Afternoon Inquisition

4.29 Afternoon Inquisition

As usual, Wednesday’s A.I. comes to us courtesy from last week’s Comment o’ the Week winner. Take it away, Rav Winston!

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When perusing our Skepchicks website, I often notice how we
tend to comment or respond to articles and questions. Sometimes, I see
responses to an article that seem to ignore the preceding comments, as
if the author simply wanted to make their thoughts on the subject
known.
And sometimes, once a discussion gets going, I see a lot of
back-and-forth that suggests we are thinking off the tops of our
heads, or from our guts.

And so I wonder; how many of us, when arguing a point, make use of
primary and secondary resource materials? How often do we cite for our
opinions? And how often do we shift our stances based upon preceeding
comments?

In short, do you think we adequately show our Skeptical, Rational
colours when flitting about the Intertubes?

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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35 Comments

  1. I really enjoy the back and forth commentary that usually appears here. It gives a layering effect that helps build to a single consensus. I do feel that, often, there are those who have a set message, conceived in advance, that MUST be put to print. Those are often the ones who have not read any of the discussion above and who just hit and run.

  2. We make the effort but the result is less that adequate given the comment methodology. Similar comments can occur from different authors at nearly the same time making it appear that no one is reading. Often the pace of commenting does not allow time to source references properly. This seems ok for comments to articles. However, articles and articles in reply to articles from a primary author should be held to a higher standard that adequately shows our Skeptical, Rational colours.

  3. What?? Aren’t we supposed to take everything you say on faith???

    I think that we often take the comments section a little too flippantly. Looking back at my comments I pretty much shoot from the hip.

  4. Off the cuff. Wait, that was an off the cuff answer; let me look at my log of all I have posted on the internet and get back to you.*

    I usually don’t look things up unless dealing with charismatic BS’ers, or doubt myself due to good counter points.
    So usually when it doesn’t matter I do not look it up; I make it up :) – well, try to draw from memory.

    *This may never happen as I was internet posting when the internet was still mostly limited to schools in Canada; and BBS’s linked through packet swapping.

  5. I can’t speak about the comments on this site in particular, since I’ve only just joined. But I can’t imagine people who come here are any different from those who regularly flap away from every other corner of the net.

    Surveys have shown that people make up fake citations 87% of the time, anyway. And 30% of that 87% have committed sexually-related felony.

  6. When arguing opinion, I try to understand where they are coming from. If I understand their position, then I can better defend, and attack. Also, I try to argue to a draw, rather than to win. And, yes, there are times when I leave my a$$ somewhere, and someone like Elyse is nice enough to hand it to me.

  7. To a large degree I’m with Kayla Marie and marilove in that I respond based on quick readings of others comments at times. I make a point to not comment on articles I haven’t read unless its’ to address what another commenter said. I tend to poke my nose into the forum at different points in the day depending on how busy work is and rarely have time for any research unless it’s to reference something I’m already familiar with.

    If I had more time to proof read I suppose I would. Hence the desire for an EDIT FUNCTION!!! :-)

  8. When arguing opinions, you have to remember that they’re just that – opinions- and people love to express theirs at every opportunity. But, I think that the off-the -cuff stuff is a great starting point; it gets the mental lubrications oozing.

    I do like to search for references but, by the time you do, there can be 50+ posts already saying just what you said. That’s the nature of this medium.

    So, in short: no we don’t, but we try, and that’s what counts. The only real place for generally thought-out ideas or arguments are in the main posts.

  9. “And so I wonder; how many of us, when arguing a point, make use of primary and secondary resource materials? How often do we cite for our
    opinions? And how often do we shift our stances based upon preceeding comments?

    In short, do you think we adequately show our Skeptical, Rational colours when flitting about the Intertubes?”

    Wow, good questions. Only being able to answer for myself I can say the following:

    Primary and Secondary resource materials – As mentioned by others this can take a lot of time. I do this when I have that time, or when the direction of a discussion demands it. So most of the time – No

    Citation for my opinion – Never. It’s mine, what the hell is to cite. However, when looking at the facts necessary to support how I got to my opinion – well, whenever I have time and the conversation needs it, (eg. when a factual challenge is made against my position).

    Shift my stances based upon preceeding comments – More often than is probably evident in my comment history. Often I read a thread and choose to just not comment because I change my mind about my position and someone else has stated my new position better. Other times I find that days later I have changed my position as the full implications of new facts have had a chance to filter through my puny little mind. Other times still, I’ll be presented with a fact I didn’t know that changes everything right in the middle of a discussion. That doesn’t mean I change my position all the time though. Opinions are just that and many of mine don’t drift much. Fact based conclusions, however, will shift as new facts are presented.

