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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on August 26th, 2008 (All posts by )

    In most online conversations I’ve been involved with, you eventually come to a point where the people interested in an evolving, exploratory dialogue, in learning something new about themselves and others, in thinking aloud, in working through things, find themselves worn out by a kind of rhetorical infection inflicted by bad faith participants who are just there to affirm what they already know and attack everything that doesn’t conform to that knowledge. (Or by the classic “energy creatures” whose only objective is to satisfy their narcissism.) I used to think that was a function of the size of the room, that in a bigger discursive space, richer possibilities would present themselves. Now I don’t know…

    Timothy Burke

    (via Megan McArdle)


    6 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      “in a bigger discursive space, richer possibilities would present themselves. Now I don’t know… ”

      I DO know. Bigger discussion spaces merely invite more conversational parasites. The richest possibilities exist where the quality of participants is uniformly high. This usually means the group must be selective and small. The larger the number of readers, the more worthless the comments and discussion.

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      I think that many people view politics and political debate as a form of status competition. They receive emotional gratification from confronting and dominating others in a consequence free environment.

    3. fred lapides Says:

      Depends whom one talks to and what it is about. Eleanor Roosevelt (pardon) had some nice ideas about this: very bright people talk about ideas; bright folks talk about Events; average people talk about people. But what would a Leftist know, right?

    4. david foster Says:

      Fred…seems like the ER formulation would exclude virtually all novelists and screenwriters from the category of “very bright people.”

    5. Roy Lofquist Says:

      One of the most common faults, amongst many, is that people think they are smarter than they really are. To them, people who disagree are not quite bright and if they only repeat themselves enough people will finally see the light, become enlightened and acknowledge the superior intellect. There are many publicly acknowledged brilliant people who suffer from this malady.

      The wise people whom I have known are always questioning what they know and learn.

      I can’t remember where I heard it but this pretty well sums it up:

      “If you don’t learn three new things everyday, and realize that you were wrong about three thing you thought you knew, then you’re just not paying attention”.

    6. LotharBot Says:

      On my board, the “bad faith participants” usually get an earful from me, and if they continue in bad faith, their posts get deleted. Over time, that’s led to a culture of mostly good-faith participation — partly because people know the expectations on them, and partly because the worst characters have all been chased off.