Squawk box

I sense a disturbance in the force.

This thread is for people to tell me what they think is going on, going wrong, and what they think we should do about it.  I’m listening.

Lizzie

[Edit added 18.40 pm CET 20/08/2018 by Alan Fox]

As the comments have ballooned, Lizzie would very much like members to summarize their thoughts and suggestions into one statement and there is now a dedicated thread, “Summaries”, where they can be posted. Please just post one summary and please do not add other comments. You are welcome to comment on other people’s summaries in this thread. The idea of the “Summaries” thread is to make it easier for Lizzie to get your input. Comments judged by admins not to be summaries will move to guano.

Members who would rather keep their thoughts confidential are invited to use the private messaging system. Lizzie’s address is Elizabeth.

1,218 thoughts on “Squawk box

  1. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Patrick, to newton:

    He certainly didn’t de-escalate. Looking at it from his perspective, though, why should he? He didn’t break any rules, but the admins did. Kowtowing to them would only legitimize their behavior. Is his response likely to win them over? Of course not. Is it within the rules and a reasonable reaction to admin abuses? I’d say yes.

    Exactly. As this thread has revealed, the abuses have gone on literally for years. Standing up to them is the right thing for me — or anyone — to do. For TSZ’s sake, as well as my own.

  2. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    newton:

    Keiths was not suspended for the original post, it was his reaction to the taking the post down , from what I gather.

    Alan gave us the reason, and it’s ridiculous:

    The suspension was intended to stop the unwarranted abuse Neil and DNA-Jock were getting from Keiths for their efforts in trying to solve the problem of the arguably libellous OP.

    As everyone knows — including you, newton — Lizzie intended for her moderators to be subject to challenge and questioning. The reason Alan gave for the suspension is therefore bogus. He’s childishly rebelling, out of spite, against Lizzie’s clearly-articulated wishes.

    Patrick:

    I haven’t seen a straight answer from the admins, aside from Alan admitting that keiths didn’t break any rule.

    Indeed, they can’t settle on an answer, even after sixteen days. It’s a Keystone Kops routine.

    Q: Why has keiths been suspended for an unprecedented 30 days?
    A: We can’t give you a reason, but we’ll find one one of these days.

    What a crock.

  3. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    As an indication of just how hard Alan is straining to come up with excuses for the suspension, consider this, from his first comment in this threada comment he says he still stands by:

    The events which led me to (attempting to) suspend Keiths’s account began with remarks to walto about posting an OP criticizing a philosophy paper walto had recently had published. It sounded, on my reading, as almost a threat.

    My incredulous response:

    A “threat” to publish an OP? You can’t be serious, Alan. I had already told walto that I was thinking of publishing one. And why not? The OP was going to be about his paper.

    Here’s the exchange you interpreted as a “almost a threat”:

    walto:

    I can’t!!!! I tell you I can’t admit I was really talking about instantiation! I just can’t stop lying about this! I don’t know why I should think this is important or that anybody in the universe but me would, but I DO!!!

    I DO!!!! Can’t everyone see that someone needs help?? (And I’m not talking about mung here.). 🙁

    keiths:

    walto,
    Given the extent of your meltdown today, I have to ask: Are you sure you’ll be able to handle it if I publish an OP critical of your epistemic closure paper?

    The fact that Alan could even perceive that as threatening is bizarre.

    Alan knows he can’t justify the suspension, but he isn’t willing to reverse it, as a good moderator would. So he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel for an unimaginably ridiculous and implausible justification: that I was “threatening” walto.

    You can’t make this stuff up. Alan is a walking parody of himself.

  4. Patrick: The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    I think someone here believes it…Byers? Do you have faith???

    Can someone please stop this nonsense?!
    Who allows this to continue and why?

  5. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Patrick:

    The only data we have from Elizabeth is that she recommended requiring keiths’ comments to be subject to pre-moderation. The admins exceeded their authority in banning him for 30 days.

    Not only did they exceed their authority by far with the 30-day suspension, but even Lizzie’s much milder pre-moderation recommendation was based on a false report from the moderators.

    Lizzie wrote:

    So my first response was based solely on their reports, which was that a post had been made that they considered violated TSZ rules…

    And:

    I’d say, put him in pre-moderation, and explain why. If the problem recurs, ban.

    Alan has since confirmed that the OP did not violate any rules:

    There was no specific rule. There should be.

