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What is "aggressive" argument?

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Oct 30, 2010 at 00:13 UTC ( #868409=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Or rather, how can written argument, be "aggressive"?

I recently got accused of "arguing aggressively". (Amongst other things!). And, despite a continued conversation, considerable thought, and some (actually quite extensive), research, I really don't know what to think about this.

In the real-world I have variously be characterised as 'direct', 'forthright', 'to the point', 'all business', 'driven' ,'persistent', 'goal-oriented' (hate that one!), and 'blunt'. But never "aggressive".

The last physical fight I had--barring (successfully) fending off an attempted 'smash, snatch and run' of my laptop on the London underground, and losing a front tooth in the process that cost me four grand to replace with an implant--was when Barry Stevens took umbrage over some joke I made about his favourite teacher. We were 11 or 12.

So, I looked up "aggressive". And there are essentially two definitions:

  • "aggressiveness - having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends; the quality of being bold and enterprising".
  • "characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight"; "a belligerent tone"

And therein lies my quandary:

  • Which of those deceptively similar, but disparately perceived, definitions am I being accused of?
  • And how do my accusers discern the difference?

Another thought crosses my mind: How much of the perception of what I say, is influenced less by what I actually say, and more by whom I say it to?

Example: Sir! Your logic is flawed. currently stands with a rep of 6. Now, by the dint of logic that (typically) I do not understand, the +- rep count for that post is suppressed, so I cannot tell you what it is. I seem to recall that it received at least one down vote--perhaps from the PP (previous poster), perhaps not--but for the full skinny, we would need to invoke the caprice of the Gods. But as they are those decided that we mere mortals should not be savvy to such knowledge; don't hold your breath.

The point is, that despite the somewhat flowery language, that post is at least as 'inflammatory' as any of my recent posts for which I have been castigated. But that post was made 'against' a perceived outsider, and 'in defence of' an national site treasure. Hence, a relatively neutral, vaguely positive response.

But, what is it, beyond personal whim, that defines the difference between the two definitions of 'aggressive' above?

Comment on What is "aggressive" argument?
Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by syphilis (Canon) on Oct 30, 2010 at 02:02 UTC
    Which of those deceptively similar, but disparately perceived, definitions am I being accused of?

    The former definition puts "aggressiveness" in a rather positive light, something to which to aspire, and of which to be proud .... so they're presumably seeing something along the lines of the latter definition. I don't think they'd be fearing any sort of physical attack, so it's probably more the "belligerent" angle.
    (Incidentally, the 2 definitions you provided are not necessarily mutually exclusive.)

    post was made 'against' a perceived outsider, and 'in defence of' an site treasure

    Yep, you can get away with more under those circumstances :-)

    Cheers,
    Rob

      Depending on which side of the discussion the reader feels is most compelling the term "agressive argument" could equally well be replaced by "passionate argument"

      "One man's passion is another man's aggression"

      At the moment it would appear from the tally that the camps are equally divided.

        I think you have made a valid point. One thing I have noticed about programmers over the years is that there is rarely a lack of passion in their opinions and very few I have known are exactly timid or lack self confidence. Sometimes this gets expressed rather more energetically in the course of a discussion than we mean or realize.

        Speaking solely from my own experience there are 2 things i really have to remind myself about when I get passionate

        1. All parties of the discussion are not aware of all of the assumptions, viewpoints, knowledge or history of the others, so it can be easy to make assumptions

        2) correction It takes 2 people to there to be an offense. The quote from Rufo in Robert Heinlein's Glory road comes to mind “An insult is like a drink; it affects one only if accepted. ... for clarification we always have the choice to refuse to be offended ...

        And yes I am too often prone to accept the drink ... even when it wasn't meant to be offered.

        I like to try to take the tack that if I do not understand what some one says (or think I do and find it somehow unacceptable) to say 'I do not understand. can you explain?' rather 'You are wrong!' However this is still very much a work in progress in my case.

        only my 2 kopeks and as always YMMV

        Misha/Michael - Russian student, grognard, bemused observer of humanity and self professed programmer with delusions of relevance
Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Oct 30, 2010 at 02:09 UTC

    “Aggressive” might be ... well ... this.