    In short… – I think Yes – ish, and I think many others on this site are much better at all of the above than I am. So as a group I would probably lean towards ‘Yes’.

  10. Oh Edit Button, why hast though forsaken us?

    The ‘preview’ button is for fixing up your post so it looks nice and doesn’t have too many grammar or spelling errors.
    The ‘edit’ button is for changing your post so the person who refuted your argument no longer makes any sense.

  11. Generally, I try to comment on things that I already have knowledge of from what I have read in the past. I think this blog allows for more opinions than for hard facts. I have noticed that most people are thoughtful about what they post. I also like to light-hearted and respectful atmosphere and the humor that people inject into their comments. For more hard core and argumentative blogs I go elsewhere.

  12. We all suck.

    We rarely cite unless the shit gets really thick eg, I’ll bring out web of science to fight TrueSkeptic, but usually don’t bother.

    I rarely see anyone shifted by an argument. Actually, much of the time people don’t even bother to attempt to understand a comment they are going to disagree with, they just strap on some assumptions and jump.

    Where this site differs from most is in the citation of stupidity. There are rock stupid assumptions about religion, evolution, Darwinism, Atheism, and so on that just don’t show up here.

  13. We all redacted.

    We rarely cite unless the redacted gets really thick eg, I’ll bring out web of science to fight nameless, but usually don’t bother.

    I rarely see anyone shifted by an argument. Actually, much of the time people don’t even bother to attempt to understand a comment they are going to disagree with, they just redacted on some assumptions and jump.

    Where this site differs from most is in the citation of redacted. There are rock redacted assumptions about redacted, redacted, redacted, redacted, and so on that just don’t show up here.

  14. I rarely see anyone shifted by an argument. Actually, much of the time people don’t even bother to attempt to understand a comment they are going to disagree with, they just strap on some assumptions and jump.

  15. @llewelly: “The ‘preview’ button is for fixing up your post so it looks nice and doesn’t have too many grammar or spelling errors.
    The ‘edit’ button is for changing your post so the person who refuted your argument no longer makes any sense.”

    LoL.

    O.k. when put that way, I totally agree.

    Fie on thee oh greatest of scoundrels.
    Fie on thee, edit button!

  16. I don’t think I have ever cited any material of any kind. I am not a professional academic and the comments that I post here are not in a paper that will be reviewed by a professor or a journal for publication. Also, I am, like almost everyone else here, engaged in another life that takes place outside of the cyber realms. I am often squeezing a comment in between taking care of the kids, making dinner or helping with homework. Then again many of my comments are food or booze related. So I am not sure what source material I would sight. Foodnetwork.com says that bleu cheese is great and that you are a very wrong person if you don’t like it? Something like that maybe. I am really just trying to come up with something so witty, so full of sexual innuendo and skeptical goodness that it will win the COTW and I can ask the AI on Wednesday. I already know the question. “Where on the web can I see your boobies?” I mean what AI could follow that? We would have to shut the whole process down.

  17. In short, do you think we adequately show our Skeptical, Rational colours when flitting about the Intertubes?

    No. Not usually.

    I think most of the folks here are prone to emotional blinders and irrational responses like everyone else, just not with the frequency, depth, and perhaps boorish stubbornness of the great unwashed masses.

    As for citations and stuff, I really, really, wished I (and others, perhaps) cited, quoted, linked, and referred more than I do. But like lots of folks I get into that “immediacy” panic, wherein everything I’m thinking and have ever thought about the current topic must be posted now, Now, NOW!

  18. I usually do not cite info, but I should and try to always a acknowledge that I am not citing sources. For example, most of the time, I am too damn lazy/uncomfortable to cite a book that I read 10 years ago and no longer have a copy of.
    I have to admit that sometimes I get into my head to spend a lot of time on a comment and cite sources, but I see other people’s emotional “off the cuff” comments and that deflates me of my brainy spirit.

    In my opinion, most people just want to get there post count up or mark territory. (post on every article/pee ever tree)

    I wish I had more knowledge to statistically evaluate different person’s use of words. (such as negative words, statements of fact, statements personal feelings…) (graph those vs testosterone levels) :D

  19. @Gabrielbrawley:

    I am really just trying to come up with something so witty, so full of sexual innuendo and skeptical goodness that it will win the COTW and I can ask the AI on Wednesday. I already know the question. “Where on the web can I see your boobies?”

    You had me at boobies, my friend. COTW for his blatant COTW plug!

    On a side note, I can’t believe no one else nominated that one. Srsly, wtf.

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