Mike Colera

This conversation is closed.

Why is there so much vitriol expressed by TED contributors in conversations on contentious subjects?

I have been a contributor to many conversations. I am opinionated,and I freely express those opinions. I even try to add some facts to support my opinions. Or, at least some logical rational.
BUT,
Why are so many comments laced with words and phrases like "Stupid, Idiot, unschooled, bible thumping redneck, and many I won't repeat here. Some rise to the level of threat to do bodily harm and death wishes. I know there are subjects that raise passion. I know that in a rage, words are typed. OK! However, there is a delete key and an opportunity to read your words before you hit submit. Been there, done that.
Still, these words and phrases continue to show up. I don't know why.
It's rude, uncivilized and worse, name calling has never strengthen an argument.
Can anyone explain why this happens and why it should be accepted?

PS. I know there is a process where we can ask the TED system to review and delete improper comments, I haven't done that because no one else seems disturbed. Am I wrong to question such comments?

Closing Statement from Mike Colera

I came to a conclusion yesterday as I thought about all that had transpired in this conversation. I expressed my appreciation to all the participants. As I give it more thought, many comments were similar to my conclusions that vile name calling was an uncalled for comment. A few suggested that when ... you play with fiery topics, you get burned. I understand great passion and excitement but I was not comfortable with those comments.
Thanks to all participants again.

  • Jun 9 2013: To add to previous comments, part of the understanding of how we communicate is not just the reading and editing of what we might say, but also in how we receive the information that is projected towards us.

    I will say, that this forum is probably the most civil I have been involved with and I prefer it due to that. On the other hand, you have a group of people who are passionate about their cause and are willing to write about it. Otherwise, they simply would not spend time here. And frankly, we need more fired up passionate people in this world to get things done. Passionate people also get fired up and don't necessarily "check" themselves when writing. Myself included.

    So, part of our responsibility is to check ourselves when reading the comments. I learned this a long time ago. We should assume that the writer of the comments meant things in a positive light, not an attack on you personally. Or that they addressed the content not you. If we look at writing in this light, not as a personal attack, then the understanding of how the discussion progresses is different.
    • Jun 9 2013: Everett,
      you hit the nail on the head with taking responsibility. We're all adults, here, for pete's sake. Like you say, it could be that "they addressed the content not you", but when we are indeed passionate about a belief, then that's the same thing.
      It's about taking responsibility, acting like grown-ups, and reminding ourselves that we don't have voices and gestures and facial expressions to accompany what's being said.
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      Jun 9 2013: Everett and Lizanne,
      I agree that communication is a two way street, with both the writer and reader being involved in the end result. I also agree that with electronic communications, we are missing some valuable parts of communications.....tone, facial expressions, body language, etc. There are also many different styles of communication. I often read a comment several times before replying to make sure I can understand the writers intent as much as possible.

      Most of the TED community are indeed adults, and it is reasonable to anticipate seeing respectful comments:>)
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        Jun 10 2013: Hi Everett, Lizanne and Colleen,

        I agree with all of you - it's ideas, arguments and contributions that are adressed here, not the author personally but due to the fact that this is not personal, face-to-face communication some comments or replies can be misunderstood - we do not have the gestures, facial expressions here, as you point out. Happened to me before :)

        On the other hand this may also be a good thing. In some situations, if a person is tired, not feeling well etc. the gestures and facial expressions can actually be misleading as well, can be mistaken for lack of interest, disagreement or not being passionate enough. Cultural differences cannot be underestimated as well as this is a global community - what is a friendly gesture in one part of the world can actually be interpreted as sign of agression elsewhere.

        What I'm trying to point out is that at times written communication can actually be more effective when it is discussion around the content that is important. In face-to-face contact people sometimes need much more time to express the content. Or can get socially awkward and their ability or courage to express it can be limited, that might happen when the focus is more on connecting with others, not concentrating on the issue, but still...

        However, I do agree that even while writing people tend to get fired up, even here and that's perfectly natural when they feel strongly about the issue. Some people scream, some get involved in heated discussions, some just type fast and firmly and click 'submit' before revising or checking themselves. The difference in this forum is that you can edit and delete, these options are not available when speaking or at other fora and not everybody likes to ask the quite common question "What did you mean?" Some just shake their head and walk away.

        And yes, Everett, we're lucky that there are so many people who are passionate about important issues, the world would be far worse off without them.
        • Jun 10 2013: Indeed, Anna, I get what you're saying.
          Our emotions can also sometimes hinder or hide what we're actually trying to say. Our typed opinions, embellished with a smiley here and there, are to the point, also thanks to the anonymity. Face-to-face discussions can become confrontations, purely based on the look on someone's face.

          It's all about taking a moment before hitting that 'submit' button.
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    Jun 12 2013: I think this is the real world,TED community is no difference between the community we live in.How do you feel when you hear an abusive word on the street,or in a movie? You want to criticize them or ignore them?

    It's hard to too criticize someone without a strict or offensive word,when you do so,you give them an excuse to take advantage of their abusive talking habit.That's what I call mutual communication.As an old Chinese saying reads,be needing two palms to clap.

    Thus,I think the best way to respond to an abusive word,is to ignore it.A reasonable people would be ashamed if he/she talks in a way can not be contained,while other people talk in a civilized way.On the other hand,people utter venomous or offensive words are intending to be noticed,to be talked about,to provoke other's rage.When we let them be they will subside on their own.

    I believe most TED members are reasonable and polite.At least I haven't talk to someone who abuses his/her word.
    • Jun 13 2013: "Be needing two palms to clap". That is an interesting Chinese saying Jaden.

      There is a quote I also like regarding bad behavior in others.
      It says, "you can not control others, but you can always control yourself".

