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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A lesson learned

Since I hammered Ken White of Popehat for his howler on the UN report on "cyberviolence", it only seems fair to point out that unlike an SJW, he did not double-down:
I was right in saying that we need to scrutinize any specific proposed laws or policies that arise from this report. But I was wrong to downplay the rhetoric as mere rhetoric, and to say it was premature to criticize it. On a more serious look, the report's rhetoric suggests an effort to use the language of violence to cover non-violent and protected conduct. That is of particular concern since it is directed at the UN....

I screwed up. I didn't blow a closing argument or put the wrong pacemaker in someone or crash a car, but I offered my thoughts without exercising due care. The easy reason was that I rushed, because I was busy. The harder reason is that some of my attitudes colored my approach.

I expected that the report would not be read, that its contents would be overstated and distorted, and that it would be treated as an open and explicit call for censorship because of the people involved with it. I wasn't wrong to think that. But I was wrong to let that thought stop me from a more careful examination, and to allow myself to breeze by the implications of the rhetoric while looking for the specific proposals that weren't there. If I had looked at it from a "is this rhetoric bad or not" standpoint, instead of a "imagine the reaction to this" viewpoint, I would have gotten it right.
People have been getting suckered by the Left's "it's only rhetoric" and "it's just this one brick" for over a century now. That's how the income tax got started. That's how Britain joined the European Union. If there is one lesson to be learned from White's mea culpa, it is this: rhetoric is not irrelevant.

Rhetoric is a form of persuasion and it is MORE effective than logic, science, data, reason, and dialectic for the vast majority of human beings. It is never to be dismissed lightly or ignored, not even by the dialectical thinker, because the manipulation of human emotion is one of the most powerful means of inspiring human action.

Furthermore, one should never assume that facts are either true or false on the basis of how one feels about the individual supporting or opposing it. Even the Devil can quote Scripture, after all. But if someone is known to be dishonest, or an SJW, or affiliated in any way with the United Nations, one should always take the time to carefully scrutinize any assertion they make as well as any source they cite.

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30 Comments:

Blogger Mr.MantraMan September 30, 2015 7:16 AM  

Maybe Mr. White can explain to us what lefty rhetoric/propaganda so threw him off his game that he had to write such a stupid essay.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan September 30, 2015 7:19 AM  

Denninger is addressing this issue FWIW

Blogger Gaiseric ! September 30, 2015 7:33 AM  

And furthermore; good for White. I can trust and respect—at least to some degree—someone who's willing to admit he got it wrong once it's pointed out to him where he missed something. Everybody gets something wrong. If you can't admit that you did that, there's something seriously wrong with you..

Blogger VD September 30, 2015 7:42 AM  

Maybe Mr. White can explain to us what lefty rhetoric/propaganda so threw him off his game that he had to write such a stupid essay.

He already did. They attacked #GamerGate. He despises Gamergaters. Therefore, the UN report was a serious and credible document.

It's a bit ironic for someone who is that easily emotionally manipulated to dismiss rhetoric.

Blogger Daniel September 30, 2015 7:54 AM  

Come now. If rhetoric were really that important, don't you think that Aristotle would have written at least three books addressing how it could be done to maximum effect?

Blogger Nate September 30, 2015 7:55 AM  

"
He already did. They attacked #GamerGate. He despises Gamergaters. Therefore, the UN report was a serious and credible document."

Its odd to because its not like he wasn't already aware of this blind spot or tendency. He's put disclaimers in stuff before pointing out that he likes X and doesn't like Y. Even knowing his own weakness... he still screwed up that way.

Blogger VFM 188 September 30, 2015 7:56 AM  

But if someone is known to be dishonest, or an SJW, or affiliated in any way with the United Nations...

Must the Dark Lord repeat himself?

Blogger njartist September 30, 2015 7:58 AM  

As MantramMan stated Denninger has a posting on the subject.

Blogger Dago September 30, 2015 8:03 AM  

Your point about Rhetoric being MORE persuasive cannot be repeated too often in order to get the dialecticians and Aspies to understand how to deal with these scummy SJWs

Blogger Daniel September 30, 2015 8:11 AM  

Apology accepted, but his credibility and authority on this issue is shot to pieces in the future, although now he has some footing to slowly build that back up over the years.

But you can't claim "free speech" and accidentally throw your lot in with a longstanding enemy of the principle, without reading the position. This painful loss of face is exactly why SJWs double down instead of doing the right thing like Ken has done.

Doubling down is an addiction to a false self-perception of credibility and authority.

