• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Protecting our forum from propaganda, polarization and failed communication  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10003
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"In 1937 the German Luftwaffe bombed this small town in northern Spain, but by some miracle an oak tree in the town square survived. Ever since Guernica was founded in 1366 that tree, or its descendant, had stood in the town square, and under its branches citizens gathered to create laws, swear oaths of fealty and discuss community matters. Whenever the tree became sick, another sapling grown from its acorn was planted in its place, because residents valued and understood its symbolic role in the community. Although the aerial bombardment caused widespread death and destruction, the town’s freedom tree survived along with the spirit of its people. We need to protect our public square from the bombardment of propaganda, polarization and failed communication."

This quote from James Hoggan's book I'm Right and You're an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up brought a real smile to my face at it has so many parallels with my Mother Tree role looking over the forums here.

His book is about "how we create the space for higher-quality public debates where passionate opposition and science shape constructive, mind-changing conversations."

Swap out 'debate' for 'discussion' and it pretty well summarises what we're aiming at on permies.com.

Over the years, we've developed rules, based on the prime directive of be nice, to further that aim.  They are discussed in the threads linked below.

publishing standards
be nice
real-sounding name policy
leaving room for other people's ideas
but but but but
hate in the name of love
you should do something
citation needed?
censorship
respect for copyright
debate vs sharing
free speech

Another quote that resonated rather too strongly with me was this one.

“If you put blinders on a donkey, that donkey is going to do a much better job of going straight down the street and pulling the cart. But it will not see what’s happening at the sides, and it won’t have any responsibility for that.”

I'm not a great fan of blinkers, and I like to use a lot of discretion when applying the rules in the moderation here.  But even so, I do sometimes need a bit of help to put the brakes on the apple cart when it looks like it's about to careen off down the hill.



The rules here have always seemed pretty intuitive to me, but for the sake of attempting to remove any blinkers I may be wearing, I'd like to share a few of the other quotes that struck a chord with me as I read, in the hope that it will trigger a good, productive discussion on what we can all do to trigger more good, productive discussions.

"Why isn’t public discourse on the environment more data driven, and why are we listening  to  each  other  shout  instead  of  listening  to  what  the  evidence is trying to tell us?"

"...our habit of attacking the motives and character of those who disagree with us distracts the public from the real issues and undermines genuine opposition as it discredits the passion and outrage at the heart of real public debate."

"Our public squares should be forums for open and honest, higher-quality debate, but sadly, these meeting places have become polluted by a toxic mix of polarized rhetoric, propaganda and miscommunication. A dark haze of unyielding one-sidedness has poisoned public discourse and created an atmosphere of mistrust and disinterest. In this first part of I’m  Right we  will  examine how we all pollute the public square, and how we can make space for healthier dialogue."

"It’s sad to say, but our culture favors debate, advocacy and conflict over dialogue and deliberation,"

"the scientific community is largely innocent of the rules  of  public  discourse.  So  we  have  very  gifted  experts  offering abstract, technical, difficult, highly qualified statements, and a media that presents what these people say in the form of controversy. “And since  it  involves  an  awful  lot  of  inconvenience,  people  prefer  to  ignore it, saying, ‘If you people can’t agree, what do you expect of us?’” "

"when we use dialogue rather than debate we gain completely different insights into  the  ways  people  see  the  world."

"dialogue and debate: in debate we assume we have the right answer, whereas dialogue assumes we all have pieces  of  the  answer  and  can  craft  a  solution  together."

"when we have highly educated scientists communicating with poorly educated citizens, as well as policy makers, people from the oil industry and stakeholders, it’s obvious that everybody brings a different frame to the issue."

"Protecting the public square and the public good is an objective worthy  of  support,  he  said,  and  by  working  to  create  a  climate  of  trust, a community of discourse, we build up capital that we can use to  deal  with  tricky  issues  in  the  future."

"the advocacy trap, which happens when we come to believe that people who disagree with us are wrongdoers."

"People can’t collaborate to solve global or systemic problems when we treat one another as enemies."

"two obvious ways to change behavior - by pushing  and  pulling - and  one  less  obvious  way  involving  collaboration. The push approach makes a person do something whether they want to or not, and the pull strategy involves cajoling someone through education, incentives or warnings. The third option operates like a well-functioning community team and entails solving specific problems through deep forms of collaboration in which participants may agree to disagree on other matters"

"Start by assuming others’ intentions are good, and believing the leader of an organization deserves respect."

“If you don’t tell them, someone else will - and it will be bad.”

"absolute truth exists only in a laboratory, and truth has many faces in the public sphere"

"1. We cannot solve the really tough problems by working only on our little piece.
2. We cannot transform large systems by working only with people we like, with our friends and colleagues.
3. We must learn to work with strangers and opponents, people we don’t know or trust or agree with. Without this simple awareness we will have gridlock."

"The best way to navigate is by paying attention to both power and love. It’s like walking on two legs, he said, adding that without dynamically balancing and shifting from one to the other, we cannot propel ourselves and society forward - whether we’re working with executives, political leaders, activists or guerillas."

" “If someone says to you, ‘Hey, Jim, be happy,’ even though you might agree, you have a kind of a knee-jerk reaction to feel, ‘Who are you to tell me to be happy?’ So going around the world telling people what to think is a particularly bad idea, a bad change strategy.” We often forget this human trait, naïvely believing that the truth and logic of our argument will convince people to take action, but instead  we  trigger  tendencies  to  dig  in."

"Put your focus where things are headed in the right direction, rather than trying to stop  a  river  that  has  been  flowing  in  a  certain  direction  for  a  very  long time. There’s an old saying in traditional Chinese culture: ‘You cannot move the river; dig a new channel instead, and the river will move itself eventually.’ ”

"People  don’t  necessarily  resist  change - but  they do resist being changed."

"try to understand other people’s logic, their reasoning, and gradually you will find a way to bring them along."

"create a real conversation, not a sales pitch."

"trying to motivate people by frightening them - 'It’s even worse than you thought' - is no way to gain traction."