    And there you have it. There was no rule violation and no basis for a 30-day suspension. And even Lizzie’s pre-moderation recommendation was based on a report of a rule-violating OP from the moderators — a report which Alan now acknowledges was false, since there was no rule violation.

    So once again, Alan convicts himself. Alan knows full well that the suspension is bogus. It should have been reversed long ago.

  6. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    It’s remarkable that the current moderators — all three of them — are engaged in an abuse so blatant that a former moderator, Patrick, has to step in and protest.

    He is standing up for TSZ while the moderators themselves work to undercut it and Lizzie’s aims for it.

    That’s a sad state of affairs, and its symptomatic of how badly broken the current moderation scheme is.

  7. I have just received a private message from another realm.
    They have asked me to take a day off.. Who can blame them?

  8. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    walto, to phoodoo:

    We’d all be improved by cutting the crap. And if all crap was disallowed, it would be harder for mods to cheat–and much easier to see it (and harder to deny) when they do.

    If all crap was disallowed by whom? The moderators. And so you’d have the same corruption problem as before. A site administered by untrustworthy moderators, deciding what is and isn’t “crap” based on their personal prejudices.

    Look, Lizzie herself selected the moderators. She thought they were trustworthy people (though I’m sure she regrets that, now that she’s read about the rampant abuses they’ve committed). She trusted them enough that she allowed them to go unsupervised for years while she was off doing other things.

    The results have been disastrous, and that’s why we’re having this discussion.

    For guano-style moderation, you need trustworthy moderators. Lizzie hasn’t been able to find them (except for Patrick, who is sadly no longer a moderator).

    There are three proposals on the table, beyond the “status quo” option — “opt-in”, “choose your own moderators”, and “no-guano”. Under two of those proposals — “no-guano” and “choose your own moderators” — the problem of finding trustworthy moderators vanishes. Lizzie would only need admins, not moderators, and without the power to guano, the admins would be able to do far less damage than the current moderators can.

    With “no-guano”, there’s no moderation (except in the extreme, bannable cases where Lizzie would get involved anyway). No moderation = no moderation abuses.

    With “choose your own moderators”, each reader can “hire” and “fire” his or her moderators at will. You say you want “crap” to be disallowed — well, “choose your own moderators” is ideal for you then, because you get to pick personal moderators who agree with you about exactly what constitutes “crap” and what doesn’t. It gives the control to the reader, where it belongs. We are adults here, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to choose our own moderators rather than having them forced upon us.

  9. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Lizzie has undertaken a couple of bold experiments already at TSZ:

    1) creating a site where comments are never deleted; and
    2) allowing OPs from everyone, not just an elite handful of contributors from the traditional “skeptic” side.

    Those have been great successes. (Some of you are now saying “A site containing lots of J-Mac OPs is not a success”, but let me point something out: J-Mac’s OPs may not be very insightful, but the discussions that follow in the comment threads often are).

    It would be exciting if she were to give “no-guano” or “choose your own moderators” a try. Those, too, are bold experiments (and reversible, of course, if they don’t work out for some reason.) And both schemes meet Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation far better than the current one, which isn’t working anyway.

  10. I strongly support keiths’ “choose your own moderators” suggestion. I don’t know if there are existing WordPress plugins that support it, and I estimate it would be at least two solid weeks of work for a proficient PHP programmer to develop.

    If that’s not an option, the “no Guano” approach is worth a serious test.

  11. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Patrick:

    I strongly support keiths’ “choose your own moderators” suggestion. I don’t know if there are existing WordPress plugins that support it, and I estimate it would be at least two solid weeks of work for a proficient PHP programmer to develop.

    I, for one, would be willing to donate significantly toward the development costs.

  12. Alan Fox: Just to follow up again on BruceS’s suggestion. Lizzie, who has tried and failed to wade through the whole thread, thinks that short summaries from those who would like to express concerns, ideas and suggestions would be “brilliant”.

    Just looking into the mechanics of that. Awaiting developments.

    Thanks Alan.

    Maybe I’m breaking the no-attributing-motivation rule here, but I’m wondering if she cares about polls or if that poll thread was just created as a place to let off steam.

    If at some point in her deliberations she decides to let users pick between options, then I could see a poll with those specific options being useful to her.

    I will hold off on writing anything summarizing my thoughts until I see more input on format from you or her.

  13. Lizzie has undertaken a couple of bold experiments already at TSZ:

    1) creating a site where comments are never deleted; and
    2) allowing OPs from everyone, not just an elite handful of contributors from the traditional “skeptic” side.

