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You want a piece o' me?

Late yesterday, I was watching VSauce on YouTube (one of the more entertaining science-based channels), and one of the items he referenced in the video "Names" (warning: auto-play) was this graphic:

It is Paul Graham's "Hierarchy of Disagreement". Patterned after Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, it displays seven different methods of disagreement, with the least effective and most inflammatory ("Name-calling") at the bottom and the most effective and least inflammatory ("Refuting the Central Point") at the top.

This is the first time I've seen this visual representation, despite it having been around for nearly six years. As you may recall, I wrote about the topic of effective disagreement (specifically when it comes to disagreeing with me) in several posts in this journal, including this one, this one, and this one—but I think this graphic sums up what I was trying to say in those posts very neatly and succinctly (except that, in the item "Refutation", I personally think that the word "quotes" should be replaced with the word "citations").

So, if any of y'all wanna disagree with me, you'd better be using the methods in the top three items on this pyramid. Because if you aren't, I'm going to either ignore you, delete your comment, block you from posting in my journal, or some combination of all three. And for those of who you are reading this and thinking "Oh, I always argue using one of those methods," think again—because there are people who I know regularly read this journal who have quite readily used methods in the bottom four. Yes, even name-calling.*


*And for those of you who are reading this and thinking "What a hypocrite", allow me to offer the counter-argument that it isn't hypocrisy if I am genuinely trying to change an undesirable behavior in myself. Reference: paragraphs 2 through 4 of the article 'Hypocrisy' on Wikipedia.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 7th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
"Don't give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!"
Nov. 7th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
Re: "Don't give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!"
Heh. Indeed. :)
Nov. 7th, 2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
Interesting! May I weigh in with a couple of thoughts?

First one: I think there's one category missing from this pyramid that should be at the very bottom: "Error: States the opposing case with false or erroneous evidence." I've had to deal with that recently (from a non-LJ source).

Second, this is my personal opinion (maybe I'm being a little defensive) but I'd flip the position of the green and yellow categories. I know there have been times I've weighed in on discussions saying "I think (fill in abusive, angry or insulting tone here) isn't appropriate for this discussion. Could we stick to the issues at hand, please?" And I really don't think that's a bad way to discuss things. I would think it's better than. "You're wrong." with no further discussion. But maybe I'm not 100 percent clear on the category context above. I'm only human (even though I'm a Tanuki.) :)

I know I tend to weigh in more with pleas for civil discourse than taking a position for one side or other in an LJ argument, but if that's not appropriate please let me know and I'll just avoid the landmines, er, posts. ;P

Edited at 2013-11-07 07:28 pm (UTC)
Nov. 7th, 2013 07:40 pm (UTC)
Very good points, both of them. I wouldn't put "Error" at the VERY bottom, however, as it at least indicates a willingness to be civil and present evidence. In actual *effectiveness*, it may be least useful, but it isn't nearly as *imflammatory* as the lower steps on this pyramid, at least in my opinion. I don't know where I'd place it, though.

As for the green and yellow steps, you have a good point. I was reading the yellow item as being more along the lines of criticizing the tone as a *substitute* for actual argumentation rather than as a means of (hopefully) keeping the argument civil. In other words, not "I think this tone is inappropriate to this discussion, so can we please remain civil?", but something like "Joe's tone indicates that he is angry and frightened, and as he obviously cannot be rational in such a state, his argument is very likely invalid." However, taking your point into consideration, perhaps reversing the two would be more appropriate.

So, yeah, don't worry about calling for civil discourse. I'm all for that. And anyone who isn't is a dick-head.


...What? (;-])
Nov. 7th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
Paradox! PARADOX! :P
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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