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Phil Plait’s “Don’t Be a Dick” speech

Phil Plait’s posted the infamous Don’t Be a Dick speech from TAM 8 over at his blog (though hopefully the cross-posting won’t bother everyone’s favorite Bad Astronomer). I’m amused that people watched this and thought he’s talking about PZ specifically. He talks a lot of sense. I do take issue with a few quibbling points, but as I’ve gotten a chance to preview an upcoming blog post by Our Lady, I wouldn’t want to step on her toes.

Phil Plait – Don’t Be A Dick from JREF on Vimeo.

So what do you think? And more importantly, are my tactics in the never-ending astrology thread dickish at all?

Update: Stephanie’s posted the above-teased piece right here.

What’s the difference between someone who engages in an argument in bad faith in an attempt to spread their views and someone who has internalized the views of such a person but is willing to find out what might be wrong with them? What’s the difference between the willfully ignorant and the miseducated? What’s the difference between someone who is out to demolish our credibility and someone who doesn’t know yet whether they can trust us? What’s the difference between someone who’s setting out to obfuscate and someone who hasn’t been trained to argue through a proposition to find the truth?

There are a few clear answers to that, but none of them are going to be clear to me in the course of an online discussion with someone I haven’t encountered before. They all involve motives and history that I’m not privy to. If I’m playing to an audience, that audience isn’t privy either.

Comments

  1. says

    And adding your own thoughts at some point, I hope.

    As for the astrology thread, I noticed you doing some things I wouldn’t do, but dickish? I don’t know. On the other hand, I expect to get very familiar with that thread, so I’ll let you know.

  2. says

    One of the major points I disagreed with Phil Plait on, in this, is that we “can say it’s a war but it’s not a war” — a point you made. And the reason I disagree is because the other side is not sending out diplomats to convince people of their case. While diplomats are the appropriate response unit to the dewy-eyed true believers who are open to persuasion given appropriate evidence and logic, the people that regularly come to my blog and start fights are the “warriors”. They’re armed with what they believe to be better arguments, better evidence (or good reasons they can’t provide evidence), and better debating skills. And they’re expecting a fight. You can start out diplomatic with them, but they’re girded for the gladiator pit, so you’d best be prepared to take the first mace shot to the head.

  3. says

    I do have to say that I’m impressed that your post on astrology pulled in four people who make their livings at it. Although you did get some true believers as well.

  4. says

    You’re impressed? I’m dumbfounded. I mean, who the hell am I? And when did I become a threat to the woo-peddlers? Perhaps that’s why they thought they could just crush me. It took four of them in a coordinated manner (plus Ken McRitchie once, mentioned in the Skeptico posts!) before I started to despair that they would outpace my stamina for this sort of fight.

    I sort of see why CyberLizard raised some hackles in the first few pages of the comment thread, though I suspect anonstargazer was honestly looking for something to be upset about. S/he started out praising my post, then turned to hostility in very rapid fashion (to CL, me, and everyone around) as soon as the first flippant dismissal of astrology was made. So, there’s something to be said about the perception of dickishness — some people are primed to see dickishness where there is none, or where there is far less than they perceive.

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