    The first rule is “assume the other person is posting in good faith”.

    This can be quite difficult at times, and may only be an aspirational ideal rather than a realistic goal. You may read comments from someone that you find to be so ignorant, find that they are completely incapable of following an argument, that you just know they have got to be trolling. But that is generally not the case. While they may use the same words as everyone else, people have their own way of thinking about things, ways which may not comport with your own ideas of how logic, evidence, and argument should proceed. Oddly enough, in their own world, they may see themselves as a hero of the truth, even when flatly contradicted by the evidence.

  14. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    It’s worth noting that those who actually trust the current moderators (as Byers apparently does) would be happy under the “choose your own moderators” scheme. They could simply choose Alan, Neil, and DNA_Jock as their personal moderators, and everything would remain the same for them as before.

    Not sure why anyone would choose those guys, but that’s a different issue. The point is that they could, if they wanted to.

    It’s all about putting the power back in the hands of the readers, where it belongs.

  15. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Zachriel,

    The first rule is “assume the other person is posting in good faith”.

    This can be quite difficult at times, and may only be an aspirational ideal rather than a realistic goal. You may read comments from someone that you find to be so ignorant, find that they are completely incapable of following an argument, that you just know they have got to be trolling. But that is generally not the case. While they may use the same words as everyone else, people have their own way of thinking about things, ways which may not comport with your own ideas of how logic, evidence, and argument should proceed. Oddly enough, in their own world, they may see themselves as a hero of the truth, even when flatly contradicted by the evidence.

    I agree that sometimes people are posting in good faith when they appear not to be. The opposite also happens. Likewise, people are sometimes right when they appear to be wrong, and vice-versa.

    It’s important that we, as skeptics, be willing to correct our (provisional) assessments as discussion proceeds and as new evidence presents itself. That openness to evidence is at the heart of what it means to be a good skeptic.

    In this thread, we’ve already discussed how the good faith rule tends to punish the honest and reward the dishonest. What hasn’t been discussed as much is that the good faith rule is actually anti-skeptical. That is, it demands that we maintain a particular belief — that our interlocutor is arguing in good faith — no matter how strong the evidence to the contrary. But maintaining a favored belief, against all evidence, is exactly what skepticism discourages!

    Lizzie has explained her rationale in establishing the good faith rule:

    My life experience tells me it’s often a useful approach, as it often turns out that my original assumption (that the person is NOT posting in good faith) isn’t actually correct.

    She wants to discourage people from clinging to premature assumptions regarding their interlocutor’s lack of good faith. That’s a noble goal, of course. The problem is that the good faith rule simply forces them to substitute one premature assumption for another. Instead of assuming prematurely that your opponent is dishonest, you are required to assume prematurely that your opponent is honest — and to maintain that assumption against all contrary evidence. The effect of the rule is to punish those who are basing their assessments on the evidence and updating those assessments as new evidence comes in. In other words, the rule effectively punishes skeptics. Punishing skeptics is not what you want to do at a place called The Skeptical Zone.

    One can imagine a sister rule to the good faith rule:

    Assume your opponent is correct.

    It’s pretty obvious why that rule would present a barrier to open, skeptical discussion. But the actual rule, in requiring us to assume that our opponents are arguing in good faith, does much the same.

    TSZ shouldn’t require people to assume things and to maintain those assumptions against all evidence. Rather, we should encourage people to question their assumptions and remain open to new evidence. To be skeptical, in other words.

  16. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    From earlier in the thread:

    Lizzie:

    My life experience tells me it’s often a useful approach, as it often turns out that my original assumption (that the person is NOT posting in good faith) isn’t actually correct.

    Which is why it’s important to keep an open mind and be prepared to revise one’s assessment. But you don’t need to assume good faith in order for that to be possible. You just need to remind yourself that your assessment is provisional.

    Also, the rule itself isn’t likely to stimulate the kind of open-mindedness we’re talking about. Suppose Bob is convinced that Steve is lying. Is the mere existence of a rule stipulating “You can’t say that out loud” going to make Bob think “Oh, maybe I’d better reassess”? That doesn’t seem likely. More probably, it’s just going to make him think “why does this site have rules that prohibit me from stating the truth as I see it?”