      In other words, like you said, we have the choice to ignore other's behaviors or words.
      Why add fuel to the fire?
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      Jun 20 2013: " I think this is the real world,TED community is no difference between the community we live in.How do you feel when you hear abusive word on the street,or in a movie? You want to criticize them or ignore them?"

      I think in real life, we tend to size up the person we want to criticize as to how much impact their fist might have on our body. Then we determine the degree of challenge. In this virtual reality, we don't have to consider such physical aspects.

      But we do have to consider the impact the mind can have on others who may agree with someone else, at our personal expense.
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    Jun 10 2013: Something to consider:
    The fact I can't find anything to good to say about you is irrelevant.

    The fact no one can find anything good to say about you is something worth considering.
  • Jun 8 2013: My experience over the years with this has been that people don't know how to have a civil discourse on issues.

    We have forgotten how to fight fair. Instead of seeking to understand content of the conversation, we attack the character. We don't address the issue we go after the person, why? Because that is what we have become accustomed too.

    More importantly, we have forgotten how to disconnect what we put out there as information from what we believe. When we put information out there, we are only providing others with information to work with. However, we become personally attached to it and add personal attributes such as "that is my idea" to it. When "our idea" comes under attack, we take it personally. Often, the conversations become very personal because the person takes it personally rather than realizing that our idea is under attack, not us.

    My personal experience is that people take too much possession of their idea and respond as though personally attacked thus escalating the conversation to more.
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    Jun 21 2013: Contention, anger, personal bias, hopes and dreams. These are some of the many human perplexities involved in sending a message from one to others.

    All, in all, it is the message that is important. The means of conveying that message is simply a tool, like a boat. The gulf of understanding that lies between people is like a river. You use the boat to cross the river, then you no longer need the boat anymore, unless, of course, you will cross it again.

    Some people are not content to get where they are going, or have no real destination in mind. It's all about the boat. They need to travel in style, utilizing a Yacht to cross a creek when a simple log or rowboat will suffice. They have no real message and they can be contentious when this is pointed out to them.

    Religious people, at least, have a message, be it real or not. The uneducated, have a message also, usually a message of complaint or a request to be included in the social media. What they are saying, or trying to say is the important issue the Educated should focus on, their message, not how they say it.

    They real benefit of an education is the ability to understand others and convey, their, needs in a non-contentious manner, or help them to understand the complexities of life when simple language will not suffice. The Educated have a duty to humanity to rectify the wrongs, explain the complex, and discover the paths that lead to progress. It is a duty, a responsibility that comes with the package. Unless, of course, they choose to be selfish, which is a valid, but unworthy choice.
  • Jun 20 2013: Some have not had the benefits of a classical education, and thus can't express themselves through language, thought, and the presentation of an idea or concept, and so revert to the lowest common denominator.

    They do that, because like you, everyone else is trying to make a point.

    What they have yet to figure out, and when you realize this, you realize there is no point in making a point, as it's all just a point of view. But a lot of people need to hold onto something, no matter how intangible or intractable that idea maybe. As to loose that, can for some mean loosing or relinquishing the one tenant they have lived by, no matter what the argument or alternative point of view presented nor how eloquently expressed, as it would implicitly imply they would be disavowing their own minds processes.
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      Jun 20 2013: Well said Tify,
      I think there is no point in being so totally attached to our own point of view that we become contentious when someone disagrees. It is not the subject that is contentious, but rather the way in which we discuss the subject.

      I believe that when a person identifies with a certain thought, feeling, idea or opinion as the one and only point of view, s/he sometimes has to "prove" that point of view one way or another, and that is when one may "revert to the lowest common denominator", as you insightfully say.

      You say....."...that, can for some mean loosing or relinquishing the one tenant they have lived by.... it would implicitly imply they would be disavowing their own minds processes."

      I agree, and this may cause a questioning........"what have I believed in"...."why have I believed as I do"....etc. etc.

      This questioning can be an opportunity to learn and grow.....or.....it can be reason for anger in oneself.
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      Jun 21 2013: People like that are not usually found on ted. They don't know how to type. There are, however, many people with a Classical Education that apparently wasted their time going to school. I've seen some of those around here.

      Collen made a very astute statement in a previous post, "...I think there is no point in being so totally attached to our own point of view that we become contentious when someone disagrees..."

      But, this is easily stated, rather then accomplished.

      Regardless of education, people are pretty much the same throughout society when we classify our base personalities. Those with a richer education, regardless wither they obtained it via some formal setting or over time with self-study, should have no excuse for arousing contention when they have the social tools and education to forestall it. They have no excuse for being mean at all. Yet, shrouded in the words of some, highly Literate personalities, we find the very same base, inexcusable, hints and innuendos. They are are so practiced at using these hate words/phrases, stated in a subtle manner, they fail to see the same characteristics they attribute to others within themselves.

      They tend to become very emotional in a virtual world such as we are in now. They can't use the venue of writing to put forth a message or idea without the use of emphasis tools like Capitalization, more than three dots --to name a couple of the elements of their fixation

      It demonstrates a physiological need to be understood. They are willing to slap aside anyone they consider a contender to their point of view. There is always a hint of belittlement in their words with catchy phrases like, "you don't understand", "you should actually read the link", and my favorite, "you obviously misunderstood what they really mean". And, most of these people are very classically educated.
      • Jun 21 2013: re: There is, however, many people with a Classical Education...

        Should be "There are, however, many people with a Classical Education..."

        Benefits of a Classical Education. ...lol :)


        Just couldn't resist the subtle humour of it,while adding some levity. I hope you can laugh at it too.
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          Jun 21 2013: Yes, my plural distinctions can get a tad Colloquialised when I'm talking to my (Deep South) mother-in-law and typing at the same time.