"profound  change  and  true  leadership  can evolve by moving through the deepening process he calls the Theory U which happens on three levels:
1. The level of the mind, which involves suspending old habits of judgment
2. Opening the heart and beginning to see problems through the eyes of other stakeholders, walking in others’ shoes
3. Gaining the capacity to let go and let come"

"You  will  know  you  have  achieved  something  if  you  leave  a  conversation with far more energy than you entered it."

"Real and lasting change is not imposed. It emerges, said Renee Lertzman. “And it’s not about lack, it’s about what we create. It’s a very  positive,  generative  narrative  that  taps  into  our  innate  desire  to be part of something bigger than us.” We don’t generate meaning on our own, or in a vacuum. We create it together, in relationships, in interactions. Meaning is co-constructed and produces a sense of connection,  cohesion  and  validation  because  we  feel  part  of  something larger. We connect with people better when we communicate at a deeper level, when we are meaning centered."

"We need to practice compassion for ourselves too, and be concerned about our own anger or impatience"

"subject of climate change should not be interpreted as disinterest, but rather as something people find too painful to acknowledge because of their role in causing it."

"this technique involves revealing the truth, no matter how dire, acknowledging it and tapping into proactive solutions. She said it’s important  to  focus  on  possibilities,  on  what  can  be  done."

"if a leader only creates anxiety, in an effort to communicate urgency and break through inertia, the result can be some form of despair or fear that doesn’t spark action at all. So when telling a story of injustice or crisis a leader must also weave a message of hope, evoke an experience of possibility, of empathy, and one’s own self worth. Hope allows us to be creative problem solvers, and it helps to counterbalance anxiety."

"need to realize that the pain and fear motivating their anger is the same pain and fear motivating their opponents to deny this horrendous scenario."

"Are we seeking to make a difference? Or do we simply want to let off steam?"

"People such as Buddha and Confucius are remembered to this day  because they changed the world by changing the way people thought and acted. Kings and important businesspeople who were alive at that time are long forgotten, but the Buddha founded one of the oldest and most enduring institutions in all of world history."

"Thich Nhat Hanh used the example of a pine tree and suggested, what if that tree asked us what it could do to help the world? Our answer would be very clear: “You should be a beautiful, healthy pine tree. You help the world by being your best.” That is true for humans also. The most basic thing we can do to help the world is to be healthy, solid, loving, and gentle to ourselves. Then when people look at us, they will gain confidence and say, If he or she can do that, I can too. So anything you do for yourself, you do for the world"

"we  must  build communities that model how to live sustainably, and that requires inspirational, confident leadership."

"hold our anger with an energy of mindfulness, like the sun shining upon a flower, penetrating deeply until the petals open. Anger can give us the mettle to speak with courage and conviction, but also the venom that blinds us to the views of others."

"We need to treat the public square with great respect, as the sacred  place that it is, and if we seek change we should learn to use speech for its highest purpose - moral discourse. We have no right to do otherwise."

 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've never made any secret of my difficulties in communicating with other(?) humans, and have given this much thought over the years. It appears that James Hoggan has been doing much the same, and has identified similar issues.

It seems to me that people go through a series of phases in the way they understand evidence.

1) Most of us start off from a position in which there are simple established "facts".
2) Later, usually by adolescence, we learn that people disagree on these "facts", leading to a position where there are no "facts" and merely "opinions" of equal value. This is a viewpoint fostered by the media, because it allows them to present two or more "sides" to a story, which sells papers and advertising. It seems to me that most people (I mean generally, not specifically on this site) are stuck at this phase. It encourages fact-free discourse in many areas - for example the recent Brexit campaign here.
3) Some of us learn to move on to a position where we realise that while there may be two or more viewpoints on a subject it's possible to evaluate the evidence that supports those competing viewpoints. I recently engaged in a discussion, on this site, where it was suggested that if someone were to label something "science" that would enable that person to make me his "bitch" (my interlocutor's word, not mine). I pointed out that this seemed to reflect a misconception of how scientific discourse worked and that I would seek out the evidence to support the assertion, and draw my own conclusions.

I think this gives us a clue about how we may be able to depolarise our discourse. My understanding of the rules here is that asking for evidence is seen as an attack on the other person's credibility. That's not how I see it. When I seek evidence, I'm interested in evaluating it for accuracy and reliability. It's not something limited to agronomy: it's a process I go through in many fields of my life, and I admit to getting very pissed off when someone presents something as "fact", or even strongly supported belief, when the supporting evidence turns out to be very weak. I recommend the work of Ben Goldacre on this subject.

To me, this is about taking off the blinkers to which Burra refers.

It goes back to the quote Burra gave above: "Why isn’t public discourse on the environment more data driven, and why are we listening  to  each  other  shout  instead  of  listening  to  what  the  evidence is trying to tell us?"

The thing is, the skills to evaluate evidence and to think critically can be learned. I conclude that it might benefit all of us if more people (I don't just mean here: I mean in general) learn the skills to evaluate evidence.

Here is a good introduction: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-train-your-mind-to-think-critically-and-form-you-1516998286
Here is another: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/critical-thinking.html
This is more academically oriented: http://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/postgraduate/taught/learning-resources/critical
This site may be too heavy for some, but might be worth a look: http://www.criticalthinking.org/

This process is complicated, and I've had to spend many hours learning how to identify even the more common formulations supporting uncritical thinking. It's not, and I'd like to emphasise this, about intelligence, but about a learnable skillset.

With that said, in order to evaluate the evidence, it's crucial to have the evidence in the first place. I have often wondered whether this is a place where the rules on this site inhibit us from doing this. I've said this before, but I think it bears reiterating: a request for evidence is not a personal attack (or, at the very least it should not be construed as one when it comes from me) but a request for data to evaluate. In effect, we are discouraged from asking for the evidence.

May I propose that agreed forms be developed that allow us to request such evidence without it appearing as a personal attack? The skills for evaluation and synthesis seem to me to be key to depolarising many of the debates we have on here, which often seem to me to degenerate into one person's opinion (often given without substantiation) against another's (to which the same often applies), but we need the data to synthesise first.