    On the other hand, imagine an environment in which Bob is allowed to say “I think Steve is lying”, but is held responsible for his claim. If challenged, he is expected to support it with evidence. An environment in which people think “I’d better make sure I’m right about my accusation, because people are going to hold me responsible for it” is far more likely to get them to consider the possibility that they are wrong.

  17. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Here’s an extreme case illustrating how the rule goes awry. Consider the following scenario, introduced earlier in the thread:

    To take an extreme case, suppose Trump were to abandon his Twitter account and come to TSZ instead. Would you seriously argue that TSZ should allow Trump to lie with impunity while honest members were punished for pointing out the dishonesty?

    If you enforced the good faith rule, then Trump would be rewarded and the honest skeptics would be punished. That ain’t right.

    Amazingly, when asked about this hypothetical scenario, Alan actually came out in support of Trump and against the honest skeptics.

  18. Patrick,

    Amazingly, when asked about this hypothetical scenario, Alan actually came out in support of Trump and against the honest skeptics.

    Do you really support keiths interpretation of Alan’s comments here?

  19. colewd:
    Patrick,

    Amazingly, when asked about this hypothetical scenario, Alan actually came out in support of Trump and against the honest skeptics.

    Do you really support keiths interpretation of Alan’s comments here?

    colewd,

    I had to go back to refresh my memory of what Alan said. The only comment I found was this one:

    keiths: To take an extreme case, suppose Trump were to abandon his Twitter account and come to TSZ instead. Would you seriously argue that TSZ should allow Trump to lie with impunity while honest members were punished for pointing out the dishonesty?

    Alan Fox: Running with this:

    Donald arrives and claims he had a larger attendance at his inauguration than Obama. Members point out the clear evidence to the contrary. Do they need to call him a liar? I think it’s as likely he’s deluded. The important point is that the claim is wrong and can be shown to be wrong. How does Donald defend his claim? If he repeats the assertion without supporting it in the face of all the clear evidence against the claim, what should happen next?

    Based on that, I don’t think that Alan actually answered keiths’ question. (I will note in passing that the rules prohibit calling someone deluded.) To answer your question — no, I don’t think that keiths’ characterization of Alan’s response is supported by the evidence, unless there’s another comment from Alan that I’m missing.

    That being said, I would like to hear Alan’s answers to the questions he raised. None of the admins have taken a stand in support of free expression throughout this kerfuffle. I find that disappointing.

  20. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    colewd, to Patrick:

    Do you really support keiths interpretation of Alan’s comments here?

    Bill,

    I’m not saying that Alan is a Trump supporter. He obviously isn’t.

    What I am saying is that Alan is siding with Trump in this scenario. He would allow Trump to lie with impunity while punishing the honest skeptics for violating the good faith rule.

    Again, that’s the wrong thing to do. The good faith rule leads to a terrible result here.

  21. Patrick: Based on that, I don’t think that Alan actually answered keiths’ question. (I will note in passing that the rules prohibit calling someone deluded.)

    True and Alan did not advocate that either.

  22. But the actual rule, in requiring us to assume that our opponents are arguing in good faith, does much the same.

    It doesn’t require you to actually assume anything. It only requires that you don’t make comments, assertions or otherwise imply that a person is not posting in good faith.

    Also, the rule itself isn’t likely to stimulate the kind of open-mindedness we’re talking about. Suppose Bob is convinced that Steve is lying. Is the mere existence of a rule stipulating “You can’t say that out loud” going to make Bob think “Oh, maybe I’d better reassess”? That doesn’t seem likely. More probably, it’s just going to make him think “why does this site have rules that prohibit me from stating the truth as I see it?

    The rules are not about trying to control or change what people think. It doesn’t matter if Bob is utterly convinced Steve is lying because whether or not Steve is lying is utterly irrelevant for an argument to be assessed according to its merits and whatever evidence is provided.

    If you enforced the good faith rule, then Trump would be rewarded and the honest skeptics would be punished.

    No, it would meant that everyone is afforded the same protections and punishments under the rules. Trump would also have to post as if others here are posting in good faith and refrain from all attacks and negative implications about the motives or character of others here. How long, exactly, do you think Trump would last here under enforcement of the good faith rule? 2 minutes? Less?

    The first rule is “assume the other person is posting in good faith”.

    This can be quite difficult at times, and may only be an aspirational ideal rather than a realistic goal.

    Surely you realize that the first rule – Assume others are posting in good faith – doesn’t really mean you are required to make that assumption in your own heart and head, but rather that you are supposed to comment and respond **as if ** the other guy is arguing in good faith.