          By the way, if you "had" a classical education do you still "have" it? Logic, plurals and passivity can be a problem sometimes, can't they? :)

          People with a classical education need to work harder to prove they have one.
  • Jun 14 2013: Social Neuroscience states, that when we are confronted with the differences in opinion, the chemicals, that are released in the brain are the same ones that try to ensure our survival in dangerous situations. In this defensive state, the more primitive part of the brain interferes with rational thinking and limbic system can nock out most of our working memory, physically causing narrow-mindedness.
    Voila ! :)
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      Jun 14 2013: Sure, that's the science, but we are supposed to be rational beings and able to control our emotions when the threat is not an immediate danger to our physical well-being but just some #@&*$$# calling us names. Then we have to type a response in a little box that is barely legible, correct the numerous mistakes in spelling and then scroll down to hit submit. I think the worse of us can calm down and find a more civil way to respond. Just saying.
      • Jun 15 2013: Sure, we should and we'd better :)
        But i guess, there is a kind of ultimate solution, which is difficult to implement, but it solves a lot of problems before they even emerge :
        tame the Ego !
        It lessens the chances to insult and be insulted dramatically.

        Please, don't take me wrong, i am not one of those who managed ( not even close :) ), but i think it's the right direction to move.

        Thanks for responding !
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      Jun 14 2013: Interesting Natasha, and it makes sense!

      Mike's idea also makes sense....."we are supposed to be rational beings and able to control our emotions.........calm down and find a more civil way to respond...."

      Could it be that what you describe Natasha is more instinctive, and what Mike describes takes a little more awareness?

      I believe that as thinking, feeling intelligent humans, we are evolving beyond the basic instinctive responses, and we do indeed have the ability to be more aware of our actions/interactions/words/responses....etc.
      • Jun 15 2013: Colleen, it's the way science tries to explain it, not the way i try to justify rudeness.
        :)
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          Jun 15 2013: I don't perceive you trying to justify rudeness Natasha:>) I think many human behaviors involve instinct, intuition, logical, rational, reasoning, and probably a lot more than we even realize:>)
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    Jun 12 2013: "Can anyone explain why this happens and why it should be accepted?"

    I don't think it should be accepted, but I can tell you what others have said about it. On a popular cigarette package years ago, was this initialism: LSMFT. On the cigarette package it stood for Lucky Strikes Mean Find Tobacco. One writer said that it also stood for Low Self-Esteem Mean Friction and Trouble.

    In short, it's low self esteem, then, that brings out the worst in some.

    Here's another bit of wisdom: "We act or fail to act to enhance our own ego." When some feel that their ego, or self-worth, or self-image has been attacked, they attack back.
    • Jun 12 2013: I find your comment very insightful.

      A few minutes ago I was reading a reply to a comment I made in another conversation.
      The TEDster said, and I quote, "This post has nothing to do with the subject".
      When I first read it, I thought that he was referring to my post, and I felt a little bit hurt and insulted, because my post had alot to do with the matter at hand.

      However, when I read his comment again, I realized he was talking about his post, not mine.

      My comment had reminded him of something else, and he jumped in and shared the information.

      Sometimes, online, it is good to read, and reread what others write, and give people the benefit of the doubt.
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        Jun 13 2013: Good point Kate:>)

        Labeling, catagorizing people, and harsh words are often a clear sign of low self-worth and insecurity. People tell us a LOT about themselves with the labels they try to give us:>)
      • Jun 14 2013: Hi there Kate!!

        Long time no see. Hope you are well.
        Thanks for your comment Kate.

        You bring out some very good points, and I totally agree.

        A friend of mine always uses the illustration of a shoemaker when discussing conversations.
        He says, when you are reading information in online conversations, or in a group, remember:
        If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn't fit, don't worry about it, it's not your shoe.

        It's good not to overthink things. Stay lighthearted and enjoy the interchange of ideas and insights.
        Take what builds you up, discard the rest.....

        Paranoia can set in very quickly if you have low self esteem. It's best not to take what others say too seriously......I learned that from someone here on TED.

        Talk to you soon Kate.!
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    Jun 9 2013: Name calling? Vitriol? Among TEDsters? Where?

    I have actually seen very little of the above, or not enough to be disturbed. I'm either new or completely inexperienced here. Maybe I'm deluding myself. Or maybe I'm not a TEDster but a TEDdy... Or a combination.
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      Jun 9 2013: Whatever you would like to call yourself Anna, I'm glad you are here. I agree with you in that most people comment with kindness and respect:>)
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      Jun 10 2013: I had a boss once who told me that making the highest score on the companies test was an indication that you could create a better lie about why you were not giving your all to the job.

      Simple words like "stupid" will not often be found around the TED site but, you find their substitutes disguised in phrases like: "...if you would only read the research or view the video or listen to the audio, you would understand how wrong you are..."

      Because we are emotional creatures, this emotion wells up from time to time to a level not really intended. That's why we have an edit and delete button on the comments section.

      Some of us claim to use this facility and take time to think, but not always. Often, yes. Always, no.

      Sometimes if you don't like someone, you might find yourself opposing their view, even if the view is valid. That's just our nature. It creeps into almost every communications technology we create. Sometimes, people are more self-centered than they can notice themselves or really don't have a valid opinion on the subject and just want to be noticed. I try to notice everyone but not always the way they want it.

      I have found, if you stay with it, eventually you learn the rules of the game and become a better commentor. Practice makes perfect. With that in mind, those with the most experience should make some allowence for those with the least.

      Many commenters don't have a valid Email address in their profile. I use mine often and usually have more indepth conversations about a subject, than can be civilly accomplished in the public venue. Even when someone is adamantly in disagreement with me, they appear more calm and open to discussion in the Email.

