Of Skeptics and Bannings

#1
This issue of how to deal with skeptical nincompoopery is something that has come up again and again over the years. On one hand, it seems like a waste of time to re-hash the same stuck-on-stupid arguments. On the other hand, in most cases, these folks are doing little more than advancing the status quo position we regularly run across during the Skeptiko show.

We I re-launched the forum I set-up the Mod+ system. At times it has worked, but at other times it seems to have been little more than another hurdle for our skeptical friends to scale in an attempt to win us over to their position.

So, I'd thought I throw this open for discussion... again. Let me hear your thoughts.
 
#2
I find the terms "nincompoopery" and "stuck on stupid" vaguely offensive when applied exclusively to skeptics.

Is the point here to reform the SOScompoops? If so, it should be understood that the worst way to attempt to change someone's mind is to deliberately offend them and then expect them to immediately evaluate a potentially persuasive argument fairly.

If the point is rather to flush out or scare off the materialism-agnostics, some sort of Ideological Purity Test might be more effective.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#3
Alex,

If that function could exist or be made to work, maybe there could be a way where if members don't respect the forum rules regarding MOD+ and the non-BvS sub-forums, after receiving sufficient warnings, they would only be allowed to post in the BvS forum?

If the self-styled "skeptics" argue that the definition of what constitutes "skeptical silliness" are vague - or just what you don't want in those sub-forums and threads -, maybe that could be spelled out more.
 
#4
Alex,

If that function could exist or be made to work, maybe there could be a way where if members don't respect the forum rules regarding MOD+ and the non-BvS sub-forums, after receiving sufficient warnings, they would only be allowed to post in the BvS forum?
I agree. The skeptics have been jumping into the mod+ threads as an organized group to derail them. So the only alternative is to either ban them from the forum altogether, which Alex doesn't want to do, or limit their posts to BvsS.
 
#6

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#7
Is the point here to reform the SOScompoops? If so, it should be understood that the worst way to attempt to change someone's mind is to deliberately offend them and then expect them to immediately evaluate a potentially persuasive argument fairly.
No one wants to reform or convince anyone. Alex has explicitly stated that the non-BvS forums are for intelligent discussion about spirituality and science where members can exchange and not be flooded by the same old from-the-ground-up materialist-vs.non-materialist debates. He could have outlawed such debates on the new forum altogether - instead he decided to leave a place open for it: the BvS forum. I don't see the problem the "skeptics" are having.
 
#8
No one wants to reform or convince anyone. Alex has explicitly stated that the non-BvS forums are for intelligent discussion about spirituality and science where members can exchange and not be flooded by the same old from-the-ground-up materialism debates. He could have outlawed such debates on the new forum altogether - instead he decided to leave a place open for it: the BvS forum. I don't see the problem the "skeptics" are having.
I agree. They can have the kind of conversations they want. They have their own special forum for goodness sakes! So why do they insist on derailing everyone else's conversations? I'm not attacking threads in the BvsS side of things to ruin their fun, so why are they doing this to everyone else?

Alex is pretty nice to the skeptics. I don't recall seeing a special proponents forum over at JREF for different kinds of conversations.
 
#9
IMO, we need rules with teeth. At present, a number of sceptics are like terrible two-year-olds doing everything they can to disrupt and derail, and Alex, God bless him, wants everyone to play "nice and bonny" as my old dad used to say.

Ain't gonna happen. Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile, because they aren't at all interested in forming a community. They're interested in causing maximum mayhem. What Alex wants may actually be impossible--a pipe dream--though one can admire his humanity and wish, with him, that it could be so.

I have an idea for introducing rules with teeth that are nonetheless fair and reasonable, but make no mistake, would end up with repeat offenders being permanently banned. It may not be the best possible solution, but it's the best I've been able to think of. I don't want to discuss it with disruptors as it will just be regarded as another opportunity to spit their dummies out.

It's an idea I am willing to take a due part in developing/implementing and hope others would also. I think someone, or a group or committee needs to take ownership of the problem and help make this a forum with a distinct purpose, i.e. a gathering of intelligent people of good will who have the intention of sharing and learning. If people can't do that, be they sceptic or proponent, then there has to be some way to get rid of them. Every forum I've ever belonged to has had this prerogative and I've seen it exercised quite often. It's useless giving people an indefinite number of short-term suspensions, and pisses off the very people who should be the backbone of the forum.

If you go to a forum for fans of cycling and tell them they're a bunch of pansies who should be into cars, you'll get short shrift. If to a forum for philately, they won't want to hear incessantly about the superiority of numismatics. If to a forum about psi phenomena, they won't want their conversations interrupted by ill-mannered and unconstructive twerps who have nothing better to do than try to stop them doing so: it's essentially very simple.

Alex, what I'd like to do if you're open to it is to get people with an interest in sharing and developing my idea (or coming up with a better one between us) to register that interest on this thread, then start a background conversation with them. Maybe some or all of those people could help out in moderation duties: I think those could be light with the right implementation, and that would help lift a burden off your shoulders because you could delegate responsibility to them for moderation affairs whilst of course retaining the final say. Naturally, the group would submit any finalised proposal to you for approval. You could take part in the background conversation yourself if you wished.

That's my proposal, for whatever it's worth. Over to you and anyone who might register an interest.

If you want to register your interest, please go to this post:

Of Skeptics and Bannings
 
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Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#10
Great post, great ideas, Michael.

Especially like this part:
i.e. a gathering of intelligent people of good will who have the intention of sharing and learning. If people can't do that, be they sceptic or proponent, then there has to be some way to get rid of them. Every forum I've ever belonged to has had this prerogative and I've seen it exercised quite often. It's useless giving people an indefinite number of short-term suspensions, and pisses off the very people who should be the backbone of the forum.
I'd add that some people here have already expressed thoughts about leaving the forum because of the derailments, and some long-time, very valuable old Skeptiko forum members are reluctant to join until they're reassured they won't be running into the same problems.
 
M

Michael

#12
Great post, great ideas, Michael.

Especially like this part:


I'd add that some people here have already expressed thoughts about leaving the forum because of the derailments, and some long-time, very valuable old Skeptiko forum members are reluctant to join until they're reassured they won't be running into the same problems.
A very important point, I think at moment people are waiting to see if the endless BvS debates aren't slowly seeping back into all the forums, or if there is support for real change in the level of discussion and debate. Probably a group focused on generating ideas, as Michael suggested, is the best way to proceed.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#13
This is really simple, folks. All you have to do is declare your new thread Mod+ and then specify the assumptions that must be made while posting in the thread. If you don't want any argument at all, then simply specify that no negative arguments are permitted. Almost everyone is quite good at following the per-thread rules. What you should not do is start a thread that sounds like it's completely open-minded and then get annoyed when someone disagrees with your sooper sekrit assumptions.

There is no way that we can read your mind, so just be explicit in the opening post. And if people want a forum equivalent to the Haven at the old place, then make one. There were hardly any violations of haven-ism in that forum.

~~ Paul
 
#14
Who are "they", and how do you identify "them"?
Valid question, I don't think there is actually an "us" and a "them".

However, people do self-select in choosing whether or not to abide by the rules, which gives a form of voluntary categorisation. One of the issues there is whether the rules are both clear and consistently applied.
 
#15
I also very much dislike the Stuck on Stupid arguments. It is very frustrating to attempt an intelligent discussion on a topic and then end up with SOS instead. I have no interest in persuading anyone to drop their beliefs, to break-up this community, or to wind people up. My interest is in intelligent discussion in the hopes I will learn new things (I have) and will have my mind changed (it has).

I think the B vs. S sub forum is a good idea. I have honoured the mod+ label and stayed out of those threads, other than the AWARE thread which got turned into a mod+ thread. It was confusing to me what was supposed to happen under those circumstances, given that people still seemed to want to discuss issues which arose prior to the placement of the mod+ label. It was also confusing to me why Arouet was banned for participating in a discussion which you (Alex) seemed to be encouraging. And I don't know what happened to simply asking people to no longer participate in a specific thread, when it was felt they were hindering that specific discussion.

I am confused about what distinguishes one mod+ thread from another and what distinguishes the rest of the forum from B vs. S. The rules and explanations given do not make sense to me. I have no interest in arguing from the assumption that "mind=brain", yet I recognize that I am one of "Them" you are trying to keep out. I sincerely thought I was following the intent, yet I failed so miserably I was suspended. But I learned a lot from that incident. Rather than worrying about whether or not it is safe for me to post in a mod+ thread or in the other forums, it makes sense for me to regard B vs. S as my Haven instead.

So while there are growing pains, I think your idea is good and that it can work. I still think the name is inappropriate - something like "Critical Discussion" would be better (as in "characterized by careful, exact evaluation and judgment: a critical reading"), as I think we can do without encouraging "Us vs. Them" distinctions. But a stronger emphasis on moving discussions which become critical into this forum, and kicking people out of specific threads if they are obstructive, will move this along I think. We are all learning here - don't give up on us. :)

Linda
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#16
This is really simple, folks. All you have to do is declare your new thread Mod+ and then specify the assumptions that must be made while posting in the thread. If you don't want any argument at all, then simply specify that no negative arguments are permitted. Almost everyone is quite good at following the per-thread rules. What you should not do is start a thread that sounds like it's completely open-minded and then get annoyed when someone disagrees with your sooper sekrit assumptions.

There is no way that we can read your mind, so just be explicit in the opening post. And if people want a forum equivalent to the Haven at the old place, then make one. There were hardly any violations of haven-ism in that forum.

~~ Paul
Paul, unless I'm misreading you, it's as if you hadn't read the rules when it comes to MOD+. It's stated explicitly enough in the rules section that MOD+ isn't just about any ol' thing:

WHAT IS

Now that we've been at the Skeptiko forum thing for a while we've noticed there are some discussion that need special moderation. People who accept that scientific materialism isn't a workable idea generally will be a good fit for these threads as the discussions generally explore what lies beyond the assumption that "consciousness is an illusion created by biological robots" (for more on this see: http://www.skeptiko.com/229-5-things-about-skeptiko/).

If you're not a good fit for these threads we may ask you to move over to The Believer Versus Skeptic Debates forum where we hash out debates about science and spirituality from a prove-it-all-from-the-ground-up perspective. If you're generally skeptical of the material presented in the Skeptiko podcast you're probably a good fit for this forum.
Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
.
At the very least, I suggest a way to be found where these rules get enforced, because either some people are not reading the rules, or they're viewing it as a vague suggestion they're free to ignore, or they're deliberately breaking them.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#17
More controversially, in the end I agree with Michael Larkin's statement that you can't have a real community if there isn't a basic rallying point. (And please don't tell me it's "an interest in psi". That's too vague.)

@Alex: unless you want to do away with MOD+ and come up with an entirely new system, I think at the very least all non-BvS subforums should be MOD+ automatically, because otherwise that creates a (possibly legitimate) confusion for the "skeptics" between what's a MOD+ C&S thread is, for example, and what a regular C&S thread is (which quickly becomes identical to a BvS thread). And then find a way of putting teeth in the enforcing, as Michael L. says.
 
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Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#18
Paul, unless I'm misreading you, it's as if you hadn't read the rules when it comes to MOD+. It's stated explicitly enough in the rules section that MOD+ isn't just about any ol' thing:
Lots of weasel words in there. It certainly does not state that "scientific materialists" aren't allowed at all. And if Mod+ is supposed to mean exactly that, then change it to "SM-" or something. After all, can't I have a Mod+ thread if I want to enforce certain assumptions? Surely no one is suggesting that only non-scientific materialists need their threads moderated.

Also, what's up with segregating the forums based on people's armchair analysis of other people's metaphysical beliefs? It should be based on which assumptions I have to make in the forum/threads, not what other people assume I believe.

Just specify what you want in the opening post. What's the problem? Or, if what you really want is a haven, then select one of the forums and make it the haven.

~~ Paul
 
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Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#19
Lots of weasel words in there. It certainly does not state that "scientific materialists" aren't allowed at all.
I think the spirit is clear, but I agree it should be worded more explicitly and clearly.


Or, if what you really want is a haven, then select one of the forums and make it the haven.
I can tell you in advance Alex won't like this (and I don't either). The whole point of the new forum is a new departure (as one can hear on the related Skeptiko podcast). I think Alex's thought is: the BvS sub-forum is sort of like the old Skeptiko, everything else is the new direction.
 
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#20
This is really simple, folks. All you have to do is declare your new thread Mod+ and then specify the assumptions that must be made while posting in the thread. If you don't want any argument at all, then simply specify that no negative arguments are permitted. Almost everyone is quite good at following the per-thread rules. What you should not do is start a thread that sounds like it's completely open-minded and then get annoyed when someone disagrees with your sooper sekrit assumptions.

There is no way that we can read your mind, so just be explicit in the opening post. And if people want a forum equivalent to the Haven at the old place, then make one. There were hardly any violations of haven-ism in that forum.

~~ Paul
While this sounds reasonable, I suspect that it won't work in practice. This still depends upon whether you interpret the OP in the same way that one of the self-appointed thread cops does. And I don't see that happening. Alex will still receive complaints.

Linda
 
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