    Think about it:   is this (and several other ...) threads really a Perl meditation, or is it a forceful expression of your own particular opinion?   What incentive does a perfect-stranger have to engage in it?   What benefit, if any, is he or she likely to receive thereby?   Does it, in your honest opinion, have a visible community benefit?   Five years hence, when these words are read once again, will you still be proud of them?   (As for my own words over the years, thousands of posts in so-many forums ... OMG! Ick! ...well, anyway ... what’s done is done.   Google Does Not Forget.   Neither does The Wayback Machine.)

    This is a community of professional programmers.   The nexus of our conversations here is, and should continue to be, one of the remarkably powerful tools that we use most every day ... that is to say, the Perl language.   The benefit of our participation is (a) that we receive the benefit of being more effective and of banging our heads to a bloody-pulp just a little bit less often than we do; and (b) that we might give that benefit to others who trod this same path with us.   I find enough professional benefit in this to spend literally hours a day here, almost every day.   It is “priceless,” and I try hard to “give back.”

    I quietly encourage you to consider your threads in this light.   They are your threads, hence they are yours to consider.   If they are not as supportive of the community goal as they perhaps could be, then let them become so ... as you see fit.   If you are not receiving a warm response from the community, consider that “negative feedback” carefully, but not particularly personally.   A healthy public forum is not about “you,” nor “me,” but rather about the (very public) community.   It’s about “we.”   If the community seems to be telling you that you’ve wandered out of the channel, simply turn the wheel either to the left or to the right, and keep right on sailing.   Everyone’s participation is needed, and wanted, and actively encouraged.

    I am sensitive to the fact that I am responding publicly, but speaking only for myself.   I do not intend this as a reprimand.   HTH.

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by pemungkah (Priest) on Oct 30, 2010 at 02:57 UTC
    I think the style of argument used in Re^16: Musing on Monastery Content leans a bit too much on telling the other poster he's wrong, and not enough on showing the why of it.

    A style that concentrates less on the "someone is *wrong* on the Internet" aspect and more on "I'd like to demonstrate where the flaw in your reasoning is and why it's a flaw" will be more persuasive, come across as more polite, and will be useful to people who aren't sure who's right, even if what you're trying to do is illustrate that a different opinion may be more useful or productive.

    "You're wrong", "your thinking is wrong", and "your logic is wrong" are all confrontational; the willingness to take the time to demonstrate alternatives implicitly acknowledges that there are two people in the conversation (possibly) trying to reach a consensus, and that you're not simply dismissing the other person, but listening and taking what they say, think, and feel into your statements.

    I'd like to try to demonstrate an alternative approach to what you had to say. In this case, you're trying to impart that both the assumptions and conclusions are incorrect, so let's see how we can approach that and gently apply a cluebat.

    A note: it looks as if this thread wandered off into the weeds because this was an argument that proceeded from assumptions without those ever having been clearly stated: some assumed that each monk retains copyright to his or her postings, and therefore all rights to control its use. Others assumed that the site automatically was assigned copyright of the posting when a posting was made. The original question was "Should a monk's posting's be deletable or not?" There were no actual answers - and couldn't be - because the actual facts were never established. (And those are "what are the terms of the Perlmonks site user agreement?".)

    There are two possibilities. If a site does not require the users to sign a license allowing the site rights to the content they provide (cf. Facebook's user agreement, or Twitter's), then the user retains all copyright and has the ultimate say about whether or not the site may publish the content. If a license is agreed to, then the terms of that license apply. Since the license terms were never established, no one was arguing from facts, and instead it was merely a clash of opinion (though the supporters of "user has control" were "more right" on the basis of default conditions if no others are established).

    Moving on anyway: apotheon argued that the site had a right to continue to publish as long as credit was properly given. He assumes there is always a blanket license that grants rights to the publisher, and in that he is incorrect - but since he was arguing from "how it ought to be" not "how it is", there was no way to refute his point of view without establishing facts, and that hadn't happened by the time you made your post.

