acknowledgement, rather than merely slapping down bad arguments. “OK, your point about this is true, now, how do you reconcile it with X?”

I wish, wish, wish, that I had known this as a young man. This is all new to me, and I’m still working on it.

I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with the hard-core liars. My way of dealing with it is to presume that the lie serves to protect their sense of self.

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My experience of Non-Violent Communication as an effective technique


(Short version with hand-puppets :) )


(Longer, more detailed version, audio only)

My latest influence is Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication. He places an emphasis on seeking to meet people’s needs, as a primary goal.

I’ve been playing around with the techniques, I find them valuable. These are my insights-of-the-moment.

Many people who debate subjects approach their interlocutor as a fencing opponent, with the goal of essentially beating people into submission. I find it more practical to spend 80% of my time, accepting and agreeing to less relevant items, or looking for things that I can agree with rather than confronting people. Confrontation triggers fight-or-flight. I find that state a hindrance to my goal of a sincere, honest and productive conversation.

Regardless of how a conversation started, I set the tone to prove to the person that I respect their dignity, I go first and lead by example. People respond well to being treated with dignity. When people can expect consistent good treatment from you, they tend to soften up, and relax enough to get into a flow.

I strive to create a sense of security and safety for my interlocutor. If they know that I’m not going to belittle them by smashing my ideas, thoughts or beliefs into them, they have the space to breath, think, and know that they are safe to incrementally modify their position.

When conversing with people, I spend as much time checking in with their emotional state as I do their logic. Nothing will block logical thinking more quickly and steadfastly than an unacknowledged and unaddressed fear. In order to help someone to consider and possibly accept an idea, we must first make sure that they are emotionally comfortable enough to do so.

When someone has been encouraged to slowly move forward, and they know it’s safe, they are more likely to continue moving in that direction on their own, rather than balking out of fear, shame or discomfort. If we connect our ideas with stress, the person will not want to consider the ideas, because they also invoke the original stress.

This, so far, seems to work well for me with family, business relationships, and new people.

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On conversing with the ideologically inclined

I find it very useful to frequently ask the following questions: “What are this person/position’s base values and core beliefs? What are they trying to achieve?”

We know that beliefs are empirically testable, and that values are the expression of physical and psychological needs. Once we address them directly, on a case-per-case basis we can come to solutions, rather than -isms. Ideologies are merely tools to try to understand the world, and meet our needs. You’ll never find one that is “true” or “right” or “perfect” in anything other than the most specific context.

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Rapid Fire Rebutalls for MGTOWs

1. “They need to grow a pair.”

So, speaking of men’s issues is “not having a pair?”

2. “You blame it all on women.”

But he doesn’t, does he?

3. “The Bro Bible”

Well, isn’t that disparaging?

4. “You seem to be really angry.”

Shall I accuse you of being hysterical?

5. “What exactly is it that you have against women?”

Do you assume that being pro-man means being anti-woman?

6. “Male identity crisis”

What does having legitimate societally influenced issues have to do with identity?

7. “Men are a minority in universities but end up running everything.”

Or so asserts Feminsm.

8. “It seems oxymoronic that you guys are being ‘oppressed.’ “

Discussing issues that men have is not the same as claiming oppression.

9. “It isn’t really ‘oppression’ is it?”

No, it’s men discussing men’s issues.

10. “What’s the problem with men?”

Women have issues too. Shall we ask “What’s the problem with women?”

11. “Speaker: Peter, do you have a girlfriend? Peter: No. I’m single. Speaker (sarcastically) Funny….”

Because a man who is self-aware and communicative enough to discuss men’s issues isn’t worth having as a boy-friend? The reverse of your sarcastic jab is true: men are choosing to eschew situations that can lead him to harm, including marriage and having children. It is men who are refusing women, not the other way around.

12. “After [men] always having been at the top of the tree […] isn’t it mere annoyance that your position is being challenged?”

This a merely stipulating an assertion and an accusation of petulance.

Someone had left the following comment

“He was a little too nice.”

Let us give Peter his due. He’s live, on national television, facing a rapid-fire mockery by a group of trained communicators who have a clear bias and agenda.

I offer an experiment for the reader: place yourself in his shoes, run the video and respond verbally as quickly and as eloquently as you can, within the allotted time, at the same time and rate and be as persuasive to someone who disagrees with you as you would hope that he would be.

Having all of the answers to every veiled variation of an argument, and being able to knock them out “perfectly” with no rehearsal is no mean feat or common skill level.

Was his performance an absolute viral-video quality knock down of 1 against 5? No, it was real life. I commend him for speaking out on the issue, and putting his face and name on the line.

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David Pakman blocked the following comment (Updated)

I re-visited this video a few hours after having left the following comment, and could not find it. I was using a different account than the one I normally do. Oddly enough, this comment only appeared while logged on via my regular account. This is how Ghost Blocking works on YouTube. Give the user no clue that he’s been blocked.

