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accusatory communication; guilty until proven innocent

 
steward
Posts: 28062
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In the last week, I have seen far too much of what I call "accusatory communication". This can also be referred to as "guilty until proven innocent". I'm going to start deleting this.

I like the idea that communication on permies.com is based on everybody sharing their experiences. I also think that it is good to answer questions to try to better understand the things we try to do. But what has been coming up is to suggest that somebody on permies has done something icky, leaving that person in the awkward position of the feeling of being called out. They feel like they need to prove their innocence. I don't like the idea that good, decent people feel they have to defend their choices - or even mount a defense against something that they never did.

I was recently accused of something, but within the proof to prove my innocence was private information that I didn't feel I should share. But without it, it would seem that my "attacker" would be correct.

A lot of times the "attacker" will present information as "the truth" when in reality, it is their position. Or the reality is that the "attacker" has no knowledge of other ways, so they express their ignorance in the form of "there is only one way!"

So I am creating this thread. I would like to see some discussion about accusatory communication. And when accusatory communication happens in the future, we can point to this thread.
 
Posts: 1947
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I guess accusations fall under the "be nice" category.

You have plenty of useful things to do, Paul. If someone is imagining you are a bad guy they are "being angry at bad guys" instead of working on good ideas. Too bad for them. You don't have to waste time defending yourself and your business is your business.
 
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Some people just will never be happy unless they are tearing someone else down. Frankly, I don't hang out on forums where I disagree with what everyone says, that's just not fun to me...but there are plenty out there who are looking for the fight. I like debate where we fundamentally are all trying to get to a similar goal but might have different paths to get there.

At the end of the day they will always be there, moderators or not.


 
pollinator
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I always say "whatever it was, I did it. I had a great time, and I can't wait to do it again - NEXT".
 
Posts: 319
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I too, weary of the constant onslaught of the fringe cultist on this site who are unable or unwilling to agree to disagree. When on a thread of interest to me, I do try to curb those responses by reminding people to stay on topic...as most of these attackers want to blot out the original posters question, observation, statement or discussion by changing the actual topic posed. Many justify such actions by, as you noted, saying the poster is "wrong to think, feel, or believe such" or that by doing so the poster is "Evil, Immoral, Lacks Truth, Weak, Uneducated, etc." in a classical manipulative behavior manner. I do think giving some benefit of the doubt is needed; as there are many here who sorely suffer from foot in mouth disease! Others, are consistently devisive and agenda driven. These are the ones of concern. However, curtailing their ability to post could be merely a mirror image of what they themselves are doing. Finding balance is never an easy course. I have always found sites that allow for thumbs down (or negative flags) to have less of these behavior issues...we in the community flag them off.
 
Matu Collins
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Cortland Satsuma wrote:I too, weary of the constant onslaught of the fringe cultist on this site who are unable or unwilling to agree to disagree.



It's wearying but this site seems to me to have less of that than the general internet.

 
pollinator
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These accusations come up commonly when money is involved. The OP is trying various crops or value added strategies, or otherwise attempting to make a living through what they grow or make or through some service offered.

I've seen many threads that start out with participants who actually have shovels in the dirt, making at least a part time living from their efforts. They inevitably bring up the price of seed or fuel or some other input or they discuss how much they charge for their goods or services. This brings out lurkers who want to discuss monetary policy or the idea that these people are wrong to charge the prices presented. I've chimed in on a few threads where it seemed that a producer was not charging enough, considering that their stuff is fresh and organic. That person has never been the one to go on the attack. It's generally those who have nothing of their own to sell.

Once the discussion has devolved into a fair share, gift economy, let's do away with money discussion, it is common for many of those who actually produce food for a living to abandon the thread and leave it to the disgruntled consumers.
 
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I was just listening to NPR this morning, and there was story about the challenge some in the public health sector face in trying to convince/persuade parents that vaccines are safe.

http://www.npr.org/2014/03/04/285580969/when-it-comes-to-vaccines-science-can-run-into-a-brick-wall

I am bringing this up here, because it illustrates that when people identify with their opinions and beliefs about something, they will dig in, even in the face of contradictory information. Cognitively, they may even concede that the contrary information seems valid, but they will search for any reason they can to defend their original opinion. This is because their sense of personal identity is bound up with the position, and even a calm, rational presentation of contrary facts can feel to them like an attack on them personally.

How does this affect communities like this?

Let me give another example: "The Concorde Effect"

Another aspect of human nature is to "chase losses". The more invested they become, even into a failing idea or project, the less willing they are to abandon that failure and move on to something else. They will pursue the failure with added failure until it crashes in on them. This is called "The Concorde Effect", because the supersonic jetliner, The Concorde, never once made a profit. It was a money loser during its entire lifetime. The backers of the project kept sinking money into it, because they had already invested so much, they were determined to see the venture turn a profit. Gambling addicts often do the same thing, dipping into money they need to live to chase losses at the slots or blackjack table.

Sometimes, we become so hyper-invested in what we are doing that any suggestion we might be going down a dead-end track, or one that violates our values in some unseen way, is intolerable.

I think the answer to both of these conditions is to honor the individual. If they are doing an experiment, honor their work. If they have sunk money, time and effort into something, honor their sacrifice. If they have believed in something, honor the beauty of that which they believed in. "Setting people straight" is a noble intention, but it does no one any good if the implication is that the person isn't "smart enough", "moral enough", "skilled enough".