      Sometimes (don't you love the word "sometimes"), I get Email responses from people I never get a comment from or see them comment in any discussion. People are shy... sometimes. :)
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        Jun 10 2013: I agree with you, all of that is true. We're not machines, we are emotional creatures that suffer from cognitive imperfections and dissonance. Some don't have opinions, just seek attention, some shy away from attention but have strong views - people are different and their awareness of themselves vary.

        However, especially here, I try to liberate myself from WHO is giving me the content and concentrate on the content itself. I'm saying this because of what you said about reacting to valid views negatively because of our opinion or feeling about the provider of the view.

        Example - do you remember the talk by Kid President - We all need a pep-talk? I typed my comment to this talk, then scrolled down and saw quite a different one saying, in brief, "what is THIS doing on TED?!" This quite firm, critical, even harsh comment was rated quite high by others which made be frown. I do not believe that the speaker cared much, that's not what I'm saying :) It's possible that the harsh commenters (whom I have nothing against) expected an expert an a subject and the comment in question was a consequence of their discontent or dissatisfaction, mine was just content-base (so wait the minute, what the kid is saying is this BUT this and that and so on...)

        When it comes to your boss - I've never heard anything similar, that's interesting. But what was the test?

        You can have a look at this talk, it's not completely unrelated since it's about communication and the word lie is mentioned - "Remi has never told a lie..."

        http://www.ted.com/talks/faith_jegede_what_i_ve_learned_from_my_autistic_brothers.html

        Yes, I like to word 'sometimes' too, I also prefer frequently and rarely to always or never. Always and never are promises... at least frequently, but not always - sometimes you can use 'always' :)
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          Jun 10 2013: I understand completely what you are saying Anna. There is some resonance in what you say with what I said.

          The boss thing relates to an actual event that happened in one of my Job interviews. It was an electronics firm in the early 80's and I got all the answers correct on the test.

          I was a bit full of myself and this annoyed the Tester who replied that bit of philosophy to me.

          It goes towards being too smart and how this can work against you. Intelligence can be applied in behaviors that are good, bad or in between. Sometimes in the business world they don't want someone who is too smart because they could be hard to handle or control.

          Sometimes when we think we are helping someone by giving them advice about the way they write a comment, it could appear condescending to them, even when we mean well. I have been guilty of this, many times.

          You can always use sometimes if that is what you mean or can't think of an appropriate word. :)
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          Jun 11 2013: You need to select your Account in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
          On the right hand side of the page that comes up will be two selections.
          Select the second choice.
          In the first section of the page, you will see the words 'subscribe' Set your choices there. I have all the 'subscribe' choices selected.
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          Jun 12 2013: That pretty well takes care of TED. I'd look into something to do with junk mail in your email client. I use Thunderbird and Firefox. What are you using?
  • Jun 8 2013: Mike
    I agree with a lot of folks here, that editing your emotions, especially when they're heated, is sort of censoring yourself.
    But at the end of the day, there is a fine line between a heated reply, and down-right abuse.
    If I feel irritation about a comment, I usually wait a day to let it sink before replying. That tends to help me get my thoughts sorted out before I even get the chance to insult anybody, (I hope!)
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    Jun 8 2013: If I personally ever have, I apologize! Yet I can not remember ever insulting someone on TED, partly because people on TED are usually a lot more friendly than the people in the "Youtube Comment" area. (In other words : "Reciprocity") The cause of this could be due to the "anonymity" and the "social identity" associated with Youtube which could encourage certain forms of (negative) behaviour, or it could even be caused by the lack of responsibility or deterrents (a Leviathan). It's worth mentioning that this is a pure hypothesis.
    While the best reason I could give a reason, it would be the amazing human ability to rationalize (or justify) our actions after we had committed them (and then distort our memory), or the human ability to find it difficult to admit we are wrong.
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        Jun 10 2013: Guess I have a bad memory then don't I?
        I personally can't remember calling you anything insulting, if I have please tell me where and when.
        Your comment is also slightly ironic if you don't mind me saying, considering you have insulted people (maybe unintentionally) in the past. However I am not here to debate this issue here.
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        Jun 10 2013: Oh okay.
        You are talking about the comment where I claimed you stating that you wanted to lock Colleen Steen in a room was unnecessary? That isn't offensive in anyway (towards you)! I didn't make any insult directed towards you.
        It was just simply stating the comment was unnecessary. I never called you " cruel", and "offensive" ". That is twisting my words. I said the comment was cruel and offensive (from my perception), which is different from saying you are "cruel" or "offensive".
        I have never insulted anybody directly on TED.
        So yes I do quite comfortably claim innocence, unless you can prove otherwise.
        Prove that I insulted you that is. Unless you copy and paste it, I shall claim innocence.
        " there will always be someone whose perception does not resonate with our own."
        That's true. :)
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          Jun 10 2013: Bernard,
          For what it is worth, you are one of the most respectful members of TED that I have interacted with for years, and considering you are also one of the youngest members.....KUDOS to you my friend:>)

          To clarify....I was the one who said Chris Kelly's threat to lock me in a room with Don Wesley felt cruel to ME. I wholeheartedly agree Bernard, that Chris's comment was unnecessary.
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          Jun 12 2013: Cris Kelly,
          You "missed the mark" , (as you insightfully write) on your original comment, and you "missed the mark" again on this comment.

          I did not go off topic, and in fact, was trying to keep DW on topic. If you recall the conversation, throughout his angry tirade of accusations, I kept telling DW that no matter what he writes, I have compassion and empathy for him. You then made a comment about "passive aggressive".

          As you state in a comment on this thread...
          "I think we should develop a softer attitude."