Blogger Desiderius September 30, 2015 8:21 AM  

"Also, I did not emphasize clearly enough that the global experience with blasphemy law shows that it is disproportionately used against ethnic and religious minorities in countries with authoritarian governments, and should be seen less as a sincere effort to protect the good name of Mohammed and more as a way to increase state power over those minorities."

As if the two were at counterpurposes.

Blogger James Dixon September 30, 2015 8:22 AM  

> Its odd to because its not like he wasn't already aware of this blind spot or tendency

The fact that you know you have at tendency to screw up in a certain way doesn't eliminate that tendency. It merely makes you watch more carefully for it. And when you get tired for pressed for time, guess what happens...

Blogger Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery September 30, 2015 8:22 AM  

They attacked #GamerGate. He despises Gamergaters.

Brave Sir Ken bravely donned his XL-sized white armour and mounted his trusty steed.

"Ahoy there, fair maidens! I shall protect thee from those libellous ludists who snigger at thine syphilitic skankitude! Fie! For what feminist-on-the-make could fail to respect a doughy doughty defender of her cerulean-coiffed coquettish cockslurping character?

"Rocinante, chaaargge!"

Rocinante wheezily trotted in the general direction of those dang dirty trolls.

Alas, Brave Sir Ken's lawyerly skills could not prevent him being bravely impaled in the arse by a caltrop, and bravely dying of bum-AIDS.

The end.

Blogger Cail Corishev September 30, 2015 8:26 AM  

I can already hear people taking the wrong lesson from this and saying, "Well, you guys don't absolutely confirm everything you hear before talking about it."

There's nothing wrong with assuming that people who have been right before are right this time (or the converse) -- up to a point. If Vox posts a story saying John Scalzi was arrested for soliciting a transsexual prostitute, I'm going to assume it's true because Vox has a track record of being right and it fits what I know about Scalzi, and I'd comment here on that basis. But I wouldn't go write my own article about it and make a bunch of moral pronouncements without verifying it through other sources. After all, it'd be possible that Vox's account had been hacked or it was some sort of parody and I missed the joke.

Of course, it also helps if you trust and distrust the right people. If you're going to believe stories because they come from the UN or because your first reaction is, "Ha, this will make them squirm!" you're going to look stupid a lot. You can't get first-hand confirmation of every story out there, so good judgment helps.

Blogger Skylark Thibedeau September 30, 2015 8:34 AM  

@14 You could also just assume that everything you see Online is a Lie. You'd be right most of the time.

Blogger Student in Blue September 30, 2015 9:05 AM  

@VD
It's a bit ironic for someone who is that easily emotionally manipulated to dismiss rhetoric.

Ironic certainly, but not unexpected.

Rationalization is a hell of a drug.

Blogger Thomas Davidsmeier September 30, 2015 9:24 AM  

I'm not sure if it has come up here before, but everybody's favorite teacher and future monarch of the Universe, Jesus, used rhetoric with abandon.

Some great moments in rhetoric from the life of Jesus:

"And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way."

Dialectically, the money is not Caesar's, but Jesus is drawing a comparison between image bearers. The money bears the image of Caesar, so it should be given to him. But what or who bears the image of God, and what should they do because of that image?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Analysis: Hahaha! Jesus is talking trash!

"So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah,[d] do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep."

Analysis: I always felt weird about this passage. Then I learned about Game/Rhetoric, and I realized that Jesus is keeping frame on Peter. He's driving the conversation in such an uncomfortable but totally in charge sort of way, that I could never exactly understand it. I imagine Him giving Peter laser eyes (not literal Jesus laser eyes, which I think He could have if He wanted to) while their talking. It is definitely very personal rhetoric.

Anybody else got some good Jesus rhetoric that He used?

Blogger HardReturn¶ September 30, 2015 9:41 AM  

Like others, I'd mostly dismissed rhetoric as so just so much noise to crowd out the actual signal. As #GamerGate unfolded with VD's updates, came to realize my error that rhetoric ought not be ignored. Rhetoric was signal in the noise all along I just was oblivious to it. We're in the Age of TL;DR--relentless midwit snark, zingers, and gotchas crowd out dialectic and many folks aren't really all that inquisitive and can't be bothered trudging through data anyway. Since reading SJWAL I started applying its principles with pleasant results. And now I've started Aristotle's Rhetoric which I'd only partly read many years ago. Thanks Vox for helping me come this important realization.

Blogger JDC September 30, 2015 9:52 AM  

@9 Your point about Rhetoric being MORE persuasive cannot be repeated too often in order to get the dialecticians and Aspies to understand how to deal with these scummy SJWs

That deserves a harrumph. Harrumph!

Blogger Steve, the Dark Ninja of Mockery September 30, 2015 10:06 AM  

That deserves a harrumph. Harrumph!