    All the rule does is set standard rules of civil and rational debate so that arguments doesn’t turn into motive-mongering and character-attacks. Discuss the argument and evidence about the topic of the debate, not whether or not someone is “lying”.

    If you think someone is lying about the evidence, then bring forth the evidence and let us have a look at it. You don’t have to call them a “liar” to present a logical counter-argument or evidence to whatever it is they are asserting. I don’t understand this myopic hyper-sensitive attention to people’s character and motives when it comes to logical and evidential analysis and debate. What the hell is someone here even going to lie about that matters in terms of a debate? They can either make their case based on evidence and logic, or they cannot. What the heck does “lying” have to do with it?

    So what if they are not arguing in good faith? They can either support their case with logic and evidence or they cannot. What difference does it make?

  23. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Patrick,

    It’s true that Alan didn’t explicitly answer the question — an unfortunate dodge — but by continuing to argue for a good faith assumption, he was supporting the good faith rule even in this extreme scenario. And if Alan were to argue “Well, I wouldn’t enforce the rule in this case”, then he’d be making my point for me.

    The rule punishes the honest and rewards the dishonest — including people like Trump. We don’t want or need rules like that.

  24. newton:

    Based on that, I don’t think that Alan actually answered keiths’ question. (I will note in passing that the rules prohibit calling someone deluded.)

    True and Alan did not advocate that either.

    He didn’t advocate calling someone that, but he did note it as an alternative to the person being a liar. That the rules prohibit making either claim, even with evidence, is pertinent to keiths’ argument.

  25. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    If Trump were here at TSZ, and he were lying, and an honest member pointed that out, why would you object?

    Your attitude seems to be, “That truth must not be spoken here! It’s bad for TSZ!”

    Why, at a skeptical site, should the truth be suppressed?

  26. William J. Murray,

    This whole issue is a morass, imo. Fmm says everybody believes in God whether they realize it or not. Patrick says he’s calling everybody a liar. I say he’s using ‘God’ weirdly (say to mean truth). So now who’s violating the rules?

  27. Patrick,

    Again, that’s the wrong thing to do. The good faith rule leads to a terrible result here.

    If you are able to show Trumps claims are false why is that a terrible result?

    To show he is a liar requires you know his intent. Asking for permission to question someone’s intent shows an inability to argue using a solid logic.

    keiths, your general strategy when your argument is poor is to personally attack people. This is very different then what the site philosophy is about. There are plenty of no rules forums including noyau here.

    Why don’t you just stick to those if you want to continue with your current strategy of using personal attacks?

  28. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    William:

    It doesn’t require you to actually assume anything. It only requires that you don’t make comments, assertions or otherwise imply that a person is not posting in good faith.

    Right. Like I said, it punishes conscientious skeptics who have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that someone is not posting in good faith. Such a person is forbidden, for instance, from pointing out that Trump is lying, even when the evidence is overwhelming. A rule that forbids people from stating an obvious and relevant truth is a bad rule.

    You argue that it is irrelevant whether the other guy is lying, and that we should simply make our counterarguments. But that’s bad advice.

    For example, if Trump were here and stating lie after lie, it would make perfect sense for someone to stand up and say “Donald, you are impeding the discussion here with your chronic lying. [Gives evidence of the lies.] Knock it off. Be honest.”

    We are adults here. We are not delicate flowers who must be sheltered from the fact that in reality, people do lie, and that in reality, that creates a problem for open and honest discussion. It should be called out, not covered up.

    P.S. I pointed out a number of foot shots in your arguments, earlier in the thread. Perhaps you could address those?

  29. Patrick: Right. Like I said, it punishes conscientious skeptics who have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that someone is not posting in good faith. Such a person is forbidden, for instance, from pointing out that Trump is lying, even when the evidence is overwhelming. A rule that forbids people from stating an obvious and relevant truth is a bad rule.

    That’s been FMM’s argument. Take it up with your alter-ego.

  30. Patrick: You’re aware that 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual in how to subvert the clear meaning of words, right?

    Yes, I realize that. I also realize free speech has limitations. That free speech on a privately owned blog is a granted privilege not a right. It seems to me when one chooses to participate they accept that fact.

    Let me state it as simply as I can:

    * Choosing what you read is good.

    I agree. Guano maintains that choice.

    *

    Trying to prevent other people from choosing what they read is bad.