    This means no one's argument was really "valid" - as in, argued from facts to conclusions, because differing "facts" were assumed by each side! Let's see how we might have approached this to establish a basis for argument and then drawing a solid conclusion from it - without making anyone feel as if they're being personally attacked.

    I think you are arguing from a basis that may not apply here. The point that we're disagreeing on is "what are the default rights of the author versus those of the site?" (I lay out the basis of the disagreement first, politely stating that this is what I think is going on, as opposed to what "is" right. "You are" statements are inherently confrontational, as they challenge the listener to defend. "I think", "I feel", "it looks to me as if" statements present a viewpoint without putting the listener in a defensive position.)

    International copyright law applies to all forms of expression (and posts here fall under that, as they are written communications) as soon as they are created (in opposition to the old style, where you had to apply to the Copyright Office for a specific copyright).(Establishing the factual basis which was lacking, specifically that posts are copyrightable, and that the copyright automatically exists.)

    By default the author retains all rights of publication of any kind unless they are otherwise assigned to someone else (the author gives up his rights to someone else) or the publisher gets a license to use the content (a site EULA, for instance, that provides for the site to use and continue to use the content, and spells out the conditions in which that is permitted).(Establishing base conditions and implications of the basis, and ramifications, including items that could make the other's points valid under certain conditions.)

    The assumption that an automatic right-to-republish license applies whenever someone publishes content on a site is incorrect. In the absence of rights assignment to the publisher, or a agreed-to license permitting it, an author can assert his or her right to refuse publication, and the publisher must accede and take down the content. This is why the RIAA can demand that MP3s be taken down: they have either been assigned the rights, or are acting for the original author to insist that unlicensed publication cease. (Illustration of the specific flaw in the reasoning; familiar example of how the actual situation applies. Note that it's the assumption that isn't correct, not the person!)

    Most sites do license content, but even then they generally do not require the author to allow them an irrevocable license in perpetuity (this grants the licensee the right to republish on the site while the author retains the right to republish elsewhere - note that the author has signed away the right to withdraw the content explicitly). Most licenses at websites are much more limited, allowing the site to continue to use the material only until the user withdraws it or requests that it be removed. (Detailing conditions where he could have been right, but showing they don't apply.)

    I agree that it would be a lot better if a Perlmonks user couldn't withdraw material from a thread, but it appears from the way things were done that there is either no licensing agreement, or the license is limited to "permission of the user to publish, revocable anytime". The assumption that this exists by default doesn't agree with current copyright law: the ability to publish does not establish the right to do so, whether or not one possesses the material in question. (Acknowledging that there are valid positive reasons to hold the opinion he does, but stating politely that those reasons don't override other established facts, followed by a solid summary of the position taken.)

    That's an illustration - establishing the specific basis of the disagreement, neutrally marshaling facts to support one's position, and illustrating the logical steps from the facts to your conclusions, and pointing out why it's not possible to get from the facts to the other person's assumptions.

    If you get a reply that essentially says "I reject your reality and replace it with my own!" then you have to politely say, "I don't think your assumption is correct; I also don't think I'm going to change your mind on this. Shall we agree that we don't agree on this?" (Note the use of I-language and we-language - consensus-building effort to agree on something, even if it's "we both think the other is wrong about this".)

    This is also an attempt to apply these same concepts to this post - trying to establish the bases for my opinions on arguing effectively without telling you you're wrong for arguing differently. :)

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by tirwhan (Abbot) on Oct 30, 2010 at 10:58 UTC

    Since I was the one (amongst others? Dunno, you seem to imply it) to label your argument aggressive, I guess I should respond. I'll try to be as brief as I can. None of the following is meant to further castigate or accuse, just as clarification.

    For definition of "aggressive" I'd go with the Wiktionary entry on aggression (which also pretty much corresponds to your second definition):

    1. The act of initiating hostilities or invasion.
    2. The practice or habit of launching attacks.
    3. Hostile or destructive behavior or actions.

    In recent weeks, I've repeatedly seen you jump on nodes that concern threading and forking in an aggressive (per the above definition) way. You attribute malicious intent to the writers of such nodes where, to my eye(tm), there is none. You also read meanings into these nodes that I cannot detect, then proceed to tear apart these meanings. You attack authors of such nodes personally, when you could just as well argue against the content of their nodes. All of that is aggression. If you'd like examples, is ||= threadsafe? contains several of each of these.

