When Intelligent Discussions Go Wrong....

  • Advertise with us

« back to Coffee Lounge forum

Forum topic by poopiekat posted 06-16-2010 07:34 PM 1957 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View poopiekat's profile


4349 posts in 3701 days

06-16-2010 07:34 PM

As the initiator of a thread here a year ago regarding divergent viewpoints, there was so much profanity, name-calling and personal attacks in the responses that the whole thread was ultimately removed. The ironic thing was that it started out as a commentary of my observations of reasoned viewpoints getting trashed by some folks whose words failed them. Their only tool of choice was foul words and personal attacks. This, oddly and unintentionally, proved exactly what my point was in the original thread.
Now, in my local paper today, is an article written by a selfless advocacy officer of a prominent non-profit mission, who wrote, ” A study conducted by the Ohio State University provided convincing evidence that a majority of people tend to read articles that already agree with opinions they hold, and not much else.” “If they did read articles which ran counter to their views, they would balance it by reading articles that confirm their opinions. They don’t want their views challenged by seriously considering any other viewpoints.” The above writer approached this subject based on his efforts to re-educate people who held prejudicial views on the subject of homelessness, but I appreciate his look into the dynamics of the human behaviour in a wide range of topics.
I have been mystified by the callous responses I’ve received on hot-topic events related to the woodworking hobby in general. Though indeed I am pleased by the empathetic responses that let me know I am not alone, I cannot help but question what motivates a person to declare that my concerns are unfounded.
I guess it flips back to the quoted text above, where people dislike having their personal views challenged by an objective, well reasoned opinion that is contrary to their own, or perhaps simply don’t want to hear troubling news of any sort.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

44 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3543 days

#1 posted 06-16-2010 07:47 PM

I’ve learned one thing about about commenting ,don’t tell others how to or how not to comment.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3021 days

#2 posted 06-16-2010 07:58 PM

I don’t know, I am always reading about things that contradict my viewpoints in different areas. I try not to tell someone they are wrong, but I am not always good at that.

As far as differing viewpoints, sometimes those differing viewpoints have already been dealt with for a certain person and they try to explain why they don’t hold to it anymore, other times, it is just that someone wants to argue, they think it makes them sound smart, i guess. JMHO

--, Making design and application one. †

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3455 days

#3 posted 06-16-2010 08:00 PM

I believe people have a tendency to have a more ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to posts online. They read the post and (almost always) immediately post a response. Sometimes in anger, sometimes when angry at something else, or under the influence of life. I believe this leads to some responses being posted that, in normal life, would not be said in a personal discussion.

I believe that this capability to anonymously and instantly reply leads to people saying things they might not say if they took time to consider, re-read and then reply. Like ‘my mama always used to say’, never write a letter in anger. Wait 24 hours.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View poopiekat's profile


4349 posts in 3701 days

#4 posted 06-16-2010 08:31 PM

Thanks for the great replies, the insights of other LJs is always appreciated!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4185 days

#5 posted 06-16-2010 08:46 PM

I agree with Chip…. When someone posts something that goes against your already-held opinion, it’s much easier to respond with a quick negative reply online than it is face-to-face. How many people get into a heated political debate with a stranger at a cocktail party? Most of us will just smile and nod, and excuse ourselves from the conversation if we strongly disagree with someone’s point of view. But let someone post something online, and it’s easy to tell them what a brainless idiot they are. :-)

I also agree with the person you quoted. People are much more interested in reinforcing their beliefs than in having them changed. To change your mind requires admitting to yourself that you were wrong, did not have all the facts, or had not considered every angle. That goes against human nature. So we tend to hang around with people who agree with us, read things that are in line with our own thinking, etc.

I enjoy a good debate. You explain your position on an issue, I explain mine…. we go back and forth making points and counterpoints until we either reach a common ground, or agree to disagree. The point where it usually turns contentious is when one person states or implies that the other person’s position has no merit. There is a big difference between “I don’t see it that way” and “You are full of crap”. But too many folks use those phrases interchangeably.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2952 days

#6 posted 06-16-2010 09:11 PM

Also, Charlie, I think people are often quick to say somebody’s opinion is wrong, especially when it comes to a subject where there really is not a right answer. The difference between saying “Your opinion is different and not compatible with mine” is worlds away from saying “Your opinion is wrong”.