          You talk about it Chris, I practice it....walk the talk....and it might be helpful to leave your anger outside the door when you come into a new discussion:>)
  • Jun 8 2013: Why: Different human reactions to challenges about beliefs, validity of arguments, value of an opinion, or author's projected emotions.

    Should it be accepted?: I think abuse should not be tolerated, but censorship of opinion laced with emotion might take away from some responses. The moderator's opinion about what is abusive is probably the baseline.

    If you are disturbed by something you read, I think you should use whatever process is in place to call attention to it or similarly correct the problem. Your opinion counts. Inaction will only enable a problem to escalate.
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    Jun 8 2013: better to have an emotive and flawed response than a bureaucratic-style regurgitation of bookish terminology that says nothing. newspeak sux. get emotive and swear a little. then, at least, i'll know you care..
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      Jun 8 2013: That is the most poorly thought-out expression I have ever heard come from a supposedly human mind. Are you totally void of sensibility and real-world experience? Did your parents have all under-achieving children? . . . JUST KIDDING SCOTT. I was trying-out your philosophy. It feels harmful, unproductive, and contentious. I apologize.
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        Jun 8 2013: i take your point.

        despite the hysteria caused by the internet and the digital "revolution" that has allowed everyone the opportunity to pipe up, most opinions are not worth reading or listening to let alone responding to.

        i'm working at responding rather than reacting but those pesky emotions do have a way of pushing to the front of the line.

        that's one area where the robots have us beat. let's hope empathy and sympathy don't rely too heavily on being able to experience emotion..
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          Jun 10 2013: Scott, I know I can be so stupid at times so you should overlook me if you notice this aptitude, but, could you please rewrite or explain the last sentence?

          "...that's one area where the robots have us beat. let's hope empathy and sympathy don't rely too heavily on being able to experience emotion.."
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    Jun 21 2013: Hi collen Steen. I read the posted link to a differentiation of PA that you suggested. The very first explanation was "Passive-aggressive behavior is a general term used in many contexts." Does this imply that there may be more than one way to look at or define Passive Aggressive Behavior?

    I did focus on this explanation because it appears to match some personalities I've experienced on TED.

    "Passive-aggressive may also refer to a person who denies (in the sense of "refuses to acknowledge") his or her own aggression (in the sense of "agency"), and who manages that denial by projecting it. This type of person insists on seeing himself or herself as the blameless victim in all situations."

    Hey, We've seen a few of these right?

    :)
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      Jun 21 2013: Hi John Moonstroller:>)

      Exactly! "Passive-aggressive behavior is a general term used in many contexts."

      Yes, I agree....there is more than one way to look at, or define passive aggressive behavior.

      That is why I posted the link to the meaning, and that is why I made the statement...
      Colleen Steen
      Jun 13 2013:
      " Even the very best psychotherapist would not attempt to diagnose anyone based on comments made in an on-line forum. I don't know how or why these folks think they can label and diagnose."

      Yes John, you are right. We often see projection:>)
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    Jun 17 2013: There is a number of reasons I think, Culture, beliefs, educational status, personal experience, narcissism, delusions, even psychological and yes ego.

    TED is a place/forum/society if you like that wishes to be able to improve ( I shall not use change)the world/civillisation for the better, and there are a lot of people here who are capable of that.

    But then saying that you still have a forum that can be used anonymously and the more cowardly can hide behind.,

    Even the most perceived intellectually astute and supposedly civilised and aware of us are not free of basic prejudices and opinions.

    Some of us (myself included) do not tolerate fools easily and although someone may not be foolish the way they voice their opinion may make them look so and then it opens the doors for retribution.

    People generally react first and think after ( and then usually regret it)

    In the words of Monty Python

    "Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space because there's bugger all down here on earth."

    No matter how smart or forward thinking we believe we have come we still have a long way to go
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      Jun 17 2013: Hi Morgan! Nice to see you again:>)

      We have participated together in a couple conversations which demonstrated the human behaviors you mention above!

      We all have the ability to change, and in my perception, it is a matter of choice. We can be as aware and informed as we choose to be regarding any topic. Some people have more communication skills, some people have more...or less... respect for each other....the possibilities go on and on............

      I agree that one of the main reasons for poor communications is that people often comment with a knee jerk reaction, rather than being clear with what they want to communicate. We need to be clear in ourselves before we can communicate clearly with others. I believe that is why we sometimes see people contradicting themselves, appearing to be foolish, and as you say, if there is a forum to anonymously hide behind, false profile (or several in some cases), sometimes people tend to not think before hitting "submit".

      I totally agree......we can all improve.....nice chatting with you again....hope things are good in your part of the world:>)
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    . .

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    Jun 14 2013: Just writing to say this is the number one best profile photo. I love it!
    • Jun 14 2013: Agreed ! :)
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      Jun 14 2013: Thank You.
      It is what I should have looked like when I was a baby.
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        Jun 15 2013: I am sure this is how you truly looked....and if you came to believe differently....then that is because all those early mirrors and lenses reflecting your image were dusty and rusty.
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    Jun 13 2013: Hi Mike,
    This is a good topic, and we see some of the name calling and "vitriol" surfacing right here. I agree with you that name calling has never strengthened an argument. In fact, it usually gets the comment removed by the TED moderators, and/or puts an end to what otherwise could be an interesting conversation. A person's time and energy is kind of wasted with name calling and labeling.

    Another type of "name calling" that is used by some folks, when they do not agree with us, is to label people with personality disorders, mental challenges and/or behaviors. Even the very best psychotherapist would not attempt to diagnose anyone based on comments made in an on-line forum. I don't know how or why these folks think they can label and diagnose.