I understand that for many users interpreting the rules is an intuitive process. This is not a skillset I share, and I've had to ask for guidelines in interpreting those rules on several occasions, but have generally just been referred back to the rules in a circular process. I think this is one case where I, and perhaps others, might benefit from improved clarity. How do we, for example, call someone out on the use of propaganda? How do we avoid inadvertently doing so ourselves?

Why is our discourse not more data driven? I suggest that two (of several) reasons may be that we are discouraged from seeking the data and that many of us lack the skills to evaluate it when we are presented with it. I hope this post will go some way towards overcoming those barriers.

I remain very interested in understanding the communication skills that allow us to overcome the other issues blocking us from data-driven discourse. I think that effective permaculture could benefit from this.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can we not ask for more information?  "Do you have more information and examples of that?"  Is asking for examples the same as asking for evidence?

I find myself often saying "I've not found any examples of that" because I'm afraid to ask for more information and examples when people make a claim.  Some topics that I'm passionately, even desperately interested in, I don't know how to obtain more information, or if such information even exists, because I don't know the proper way to ask for it.

 
Rene Nijstad
Posts: 184
Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
27
dog food preservation forest garden trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Last Friday I posted an article on my site which is very related to this subject. Many times we tend to think straightforward, as in 'cause and effect' where in reality many subjects are just like an ecosystem, with many relationships with other subjects. If we could think more in terms of observation and feedback on any subject we could replace straightforward thinking by cyclical thinking. Being aware of that might help in conversations.

Article here: https://permaculturesj.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/sustainable-thinking/
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some more thoughts on the kinds of tricks propagandists use.

I've found these are things that it's often worth looking out for.

Lists of purported evidence supporting one particular viewpoint. I first came across this in the context of climate change denial. http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html It turns out that many are by a limited number of hired shills, and many of the rest should not be on the list according to the original authors. https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysing-the-900-papers-supporting-climate-scepticism-9-out-of-top-10-authors-linked-to-exxonmobil The GM industry tried a similar wheeze: http://gmopundit.blogspot.co.uk/p/450-published-safety-assessments.html Fifty per cent of these were apparently "independent", although, with a lot of hidden funding going on it's not too clear what this means, and this also implies that fifty per cent were openly funded by industry. It also turns out that many were not, in fact, toxicological assessments, but studies on yields and so on. More here (see point 5): http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/

Another useful tool that I've found comes from the study of science denial. I don't think that's necessarily what we're concerned with here, but the techniques used by propagandists are pretty much universal. Some of these are more prevalent around here than others, but I'll give this in a complete form. It's usually abbreviated "FLICC":

Fake experts: You may, for example, find a farmer insisting a technique works but, on examination, it turns out that all he's got is that it works for him, under his unique circumstances, and has no evidence that it works better than alternatives. I've seen farmers, for example, rambling on about their personal experience of GM crops (although whether they are even farmers is unknown). In other areas you many find scientists commenting outside their fields of expertise. A geneticist may, for example, comment on the lack of ecological implications of GM, when this is an issue best tackled by ecologists. My own preference is not to ask people to listen to me, but to refer them to others who know more than I do. A subset of this technique is to artificially magnify a minority taking one position. The media is good at this: they have one person from one "side", representing the vast majority of scientists, and one person from the other "side", representing a low-single-figures percentage, making it look like a 50-50 split.

Logical fallacies: These are distressingly common all over the internet. I can point out all the evidence I like that something is unsustainable, and then instantly face examples of most forms of logical fallacy, including the red herring (for example, the notion that humans are adapted to be able to eat meat is not relevant to the question of whether or not eating meat is sustainable with present human populations), deliberate misrepresentation of the argument, jumping to conclusions and the false dichotomy (a particular favourite of apologists for capitalism, who will instantly start rambling on about communism, as if there are only two options).

Impossible expectations: I was recently asked to prove, beyond doubt, that nonhuman animals feel pain. This led on from another argument that was a clear logical fallacy (a red herring in this case, but the others are not uncommon, so the details probably aren't relevant).

Cherry picking of single examples, where one example is used to make a broader point ("it's cold here, therefore climate change is a hoax").

Conspiracy theories are rare around here, but crop up more on some forums that others.

Here is a video on the subject, which also talks about the difference between scepticism and denial, which is borderline off-topic, but still useful.



It's key to remember that someone applying these techniques may not be attempting to be deliberately manipulative. Many may derive from unconscious biases, something we all have a problem with. The video above discusses this in some detail.

It's also worth bearing in mind that just because something currently has a low evidence base does NOT make in invalid. That seems to particularly apply on this site where we are often working from the experience of a few people. I think it's important to see that as a starting point, rather than something settled, but that brings us back to the evaluation of evidence. I think that's a question of presentation: when there is good evidence I think it's relevant to present it (and to ask for it) while, when that's lacking, to say so and maybe to suggest pointers as to how that might be changed.

Hopefully greater awareness of these matters will make us more immune to propaganda and manipulation.

 
James Hoggan
Author
Posts: 13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think understanding how propaganda works is helpful. Certainly propaganda can be deceptive and thats a problem but sometimes propaganda is sincere. The bigger problem is the relationship propaganda has with flawed ideology. It is this relationship that makes the victims of propaganda so resistant to evidence and facts. I think we defend ourselves from propaganda by thinking through our own values. 
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6697
Location: Left Coast Canada
839
books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James Hoggan wrote:I think understanding how propaganda works is helpful. Certainly propaganda can be deceptive and thats a problem but sometimes propaganda is sincere. The bigger problem is the relationship propaganda has with flawed ideology. It is this relationship that makes the victims of propaganda so resistant to evidence and facts. I think we defend ourselves from propaganda by thinking through our own values. 


I have a lot of trouble telling when the person is intentionally spewing propaganda or if they honestly believe what they are saying is true and are just parroting what they have been taught.  Are there ways to tell this apart?  Especially in a forum setting like this, but also in real life interactions.

 
James Hoggan
Author
Posts: 13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
3
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:I've never made any secret of my difficulties in communicating with other(?) humans, and have given this much thought over the years. It appears that James Hoggan has been doing much the same, and has identified similar issues.

It seems to me that people go through a series of phases in the way they understand evidence.

