I don't think you should tell people they are ignorant.

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I slightly disagree with Richard Dawkins here:

http://science.slashdot.org/story/1...-with-religion-isnt-insulting?sdsrc=popbyskid

Yes, it quite possibly is a statement of fact. It's quite possibly entirely literally true. But if you tell someone "you are ignorant", or even the more specific "you are ignorant about evolution" the listener is quite likely going to be insulted. So you've insulted them, so it's an insult.

Insults are subjective. Just because your logic tells you that a statement is true, that does not mean it's impossible to insult someone by saying that statement. And here, very clearly, saying "Anybody who claims to be a Creationist is either stupid, ignorant, or insane. Probably ignorant." is highly insulting to those who say they are creationists, even if it is true.

But I only slightly disagree with him. I DO agree that we should have clarity, and speak the truth, and explain to people why they are incorrect. But I think you can do it politely, or at least attempt to. And you can do it without pandering.

Instead of saying "you are ignorant about evolution", say something more like "I think there are some things about evolution that you are unaware of that might make you change your mind". Don't just slam them down, insulting their intelligence. Open a door. Tempt them to take the next step ("what things?")

Or instead of saying "you are ignorant about evolution", say "did you know the eye evolved independently over 50 times, and there are transitional forms for all stages of evolution of the human eye", or "did you know there are several very plausible models of evolution of flagella". Show, don't tell.

Many people are ignorant of the subjects they profess to have strong beliefs about, but crudely pointing out this ignorance is most likely to just throw up walls, and entrench their positions. They are stuck in a dark cave, frightened of what might be outside. Shouting at them until they come out is not going to work. We need to show them a little light, and encourage them towards it.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
How many rusted on chemtrail believers do you think anyone here has caused to recant their beliefs, Mick? I think my average is .000.

IMHO the aim of Metabunk should be as a resource to be used by those seeking answers to questions they may have, before they become "converted". Once they have that belief very little appears to dissuade them otherwise. Logic? Science? Occams Razor? Nothing seems to get through to them.

The US intelligence agencies have resorted to subtle lampooning to dissuade young muslims from a life of Jihad. I am seriously considering a future project aimed at doing the same thing. Nothing else seems to work.
 

jvnk08

Senior Member.
I think the politeness policy is one of the best thing this forum has going for it, in addition to not banning anyone for posting their beliefs, no matter how absurd(unless they are just Gish Galloping/essentially spamming). It sets a clear contrast between debunking sites and chemtrail/<conspiracy> echochamber sites.

I think Jay pointed out in another thread just about the only way to get some seriously "hooked" people to at least listen to reasonable arguments is to be as polite as possible and ask them to fully explain their beliefs. Then you can proceed to gently coax them into attacking their own arguments once you have established a premise of not lambasting them for some of the more outlandish claims they may make.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member.
True, but the project I have in mind does not involve Metabunk and hence won't violate the politeness rule. Some gentle mockery is called for and can be effective.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
I think comedic insight and gentle satire is one of the greatest teaching tools there is - think of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, or just stand-up comedy in general. Pratchett especially is wonderful at showing human stupidity in a genuinely empathetic way.
And I guess it's from the tradition of Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, etc.
Maybe I was already 'that way inclined' which is why I respond to that sort of stuff, but difficult to face truths about ourselves are best done with humour; that way we can laugh through the uncomfortable sensation of realising we are wrong about something.

It may be different though to engineering a social stigma around an issue, so instead of getting someone to figure out for themselves why something is wrong, it instead manipulates their fear of social ostracism to influence someones's choices.
It's kind of how they teach anti-smoking and anti-alcohol campaigns for teenagers. Maybe reason takes too long to get through, but our cues about social 'norms' are more primal and change behaviour quicker.

It's a little blurry ethically, but having a clear vision of what you're opposing (mindless violence and irrational fanatacism), puts it into a relative perspective of being justified.

If a CIA psy-op were all about teaching people to think for themselves, I don't think it could be faulted (though of course, they might not think what you were hoping them to think).
 

David Fraser

Senior Member.
Irrespective how you try to use it 'ignorant' is going to sound negative to the listener. Yes there is a big difference of been ignorant of the facts as compared to ignorant to the facts, but it is best avoided. I have been following CT for a couple of months and it seems to me that many of the arguments have delusional traits. I am not saying people are delusional, on both sides of the debate btw, but the way arguments are defended against the presented facts. However as with someone that is delusional I think the best way forward is to at all times respect their belief. At the end of the day their belief is important to them and that needs to be recognised rather than dismissed, otherwise you may as well bang your head against the wall.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Words like "delusional" are problematic. I am delusional about some things. Everyone is delusional to some degree, yet if you bring the word up in conversation then it's like a slap in the face. If I feel like saying it, it's better to simply say "wrong", or "mistaken", or "not quite".

I sometimes use optical illusions as an illustration of how the brain can be tricked (as there's a lot of optical illusions in the way we perceive contrails). That's reasonably straightforward, as people are familiar with optical illusions. But I'm not sure it really takes, as it can be quite hard to demonstrate that something IS an illusions. Take the checker shadow illusion:



Squares A and B are the same color, yet the illusion is so compelling that when I present this, people often get as angry as if I'd suggested they were crazy. So if you actually do say they are crazy, then it's not going to go well.
 
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David Fraser

Senior Member.
I knew it was a poor choice of words but it is the psychologist in me trying to get out. Delusionary thinking is perfectly normal and something we all do. It's a way of thinking that we use as a defence mechanism at times. However it is not a term I would use in a discussion in general, but is an apt way to describe some of the arguments I have seen.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I knew it was a poor choice of words but it is the psychologist in me trying to get out. Delusionary thinking is perfectly normal and something we all do. It's a way of thinking that we use as a defence mechanism at times. However it is not a term I would use in a discussion in general, but is an apt way to describe some of the arguments I have seen.

Oh I agree it's sometimes apt. Indeed, words like "ignorant" and "uneducated", or even "stupid" and "idiotic" are also sometimes apt. Just not in the least bit helpful.
 
J

Joe

Guest
Thanks that beat me puting blue tape all over my computer to block the other squares. :) I noticed or maybe its my vision the letter A is lighter ?
 

RolandD

Active Member
Thanks that beat me puting blue tape all over my computer to block the other squares. :) I noticed or maybe its my vision the letter A is lighter ?

I would have to sample both again to be sure, but I suspect that it's another illusion. Being 'further away', the A is, probably, slightly smaller with slightly thinner lines, making it appear lighter in comparison to the surrounding area.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I would have to sample both again to be sure, but I suspect that it's another illusion. Being 'further away', the A is, probably, slightly smaller with slightly thinner lines, making it appear lighter in comparison to the surrounding area.

The A is actually lighter. The point is that the square are the same color.


Interesting thing abotu this illusion is that it works in real-life too:
 
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