Also, the inability to truly understand tone has caused so many problems on the internet.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4185 days

#7 posted 06-16-2010 09:26 PM

Lis, yes… you said it a little better, but that is exactly what I was talking about.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3073 days

#8 posted 06-16-2010 09:32 PM

Just as in politics, we have the liberal far left and the conservative far right, and never will they meet. Then you throw in a contrary personality…......This just humanity in action. Of course I always try to set the example of perfection… We just gotta love each other, warts and all. Rand

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3162 days

#9 posted 06-16-2010 09:33 PM

I have to admit, I have written nasty comments before in online posts(local news comments). But they have been in response to other posts that contain bigotted racist views and nothing more. I don’t take those lightly at all. I can’t stand when people post that kind of crap. We all have to learn to at least co-exist in this tech-savy ever shrinking world. What I have found helps though if you are really angry and want to write a nasty reply is this.

When you are mad and need to vent, it really does help to let it out by writing or blogging, but that doesn’t mean you should post it. If you have to write angry letters, write them, wait on them for a day and then delete them. 9 times out of 10 you’ll feel better just by writing the nasty letter, but instead of sending it delete or rip it up.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 3011 days

#10 posted 06-16-2010 09:37 PM

It is my experience that people will always overestimate how ‘reasoned’ and ‘objective’ their own opinions are.

Additionally, it seems today that we are in a state of ‘tactical’ disagreement… you can see this all the time in political arguments where one Party or another is doing exactly the thing that was previously advocated by the other side, and yet that side cannot agree – it undermines their tactical disagreement with the other Party.

I think that’s slightly different than ‘not wanting their views challenged’ – they just don’t want their ‘side’ to ‘lose’, if those words have any meaning at all in this context.

View robertp's profile


18 posts in 2878 days

#11 posted 06-16-2010 10:23 PM

I have to confess that I have been a contrarian for no reason other than to be contrary. It isn’t a rational thing, and I am almost unaware that I am doing it, but sometimes, if you tell me its white I’ll argue that it’s black while at the same time if you tell me its black I’ll say it’s white. I don’t think I am alone in this strange behavior.

It seems to me that the only way to keep things civil in blogville is to be self critical and try to efface your own ego. This can be pretty difficult as there is such a drive in us to win or at least have the last word that it is easy to get caught up in some pretty pointless yelling.

I try to not misinterpret the intent of others writing but I admit that I do have something like a primal desire to be outraged. I think this is pretty universal and we should be on guard against our own worst tendencies.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4185 days

#12 posted 06-16-2010 10:34 PM

Robert, I know what you mean. Sometimes, when people seem TOO sure of their position, it just makes me want to argue the other side (even though I might really lean the same way as them).

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rance's profile


4255 posts in 3127 days

#13 posted 06-16-2010 10:36 PM

Lis touched on the lack of tone. But add to that… body language, gestures, lack of ability to express one’s self through the written word, and almost total anonymity. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Have you ever observed a discussion on the web that could be mirrored in person?

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

10364 posts in 3395 days

#14 posted 06-16-2010 10:49 PM

You all are wrong!
My opinions are based of proven facts!
i.e., The sun revolves around the earth and the earth is flat.
Butt joints are always best.
Always buy the cheapest tool.
The moon landings were fake.
Wishing LJs had emoticons.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 2918 days

#15 posted 06-16-2010 10:55 PM

But if you disagree with me, you ARE wrong.

Far more fun than arguing with an overly-sure person is questioning them. Don’t take any stance, but effectively take every stance that’s not their’s. While it sounds juvenile, it forces them to actually support their viewpoint rather than attack yours. Or devolve to calling you names, which makes cocktail parties all the more fun!

-- ~Mark

showing 1 through 15 of 44 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics