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Leaving room for other peoples ideas.  RSS feed

 
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I think this rule is a relatively new addition to the stable of rules (and I do make an effort to follow the rules, and think that in general I am improving) but I fear that it may be impossible to do. Lets say that Jessica (not a real Jessica but a hypothetical Jessica) has a pet crow named Tweety with red feet, and that Chase (hypothetical) has the idea that all crows have black feet. Jessica gets on to the forum and posts a picture of her red footed crow (which for the sake of the argument really exists), suddenly she has stepped on Chase's idea, since Jessica's post includes the absolute that 'Tweety exists' now leaves no room for Chase's notion that 'all crows have black feet' to exist.

At this point Chase has said nothing, but chases (clearly) absurd position has caused Jessica to violate the rules. Since enforcing this rule is clearly a perverse outcome I wouldn't expect the moderators to do so. I think that a more nuanced formulation is needed.
 
master steward
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chase:  all crows have black feet

jessica:  here is a picture of my crow with red feet

Seems like everything is okay to me. 

Of course if it were "you are wrong.  here is a picture of my crow with red feet." then I would have a problem with that.

Of course, this could have been a little smoother if chase started off with "I am quite certain that all crows have black feet"

I think that a place where people could get into trouble is in quoting research.  If somebody were to say that several studies have expressed that there is no link between immunization shots and autism, that would be okay.  But if somebody were to say that several studies have proven that there is no link between immunization shots and autism, I would have a problem with that.  I know that many people do not have confidence in those studies.

It is not an area that is perfectly clear.  Or easy to explain in one line.  Yet with a little effort from everybody, I think we have a far healthier community.


 
gardener
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I would like to add that it can, in many cases, be more than just one persons idea or belief.  That you can see patterns to posts, and a big part of the problem is the antagonist spirit which can run through posts.

So lets say now - a majority of Chases posts are provoking, argumentative and mostly want to challenge other people's posts, thoughts or ideas.  Chase can't seem to let much of anything slide, nor others have their opinions.  He sees other peoples posts as a challenge to his beliefs personally (the right) which must be defended.  Hence the argumentative spirit & tone.  What's going on in this hypothetical is much more than opposing ideas/beliefs.


Paul is right  (he has opened my eyes to things I didn't 'see' before).  Wording is huge, and greatly affects the spirit of the post.  With very little practice one can learn to watch their word choices, let things slide and allow others to have other opinions - then peace between different ideas will result.  This 'effort' on all our parts makes for a great community.

 
steward
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Wording certainly can be huge. "Big, large, huge, gigantic" may all mean the same to one person, but entirely different things to the next person.  I try to chose my words (ie some, most, many, all, etc.) to most precisely state my case.  Not trying to be the Grammar Nazi here, but many posts (here/there/anywhere) are often left leaving a reader wondering "what" a poster was really trying to say.  Proper punctuation can clarify a statement:  Example:

A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman:  without her, a man is nothing.

The words did not change, but the context certainly did.

I have seen what happens with conflicting opinions/personalities/etc on some other forums.  Two people get "over odds" about a single post, and the war begins.  Each time one, or the other logs on, they search the others profile for latest posts and begin a childish game of trying to ridicule the other.  Here, the moderation seems to eliminate that kind of hostility...thankfully.  Through the years, I have seen several good forums die because of two people trying to one-up-man each other.  Permies is about working together as a community, not fighting each other (where everybody looses).
 
steward
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Initially I was a bit disconcerted by the level of moderator involvement/control on these forums.
I now value permies' mod engagement: they not only ensure it's a respectful and friendly environment to be in, but remind me that there's real live people writiing and reading those posts.
 
Emerson White
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I am not disagreeing with the level of moderation, but I still would like a more clear directive.

I do not think that you understood my point Paul (and hey, it looks like this rule was made for me!) even if Chase never says his idea, and Jessica does not say "you are wrong" Jessica's picture of her pet crow with red feet leaves zero room for Chases idea. There is no room left it cannot possibly be true, based solely on her posting the picture. Remember for the hypothetical argument that Chase hasn't said anything at all, he never once mentioned his idea, Jessica is the one who violated the rule, and she never said anything either, she just posted a picture, so their tone isn't at issue, but Jessica has certainly violated the letter of the law.

Now the tone could be different, Jessica could say that her picture proves those silly blackfoot drowists wrong, but in that case and in the case where she just posts a picture quietly there is still exactly the same amount of room for Chases's ideas, exactly none.

Now if you are saying not to belabor the point that there is no room in reality for the other persons position (just like there is no room in this hypothetical reality for Chase's position) then that looks like a very extremely different thing. A rule like "on't beat someone over the head with your position" would, in that case, be a more accurate portrayal of your Moderating MO. I suspect there is a formulation that is more congruous with the spirit of the directive and the way in which the directive will be/ is being used.
 
Mother Tree
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Emerson White wrote:
I am not disagreeing with the level of moderation, but I still would like a more clear directive.



I think you're trying to treat it as an exact science - it isn't!!  The way I see it, what we're after is for everybody to feel as though their viewpoint is valued, and be comfortable expressing it.  A lot of people don't like being told they are wrong and will get very defensive, and it's a bit of an art trying to open their minds to new possibilities without letting them feel as though people are 'getting at them'.  People's tolerance levels vary, so sometimes a thread will run just fine even when people are apparently contradicting each other.  Other times, things get heated and feelings get hurt and minds get closed.  And complaints start pouring in...

I suspect that if Paul made complicated rules, then the arguments will turn to how those rules should be interpreted.  With a nice, simple 'be nice' rule, it leaves things open for a bit of common sense so things can be tweaked to keep things running smoothly. 

Emmerson - you are obviously very knowledgeable about a lot of things, but that in itself can be intimidating to a lot of people, which means that it's going to be extra hard for you to express your viewpoint without people getting wound up.  But your viewpoints are good, so please keep posting them!  Just gently...
 
paul wheaton
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The hard rule is:  be nice.

And I am the only person that decides what that means.

Then i try to provide guidelines as to what that means in my head.

Over the years at JavaRanch and some on-line communities I managed in the past, the key wasn't to ban somebody that was breaking the rules, the key was ban people that causing trouble.  If you see two people arguing, they might both be breaking rules.  But if you watch closely, you will almost always see that one person is trying to find things to be pissed off about and the other person is trying to smooth things over.  The first person has to go. 

Another rule of thumb: I delete stuff.  I don't like to delete stuff. It takes time and it gets people pissed off at me.  And I have enough people pissed off at me.  If I deleted stuff by the same person a lot, then that person has to go just to reduce my workload.

In the case you gave with chase and jessica, i think chase's opening statement sounds okay - because my guess is that he is right.  And then Jessica's new information is eye opening.  All is well. 

I think it would be cool if chase's reply is "I stand corrected." or some such.
 
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I think it's an ok rule because there are well accepted "facts" throughout history that have been proven wrong.

Let's say we find out one day that the red feet were actually painted on by a prankster who gave Jessica her crow. They're black feet with red paint on them. You never know what the universe is going to throw at you, so keep an open mind.
 
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I am a great one for being precise, analysing everything, making sure that the wordingof rules is right to facilitate interpretations etc.
So I totally understand where emerson is coming from.

But ... I LOVE the "be nice" rule. It's brilliant !

And in the context of that "Be nice" as THE rule, then the "leave room for other people's ideas" is ok, it doesn't matter that Jesssica technically broke the rule. Because with a rule like "be nice", it's obviously the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law that matters.

That's what makes it brilliant !

Wouldn't it be interesting if the spririt all our national laws had to be obeyed, rather than the letter ?
Probably impossible, but a very interesting kind of utopic idea, no ?
 
pollinator
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What I like most about the Permies forum is that the most important rule is "be nice". Those two little words contain so much in them, all other rules are not really needed
 
Burra Maluca
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Bumping this up as some members who really should know better by now seem to be forgetting.
 
pollinator
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I think the level of moderation on this sight is perfect. I honestly believe that.

As for being nice, I just have to say that Thelka McDaniels is probably the greatest member on here at being nice. She is not only honest, and often challenges people when they seem negative...but does so in such a way that it quiets them without being rude about it. Oh how I wish I came off better like that! And this is something I have told her..to encourage her, and now say so so that others may realize how articulate she is, asks hard questions, gets to the truth, yet all without angering people.