Two people have independently confirmed that it is missing. Can you find the comment on his video? If so, I’d love to offer a retraction of my suspicion. Unfortunately, the page is too long to screencap and FireShot is choking from lack of sufficient memory.

Update: David Pakman says that a random user must have marked the comment as spam. See screenshot below. I’ve reposted it. I’ll be curious to see if it sticks.

deanesmay we’ve blocked nothing. We actually try to approve everything marked as spam by viewers. If it is gone, viewers marked it as spam

and

ask YouTube what the algorithm is. It has nothing to do with us or our channel.

I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt and a scornful sneer to those who are so small that they cannot bear to have public civil discourse.

Second update. I’ve just reposted, switched accounts and the comment was gone. I have difficulty in believing that a human was watching and so quickly marked it as spam. I’m going to guess that it was YouTube’s system. It is possible that it may be because I used the string “register-her.com” even though it was legitimately part of the conversation.

I offer my formal apologies to David Pakman for the error, and thank him for his attention to the matter. Thank you to Dean, as well for bringing it to his attention.

Final update. (Copied from a response I had made to another.)

We have one of two options. Either it was initially marked as spam, and all later similar posts are mechanically done as such, or it was purely automated.

I don’t know how to discern which is which. Would it be good for him to tell his audience to not mark as spam? Sure, I think all video producers should encourage people to show tolerance, but none has control over another.

The fact that he’s left far harsher comments up, and by people who, unlike myself, are very well known, and in direct and often aggressive opposition to his point of view tends to make me accept that my much milder comment probably wasn’t singled out.

I don’t know if he has the power to put it back. If he doesn’t, he can’t. If he does, but won’t, he won’t. And it is, after all, merely a comment. I’m just going to let it drop.

 

I take issue with the Mark Potok’s assertion that a common belief of men’s rights advocates claim that women routinely make false-rape accusations. It is more accurate to say that our stance is that too many women do make them, in a system that too-often accepts mere claims as a fact, and that this has a destructive impact on the accused. Do most Feminists claim that men routinely rape women? No. The argument is the same.

The question that Pakman semed to be trying to express was “What is the standard by which you gauge whether content is deemed to be hate, and to what degree of this must a site endorse such statements?”

I think that’s fair question.

So his standards?

Assumption: a website is not a group. That’s fair.

1.Action must be taken beyond the publishing of a website or online forum.

What action? How is it tangibly measured? No standards offered.

Mark Potok claims that the Men’s Rights Movement is “an anti-woman movement.”

This is a flat-out misrepresentation of the Men’s Movement. The men’s movement is comprised of people who advocate for men’s fair and impartial treatment under just law and dignity in culture. If them men’s rights movement can be asserted to be “anti-woman” because of it’s criticism of common behaviour amongst women, specifically that of Feminist women then he must concede that the Feminist and Social Justice movement is “anti-man.”

At about 5:00 The register-her.com website started with the notion of holding individuals accountable, but in my opinion was a failed experiment that was perceived as a blame-and-shame website. Oddly enough, it had similarities with the SPLC. If we acknowledge that this is undesirable, then so too, must we assign the same evaluation to anyone who dox’s or uses blame-and-shame tactics. I will forgive his error of speaking of it as existing in the present tense as a mere impromptu slip of the tongue.

There is a huge amount of “internet harassment” (a.k.a free-speech rebuttals) of anyone who makes any political statement on the internet. Potok seems to believe that calling a group of people misogynist is an assertion of fact, rather than the potential denigration of entire groups of people to whom it may not apply, yet, seems to accept that this is perfectly acceptable because… “protect the women?” Why not also “protect the men?” Oh, right… because all men are oppressors thus do not deserve protection, but to be defeated.

At about 6:00 Pakman begs Potok to make a connection between the men’s rights movement and some other potentially harmful/dislikable movement. That’s not a fair question. Potok is happy to oblige him “extreme right wing conservatives.” Wrong.

At about 7:30 Pakman finally blurts it out: Many non right-wing conservatives support equal rights for men and women, but isn’t it mostly right-wing conservatives who are joining? Please?

No, David, your approach is parochial. The men’s rights movement is global, ranging from India to Italy, to the North America, to Europe, to Japan, Korea and more.

At about 7:50 Potok says “There is absolutely no doubt that there are some legitimate beefs that men have […] that said, there are a minority of legitimate complaints on these websites.” And by what standards do you evaluate the legitimacy of an issue? Do you apply this impartially to people of any sex? He ties this in to a group of extremists on reddit. OK, do we get to tie the SPLC’s political views with the  #killallmen  hashtag?