1) Most of us start off from a position in which there are simple established "facts".
2) Later, usually by adolescence, we learn that people disagree on these "facts", leading to a position where there are no "facts" and merely "opinions" of equal value. This is a viewpoint fostered by the media, because it allows them to present two or more "sides" to a story, which sells papers and advertising. It seems to me that most people (I mean generally, not specifically on this site) are stuck at this phase. It encourages fact-free discourse in many areas - for example the recent Brexit campaign here.
3) Some of us learn to move on to a position where we realise that while there may be two or more viewpoints on a subject it's possible to evaluate the evidence that supports those competing viewpoints. I recently engaged in a discussion, on this site, where it was suggested that if someone were to label something "science" that would enable that person to make me his "bitch" (my interlocutor's word, not mine). I pointed out that this seemed to reflect a misconception of how scientific discourse worked and that I would seek out the evidence to support the assertion, and draw my own conclusions.

I think this gives us a clue about how we may be able to depolarise our discourse. My understanding of the rules here is that asking for evidence is seen as an attack on the other person's credibility. That's not how I see it. When I seek evidence, I'm interested in evaluating it for accuracy and reliability. It's not something limited to agronomy: it's a process I go through in many fields of my life, and I admit to getting very pissed off when someone presents something as "fact", or even strongly supported belief, when the supporting evidence turns out to be very weak. I recommend the work of Ben Goldacre on this subject.

To me, this is about taking off the blinkers to which Burra refers.

It goes back to the quote Burra gave above: "Why isn’t public discourse on the environment more data driven, and why are we listening  to  each  other  shout  instead  of  listening  to  what  the  evidence is trying to tell us?"

The thing is, the skills to evaluate evidence and to think critically can be learned. I conclude that it might benefit all of us if more people (I don't just mean here: I mean in general) learn the skills to evaluate evidence.

Here is a good introduction: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-train-your-mind-to-think-critically-and-form-you-1516998286
Here is another: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/learn/critical-thinking.html
This is more academically oriented: http://www.ed.ac.uk/institute-academic-development/postgraduate/taught/learning-resources/critical
This site may be too heavy for some, but might be worth a look: http://www.criticalthinking.org/

This process is complicated, and I've had to spend many hours learning how to identify even the more common formulations supporting uncritical thinking. It's not, and I'd like to emphasise this, about intelligence, but about a learnable skillset.

With that said, in order to evaluate the evidence, it's crucial to have the evidence in the first place. I have often wondered whether this is a place where the rules on this site inhibit us from doing this. I've said this before, but I think it bears reiterating: a request for evidence is not a personal attack (or, at the very least it should not be construed as one when it comes from me) but a request for data to evaluate. In effect, we are discouraged from asking for the evidence.

May I propose that agreed forms be developed that allow us to request such evidence without it appearing as a personal attack? The skills for evaluation and synthesis seem to me to be key to depolarising many of the debates we have on here, which often seem to me to degenerate into one person's opinion (often given without substantiation) against another's (to which the same often applies), but we need the data to synthesise first.

I understand that for many users interpreting the rules is an intuitive process. This is not a skillset I share, and I've had to ask for guidelines in interpreting those rules on several occasions, but have generally just been referred back to the rules in a circular process. I think this is one case where I, and perhaps others, might benefit from improved clarity. How do we, for example, call someone out on the use of propaganda? How do we avoid inadvertently doing so ourselves?

Why is our discourse not more data driven? I suggest that two (of several) reasons may be that we are discouraged from seeking the data and that many of us lack the skills to evaluate it when we are presented with it. I hope this post will go some way towards overcoming those barriers.

I remain very interested in understanding the communication skills that allow us to overcome the other issues blocking us from data-driven discourse. I think that effective permaculture could benefit from this.


Bruno Latour suggested that we shift from debates about facts to discussions about concerns. Facts and evidence are important but they are tricky and are often used to shut down discourse. Latour is an advocate for continuing the conversation. Paul Slovic has written about the role of facts in his research on risk communications. He makes the point that experts see their facts as objective and public opinion as subjective but that even the facts of experts have a subjective element. So I decided for me to shift from debates about facts to discussions about of values.  
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James Hoggan wrote:

Bruno Latour suggested that we shift from debates about facts to discussions about concerns. Facts and evidence are important but they are tricky and are often used to shut down discourse. Latour is an advocate for continuing the conversation. Paul Slovic has written about the role of facts in his research on risk communications. He makes the point that experts see their facts as objective and public opinion as subjective but that even the facts of experts have a subjective element. So I decided for me to shift from debates about facts to discussions about of values.  


Okay, that's very interesting.

I make a clear distinction between facts and evidence. One is completely settled; the other is a matter of a balance of data, on which it's often possible to come down firmly on one side of the other, but where there is often nuance to be discussed. Facts are pretty rare, although there are plenty of issues where consilience can lead us to a position where balance of evidence can lead us to treat some propositions as facts for most practical purposes.

I am aware of some very interesting studies that show that the positions people hold on issues where the science, for example, points very strongly one way, but the values of the people examining and interpreting it (or just ignoring it or applying other forms of denial) are linked to a value set, and that's linked to social connections. Climate change is, as you probably know, a key example of this: the Lewandosky studies are relevant (including perhaps the greatest non sequitur in scientific publishing!*), but see also doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.06.003 and doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.03.001.

If these issues then become proxies for values, which I'm willing to accept, and we then discuss values as you propose, how does one then go about addressing the issues? It makes complete sense to me to then give people options that subscribe to their values and do not threaten their worldview. See, for example, http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1981907

My problem with that is that even if we can tackle one or two specific issues in that way, such worldviews are often supportive of a whole other set of social and economic propositions that I also have issues with. I take a position that the broader environmental situation that we are now in means that everything has to change, and that will face resistance from vested interests and people with value sets that support them. In the case of the Kahan paper, for example, my reading suggests that geoengineering could be as bad as the disease it intends to cure, regardless of whether some groups would support it.

What are your thoughts?


* NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (doi: 10.1177/0956797612457686)

 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:
James Hoggan wrote:I think understanding how propaganda works is helpful. Certainly propaganda can be deceptive and thats a problem but sometimes propaganda is sincere. The bigger problem is the relationship propaganda has with flawed ideology. It is this relationship that makes the victims of propaganda so resistant to evidence and facts. I think we defend ourselves from propaganda by thinking through our own values. 