I cannot be like her, and while that is something we all should strive for...honesty with integrity...I try to always explain in a rebuttal type of post my experience and how it may be different than another's. I think we get into trouble on this because of micro-climates. My father lives 517 feet from my house and down over the hill, yet I can plant my garden two weeks earlier then him because of frost where he lives. But on windy days, I am jealous of his sheltered home...and that is only a distance of 517 feet...so different.

But Paul is right, I need to concede the point that I am often wrong. I have some posts to now make so that I can be like Thelka and lead by example.

Thanks Thelka and thanks Paul.

 
gardener
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I'm humbled and gratified, Travis.  Thank you.  Now, I'll give more effort to exemplifying the goal and standard of being nice, in order to be worthy of your high praise.  I happen to be extremely opinionated, with a high level of confidence in my own analytical abilities, and also want to have my say.  Paul's rule has helped shape my communication style.  It is the "be nice" rule that I would like to see "dominate' the world.  When we have attained that, all else will follow.

I am very grateful to have a place where it is the standard.  The rule inspires me to do my best. 
 
pollinator
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When a person devotes as much time and effort into a task, as many do permaculture, it is very easy to get emotional.  One's responses are fueled by their belief in the foundational reasons that drove their decision.  These emotions are what cause the problems.  It's often simply misunderstood passion, and that text can be read in many different contexts and emotions.  We stereotype and prejudice what we read, based on our own personal experiences. 

It is okay for us to have polar opposite opinions.  This is similar to someone quoting that their claim is true because of "science".  In reality, we are finding new understandings of things daily.  What we know is flawed, and we have too much faith in what we think that we know.  You can take highly trained scientists, have them evaluate a study, and they can come up with different conclusions.  Neither is wrong, because they simply have different perspectives. 

Corporate America is just as guilty at not leaving room for other's ideas.  Let's say that your company wants to discuss a hurdle with the next customer's job.  You feel like being productive, and invite all of the employees in for the typical meeting.  You outline the project, describe the problems and together you try and brainstorm a solution.  Except, the problem is that you've already crushed creativity in the room.

You will get some good ideas, but you will not hear the risky or truly creative ones out of fear.  Some ideas will counter your own, and so they do not anger you with them.  Even when you described the problem, you were influencing the employees thinking.

You're a smart boss.  You've hired some superstars, and you want to get the most out of their creativity.  The good thing is that this method can work with any number of people, and it's the absolute best way to not influence a discussion.  We will call this Permies Poker.  It's a scrum activity called planning poker. 

Each person at the meeting is given some playing cards.  These range from low to high.  A task or question is given to the meeting, and much care is taken to word this part to not influence thought patterns.  An example would be stating that you have a large amount of dirt to be moved for project xyz.  Each person then contemplates solutions, and chooses the difficulty level.  Choosing a 2 might mean that it's simple, while a 10 is harder and a King even higher difficulty.  Since each person has their own cards, and they put their choice face down, nobody else is influenced by their decision.

Now the reveal part of Permie's Poker comes about.  Everyone turns over their cards.  In a large group, there will be a majority consensus.  Now is when you question the outliers.  Joe put a Queen, and said it would be difficult because of the heaviness of the dirt.  He is looking at the project with the weather forecast in mind, because there is expected rain.  Susan put a Three, and said that it would be very easy, because the fuel filter is a 4 dollar part.  She's proposing that the simple part is all that is keeping the tractor inoperable, and that the dirt moving would be quick with the front end loader accessory.

I know that this wasn't what the OP was about, but I saw an opportunity for this community to learn some organizational strategies.  You may ask where planning poker came from .... it was developed in the video game industry.  Once games got so complex that there were vast teams of artists and developers, they found the difficulties of communication through groups with different terminologies.  
 
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Great topic! good reading. the ego is a mofo... I'm guilty of asserting my opinions in a way that seems offensive. I'm working on it. I like your response William.
 
pollinator
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I think it's important for a person to understand the points they're arguing, especially if one is using science to back up one's argument. If you don't properly understand what you're claiming, even generally, you pretty much have to resort to "...because Science" (yes, the caps on Science were deliberate. People on the side of science that don't take the time to understand it and engage intellectually with the material they're referencing are treating science like faith, in my opinion, and that's less than useful for discussion).