    The folks who are having a discussion about passive aggressive behavior on this thread have labeled some folks as having this behavior, when we do not agree with them. It very obviously weakens their arguments, and is not at all constructive to any conversation, so it seems kind of foolish that they would continue this labeling behavior.

    Chris Kelly names one good reason for this to happen....projection. Another good comment of his is about a "Ted clique". I haven't experienced this concept, but based on the conversation below about passive aggressive people, it seems like at least one "clique" of some sort does indeed exist:>)

    Was this thread meant to be a psychological analysis of other people? Most issues are better resolved when we take responsibility for our own behaviors, rather than blaming others.
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      Jun 13 2013: I really wasn't trying to get into the depths of most comments being made. I had seen some "sharp" comments made in response on a couple of ... what could be called "controversial" subjects. What made me question these comments was that they really weren't applicable and just mean in my view.
      For example. I believe that there are members of TED who comment are committed Christians, ,Muslims and Jews. God bless them. There are others, Hindus, Sheikhs, more then I can list and lets not forget Agnostics and Atheist. They all have beliefs.. Most beliefs cannot be verified. So what do I read? "you can't prove your comment, you ........ you!" Why such a comment.?
      I could gone on in a dozen different examples that seem to attract these kinds of comments. As many have said, they don't enhance the conversation.
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        Jun 13 2013: I agree Mike, that conversations about religion and god seem to attract the most controversial comments. I also agree with you that most beliefs cannot be verified.

        I observe that some people present their personal beliefs as if it is verifiable as the one and only truth, which often causes a challenge. I think it would help if people realize and accept the fact that there are MANY different beliefs, as you have acknowledged in your comment.

        I have lots of friends and relatives who believe in, and practice many different religious and philosophical beliefs. They do not preach, and constantly try to convert me, as we see happen here on TED at times. I've been told I am the devil, evil, uninformed, not very intelligent, etc. etc., because I do not believe in a god.

        I have stated MANY times that I respect people and their beliefs, if the belief and practice does not adversly impact other people. This statement and perception on my part, often gets me the label of "passive aggressive".

        ALL communications take two or more people to have a respectful, productive outcome.....true?
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        Jun 20 2013: Most would argue their belief is valid even though the evidence they point to is over 2000 years old.
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      Jun 20 2013: Suitability is another means of disenfranchising someone. Some people use it all the time, thinking no one notices. But we do notice.

      Telling someone the don't know what they are talking about is a form of labeling someone also. Especially if neither party is an expert on the subject. Yet, for the opportunity to pun someone, another will suggest they lack knowledge about the subject or miss the true understanding.
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    R H

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    Jun 11 2013: Oh no! C'mon John, someone has to stand up for the other side! Sticks and stones and all that...
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    Jun 10 2013: It could be possible, as Chris Kelly points out, that we distort our memory in quite an egotistical way to make us always seem in the right. Which is problematic to any situation, considering it stops us from taking responsibility for our actions if we don't even know we had done something bad!
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    Jun 10 2013: Finally Cris Kelly, a video I watched all the way through and really enjoyed. :)
  • Jun 10 2013: Mike,
    This post is specifically addressed to you.
    By reading all the comments, whether they agree with you or not, ALL OF THEM ARE VERY CORDIAL to you, There wasn't any trace of disrespect here. So maybe the vitriol or verbal abuse occurred only when you touched their nerves, so to speak to induce their anger; justified or not. So I would respectfully suggest that if you find such nonsense again, post you argument only once, and if it seems to be a bad response, just reply that you don't think that there could not be any further fruitful discussion/exchange, and you just refuse to engage in any more activities.
    Respectfully yours,
    Bart
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      Jun 11 2013: Bart,
      Not all of the shots were at me. They were all over the place. I just thought that there were too many at too many. I consider myself as pretty thick skinned. And I have done as you suggested, left discussions when I felt that I could not add anything useful to the conversation.
      Thank You
  • Jun 8 2013: A varied number of reasons.
    We cannot control how people sit down to their computer and tell them their emotional state must be calm, rational, fair and disconnected from emotion, passion and urgency.
    We are all human, imperfect and sometimes, like we all do, have done and have done much more than once in our lives, have not really been aware of what we are feeling,burying or hiding beneath the surface of our "ted-face", much like all the other faces we put on daily. In other words, all the fakes we are, for decades.

    But, another reason is the growing number of Artificially Intelligent humans being 'made' by all the propaganda they are subjected to, through the use of lies, but mainly, fear. The number of growing Mental Robots in society is somewhat like those you do not favor here and their vitriol.
    They respond with, "well, what was I supposed to think?' The answer is that they "were supposed to think!" but don't.
    They repeat what they have been told to think, say or do. they react in that manner.

    In fact, for me, many who speak (write) rationally and soberly on Ted are the ones I want to flag.
    They sound just like they are robots. Calmly spewing out the sound bites they have learned by rote and think it makes sense.
    It isn't so much we disagree. It is more that change is needed and that change today requires very different thinking, and then acting on it.

    And time is of the essence for those younger than I.
    The present goes so fast.
    Now the present is, isn't.
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    Jun 8 2013: Everybody here is charming.
  • Jun 8 2013: I think also, that we can not ignore the fact that for some individuals it takes real courage to voice their opinions.

    So, they arm themselves with bravery, and say what they need to say:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4
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      Jun 10 2013: This is true, especially for younger people or those who lack solid social media skills or those writing for the first time.

      With so many people pointing you to this video and that video it could give you the impression you really don't know what is going on.
      • Jun 10 2013: Absolutely agree.

        I personally like the lighthearted approach to topics.

        There is alot we just don't know. And even if someone is speaking truth to us, we might just perceive it in a different way all together.....even getting upset for no reason at all.