I have a lot of trouble telling when the person is intentionally spewing propaganda or if they honestly believe what they are saying is true and are just parroting what they have been taught.  Are there ways to tell this apart?  Especially in a forum setting like this, but also in real life interactions.



I wonder whether there is even a clear distinction to make. I'm sure there are trolls and hired shills around, and I've engaged in discussions where I've played Devil's advocate as an intellectual exercise, but in the latter case it's always been clear that's what I've been doing (if not always to people overhearing the conversation...!). With that said, it's perfectly possible to propagandise while fully believing what one says. There are whole books on the dark arts of persuasion, and whole courses on identifying and countering propaganda: the video I linked to above comes from a course the material from which is just as relevant when tackling a hired oil company shill as it is when arguing with Uncle Jack at the dinner table. I suspect some of the shills believe what they write just as much as Uncle Jack does, and both may well be acting from the same sense of motivated reasoning (and the prospect that I might be doing the same is one I at least try to be aware of).
 
James Hoggan
Author
Posts: 13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:
R Ranson wrote:
James Hoggan wrote:I think understanding how propaganda works is helpful. Certainly propaganda can be deceptive and thats a problem but sometimes propaganda is sincere. The bigger problem is the relationship propaganda has with flawed ideology. It is this relationship that makes the victims of propaganda so resistant to evidence and facts. I think we defend ourselves from propaganda by thinking through our own values. 


I have a lot of trouble telling when the person is intentionally spewing propaganda or if they honestly believe what they are saying is true and are just parroting what they have been taught.  Are there ways to tell this apart?  Especially in a forum setting like this, but also in real life interactions.



I wonder whether there is even a clear distinction to make. I'm sure there are trolls and hired shills around, and I've engaged in discussions where I've played Devil's advocate as an intellectual exercise, but in the latter case it's always been clear that's what I've been doing (if not always to people overhearing the conversation...!). With that said, it's perfectly possible to propagandise while fully believing what one says. There are whole books on the dark arts of persuasion, and whole courses on identifying and countering propaganda: the video I linked to above comes from a course the material from which is just as relevant when tackling a hired oil company shill as it is when arguing with Uncle Jack at the dinner table. I suspect some of the shills believe what they write just as much as Uncle Jack does, and both may well be acting from the same sense of motivated reasoning (and the prospect that I might be doing the same is one I at least try to be aware of).


I'm not sure how to tell these types of deception apart, but I don't think the deception is the problem. Unfortunately I think people mostly fool themselves before they try to fool others, this is worse because they aren't simply lying, they can't self correct. I my view there are organizations and people who work for them who should know better than to mislead the public. They need to be called out. On the climate change front it doesn't matter if they do know they are lying or they should know.
 
James Hoggan
Author
Posts: 13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:
James Hoggan wrote:

Bruno Latour suggested that we shift from debates about facts to discussions about concerns. Facts and evidence are important but they are tricky and are often used to shut down discourse. Latour is an advocate for continuing the conversation. Paul Slovic has written about the role of facts in his research on risk communications. He makes the point that experts see their facts as objective and public opinion as subjective but that even the facts of experts have a subjective element. So I decided for me to shift from debates about facts to discussions about of values.  


Okay, that's very interesting.

I make a clear distinction between facts and evidence. One is completely settled; the other is a matter of a balance of data, on which it's often possible to come down firmly on one side of the other, but where there is often nuance to be discussed. Facts are pretty rare, although there are plenty of issues where consilience can lead us to a position where balance of evidence can lead us to treat some propositions as facts for most practical purposes.

I am aware of some very interesting studies that show that the positions people hold on issues where the science, for example, points very strongly one way, but the values of the people examining and interpreting it (or just ignoring it or applying other forms of denial) are linked to a value set, and that's linked to social connections. Climate change is, as you probably know, a key example of this: the Lewandosky studies are relevant (including perhaps the greatest non sequitur in scientific publishing!*), but see also doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.06.003 and doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.03.001.

If these issues then become proxies for values, which I'm willing to accept, and we then discuss values as you propose, how does one then go about addressing the issues? It makes complete sense to me to then give people options that subscribe to their values and do not threaten their worldview. See, for example, http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1981907

My problem with that is that even if we can tackle one or two specific issues in that way, such worldviews are often supportive of a whole other set of social and economic propositions that I also have issues with. I take a position that the broader environmental situation that we are now in means that everything has to change, and that will face resistance from vested interests and people with value sets that support them. In the case of the Kahan paper, for example, my reading suggests that geoengineering could be as bad as the disease it intends to cure, regardless of whether some groups would support it.

What are your thoughts?


* NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (doi: 10.1177/0956797612457686)
I think we need to have that big moral conversation and I agree we need to change everything and there is big resistance. I think we need pluralistic narratives and advocacy that explore the change that is possible. Many of the solutions are waiting for us on common ground. The way we are going at it now is leading to increased gridlock. I'm not opposed to polarization but without an effort to find common ground we end up where we are now. 
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Okay, supplementary question, mostly addressed to James, since you've obviously done much more research on this than I have, and probably know much more than I do:

Let's agree that talking about values makes more sense than talking about the alternatives. My reading of the evidence, some of it cited above, suggests that those values do not exist in isolation. Lewandowsky seems pretty clear on that.

I'm not sure, then, that discussing values necessarily helps. Let's say that x has a value set that allows him an absolute, inalienable right to free speech. I think that right is limited well before misogynist, racist arseholery winds up in Leslie Jones's Twitter account, to cite a timely example. Not only that, but misogynist, racist arseholery is often linked to viewpoints and opinions as well as values that, when the day comes, I'll be on the other side of the barricade from. Regular readers of these forums will probably be able to infer my predilection for a good barricade when circumstances dictate: I'm willing to take sides when I think I have to.

With that said, I'd much prefer to have a sensible discussion over coffee in the public square than shouted comments followed by a mollie over a barricade. I don't want to have to fight: I just recognise that sometimes it becomes a last resort when other methods have failed: misogynist, racist arseholery has to be stopped. I'm not sure that it's necessarily worth throwing mollies over, but I say that as a Caucasian male. When you add up the views that stem from the value system that leads to misogynist, racist arseholery that becomes even more nuanced. One reason I'm engaging in this discussion is that I don't want to have to go there.  What I don't see is how a discussion of values prevents us going from coffee al fresco to mollies at dawn.
 
John Weiland
Posts: 950
Location: RRV of da Nort
46
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@Neil L: "I'm not sure, then, that discussing values necessarily helps....My reading of the evidence, some of it cited above, suggests that those values do not exist in isolation.  .....What I don't see is how a discussion of values prevents us going from coffee al fresco to mollies at dawn."

Just throwing this into the mix:  A discussion of values will likely not change anything for the individual entrenched in a viewpoint and value system that is hermetically sealed.  But when dealing with, say, two groups of people that appear to be polarized, by discussing values, it's always possible one or several members of the group that you are trying to convince is more receptive to your message.  For example, you may find many who are born into families, communities, or cultures that are characterized by "misogynist, racist arseholery".  For their own survival, they went along with the behavior and verbiage of that support system, but would willingly adopt something more peaceable if it were presented through a discussion of values.  Doesn't mean they would change overnight, but the alternative would finally be presented to them, along with possible means to transition to actually living that alternative value set.  But yes....those whose value system is not open to modification *can* be an impediment to improvement through discussion.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Who gets to decide which value set should be open to modification?  If someone else's value is that I am a lesser person by virtue of my gender, and should therefore have fewer rights, am I obligated to be open to the modification of my value of myself as a full human being?  I may feel that the mysogynist racist arsehole needs to be open to modifying his value set - I also realize that he may feel just as strongly that I need to be open to modifying my value set.

How do we move beyond this impasse?

 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10003
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:Who gets to decide which value set should be open to modification?  If someone else's value is that I am a lesser person by virtue of my gender, and should therefore have fewer rights, am I obligated to be open to the modification of my value of myself as a full human being?  I may feel that the mysogynist racist arsehole needs to be open to modifying his value set - I also realize that he may feel just as strongly that I need to be open to modifying my value set.

How do we move beyond this impasse?



Well in the case of this forum, the owner of the forum, ie Paul, gets to decide.  Some of the rules for posting here include things like 'never suggest than another member is less than perfect' and 'you cannot claim that your own viewpoint is The Truth, only your opinion'.  A lot of the rules are geared with that sort of thing in mind, giving the moderators freedom to use a bit of discretion to weed stuff out.  And then there's the catch-all that anything outside of Paul's comfort zone is liable to get removed. 

In real life, of course, it's a lot different.  But on a privately owned forum where people can choose whether or not they want to be here, it mostly seems to work.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah, sorry, I guess I was off-topic, and thinking about the larger public sphere...



 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10003
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:Yeah, sorry, I guess I was off-topic, and thinking about the larger public sphere...


I think it adds to the discussion actually.  I don't think all 'public areas' will work at their best with the same rules.  For instance, on permies we come down hard on anyone using the word 'should'.  But in a different setting, like a parent teaching a child, then I think 'should' is a perfectly valid word to use, instilling values from generation to generation.  I don't like to see it used in science classes though.  How about a village square, deciding what to do about, say, a broken pump at the village water source.  I think a lot of people would agree that it 'should' be fixed, so I guess it's ok to use it in that setting.  When things get bigger, with governments making laws rather than forums making rules, the whole thing gets mind boggling to me.  I can't comprehend how important stuff like that is figured out.  This place is as much as I can get my head around most days.
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Burra Maluca wrote:
Tyler Ludens wrote:Who gets to decide which value set should be open to modification?  If someone else's value is that I am a lesser person by virtue of my gender, and should therefore have fewer rights, am I obligated to be open to the modification of my value of myself as a full human being?  I may feel that the mysogynist racist arsehole needs to be open to modifying his value set - I also realize that he may feel just as strongly that I need to be open to modifying my value set.

How do we move beyond this impasse?



'you cannot claim that your own viewpoint is The Truth, only your opinion'.


As I indicated above, I think that this presents a false dichotomy. Trying to avoid  getting into a debate about epistemology (although I wonder if there may be a place for it), I suggest that identifying "the truth" or "a fact" is difficult to the point of practical impossibility in any case.

I do think that there are many real-world cases where, on a balance of evidence, one proposition may be considerably more likely than an alternative one. This seems to present issues in the face of a proposition that all opinions are of equal validity.

"If you build your roof out of cardboard it seems considerably more likely to cave in than if you build it out of slate." http://www.permies.com/t/57789/communication/gentle-ways-bad-idea

If I put my mind to it I'm sure I could find a roof-building expert to provide the relevant evidence and academic citations. If a roof-building expert comes along I'd be very much inclined to take the roof-building expert's position than that of some random person on the internet with access to a lot of spare cardboard.

That's not, as far as I know, a proposition linked to values.

in the case of this forum, the owner of the forum, ie Paul, gets to decide


Secondly, let's take a purely hypothetical situation, in which Paul thinks that Tyler's value is that she is lesser by virtue of her gender (I'm sure he doesn't think this: this is by way of a thought experiment). I'd fully expect Tyler to take a counter position, and expect an attitude adjustment, and I'd feel morally obligated to have her back should she ask for it.

What happens a) here and b) in public? As we presumably "know", a distressingly large proportion of those who do hold such positions (not, I emphasise, Paul) are not averse to the threat, even use, of physical coercion to support their position.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10003
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Trying to avoid  getting into a debate about epistemology (although I wonder if there may be a place for it),


Hehehe - I'm sure there is, but this forum isn't for debate, it's for discussion.  Ow, OK, I'll stop now...

Secondly, let's take a purely hypothetical situation, in which Paul thinks that Tyler's value is that she is lesser by virtue of her gender (I'm sure he doesn't think this: this is by way of a thought experiment). I'd fully expect Tyler to take a counter position, and expect an attitude adjustment, and I'd feel morally obligated to have her back should she ask for it.