Blogger Alexander September 30, 2015 10:19 AM  

This is probably the most practically useful thing I've learned from Vox. I have been able to bring my brother into the fight by leading him through the frustration of "you can't win with these people" by explaining the idea of rhetoric and dialectic as different languages, and that there is no point in arguing with facts and logic against people who equate feel good/bad and true/false.

He's a bright kid and caught on with gusto. Like me, he had an idea of what was going on but couldn't really get a solid lock on it. Now he has.

Few other guys I've been talking to who are in various levels of comprehension. The most common response is but that's not how I argue/ that's not how you're supposed to argue/ that's not *right"!

If you want to debate a man who only speaks Chinese, you either learn Chinese or you don't debate: you don't shout in English and believe this time you'll get somewhere. - lights clicked.

Thanks, Vox.

Blogger VFM 188 September 30, 2015 10:25 AM  

I'm telling you, this little book SJWs Always Lie is far more important than most of us realize at this point. Far more.

Blogger James Dixon September 30, 2015 10:54 AM  

> it only seems fair to point out that unlike an SJW, he did not double-down:

It seems to me we were also complimenting Phil Sandifer a while ago for taking part in the discussion here. We know how that turned out.

Let's hope Ken proves more worthy of the compliment. At least history indicates that he probably will.

Blogger LP999/S.I.G. Burnin' Up! September 30, 2015 11:00 AM  

Interesting there was no doubling down, refreshing, perhaps he read this; "The dialectical method is discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter guided by reasoned arguments."

Team GG for always, let the men create, game and enjoy as its eventual players like me whom enjoy such talent.

(Thank you, very instructive and applicable post. Rhetoric does rile up emotion. Henhouse example; I failed when I tried to meet the emo in truth. Due to even my own rhetorical quirks, I walked away disinterested in the blame game and insults. All I sought were basic answers or truth to questions, wasn't successful after two tries and left the emails alone. Yet human emotion pulled me in only to realize that perhaps my thinking and her thinking is simply different, a generational divide, dislike of me, my lack of trust in this woman, I tried my best, good lesson learned with pain)

Blogger VD September 30, 2015 11:00 AM  

Thanks, Vox.

NP. Delighted to see so many people not only getting it, but using it correctly.

OpenID Jack Amok September 30, 2015 12:04 PM  

But you can't claim "free speech" and accidentally throw your lot in with a longstanding enemy of the principle, without reading the position.

Relatively few people are really "free speech" advocates, in much the same way most people preaching tolerance aren't very tolerant. I'm not sure if Ken is a genuine advocate or not. I doubt people who are easily manipulated by rhetoric are going to be true free speech advocates, because they intuitively understand how dangerous rhetoric can be if the other side uses it. OTOH, those who dismiss rhetoric are more likely to be genuine advocates, since they believe everyone is using reasoned arguments. Ken exhibited both characteristics, so... I guess he's like most of us, imperfect and capable of screwing up now and then.

This painful loss of face is exactly why SJWs double down instead of doing the right thing like Ken has done.

SJWs live in a world where status comes from opinions and connections rather than from accomplishments. A non-SJW assumes he can go out and do something to recover whatever loss of status he suffered, but a SJW knows he will probably never recover from being shown to be wrong in his current in-group and will need to abandon them for a new group.

Blogger 334 September 30, 2015 12:31 PM  

@17. Thomas

How about "If your eye offends you, cut it out ..."

Or some Paul rhetoric: "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons", or maybe "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!"

Blogger Blaster September 30, 2015 1:22 PM  

@6 Its odd to because its not like he wasn't already aware of this blind spot or tendency. He's put disclaimers in stuff before pointing out that he likes X and doesn't like Y. Even knowing his own weakness... he still screwed up that way.

I suspect admitting the weakness and signaling self-awareness to his audience is as gratifying as actually overcoming the weakness.

Blogger J Van Stry September 30, 2015 2:41 PM  

Part of the reason I come here, is to see Vox's critiques. It's not that I agree with him on everything, but because he does a good job of pulling things apart and getting to the heart of the matter. And that's important, because I don't have the time to look at everything that goes by, nor do I have the skill that Vox has.

I pick my critics carefully, both for their beliefs and their ability, and when they call something (or someone) out, I stop and take a second look, and pay attention. Coming here has been beneficial to me, because of the issues that have been brought to light that I might otherwise have not heard about.

Thank you Vox, for all of this.

Blogger Civis Silas September 30, 2015 6:15 PM  

Though it's preferable to get things right the first time, there's no sense doubling down on a silly mistake--particularly one that does a disservice to free speech. Good for Ken.

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