I also think that people should be the focus of care in conversations, and not necessarily their opinions, but this is something I try to be careful about, because often, as mentioned earlier, people sometimes identify with the ideas they expound to the extent that if the ideas or the reasons behind them are challenged, they feel like they are the ones under attack.

I try to remember that we don't all come to the conversation with the same assumptions. I try to ask, if something doesn't make sense to me, what assumptions have lead to a specific conclusion. I find that people occasionally get passionate even at that early prompting. I have also had conversations completely collapse because I asked for the reasoning behind a thing, or tried to get ideas explained that, in the other party's opinion, should have been self-evident. So simply asking the question was heresy. I don't find this conducive to any kind of sharing of ideas.

My favourite (read: most despised) technique that I have seen for seeming inclusive but actually being dismissive and condescending, is when someone states something to the effect of, "...and some people don't get it, and that's cool." Whether it's a technical or scientific point that's being discussed, or something on the spiritual or religious side, that last fragment of conversation serves to shut it all down. It sounds like they're being inclusive, but in suggesting that the technical or scientific point being discussed is lacking in perspective is actually condescension, at best.

It seems less than inclusive to me to suggest that someone lacks something in their personal or intellectual makeup which makes them incapable of understanding, regardless of how okay the poster is with that.

I have, in the past, been dismissive of spiritual arguments with regards to permacultural practice, but I try really hard not to do so out of hand. I, in truth, don't have much use for purple in the practise of permaculture, and when I feel that a largely technical conversation is being bogged down by non-technical details, I like to put those to the side to deal with the technical aspects. Those with an affinity for that approach to permaculture are more than welcome to address those issues. But there is no need for derision from either side.

So if a soil scientist is posting, in technical detail, about soil science, and is discussing the results of lab analyses of soil, or specific aspects of soil biology, or how fungi work in the soil, or anything else within the scope of their field, I don't see room there for mysticism. I can respect beliefs about mysticism, but that doesn't mean I need to take steps to please beings I don't believe have any effect over my soil, because I haven't seen evidence of their existence; it doesn't factor into the discussion. That's not an excuse to behave in a trollish manner, but there's a reason discussions of religion find themselves transplanted to the cider press.

I think it's always important to be respectful of people when posting. I also think that if one expresses an idea, one should be open to its discussion. I think that if someone expresses the idea that the assumptions upon which the original idea are based might be unfounded, or might be a little different from what the original poster thought, that the second thought is also worthy at least of consideration and discussion, even though it challenges ideas that the original poster might have.

-CK
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Chris Kott wrote:

My favourite (read: most despised) technique that I have seen for seeming inclusive but actually being dismissive and condescending, is when someone states something to the effect of, "...and some people don't get it, and that's cool." Whether it's a technical or scientific point that's being discussed, or something on the spiritual or religious side, that last fragment of conversation serves to shut it all down. It sounds like they're being inclusive, but in suggesting that the technical or scientific point being discussed is lacking in perspective is actually condescension, at best.

It seems less than inclusive to me to suggest that someone lacks something in their personal or intellectual makeup which makes them incapable of understanding, regardless of how okay the poster is with that.

-CK



When I read the "and that's cool" part of the comment, it sounds more to me like "and I can accept that".

And the "some people just don't get it" does not sound as if the one who does not get it is lacking personally or intellectually, it just sounds like they don't agree, have a different point of view.

Maybe this is because I don't understand common usage, but maybe that's a good thing.

For the conundrum on science, "Science", which no longer adheres to the objective point of view standard, a great book is "Science Set Free"  by Rupert Sheldrake.  In the UK, the book's title is "The Delusion of Science"  or something like that. 

 
Chris Kott
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Hi Thekla.

In the context of the conversation in which that exchange took place, the way I heard it was condescending. It was being used to dismiss a whole line of inquiry, or a whole way of seeing the world, essentially.

This is not a new topic. Paul has done podcasts covering the topic of people using "inclusive language" to be abusive, manipulative, and to silence voices saying things counterproductive to their agendas, specifically in the context of intentional community. I believe there was at least one within his first 200 podcasts, but one may have been in the first 30 or 40. I believe Diana Leafe Christian's name came up a few times (not negatively, I don't think).