Well I think this is where the members of a public forum like this vote with their feet.  I for one wouldn't devote time to moderating a forum where an attitude like that was encouraged - I'm here doing what I do because I support the aims of the forum and like the way it's run.  If anyone wants to be a member here and insists on breaking the rules, we basically deem them 'not a good fit for the site' and send them on their way, leaving the members who actually want to be here and appreciate what we're trying to do to carry on without them.  Enough people seem to like the way the forum works that we must be doing something right.  The internet is a big place, and anyone can set up a forum with their own rules, and I guess most people can find one that suits them.  We aim for this one to be accessible by as many people as possible so we try hard to get people to understand why the rules are the way they are and get them communicating despite their differences. 

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think there are people on the permies forums whose values are genuinely in conflict on some topics, I've seen it happen.  I've even been afraid to express myself on some topics because of thinking my values are different from the majority.  How do we deal with this situation here on permies? 
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:I think there are people on the permies forums whose values are genuinely in conflict on some topics, I've seen it happen.  I've even been afraid to express myself on some topics because of thinking my values are different from the majority.  How do we deal with this situation here on permies? 


I concur. I have the same problem, but also lack anything approaching a solution.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1339
Location: Denver, CO
25
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are some topics where there are values genuinely in conflict on this forum, yes. As far as fear of stating my opinion, well, I'm not really afraid of anything that will happen to me, but I am sometimes afraid of starting conflict (as opposed to discussion) and thus avoid posting.

I think this is actually a good thing; we can all discuss the many issues that will not cause things to explode, while avoiding the few that will.

This is also the function of the cider press.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Gilbert Fritz wrote:
I think this is actually a good thing; we can all discuss the many issues that will not cause things to explode, while avoiding the few that will.


How is it a good thing that people with minority opinions feel unable to post about them, whereas those with majority opinions feel free to post? 

 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6697
Location: Left Coast Canada
839
books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tyler Ludens wrote:
Gilbert Fritz wrote:
I think this is actually a good thing; we can all discuss the many issues that will not cause things to explode, while avoiding the few that will.


How is it a good thing that people with minority opinions feel unable to post about them, whereas those with majority opinions feel free to post? 



Majority and minority views is a very difficult topic.  There are views the majority have but are afraid to share because it's suddenly taboo.  Minority also feel afraid to share some of their views.  I don't think majority and minority factor into it so much as differents of opinions between people.  It seems like there are always going to be subsets of a group afraid to voice their opinions.  We are lucky now that with the internet, there are so many different communities that there is almost one for every viewpoint.   Then again, seeking a group that thinks exactly like me doesn't help me learn new things.  That's why I hang out here.  I feel like such an unenlightened goofball among such elevated company. 


But all that conflict of opinion,  I don't feel that's what permies is about.

My interpretation of Paul's words is that my role as a moderator is to create as space where people can feel free to express themselves within the boundaries of Paul's vision for this site.  There are some topics and viewpoints that cause instant trouble, hurt feelings, and conflict.  I feel that to create a welcoming environment, it is necessary to avoid certain political and ethical discussions (there are several in this thread I would have loved to explored if not for my role as staff).  I also notice that there seem to be many ways to phrase the same idea - some ways of phrasing these ideas cause conflict ("you should" for example). 

I know the system is not 100% perfect, and I certainly have a lot to learn, but we do our best to make this place as welcoming as possible.
 
James Hoggan
Author
Posts: 13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:Okay, supplementary question, mostly addressed to James, since you've obviously done much more research on this than I have, and probably know much more than I do:

Let's agree that talking about values makes more sense than talking about the alternatives. My reading of the evidence, some of it cited above, suggests that those values do not exist in isolation. Lewandowsky seems pretty clear on that.

I'm not sure, then, that discussing values necessarily helps. Let's say that x has a value set that allows him an absolute, inalienable right to free speech. I think that right is limited well before misogynist, racist arseholery winds up in Leslie Jones's Twitter account, to cite a timely example. Not only that, but misogynist, racist arseholery is often linked to viewpoints and opinions as well as values that, when the day comes, I'll be on the other side of the barricade from. Regular readers of these forums will probably be able to infer my predilection for a good barricade when circumstances dictate: I'm willing to take sides when I think I have to.

With that said, I'd much prefer to have a sensible discussion over coffee in the public square than shouted comments followed by a mollie over a barricade. I don't want to have to fight: I just recognise that sometimes it becomes a last resort when other methods have failed: misogynist, racist arseholery has to be stopped. I'm not sure that it's necessarily worth throwing mollies over, but I say that as a Caucasian male. When you add up the views that stem from the value system that leads to misogynist, racist arseholery that becomes even more nuanced. One reason I'm engaging in this discussion is that I don't want to have to go there.  What I don't see is how a discussion of values prevents us going from coffee al fresco to mollies at dawn.


I believe that values add a deeper meaning to facts and build greater support. It is the same in debate and in dialogue (barricades and coffee). Facts with a weak moral context or an overly aggressive partisan meaning aren't as effective. On their own they don't touch people the way emotions and values do. A good example of a more pluralistic moral narrative is the Pope's encyclical on Climate Change. Polarization (debate) and cooperation (dialogue) are both part of social change. As you point out polarization is tricky because if you don't do it you likely won't have change at all, but if we over do polarization we may end up helping the folks who are resisting change. Either way we need the best answer we can possible muster for the "whats this about" question.
 
James Hoggan
Author
Posts: 13
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James Hoggan wrote:
Neil Layton wrote:Okay, supplementary question, mostly addressed to James, since you've obviously done much more research on this than I have, and probably know much more than I do:

Let's agree that talking about values makes more sense than talking about the alternatives. My reading of the evidence, some of it cited above, suggests that those values do not exist in isolation. Lewandowsky seems pretty clear on that.

I'm not sure, then, that discussing values necessarily helps. Let's say that x has a value set that allows him an absolute, inalienable right to free speech. I think that right is limited well before misogynist, racist arseholery winds up in Leslie Jones's Twitter account, to cite a timely example. Not only that, but misogynist, racist arseholery is often linked to viewpoints and opinions as well as values that, when the day comes, I'll be on the other side of the barricade from. Regular readers of these forums will probably be able to infer my predilection for a good barricade when circumstances dictate: I'm willing to take sides when I think I have to.