    And that benefit of choice obligates someone to use their private resources to provide what other people wish to read despite possible future cost?

    That seems like tyranny , which is bad.

    Don’t be bad.

    Ok.

    Patrick,

  31. walto: Right. Like I said, it punishes conscientious skeptics who have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that someone is not posting in good faith. Such a person is forbidden, for instance, from pointing out that Trump is lying, even when the evidence is overwhelming.

    By showing where his argument fails you are pointing out he is at odds with reality, calling him a liar does not advance the argument. It is lazy. If you must do it ,you have to pay the incredibly onerous price of guano. Tap ,tap.

    A rule that forbids people from stating an obvious and relevant truth is a bad rule.

    Ask for a refund.

  32. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    colewd:

    To show he is a liar requires you know his intent.

    People routinely infer the intent of others from their behavior. There is nothing at all irrational or unjustified about that. It’s how the justice system works, for example.

    Asking for permission to question someone’s intent shows an inability to argue using a solid logic.

    Not at all. When you’re talking about a person’s actions, intent is key. There is no reason for intent to be off limits. It’s an essential topic.

    keiths, your general strategy when your argument is poor is to personally attack people.

    Amusingly, having just lectured me on the evils of inferring intent, you are now inferring intent. Incorrectly, I might add.

    This is very different then what the site philosophy is about. There are plenty of no rules forums including noyau here.

    What do you think of the “choose your own moderators” idea? It gives you exactly what you want. You can pick personal moderators who will filter out all of the stuff you are complaining about here.

  33. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    keiths, to William:

    Right. Like I said, it punishes conscientious skeptics who have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that someone is not posting in good faith. Such a person is forbidden, for instance, from pointing out that Trump is lying, even when the evidence is overwhelming. A rule that forbids people from stating an obvious and relevant truth is a bad rule.

    walto:

    That’s been FMM’s argument.

    FMM has been arguing against the good faith rule?

    Or are you talking about FMM’s insistence that we all believe in God? In that case, I’ve made my view clear: I disagree with FMM, but I do not think his comments should be guanoed.

  34. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    newton,

    What do you think of the “choose your own moderators” proposal?

    It gives you and Bill exactly what you want: protection from certain unpleasant truths, like “Donald Trump is lying.” You can pick your own moderators who will screen those comments out for you.

  35. newton:

    * Choosing what you read is good.

    I agree. Guano maintains that choice.

    No, it takes away the choice. It moves comments, sometimes without notice, out of the context of the conversation. It restricts what people see and requires additional effort for them to read what they want.

    * Trying to prevent other people from choosing what they read is bad.

    And that benefit of choice obligates someone to use their private resources to provide what other people wish to read despite possible future cost?

    Elizabeth is under no obligation to run the site at all. She chooses to do so and chooses to have rules that forbid deleting comments. My view is that either the “no Guano” or “choose your own moderator” approaches are more compatible with her goals for the site than the current admin abuses or, even worse, greater censorship.

  36. The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission. I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    Patrick, to newton:

    My view is that either the “no Guano” or “choose your own moderator” approaches are more compatible with her goals for the site than the current admin abuses or, even worse, greater censorship.

    For those who are late to the discussion, here are some relevant links:

    Lizzie’s stated aims for moderation

    An evaluation of the current scheme against Lizzie’s aims

    The “opt-in” proposal

    The “choose your own moderators” proposal

    The “no-guano” proposal

    An evaluation of the three schemes against Lizzie’s aims

    A comparison of “opt-in” vs “choose your own moderators”

  37. Patrick:
    The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission.I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    If Trump were here at TSZ, and he were lying, and an honest member pointed that out, why would you object?

    Because the rules say to assume (meaning, respond as if) everyone is arguing in good faith, and accusing people of lying sidetracks the debate topic.

    Your attitude seems to be, “That truth must not be spoken here!It’s bad for TSZ!”

    Why, at a skeptical site, should the truth be suppressed?

    There are an infinite number of “truths” that are inappropriate, counter-productive or irrelevant to 1. debates in general and 2. particular debates. Having debate rules that prevent irrelevant sidetracking into character issues is no more “suppressing the truth” than having rules that prevent spamming, doxxing, or posts that may create legal issues .. even if they are true.

  38. Patrick:

    No, it takes away the choice.It moves comments, sometimes without notice, out of the context of the conversation.It restricts what people see and requires additional effort for them to read what they want.