    As for the comparison to Re^16: Musing on Monastery Content, what does that have to do with anything? Most people who've been in the monastery for a while have written an aggressive reply at some time or other. I certainly have. Everybody gives in to the dark side occasionally, that's human nature, and if it's reasonably funny and to the point you might even be upvoted for it. It just becomes annoying to see constant aggression whenever a certain subject comes up.


    All dogma is stupid.
      In recent weeks, I've repeatedly seen you jump on nodes that concern threading and forking in an aggressive (per the above definition) way. You attribute malicious intent to the writers of such nodes where, to my eye(tm), there is none. You also read meanings into these nodes that I cannot detect, then proceed to tear apart these meanings. You attack authors of such nodes personally, when you could just as well argue against the content of their nodes.

      I'd ask you to reconsider 4 things:

      1. Is my participation in node on the subject of threading, "jumping"?

        What delineates "jumping" from: supplying answers; or questioning other supplied answers?

      2. Your primary choice of definition of "aggressive", suggests that "initiation" is an important characteristic.

        The time-lines in threads are clearly delineated. Did I initiate?

      3. How can I definitively argue "content" where no technical content is provided?

        Other than by asking for technical content, which I do.

      4. In the absence of an obvious technical reason for the posting of (questionable) content, one does try to discern one.

        Add context, history, knowledge of patterns to the mix, and individual interpretations will differ.

        For example:I find the posting of the assertion "I don't know any of a,b,c to be X", as an "answer" to the question "Is p, X?", to be of extremely questionable value.

        • Does it answer the original question?
        • It is phrased as a follow on question?
        • If it were so phrased, could the asker of the original question reasonably be expected to know the answer?
        • As an assertion, if true, it might shed some light on the original question. But as it is false, what then?
        • As an assertion by a monk known--even renown--for their accuracy and knowledge, what effect does such a false assertion have? What effect was it intended to have?

        I picked that example, because it has (eventually) been honourably withdrawn and corrected. As such, my questioning of it was right, proper and successful.

        There are other, similar assertions in that thread less well, or honourably resolved.


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

        Briefly:

        Is my participation in node on the subject of threading, "jumping"?

        No.

        What delineates "jumping" from: supplying answers; or questioning other supplied answers?

        It's "jump on", not just "jump", and again, the Wiktionary supplies a good definition.

        The time-lines in threads are clearly delineated. Did I initiate?

        From what I saw you initiated the hostile style, yes.

        How can I definitively argue "content" where no technical content is provided?

        "Incorrect content" (in your eyes) is not equivalent to "no content"

        Other than by asking for technical content, which I do.

        "I dare you to", "Utter FUD" is not asking. Not politely, anyway.

        ..one does try to discern one

        "One" should consider that ones conclusion may be wrong (I know of two times in the past where you were definitely wrong in your discernment). And even if one thinks one is right, jumping on a subjectively perceived and tenuously established malicious intention is still aggression. IMO.

        to be of extremely questionable value

        Agreed. The bait-and-switch tactic you then employed was more distasteful though.

        As such, my questioning of it was right,

        Yes.

        proper

        Not in style or tone.

        and successful.

        In an Operation-Enduring-Freedom-successful sort of way, yeah.

        Update: shit, I really just shouldn't have bothered replying, what an utter waste of time. I am now and forever done with this discussion.


        All dogma is stupid.
Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by luis.roca (Deacon) on Oct 31, 2010 at 02:35 UTC

    BrowserUK,

    First, I appreciate the fact you are asking the community what in your posts is being picked up as aggressiveness. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes for the Monastery and the Perl community. It really is one of the top three reasons I chose to learn Perl.

    Now, I'm a beginner. I'm not a programmer by trade. I'm a graphic designer that learned HTML, CSS then putzed around with PHP for a while before coming to Perl. The point is I have NO idea what forking or threading (let alone iThreads) are and which side I'm supposed to be on. But I could tell by both of your definitions of aggressiveness — you were on the aggressive side. OK, so what, it happens.