With that said, I'd much prefer to have a sensible discussion over coffee in the public square than shouted comments followed by a mollie over a barricade. I don't want to have to fight: I just recognise that sometimes it becomes a last resort when other methods have failed: misogynist, racist arseholery has to be stopped. I'm not sure that it's necessarily worth throwing mollies over, but I say that as a Caucasian male. When you add up the views that stem from the value system that leads to misogynist, racist arseholery that becomes even more nuanced. One reason I'm engaging in this discussion is that I don't want to have to go there.  What I don't see is how a discussion of values prevents us going from coffee al fresco to mollies at dawn.


I believe that values add a deeper meaning to facts and build greater support. It is the same in debate and in dialogue (barricades and coffee). Facts with a weak moral context or an overly aggressive partisan meaning aren't as effective. On their own they don't touch people the way emotions and values do. A good example of a more pluralistic moral narrative is the Pope's encyclical on Climate Change. Polarization (debate) and cooperation (dialogue) are both part of social change. As you point out polarization is tricky because if you don't do it you likely won't have change at all, but if we over do polarization we may end up helping the folks who are resisting change. Either way we need the best answer we can possible muster for the "whats this about" question.


I thought I should add that I am referring to public discourse around contentious public issues. Some years ago I realized that when environmentalists fight or protest about an important environmental issue the public narrative can deteriorate into a story about a fight over say a forest rather than a narrative about whats right, fair and reasonable etc. This happens when two opposing groups who are unlikely to ever change their minds get locked in long term conflict. The result is an unyielding one-sidedness narrative, public disinterest and failure.
 
Jason Silberschneider
Posts: 177
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would an unknown Paul Wheaton, just starting out in Permacultue, get deleted and eventually banned from permies.com for all his radical and untested ideas?

And then feel free to replace Paul's name with other highly opinionated curmudgeons such as Joel Salatin or Bill Mollison.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1339
Location: Denver, CO
25
  • Likes 1 Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, he would; at which point he would go and start "Permies 2" which would soon be the largest permaculture site on the web. Which is exactly what folks could do who don't fit on permies. After all, the web is much larger the permies; permies is the site of Mr. Paul Wheaton, to further the goals of the Wheaton empire.

I think this is at least fair, right? We can all vote with our feet, as Tyler said in another thread.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
People don't get banned for their ideas.

To the best of my recollection, I have never used the expression "vote with our feet."
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10003
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can I remind everyone that debate is not allowed on this forum, and discussion of climate change is restricted to the cider press.  I will remove any posts that are deemed to be cider press worthy from this thread.
 
r ranson
master steward
Posts: 6697
Location: Left Coast Canada
839
books chicken cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What about external threats like propaganda?  Is there anything we can do to help prevent that from sewing the seeds of discord in our forum? 
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
R Ranson wrote:What about external threats like propaganda?  Is there anything we can do to help prevent that from sewing the seeds of discord in our forum? 


I don't think it's necessarily an "external threat", and I think it's very important to have a clear definition of the term.

One person's "propaganda" is someone else's opinion piece is someone else's information service.

If I write something, backed up by multiple independent (or otherwise) analyses, on why meat eating is unsustainable, and thus logically incompatible with permaculture, which must be sustainable by definition, is that the provision of information, an opinion piece, or vegan propaganda?

You can take that as a rhetorical question: we've been through this.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10003
Location: Portugal
923
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:

If I write something, backed up by multiple independent (or otherwise) analyses, on why meat eating is unsustainable, and thus logically incompatible with permaculture, which must be sustainable by definition, is that the provision of information, an opinion piece, or vegan propaganda?


If it was presented in such a way that implied that your interpretation was the only correct one, which is indeed, the impression that what you've written above gives, then it would be counted as propaganda and I would probably remove it.  In fact, I'm tempted to remove the post anyway, even though you attempted to post it as rhetoric.

Permies.com expressly supports both vegans and non-vegans, and any attempt to insert propaganda as rhetoric is liable to be severely quashed. 
 
Neil Layton
pollinator
Posts: 632
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
106
bee books forest garden fungi hugelkultur solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm sorry. I was trying to make a different point. I will desist.
 
Gilbert Fritz
pollinator
Posts: 1339
Location: Denver, CO
25
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil; I think a big part of the problem with propaganda is when a seemingly ordinary member is actually being paid to push something; deny climate change, support industrial ag, create dissension on a forum, etc. or when a member is solely on the board to push one idea; say they strongly feel that eating meat is a good thing, thus they join to spread this view, and manage to twist every thread around to support it, and continue discussions long past the point of profitability.

But I do see your point; what is propaganda?

wikipedia defines it as:

"Propaganda" is information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicise a particular political cause or point of view. Propaganda is often associated with the psychological mechanisms of influencing and altering the attitude of a population toward a specific cause, position or political agenda in an effort to form a consensus to a standard set of belief patterns.[1]

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively (perhaps lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information presented.[1]

Today the term propaganda is associated with a manipulative and jingoistic approach, but propaganda historically was a neutral descriptive term


Therefore I guess an ordinary member wouldn't actually be pushing propaganda; it seems to be the realm of organizations of some type, though members may recycle propaganda they have received.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neil Layton wrote:
One person's "propaganda" is someone else's opinion piece is someone else's information service.


I think uncommon conclusions are more likely to be seen as propaganda than the accepted thing.  For instance, it is accepted that meat eating in a permaculture context is sustainable, so I think it would be difficult to convince a permaculture audience that such may not be the case.  I think the presentation of the information would need to be very carefully crafted in order to not be seen as propaganda.  Pro-meat-eating information, on the other hand, because coming from an accepted position - "meat eating is sustainable in permaculture" - does not need to be carefully presented.  It is, by virtue of being accepted "fact" not subject to the same scrutiny as the unusual position "meat-eating is not sustainable even in permaculture."

The accepted position doesn't need to make any claims about being the logical conclusion, it is automatically accepted as logical.  It is also accepted as simply information, whereas the unusual position is seen as propaganda or rocking the boat/trying to stir up trouble/debating, etc.
 
You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!