        I once said something in a comment to express my disagreement with another individual, and they thanked me for backing them up. They really had no idea that my comment meant the total opposite. Sometimes we see what we want to see.
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          Jun 10 2013: Yes, That is the way I see you when you write Mary. Your avatar kinda makes me think of you as a little flower blowing in the breeze. I think of a little girls with a billowy hat and frilly dress. A doll in one hand and the other holding onto her hat in the wind. Looking so innocent as she walks through the park, wondering at the world.
      • Jun 10 2013: I do like the imagery you conjured up.

        I do feel like a little girl wondering at the world.....and I am always looking to understand things better and better. There is so much to learn!!

        Thanks John.
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          Jun 10 2013: Make sure you have your shoes on before you go outside Mary. :)
      • Jun 10 2013: Thanks for the reminder John....I most definitely will not forget them. :)
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      • Jun 10 2013: Mirroring is a very good technique.

        I have used it oftentimes, but never online.
        I am always amazed at how often people fail to recognize their own behavior......me included!!!

        Awareness of self is such an interesting topic of conversation.
        I am constantly thinking about my thinking, and self-examining my perceptions.
        I marvel sometimes at how much more I learn when I quietly observe, and keep my thoughts to myself.

        Chris, psychology.....what makes humans tick....really fascinates me.
        I guess that is why I read alot of biographies, and love learning about various cultures and the people inside those cultures.
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        Jun 10 2013: "they tend to label this behavior as mine, yet fail to recognize it as their own." I've heard you use that phrase before. It makes sense. I've found this to be true also.

        If you take someone Else's thoughts and reach a different conclusion, they think your incorrect and begin the attack because the same logic leads to a conclusion different from the one they are trying to force you to embrace. Some people think logic is their own, God given realm, They can get really peeved at you.

        Logic is nothing more that a tool, like a math function. You put stuff in, something comes out the others side according to the function. You can alter it by changing the variables, etc.

        I have found that the human mind is not so robotic in its ability to think and decipher the Universe around themselves. We can reach conclusions that are based on insightful reckoning, something that artists do all the time. They let the imagination roam freely. Einstein used this type of reasoning when he hitched a ride of a light beam.
        • Jun 11 2013: Your third paragraph on logic reminded me of something I contributed to the conversation on "why are we afraid to make mistakes".

          Here it is:

          From the book I am reading "Being Wrong" (K Schulz) page 121-122:

          "....a fundamental lesson of inductive reasoning...our mistakes are part and parcel of our brilliance, not the regrettable consequences of a separate and deplorable process......Believing something on the basis of messy, sparse, limited information really is how we err. But it is also how we think. What makes us right is what makes us wrong."
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    Jun 7 2013: I rarely see that Mike, I wonder why we're having different experiences?
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      Jun 8 2013: I don't know. Maybe, you keep better company?
      Seriously, it's been pointed out that most of my experiences have been in volatile subjects, such as education and evolution. So, I am beginning to think it's my selections that attract these kinds of comments
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        Jun 10 2013: I don't know Mike, Sometimes it may have to do with the way we see ourselves. By the way, what is a Curmugeon?
        • Jun 10 2013: Curmudgeon-----a bad tempered or surly person.

          Surly----bad tempered and unfriendly.

          Like I said before, this conversation is helping our vocabulary skills. :)
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    Jun 7 2013: Hi Mike.
    You are spot on. Personally I get quite frustrated by this sort of thing. I am a Christian, which in itself seems to be a red rag to a bull. Time & again I try to argue scientific points & get nothing but anti-biblical tirades. Really tiresome, as I would genuinely enjoy reasoned argument. TED attempts to be a forum for the civilised free exchange of ideas, & succeeds to a large extent, but there is certainly something about the evolution/atheist brigade that renders their feathers easily ruffled. Hope springs eternal........
    :-)
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        Jun 8 2013: I seldom am the first to mention the bible.

        :-)
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      • Jun 7 2013: This is off topic, I will flag you if necessary. (JK)
      • Jun 7 2013: Yeah, I guess you're right....ok I take it back.
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        Jun 8 2013: @ ZX
        Sorry, that doesn't ring a bell. Must have missed it. Don't know a whole lot about the Trinity anyway.

        :-)
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      Jun 8 2013: I've noticed that too. Folks who proclaim themselves as atheist seem very reactive when discussing issues of faith and religion. I read recently that an atheist group from Wisconsin threatened to sue a school down in the southern bible belt for having prayers at a graduation ceremony. It's 1500 miles from Wisconsin to that school.
      Why? I don't understand the concern of school prayer at 1500 miles. I live in south Texas... ask me if I care if kids in Wisconsin pray in school. I don't really care if the kids in Wisconsin go to school. Well, yeah, I kind of do, but I wouldn't sue.
      So, why do atheists react so?
    • Jun 8 2013: I have seen several people trying hard to explain scientific points to you Peter.
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        Jun 8 2013: Some do Entropy, you included, however we are talking generalities. However explaining scientific points to me is a tad condescending, don't you think. Maybe my opinion is of some value as well?

        :-)
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          Jun 8 2013: Very interesting point Peter!

          Explaining scientific points to you may feel the same as explaining your religious beliefs to some of us with the comment that you are trying to "warn" us....."save us from the fires of hell"...we are "uninformed" because we do not believe as you do....etc....etc.....

          Do you ever think that may be "a tad condescending", as you insightfully point out in your comment?
        • Jun 8 2013: When someone knows better than me on something, they explain it to me, and I see no reason to think that such a thing is condescending. If I know more science than you, then of course I will explain in terms that you might consider condescending. You are quite misinformed about science. Science that I indeed know much better than you. That does not mean that I am superior to you, it only means that I know science better. We should focus very little on how the comments "feel" and much more on whether there's a point been clarified or explained.