At about 9:30 Pakman asks Potok to speculate: have men always been bastards toward women, or are we only now hearing about it because of the internet? Potok responds: Hey! The women have had their say, we should be done, now. “The real violence against women began in a sense in 1989.” He points to l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. Note that he says that “the violence. Against women. Began (in a sense). in 1989.” Never mind that he misrepresents salient facts on the matter, he then goes on to associate lunatics with the men’s rights movement, when, in fact there is no tie. Shall we associate Valerie Solanis, and Lorenna Bobbit and Katherin Kewbecker with Feminism as a series of monstrosities since the 60’s toward men with Feminism?

He then claims that for the last 30 years or so, that men have had a “rage-filled reaction towards women.” Rage-filled, not resentful, not objecting, not seeking to be equally heard and have people collaborate to resolve the issues that affect men, but rage! And toward women, not Feminist ideas, not Feminist behaviour, but women.

Then, wildly he veers into “the country is becoming less white.” Sweet Mary! Beg for speculation, and boy does one get it! Oh, and of course the issue of same-sex marriage gets tossed in because…. stream of consciousness?

Of course, men are experiencing “rage,” right? In the 60’s, women were accused of “hysteria.” Will you now start characterizing Feminist conversation about women’s issues as “hysterical,” Mr. Potok?

“Paul Elam has created a movement.” How incredibly parochial. The movement existed long before Paul Elam. What he did was to bring a number of arguments to the forefront, via the internet and provided a platform for other like-minded people to discuss the ideas as well.

The men’s rights movement is, and has been a global phenomenon since its inception. The men’s rights movement is comprised of every type of person seeking impartiality and fair treatment under just law, and dignity for men in culture.

Anything else is, like most of Mr. Potok’s statements, are generalization, distortion, misrepresentation and speculation.

Screenshot of David Pakman’s response.

FireShot Screen Capture #097 - 'David Pakman Show on Twitter_ __@deanesmay we've blocked nothing_ We actually try to approve everything marked as spam by viewers_ If it is gone, viewers marked it as spam_'

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A conversation with @TheTruePooka re: Feminism, the MRA

I was discussing with @TheTruePooka on twitter. We both seem to agree that it is a terrible medium of discussion, especially for issues that require more than 140 character statements. I’ve invited him to discuss the issues via comments on this blog.

Also, I’m still new to twitter @FrancisRoyCA, so don’t quite grok how the threading system works. This is the thread where I offer my invitation. https://twitter.com/TheTruePooka/status/596351835956449281

If he accepts, none other will be permitted to comment on this one particular post. Text discussions allow us to think slowly and carefully, and to express ourselves at a more reasonable length.

I intend this as a conversation, not a debate to be won or lost, but a chance for two men, one coming from the position of advocating for men’s rights, and the other, I guess, coming from the point of view of someone who seems to revile men’s issues advocates and the issues that we discuss. If I’m wrong about this, he’ll correct me in the comments.

My original reason for responding to him on twitter:

I take issue that @TheTruePooka presents himself as a reasonable and fact-based agent, one who promotes the skeptical method, while he simultaneously presents Men’s Rights Activists, and men’s issues in a very bad light, and that uses the very Feminist biased sources to support his arguments.

He claims to be aware of MRA arguments, based on what I’ve seen on twitter, I’m not so sure, but then again, twitter is not a medium that encourages deliberate discussion. I’ve heard him on a number of videos, not all, of course. From the little that I’ve heard, I don’t get the sense that he has a cohesive understanding of either men’s issue or Feminism, but I may be wrong.

This is a chance, if he is interested, in having a real human-to-human conversation. Not a debate, not a “gotcha-fest” but an opportunity for two guys to discuss each other’s ideas. When he makes good points, I’ll acknowledge them, I would hope that he’ll return the favour.

If he chooses to accept, he does, if not, he doesn’t, I will not write up some childish article crowing how “TheTruePooka fears to debate an MRA!” None of us have time for that kind of nonsense.

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A term to kill: Literally

He is literally this, she literally said that, this thing is literally X!

Please abandon the lazy abuse of the word “literally.” I hereby grant thee, Dear Reader, permission to bitchslap the next three people who misuse the term “literally” if you point them to this post. Make it a good one.

Consider the following (authentic) quote:

“I notice that the correlation between anti-feminist women and literally pro-Fascist women (see her T-shirt) remains strong.”

… as opposed to a figuratively pro-Fascist woman?

If one asserts something, we expect a literal meaning, not a figurative one, unless a metaphor or allegory is self-evident.

People seem to use the word literally as though it is supposed to be a shockingly effective emphasis for a point. One can see the wide-eyed, slack-jawed ignoramuses’ nodding, fuelled by the childishly shocked awe of something that they don’t fully understand: reality. “This mouse is dead! It is literally dead! Like, for true! Like, for really, really real! It’s literally, literally dead!

If speaking of what is, directly and unequivocally, is emphasis due to the fact that it is not figurative, what does that make the rest of your speech? How watered down must ones mind be?

See my next article entitled “Word slut: how the promiscuous abuse of words exposes you.”

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