    Sorry, it may provide a slight inconvenience not a restriction. I do agree if a moderator moves a post there should be notice in the original spot.

    Elizabeth is under no obligation to run the site at all.She chooses to do so and chooses to have rules that forbid deleting comments

    She also choose to let the moderators use their best judgement, she verbally supported the decision taken with keiths post with good job if I recall , correct ? Keiths had the choice to resubmit an self edited version of his post, correct?

    Are there exceptions mentioned to deletion of comments?

    .My view is that either the “no Guano” or “choose your own moderator” approaches are more compatible with her goals for the site than the current admin abuses or, even worse, greater censorship.

    Have not been reading keiths emails , what is entailed by “choose your own moderator”?

    ETA:

    Found it

  39. Patrick:
    The following is a copy of a private email from keiths, posted with his permission.I am sharing it because I believe it is pertinent to this thread and nothing in the Rules prohibits doing so.

    keiths, to William:

    walto:

    FMM has been arguing against the good faith rule?

    Or are you talking about FMM’s insistence that we all believe in God?In that case, I’ve made my view clear:I disagree with FMM, but I do not think his comments should be guanoed.

    As I said, take it up with your bully buddy. He claimed fmm’s posts were rule-violative maybe a thousand times. (And the rules DO require guanoing such remarks, whether you happen to approve of those rules or not.)

  40. newton: walto: Right. Like I said, it punishes conscientious skeptics who have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that someone is not posting in good faith. Such a person is forbidden, for instance, from pointing out that Trump is lying, even when the evidence is overwhelming.

    I didn’t write that.

  41. walto: That’s been FMM’s argument.

    Just to be clear I don’t argue against the good faith rule or maintain that anyone is not arguing in good faith. Nor can I think of a reason to do so here.

    What I do say is that I sincerely believe folks know lots of things subconsciously that they might not be consciously aware of and also at times we all hold explicit beliefs that conflict and contradict things we know implicitly. This would include our knowledge of God’s existence as well as lots of other things as well.

    Patrick has said loudly and repeatedly that he believes this assertion is against the rules for some reason and demanded that I withdraw it or leave this forum.

    Coincidentally the very same demand was made by ALurker. It must have been very important to him because In my view he came here just to make that demand.

    peace

  42. Like I said, it punishes conscientious skeptics who have evaluated the evidence and come to the conclusion that someone is not posting in good faith.

    Nope, there is no punishment at all for coming to that conclusion. Coming to a conclusion about someone’s motives is not the same thing as expressing those conclusions where it is not allowed.

    Such a person is forbidden, for instance, from pointing out that Trump is lying, even when the evidence is overwhelming. A rule that forbids people from stating an obvious and relevant truth is a bad rule.

    It’s not relevant to any argument based on the merits of the argument and/or the available evidence.

    For example, if Trump were here and stating lie after lie, it would make perfect sense for someone to stand up and say “Donald, you are impeding the discussion here with your chronic lying. [Gives evidence of the lies.] Knock it off. Be honest.”

    Is calling Trump a liar going to make him stop lying or change his posting habits? No. So now in addition to Trump lying being a distraction from the discussion, you have an someone calling Trump a liar and trying to make a case that Trump is lying also distracting from the point of the discussion.

    We are adults here.We are not delicate flowers who must be sheltered from the fact that in reality, people do lie, and that in reality, that creates a problem for open and honest discussion. It should be called out, not covered up.

    The rules don’t attempt to “shelter” anyone from the fact that people lie; the rules attempt to create an atmosphere that minimizes personal attacks and tries to prevent threads from becoming about mudslinging.

  43. walto:
    William J. Murray,

    This whole issue is a morass, imo. Fmm says everybody believes in God whether they realize it or not. Patrick says he’s calling everybody a liar. I say he’s using ‘God’ weirdly (say to mean truth). So now who’s violating the rules?

    I don’t really think it’s a morass at all; I think it’s very clear and easy to spot when someone is violating the good faith rule and not applying a charitable interpretation.

    Obviously, FMM isn’t calling everyone a liar because he included the caveat that a person may not realize they believe in god – so, if they say they do not believe in god, that would mean (according to FMM’s theory) that they do either subconsciously or unconsciously, depending on how you map your brain/mind. You cannot be lying about something if you are not consciously aware (realize) you are lying. Therefore, FMM is not accusing anyone of lying, but rather of having subconscious/unconscious commitments they are unaware of.

