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Raising the bar on the quality of discourse...


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  • Raising the bar on the quality of discourse...

    In an effort to raise the bar on the quality of discourse in this forum I present the following 10 Signs of Intellectual Honesty - by Mike Gene.

    1. Do not overstate the power of your argument. One’s sense of conviction should be in proportion to the level of clear evidence assessable by most. If someone portrays their opponents as being either stupid or dishonest for disagreeing, intellectual dishonesty is probably in play. Intellectual honesty is most often associated with humility, not arrogance.

    2. Show a willingness to publicly acknowledge that reasonable alternative viewpoints exist. The alternative views do not have to be treated as equally valid or powerful, but rarely is it the case that one and only one viewpoint has a complete monopoly on reason and evidence.

    3. Be willing to publicly acknowledge and question one’s own assumptions and biases. All of us rely on assumptions when applying our world view to make sense of the data about the world. And all of us bring various biases to the table.

    4. Be willing to publicly acknowledge where your argument is weak. Almost all arguments have weak spots, but those who are trying to sell an ideology will have great difficulty with this point and would rather obscure or downplay any weak points.

    5. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when you are wrong. Those selling an ideology likewise have great difficulty admitting to being wrong, as this undercuts the rhetoric and image that is being sold. You get small points for admitting to being wrong on trivial matters and big points for admitting to being wrong on substantive points. You lose big points for failing to admit being wrong on something trivial.

    6. Demonstrate consistency. A clear sign of intellectual dishonesty is when someone extensively relies on double standards. Typically, an excessively high standard is applied to the perceived opponent(s), while a very low standard is applied to the ideologues’ allies.

    7. Address the argument instead of attacking the person making the argument. Ad hominem arguments are a clear sign of intellectual dishonesty. However, often times, the dishonesty is more subtle. For example, someone might make a token effort at debunking an argument and then turn significant attention to the person making the argument, relying on stereotypes, guilt-by-association, and innocent-sounding gotcha questions.

    8. When addressing an argument, do not misrepresent it. A common tactic of the intellectually dishonest is to portray their opponent’s argument in straw man terms. In politics, this is called spin. Typically, such tactics eschew quoting the person in context, but instead rely heavily on out-of-context quotes, paraphrasing and impression. When addressing an argument, one should shows signs of having made a serious effort to first understand the argument and then accurately represent it in its strongest form.

    9. Show a commitment to critical thinking. ‘Nuff said.

    10. Be willing to publicly acknowledge when a point or criticism is good. If someone is unable or unwilling to admit when their opponent raises a good point or makes a good criticism, it demonstrates an unwillingness to participate in the give-and-take that characterizes an honest exchange.

    While no one is perfect, and even those who strive for intellectual honesty can have a bad day, simply be on the look out for how many and how often these criteria apply to someone. In the arena of public discourse, it is not intelligence or knowledge that matters most – it is whether you can trust the intelligence or knowledge of another. After all, intelligence and knowledge can sometimes be the best tools of an intellectually dishonest approach.

    Last edited by SkepticAlways; 09-13-2009, 03:47 PM.
    ...hunter of the shadows is rising...

  • #2
    Hmm hmmm...... covers it all really.
    Young people will change the old wicked ways of the past.sigpic


    • #3
      I'll agree to the terms and sign my name to the petition...


      • #4
        Add one:

        Stop lying! And if you lie, expect someone to call you a liar.

        Blatant lies require blatant and immediate retorts. Discourse should be honest.

        Other that that addition, I like your list.
        "Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince" - Unknown Author

        "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." - Thomas Jefferson

        “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” - John Adams


        • #5
          A remarkably optimistic post from a skeptic -- or anyone with a grip on current-day manners.
          Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
          Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein


          • #6
            I would say that many, if not most, of the people on this forum are not interested in debate and do not seem to care whether they gain or lose credibility by taking well-reasoned, supported positions. They just want to express their fervently-held opinions and personally attack those who disagree with them.
            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein


            • #7
              If I wanted intelligent discourse I'd be on a Mensa Forum.

              I come here because people have passion for their opinions, however misguided they might be...

              “All men dream...... But not equally..
              Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
              but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
              for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

              TE Lawrence


              • #8
                Originally posted by M-11
                If I wanted intelligent discourse I'd be on a Mensa Forum. I come here because people have passion for their opinions, however misguided they might be...M-11
                I know what you're saying, and I'm not looking for a Mensa meeting. There is some entertainment value in misguided passion...and I enjoy it to some extent. What I enjoy more is quality argument. I enjoy watching a legitimate step-by-step logic assault leading to checkmate...less so the act of smashing your fist down and sweeping your arm across the board in a fit of misguided passion.
                ...hunter of the shadows is rising...


                • #9
                  If people in this country knew what civil, honest, and intelligent discourse was, we wouldn't have such a divided country right now. We would be working together to solve problems instead of insisting that there is only one solution.

                  Each side just wants to blame the other without thought for raising valid points to educate and inform. Then people parade their thoughts around as if theirs is the only valid one, instead of demonstrating a complete understanding of all sides of the issue. To make matters worse, some feel the need to flame others.

                  I'm not a perfect person, and I'm a little hot-headed and heavy-handed, but I do it all with understanding that I am not any better than anyone else, and my opinion is not greater than those around me that are different.

                  We do not have intelligent debate; we have people taking n*t shots and sucker punches on this forum. You can't really expect much more--this is not a formal venue for discourse.

                  Maybe we should have a no-flaming section and a flaming section (for fun).


                  • #10
                    I only asked if context matters. Yes, or no? I didn't accuse you of distorting anything.

                    As far as Obama being a socialist, I'm not concinved. So, convince me. Define your terms and then lay it out for me.
                    ...hunter of the shadows is rising...


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