    Your post reminded me of when, about this time last year, I decided I wanted to pick up a blues harmonica. I'm not very musical. I wanted something that was creative, outside my comfort zone and I could totally stink at without a care in the world. So, I started researching harmonicas.

    Believe it or not their are absolute holy wars when it comes to the best blues harmonica. Their is the Lee Oskar camp and the Marine Band Special 20 camp. Some of the threads and comments thrown back and forth would surprise you even for internet standards. I might have been put off if I didn't find it so completely silly.

    At the end of the day, is it really worth the time and effort? I've grown to dislike using Adobe software even though Illustrator was my bread and butter for years (I still work in it). There's alot to complain about but — why? I've thought of posting/commenting on a few of the topics and even have a few short essays archived away that never saw the light of a form's text box. After you've written a post in your text editor let it sit there for an hour or two. Go back and you'll find you may not even recognize the person who wrote it.

    P.S. Sorry about your teeth. Next time, please keep your hands up and a stiff foot to the back of the knee of your laptop's(or purse, bag, etc.) admirer should do the trick.

    P.S.S I bought a Lee Oskar and I stink :)

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by Argel (Prior) on Nov 01, 2010 at 19:11 UTC
    There's a fine line between arguing passionately and browbeating, and where you think that line is and where the majority of us think it is do not exactly line up. Go back over the threads and mark ANYTHING that could be considered a personal attack. If you want to, you can also try to determine if someone did consider it a personal attack. Also make note if YOU responded to a perceived insult in kind (i.e. with your own insult). Then ask yourself if you could have made your point or responded differently, without the [possible] personal attacks.

    If you still cannot connect the dots, then you might want to take a few print outs to someone schooled in debate and go over them.

    As for your your example, it's irrelevant -- just because someone else crosses the line and does or does not get called out on it doesn't justify or vindicate YOUR actions.

    As an example of what I was talking about in the first paragraph, I was going to end the previous paragraph with "Didn't they teach this back in school?" But it's just inflammatory -- there's no actual value to it.

    Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

      your example, it's irrelevant -- just because someone else crosses the line and does or does not get called out on it doesn't justify or vindicate YOUR actions.

      I ask others to look carefully at who initiates these trades.

      Personally, I don't have a problem with being on the receiving end, provided response in kind is acceptable.

      I do object to be held to different standards than those who initiate such exchanges.

      When I see the same standards being applied to those few with whom I am curt, as are being applied to me, I will take those standards to heart.

        Ah, I see. And here I thought you were actually interested in figuring out where that fine line between arguing passionately and browbeating is. Instead, I find you using an example from six years ago to justify your curt behavior today, conveniently overlooking that there has been no discussion about whether the community standards have changed over the past six years!! Definitely your style!

        Not that it's relevant -- just because someone is curt with you does not mean you have to or respond in kind. In fact, that kind of behavior is what leads to flame wars. [Insert something about the moral high ground here.]

        So anyway, I guess that makes your OP a typical rant on your part. Kudos for disguising it so well. <humor sense="dry" style="sarcastic"> And now we can all rest easy knowing that you 1) haven't been replaced by a doppelganger and that 2) this was not a sign of the Apocalypse and thus it is not the End of Days!! Don't scare us like that!! ;-) </humor>

        Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

      BrowserUK - my take on an online discussion is that when someone heads into what feels to me as a personal attack (and that can vary wildly from day to day, depending on phase of the moon, amount of sleep, and coffee intake). it's time for me to say "We seem to have stopped talking about the actual subject here; I think I'll stop now" and then really stop talking to them about that subject.

      Once an argument has moved away from "I think this point is wrong", or "I think you have a mistaken assumption, here's what it is, and here's why I think so" on either side to the logical equivalent of "YOU SUX0R", it's over - there's no longer an argument that can be won or lost. Person A is talking about their opinion of person B, and opinions are neither provable or disprovable; they just are what they are.

      "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent", and that includes verbal and emotional violence.

      Please note that I do not mean you are incompetent!

      I mean "I think this is a mistake you are making that makes you look bad, and I think you're a lot smarter than that."

      Having read and upvoted many of your posts, I know you are smarter than that - there's no question in my mind about it. It's just a matter of spotting the point of no return faster, and being willing to say, "Bored now. Done." and walk away, no matter what the other person may fire after you.

      The temptation to respond is always very large. But not doing so after your polite termination of the discussion - "We're not talking about the subject anymore, but about me, so I think I'll stop now" - will mark you as someone wise enough to not waste his time on something that will be fruitless, pointless, and lead only to bad feelings on both sides - and makes the argumentative person look like the incompetent.

      If you politely stop talking after saying the truth, then you're done. If the other person really wants to talk about the subject and just got overheated, then that's their chance to cool off, back down, (maybe) apologize, and resume talking about the actual subject. Otherwise, you look good, polite, and mature, and they look dumb.

      Which is a far better result than any argument could achieve.

        Congratulations!! You are now a proud member of the "half a dozen would-be PM despots" that are trying to convince him that he could be doing better on the communication front.

        As someone who is 31 levels deep in a "discussion" with him elsewhere in this thread, I am sad to report that that is the fate that awaits us. Even the loose correlation between message reply depth and node reputation was not enough for him. He's right. We're wrong. His opinion is basically locked in at this point. :-(

        Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by herveus (Parson) on Nov 02, 2010 at 11:32 UTC
    Howdy!

    You are accused of being aggressive in the negative sense.

    My sense, from a number of years of experience, is that you are prone to being needlessly contentious. You elect confrontational language on slight provocation. You do normally include substantive technical content, but it's effectiveness is lessened by the static around it.

    You are not unique in this weakness. One can hope that by asking, you are hoping to discern more clearly and, perhaps, modify your approach. "Someone is wrong on the Internet" leaps to mind. Been there, drank the Kool Aid. I'd like to think I've gotten better (mostly).

    yours,
    Michael
Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by GotToBTru (Curate) on Nov 03, 2010 at 21:36 UTC
    I believe an aggressive comment in a forum discussion would be when the target is perceived to be the individual, and not the content of his comments. None of the following are quotes of anybody, just examples.

    "You're stupid" - clearly aggressive

    "You're stupid because you don't know that foo() returns a hashref in scalar context" - aggressive

    "No, that won't work because foo() returns a hashref in scalar context" - not aggressive but might be perceived so depending on the facial expression and tone of voice of the speaker, as assumed by the reader

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by ruzam (Curate) on Nov 05, 2010 at 00:19 UTC

    Oh look, this isn't an argument. It's just contradiction.

    Opps! Sorry I wanted room 12A, Just along the corridor...

      Could you please translate that into English?
Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by raybies (Chaplain) on Nov 10, 2010 at 13:42 UTC

    Just saw this thread. I remember the "aggressive" accusation, but honestly I've seen worse here from other contributors--like when JavaFan reamed some poor dude for giving an answer that was wrong, and the evils of posting when you're not 100% sure your answer's the most accurate... (I didn't vote him down or anything, cuz, of course, he was right, but at the time I remember reading it and thinking "What a big meanie!")

    I've only been around this fantastic expert's site regularly since the beginning of October, and I think old-timers develop an online personality that newbies can't yet relate to--and may require some patience to understand.

    This thread actually proves it--as I can see a number of personalities in this thread that I have no idea how to understand--but can see there's a lengthy history and perhaps some competing egos.

    That said, if I could contribute anything to the discussion by way of encouragement to BrowserUK, I'd just say, don't get too discouraged about having your teeth knocked out in the last fight you were in (ref OP), cuz we all know that the British have notoriously bad teeth! :D

    Ray ducks and runs...

      > and I think old-timers develop an online personality that newbies can't yet relate to--and may require some patience to understand.

      Indeed, good observation! :)

      Cheers Rolf

      cuz we all know that the British have notoriously bad teeth! :D

      I'd refute that by showing you, but given your name, the water in the jar where I keep them, might have a disastrous affect on you! ;)


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

        What say you

        "Mad dogs and Englishmen"

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by shmem (Canon) on Nov 16, 2010 at 20:29 UTC
    So, I looked up "aggressive". And there are essentially two definitions:
    • "aggressiveness - having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends; the quality of being bold and enterprising".
    • "characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight"; "a belligerent tone"
    And therein lies my quandary:
    • Which of those deceptively similar, but disparately perceived, definitions am I being accused of?
    • And how do my accusers discern the difference?
    Another thought crosses my mind: How much of the perception of what I say, is influenced less by what I actually say, and more by whom I say it to?