If I may quote a wise book: "Be wise as serpents, yet harmless as doves". Too often, on the Internet, we have people (who are really trying to be helpful) master the first part of that phrase, but forget how to do the latter part.

Kevin
 
pollinator
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I have one instance that I can think of that someone threw out a question and wanted honest opinions and suggestions about it. Any opinion or suggestion that went against what the person wanted was met with much resistance and arguing of their point instead of it being a point taken and possible fodder to mull around in their mind. After following a couple comments on that thread, I abandoned interest into it because it didn't seem to be taking on the stance of genuinely asking for open discussion for possible improvement, but only of wanting support for or defending one's position. I became confused as to why the question was raised.

In another instance, I actually engaged in a couple of volleys with someone on a topic that was fringe for the thread that it was in. I did suggest that the conversation was not really on topic for the thread and it might be better discussed, and would gain a lot more diversified discussion, if the poster started a completely new thread. When this was met with another response on their position which, again, was off topic for the thread, I gave up responding because it was clear that the person was dug in on what they were presenting (and I know that we all have things that we are passionate about and will sometimes dig in on) and that it was futile engaging further. I have passed on continuing to follow that thread too because of it.
 
gardener
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I find that the money accusations are particularly tempting.
I want to respond with details of my private situation, and challenge the accuser to report their (and their parent's) situation.

I have found in the past that there is zero benefit to doing so (I think Paul may have reinforced this, and so did another business mentor).

If I am making less money than my accuser thinks, or have made money despite odds, I have just sabotaged my own business interests and committed the unattractive social blunder of hosting a pity party in public.

If I have an economic advantage, after all, then I look like I've accepted the premise and been found guilty of "having money" or "caring about money." I would like to continue making more money, so I really don't want to imply that doing so would weaken my ethical position.

I also feel like statistically, anyone on the Internet is more likely to be wealthier than average, rather than, say, one of the millions or billions of people living on a dollar or two a day. So there's a certain gracelessness about two wealthy people arguing about who is more poor, and whether there's an ethical obligation to just coast along on one's accumulated privilege. It is not a productive discussion.

But the accusation feels unfair, and hurt feelings paired with a violated sense of justice tempts a defensive reaction.

I often start to respond, then delete the post and the tab containing the discussion.
Perhaps I should report the accusatory post, or at least ask for a review by another party, instead.

...
Incidentally, I love that there is now a "cider press" where important controversies can be discussed in a civil and constructive manner.
I feel like being able to have adult public discussions about controversy, WITHOUT becoming polarized and accusatory, is a vital skill that America in particular desperately needs.

When a person discovers someone has a different point of view, one option is to call it "opposition" and insist on the correctness of the original viewpoint.
Another is to take in the new point of view, combine it with the original position, and call the results "perspective."

If we can coordinate enough different viewpoints, like they do now with camera angles, maybe we can do wicked-cool 3-D tricks with our perceptions of reality.

-Erica
 
steward
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Sometimes it is easy to missunderstand what a person writes on line, without being able to see the persons face or body language. Or if they post something quickly, maybe not giving all of the info that they should.

In the last week or so I recieved a scathing purple moosage. I had asked a poster, if they had the time, would they post a copy of thier post in another thread. They took it to mean that they had posted in the wrong forum and I was chastising them for it. I have replied to the purple moosage , trying to explain that I thought the post was a good one and that I thought it would help spread the good word by posting a copy, with no response.

I was being a dove but my written words were taken as those of a serpent.

I usually assume my fellow permies are trying to help , and ask for clarification, before assuming the worst.
 
Cortland Satsuma
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@ Miles...

Excellent observations; better put, than I did...lol, there's some irony (on Me)!


On the point of the post you mentioned; I have suggested repost for exactly the same reason to others; and, the lack of response (or cold response) has left me wondering if they too, thought the wrong motive of me! It is easy for me to forget that what I see as an obviously wonderful post; may not be well conveyed to the original posters or other observers. We are all guilty of unintentional stumbles. I also tend to thumbs up the ones I really like; however, I do not think the poster has anyway of knowing who has given them the positive feedback...could altering this be helpful?

That being said, there are clear attacks on the character of posters who hold views that bother some of the fringe zealots. (As already well noted by others, money seems to be the worst catalyst; although there are clearly several others.) I do think finding a reasonable way to curb that type of behavior would be of benefit to all. Yet, I do not think completely silencing their voice is the answer, as I mentioned prior. Some practical middle ground would be nice!
 
pollinator
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Interesting discussion. I actually haven't really noticed too much of this sort of thing around here - so now I'm feeling sheepish and self conscious. I would like to support Paul in his decision to exercise his authority to keep things civil (and I for one would openly call for rebellion if I feel he'd turned tyrant over it - with obvious exceptions for ANYTHING posted on Pauls Farm forum).

Here's some support from the international community. Article 12

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. [/endquote]

 
paul wheaton
steward
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I was recently discussing the speaking style of somebody ...   and it took some back and forth until I remembered this thread.  

As part of the recent discussion, I thought "that's a bit like the whole cunningham's law thing":

https://permies.com/t/cunninghams-law

In both cases, rather than a mutually respectful conversation, one party selects a powerfully disrespectful approach, demanding the other party be noble.  



 
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