    A good counter-argument to have been made would have been if it is appropriate to call subconscious commitments “beliefs”. It might have led to a re-phrasing of the principle of the argument in a more palatable way.

    It’s up to FMM to make his case. Frankly, I agree that most or all of us have subconscious commitments, but I thought it was at least an interesting concept to think about to see if he could support his perspective.

    What did claiming he was calling everyone a liar add to that discussion?

  44. Donald arrives and claims he had a larger attendance at his inauguration than Obama. Members point out the clear evidence to the contrary. Do they need to call him a liar? I think it’s as likely he’s deluded. The important point is that the claim is wrong and can be shown to be wrong. How does Donald defend his claim? If he repeats the assertion without supporting it in the face of all the clear evidence against the claim, what should happen next?

    His assertion has been refuted; his repeating it doesn’t change that fact. What should happen next is those who have reached their conclusion about the topic under debate move on to the next topic thread they are interested in. What possible difference does it make if, at that point, Trump repeats his disproven claim?

  45. walto: I didn’t write that.

    Apologies, sloppy copy and paste.
    It was Patrick sharing Winston Smith’s latest message.
    You were responding to it.
    .

  46. Here’s an interesting thought experiment:

    What if a zero-tolerance policy was initiated wrt comments that even so much as imply something (positive or negative) about the mental state, character, honesty or motives of a person (outside of Noyau)? How many comments would end up in guano? What would happen to TSZ – would most people leave because they could not, or will not, self-edit their comments? Would they flood the threads with such comments to overload the moderators to rebel? Would TSZ die out because of lack of participation? Or would most people here more carefully edit their comments to abide the rules?

    I think that if your answer is anything other than the last one, it would mean that you think most people here are mainly interested in being able to make comments about the poster, and are not mainly interested in the discussing topics on their own merit. And, if that is the case, the TSZ “experiment” is really nothing more than a smokescreen for giving people who want to personally attack people that think differently than them a place to do so and falsely justify it as being about debating topics on their merit.

    Personally, that’s what I think we have with keiths (and a couple of others); they want to use the smokescreen of “open debate” as a justification for personally attacking those they disagree with. I honestly do not know how else to interpret a person who is actually arguing for the “right” not only to call other people liars, but to make any kind of personal attack fair game (the no-guano idea).

  47. fifthmonarchyman: What I do say is that I sincerely believe folks

    So does keiths.

    know lots of things subconsciously that they might not be consciously aware of

    How can you tell someone holds a certain unconscious belief rather than holding no belief? Their conscious mind is unaware of the belief in either case, else you would be calling them a liar, what is the tell?

    Why does a subconscious belief trump a conscious belief?

    and also at times we all hold explicit beliefs that conflict and contradict things we know implicitly.

    The question is how do you know things about them that they do not know?

    Is this like with Patrick and keiths , don’t shoot the messenger?

  48. William J. Murray: It’s up to FMM to make his case. Frankly, I agree that most or all of us have subconscious commitments, but I thought it was at least an interesting concept to think about to see if he could support his perspective.

    I believe it is Biblical.

  49. William J. Murray: Obviously, FMM isn’t calling everyone a liar because he included the caveat that a person may not realize they believe in god

    Think the caveat made its appearance after unconscious objections were raised.

  50. William J. Murray,

    Totally agree with you. I am a long time member but mainly lurk and post only occasionally. In the last couple of years the site has deteriorated so much that I haven’t logged in for long periods of time. To get to nuggets of interesting insight one has to wade through pages and pages of pointless personal attacks, mud slinging, trolling and abuse. I am just not interested in having to wade through a bar fight to get to my drink.

    The idea that freedom of speech trumps the ordinary rules of polite interaction is rubbish on an internet forum. Unfettered free speech just allows those lacking in normal interpersonal skills to dominate the conversations to the point where it is no longer worth the trouble to come here.

    This issue is orthogonal to the ID debate. I have had my most pleasurable and interesting interactions here with people whose ideas I deeply disagree with (Salvador, FMM, yourself for instance). Why? Because exchanging ideas with others who think differently is interesting and stimulating, but only when done in a way that upholds basic decency and respect, and the people I mentioned generally do so (sure, every now and then we can all go too far, myself included, that is only natural, and this is where moderation should come in). That way we can actually focus on the ideas instead of on the character of the people expressing the ideas. Isn’t that what this site is intended for?

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