    Well, I guess you are accused of both of them. I certainly don't. Or... well, yes, not accusing, perceiving, if I so choose. But not the second! because...

    But, what is it, beyond personal whim, that defines the difference between the two definitions of 'aggressive' above?

    ...it states:

    enemy

    Reading enemity into your posts is just plain rubbish, and an imputation which I utterly condemn. It is the type of nonsense which drove Abigail-II away from this site, when his "social skills" were being disputed, despite having posted an average of 5 posts per day over the course of two years, full of advice and knowledge. He didn't speak out softly. And? Does that show a lack of "social skills"?

    That's for answers; the label "aggressive" is just gratuitous. Posts are WYSIWYG, and 'nuff said.

      Exactly!

      So your theory is that there were people who considered Abigail-II an "enemy" and this nonsense drove her away? No, after a few re-reads, I think your theory is that people read "enmity" in her postings and that misperception is what drove her away (well, it'd have to be some consequence of the misperception as I don't believe Abigail-II could read minds -- so, expressions of this misperception).

      Based on the impressive level of shouting she did preceding a round of "nonsense" ("the final round") and based on the target not being one of the sources of the claimed "nonsense", I suspect "a lack of social skills" might've included a personal difficulty in dealing with a website full of people; as much for the never-ending supply of ones asking stupid questions as for the ones failing to show the proper level of gratitude. But that isn't based on any personal admissions from Abigail-II; perhaps your theory is?

      It seems clear that you reject the accuracy of the perception by others of the expression by BrowserUk of enmity in his postings (it seems clear that your "your" was meant to address BrowserUk directly and specifically) (if such perceptions are actually being claimed).

      For the record, I have not (recently, at least) referred to BrowserUk as "aggressive". My recent complaints had more to do with misperceptions and adamant presumptions. I don't care to argue that BrowserUk needs to tone down his language or argue more politely. [Though, I did strongly object, with reasonable evidence, I believe, to BrowserUk's slanted characterization of a conversation. But my point was certainly not to complain about BrowserUk "raising the heat", but to refute his characterization to the contrary which I found humorously skewed.]

      But your highlighting of the concept of "enemy" intrigues me. I'm not comfortable enough with the word "enmity" to state whether I think BrowserUk expresses enmity in his postings.

      But when you highlight the concept of "enemy" in this conversation, what immediately comes to my mind is that somebody is perceiving and repeatedly expressing what seems very close to "having identified a list of a few enemies." With BrowserUk repeatedly using phrases like 'my sparring partners' & their supporters and Just half a dozen would-be PM despots, I think an interpretation of "my enemies" would not be a big stretch.

      So is that stretch what you "utterly condemn"? (Yes, I'm honestly curious and trying to better understand what you wrote.)

      Somewhat as an aside, part of something you quoted caught my eye (something I completely glossed over when I likely read it the first time):

      influenced less by what I actually say, and more by whom I say it to?

      Wow. So this puts forth the theory that not only are people not criticizing BrowserUk based on "what is said, not who speaks", but based on "who is spoken to"? That's a level I never even considered one would presume, much less express in public. It suggests to me a new aphorism, "examine what is written, not who you imagine the author is secretly defending". But I guess that isn't very "catchy".

      - tye        

        Strawmen all.

        1. (if such perceptions are actually being claimed)

          Out of context, meaningless. In context--re-read the threads above--that is exactly the definition chosen by some.

        2. With BrowserUk repeatedly using phrases like ...

          All those uses a) come after the fact; b) are either direct quotes or paraphrase others characterisations; c) are usually quoted to emphasis that either a) or b) or both are the case.

        3. not who you imagine the author is secretly defending"

          No imagination is necessary. Just go back and inspect the records of you and others popping up in threads you've no previous involvement in; on subjects you've shown no particular interest in; 'in support of' indefensible statements.

          And you're still doing it.

          But, for at least the last 5 or so levels of the deep subthread in this thread, Argel has been exhibiting exactly the same passion, tenacity and strength of argument for which you've attacked me; but I see no sign of you wading in against him?

        Another old saying: "What is good for the goose, is good for the gander!"

        Ps. Keep this up and I'm going to start charging you on a per-use basis for using my handle.


        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
        So your theory is that there were people who considered Abigail-II an "enemy" and this nonsense drove her away?

        No. It's not a theory - I'm writing about my perception; and then, wrt Abigail-II, it's not about enemity or enmity, but the same type of nonsense: in this case, deriving a lack of social skills by willful interpretation. Read from 369365 on. He wrote Y, so he must be X / lack Z. He wrote A, so he must be in mood B. All that without even knowing the source of the postings but through manifestations in a public forum. This is what I utterly condemn. A related sort of maltreatment happened to Abigail when his sex was discussed, and so he decided to leave. See 96213.

        I repeat: Posts are WYSIWYG. What you read is all yours. Deriving an intent, a hidden agenda, an emotion or mood of the poster based on the content is an excercise which may further human understanding. But the findings of such excercise may be discussed with, if he so wishes, but MUST NOT be stamped on the poster.

Re: What is "aggressive" argument?
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 23, 2010 at 00:30 UTC
    Your problem isn't new.

    If you give me your attention, I will tell you what I am:
    I'm a genuine philanthropist — all other kinds are sham.
    Each little fault of temper and each social defect
    In my erring fellow-creatures, I endeavour to correct.
    To all their little weaknesses I open people's eyes;
    And little plans to snub the self-sufficient I devise;
    I love my fellow creatures — I do all the good I can —
    Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
    And I can't think why!

    To compliments inflated I've a withering reply;
    And vanity I always do my best to mortify;
    A charitable action I can skillfully dissect;
    And interested motives I'm delighted to detect;
    I know ev'rybody's income and what ev'rybody earns;
    And I carefully compare it with the income-tax returns;
    But to benefit humanity however much I plan,
    Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
    And I can't think why!

    I'm sure I'm no ascetic; I'm as pleasant as can be;
    You'll always find me ready with a crushing repartee,
    I've an irritating chuckle, I've a celebrated sneer,
    I've an entertaining snigger, I've a fascinating leer.
    To ev'rybody's prejudice I know a thing or two;
    I can tell a woman's age in half a minute — and I do.
    But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can,
    Yet ev'rybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
    And I can't think why!

    We can all see King Gama's problem, but we can't see our own. Burns points that out:

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!

    But don't get the impression from that second quote that I mean to imply anyone is a louse. I'm not.
      Your problem isn't new.

      Hm. (Inevitably:) You're wrong. Or, you might be right, but not in the way you think.

      You see, I know why people find me a disagreeable man. There are flavours of course, but mostly, it's because I am.

      My only "problem" here is why other people think I should change. More importantly, why do they think that I should want to change.

      This place isn't a part of my social life. Just a place where I pass time by attempting to solve interesting problems. As I said somewhere else in this thread, I find programming problems infinitely more interesting and challenging than crosswords or sudoku. Every now and again something I post seems to help the OP and that's nice. And when it doesn't, that okay too, because I probably had fun doing it anyway.

      I wish it were possible to have in-depth, technical discussions here, without people taking disagreement with their ideas, code or logic, as attacks on their person; or them resorting to attacks on my person when their technical arguments are exhausted or disproved. It used to be possible.

      Just as a person does not have to be beautiful, to do something beautiful; they do not have to be stupid, to do or say something stupid. To say: "That is stupid" is not to say: "You are stupid"; but that distinction seems lost here these days.

      I remember when I first came here, I was admonished: "Stop being so damn polite!". Well, this place has knocked it out of me. So, if those with whom I have disagreements, see me as "disagreeable" all I can do is own that.

      Nice poem by the way.


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
        To say: "That is stupid" is not to say: "You are stupid"; but that distinction seems lost here these days.

        In my experience that distinction has always been lost

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