I don't disagree, by any means, that we need to leave room for the opinions of others. But I don't think we can meld the two worldviews in every case. And I don't think that it's the technically minded or brown Permies not being inclusive in every case. I have had more than my fair share of purple shade cast in my direction, just because of things like wanting technical breakdowns of ideas (in biodynamics, for instance) where some people thought it was heretical. I don't consider that inclusivity.

-CK
 
pollinator
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:
When I read the "and that's cool" part of the comment, it sounds more to me like "and I can accept that".

And the "some people just don't get it" does not sound as if the one who does not get it is lacking personally or intellectually, it just sounds like they don't agree, have a different point of view.



Exactly! I usually phrase this differently, focusing on myself and my own limitations, but I agree completely that this is about publicly expressing acceptance of other viewpoints. People have different perspectives and as much as one or the other may insist on being correct, people are going to continue to have different perspectives. "And I can accept that." :)
 
Chris Kott
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Hi Chip.

I don't see the reason to find spiritual causes and explanations for physical phenomena. I don't see a reason to bring the spiritual into discussions of soil science or biology.

I feel that some use these ephemeral spiritual concepts as place-holders or simplistic explanations of processes and phenomena, and that's fine. I just find my reason more useful to a beneficial outcome than the ephemera of others.

Just as I have a personal code of morality that helps me tell right from wrong which obviates the necessity for some higher power to do that, so does reason, through the framework of the scientific method, provide me with all the answers I need.

And some people need the spiritual to guide and inform them, to make up analogies to real life to help explain that which they cannot, and that's okay. I simply don't need it.

(While this post is absolutely sincere, part is deliberately framed in the way to which I took exception, but from the other side, in order to illustrate my point. No offense is intended, and no attack is being made. I feel, though, that the thread is stressing not persecuting the purple approach, when in actuality, I get a lot of hostility from purple circles because of my brown leanings.)

I think that the two approaches can easily coexist. I would love to see some acknowledgement of the fact that the purple side of the argument can be sometimes even more intransigent than the brown, which is what I often see lacking.

I would like to be able to discuss, for instance, soil science, without having countervailing arguments that can't be addressed technically without insulting the faith of the person arguing.

I mean, how can you have a respectful conversation if a question is counterposed that necessitates the response, "Well since there's no evidence of the existence of the being(s)/processes/energies you describe, I can't really tell you how they interact with my system..."

And that doesn't even address the issue of spreading permaculture to people already trying to earn a living farming. Both sides of this conversation think that conventional agricultural practices need to be replaced with permaculture (correct me if I'm wrong). But a farmer approached in the purple context is likely to see it as hippie nonsense and continue to spray and pray until they go bankrupt and the bank foreclosed on the farm.

This leaves no room for the brown side, as the moment they hear "Permaculture," they associate it with the stuff they've already categorized as nonsense and either tune it out or chase the offending Permies off their property.

Which makes it difficult to spread permaculture, slowing it's velocity. Which makes me sad. It also explains the host of alternative names for permaculture.

I am trying to stick primarily to the technical side of things. I have my own beliefs, which I don't share because they're private. I adhere to the idea that spirituality is more powerful when it's undefined, uncategorized, and unlabeled. Like in some faiths where the name of the deity must not be named, my belief is more powerful when unconstrained. So naturally, I leave it out of scientific discussions.

I have no solution to this quandry. I will continue to be respectful as I see it. My only wish is that others would attempt the same, and to see that other sides exist that either don't include the spiritual, or that separate it from the technical for the sake of clarity, and so my deity doesn't go crushing the toes of anyone's faeries. 😉

Seriously, if I can make a solid attempt to avoid being insulted by another's spiritual approach, shouldn't it be possible for others to do likewise with purely evidence-based approach?

-CK
 
pollinator
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[quote=Chris Kott]......that the thread is stressing not persecuting the purple approach, when in actuality, I get a lot of hostility from purple circles because of my brown leanings.)

I think that the two approaches can easily coexist. I would love to see some acknowledgement of the fact that the purple side of the argument can be sometimes even more intransigent than the brown, which is what I often see lacking.

Seriously, if I can make a solid attempt to avoid being insulted by another's spiritual approach, shouldn't it be possible for others to do likewise with purely evidence-based approach?

-CK[/quote]

This really resonates with me, and I see it in many areas.  If a person believes that a pink unicorn guards their crops at night, and states that, I am not allowed to question that, to the point I have had posts put in time-out for saying "Let's agree to disagree".  On the other hand, it seems that people with spiritual leanings have much more leeway with regards to their dislike, or even outright scorn, for atheism, or a purely logical or scientific approach to things.  The same seems to hold true for most anything that is a more left-leaning belief.  A person can easily and without fear of repercussion say something to the effect that they are non-binary, and be applauded for it.  If your personal belief is that non-binary doesn't exist, and that you are born a man or woman and that is dependent on your genitalia, you can be called names and chastised publicly without fear of retribution.  If you are a Christian and say you don't believe in homosexual marriage, you will probably be called homophobic and worse.  I find it pretty amusing myself.  The people that scream the loudest about needing the ability to be able to express themselves in the manner they see fit, seem to have the biggest problem with other people being able to express themselves that those things are wrong, or go against that belief system.

I do my best on this forum, and in life, to keep my own beliefs on these matters to myself.  I have had people attack me for my beliefs on alternative medicine a number of times by people who have no idea what my beliefs are about it, because I normally keep them to myself.  I agree with you that the tolerance level required seems to be much higher on one side than the other.
 
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Leaving room for other people's ideas is one of the guiding standard for posting on this site.  I don't see it as having anything to do with purple, brown, or any other point of view.  It applies to everyone who posts here.

I see it as a way of phrasing a post so that other people don't feel squished and belittled.  It's all in the wording. 

From a moderating point of view, I see far more purple posts fail to meet this standard.  Maybe about 4:1. 

I see more brown posters complain about moderating decisions.  Maybe about 12:1

From my point of view, it has nothing to do with someone's colour.  It's all to do with how people say things.

Stating something is an absolute - be it truth, fact, or impossibility - leaves no room for other people's experiences.



An example:
Long ago, when I was new to this site and before I was staff, I had a few experiences that really bothered me.

I wanted to do something, and I needed to know a tiny detail on how to make the whole thing fit together.  So I posted about it. 

In response, I got told how impossible the thing I was doing was because... or I was told it's far too difficult because.... or there were to many problems from it because...

Each and every time, I was told these things with certainty by people who had read about it but never attempted it.  Each and every time, I knew they were wrong because I had successfully done exactly these things that were impossible or too difficult or too dangerous, without any of the bad things happening to me that I was told absolutely would.

Each and every time, I felt like crap because these people were so persistent that I was doing things wrong and this made me feel like going out to buy a television and sitting in front of it for the rest of my life.  I think if moderators hadn't stepped in, I would have left this site for good. 

They could have said, "neat idea.  I read somewhere that it's difficult because..." instead they said "don't bother, it's too difficult because...". 

Both wordings convey the same message.  But one suggests that the knowledge is second hand, the other that tells us the 'truth' or the 'facts' of how difficult it is.

I think that this site is for people who can understand the difference between these two sentences.  One of them leaves room for other people's ideas, the other does not. 

 
chip sanft
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Chris' post brings up a lot of things. For me, I often feel like I'm at a disadvantage in life, as I can usually see two sides to everything. (Just to be clear: Usually. Not always. Not for racism etc.) I often think that science-type posts have a point, and I've come to think that "purple" (in all its many shades) posts have a point, too. At the same time, neither is perfect, and each has limitations. Recognizing this has been important for me. I don't see it as an either/or question.

The point about spreading permaculture is an important one. But I think there's enough out there -- and enough in, say, permaculture publications -- that will put off those who are likely to be put off. But that doesn't mean that permaculture methods aren't useful to the broader world. We might want to present them as methods, rather than as part of a system.

Finally, I will note that this is an internet forum. A person -- no matter what that person posts -- is likely to see contradictory posts in response. Some people have different experiences, some people just like to contradict, some people know a lot, etc. etc. The reasons vary but the phenomenon is there. What makes Permies good is that the expression of these viewpoints should be nice. It's nice when people are nice.
 
It would give a normal human mental abilities to rival mine. To think it is just a tiny ad:
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