          When I read your comments I still try hard to see the points you are trying to make. I know that I don't know all the sciences, and therefore, were you to make a point on something I don't know much about, then I would research it before answering (I have done so many more times than once). Anyway, the point is: sure, you might have something to offer. That's why I pay attention. But when you are misinformed don't get all hurt feelings. Maybe what I say has some value too?
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          Jun 10 2013: I don't remember ever hearing you toss any fire and brimstone arguments at anyone Peter. You've always been open and honest about your religion. And, many of your opinions are intelligently worded and logically valid.

          Did I miss something?
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        Jun 8 2013: I agree Entropy, that when someone knows something better than me, they explain it, and I see no reason to think it is condescending.

        What feels condescending (to assume an air of superiority) is when someone thinks they know what is "right" and the "only" belief for me.....as in religion for example. When someone tells me I am "uninformed" because I do not agree with him, that feels condescending, and it doesn't say anything about me.....it gives me information about that person:>)
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          Jun 10 2013: "Explaining scientific points to you may feel the same as explaining your religious beliefs to some of us with the comment that you are trying to "warn" us....."save us from the fires of hell"...we are "uninformed" because we do not believe as you do....etc....etc.....

          Do you ever think that may be "a tad condescending", as you insightfully point out in your comment?"

          Collen, when you use plural indicative nouns like "we" and "us", it can be construed as condescending to consider that you are somehow a part of a group that shares your complete and total opinion. Most people are in between this scientific and religious culture of misunderstanding. I've never had this feeling of condescension, towards Peter you imply.
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        Jun 10 2013: John Moonstroller,
        I DO speak for myself John, and when I am aware of sharing a thought, feeling, idea or belief with others, I use the appropriate terms. I am aware of the meaning of "we" and "us", and the concept I write about has been shared by others many times on TED, so I feel comfortable in the way I expressed it.

        The term in question is "condescending", rather than "condensation", and it is a term that Peter Law introduced in his previous comment.

        Perhaps you could correct him too!!! LOL:>)

        EDIT:
        I notice you changed "condensation" to "condescension" John:>)
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          Jun 11 2013: Peter, consider yourself corrected. :)

          What? Condensation is not the action of condescending? :) I didn't know that.
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      Jun 10 2013: It's really not a problem Pet until you try to merge religion with science or imply that one is responsible for the other.

      I'm Jewish, but I rarely tell or refer that to people, unless it supports the conversation in some way. I'm really not a practicing Jewish person. It's been ages since I've been to Temple.
  • Jun 7 2013: If you see this happening, then flag it.
    A TEDster once said in a comment "I give your contribution a thumbs down."
    And you know what happened?
    Someone flagged the comment, and the comment was "poof" made to disappear.

    So, if that litte comment which contained no profanity, or off colored words, was flagged, and removed, then by all means, if someone hurts your feelings, feel free to flag. It will be noted.

    VITRIOL: Cruel and bitter criticism
    Thanks for the new vocab word :P
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      • Jun 7 2013: Say what?

        That's it Mister, I'm flagging your reply to me.
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          Jun 10 2013: Your not going to take that lying down are you Mary :)

          Flagging on TED is like fragging in combat. If a direct shot won't work, throw a grenade.:)
      • Jun 7 2013: Ha.

        I think that some people are more sensitive than others.

        I really rarely see any kind of rude remarks in the conversations.
        I have seen them mostly under the talk for the day.

        It gets really heated over there. People are very passionate about their "opinions".

        Come to think of it, I won't flag you after all. I changed my mind. Woman's perogative...LOL
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    Jun 7 2013: The reasons for displays of aggression, anger, intolerance, and rudeness are probably the same online as offline, with three differences. First, anonymity may reduce restraint of impulse. Second, an interest in maintaining continuing positive personal relations is less an issue online- people often don't care very much about others in the conversation. Third, people are more likely to misunderstand people they cannot see and who are from a difference place with different background from their own. Thus accidental offense results from misunderstanding and causes anger. Even between, say, England and America, words in the same language can have quite different connotations.

    I think if you notice one person is personally attacking another as you describe, particularly if it is one way rather than both parties doing it, you should feel free to flag it. The bystander has an important role in fostering the culture of a community.
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        Jun 10 2013: Or good women: consider the woman who interacted with the terrorist who mortally hurt that soldier in England.
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        • Jun 7 2013: Just so you know, I thumbed up Chris. LOL
      • Jun 8 2013: What!?

        I'll have you know I do not believe in the doctrine of hell as a place of torment......my seat in hell is reserved, yes, ....for the day I die.....because to me the term means the common grave of mankind.

        And just for that, I will now thumb up ZX Style....heeheehee
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      Jun 10 2013: "I have never experienced this myself.
      On the average the TEDsters are friendly"

      All things come to he who waits.
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    Jun 21 2013: Thanks for the info Chris, I am at a loss as why you would do this, I found your contributions as valid as others, that is what TED is all about... an expression of ideas.

    See you around other conversations.
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    Jun 21 2013: Surprise, surprise... at the last minute a number of comments were deleted. I am at a complete loss as to why.
    Anyway thanks to you that stayed till the bitter end.
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      Jun 21 2013: Yes I noticed. What happened to Chris Kelly?
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          Jun 21 2013: Yes Kelly, I received it. I sent you an email at your aol address did you receive it?
          If not, you should resend your email address so I can register you.
          John.
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          Jun 21 2013: FYI
          I have gotten many communications through the TED system all week, and several this morning. I don't seem to be having difficulty. Perhaps it is your individual computer or service?
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    Jun 19 2013: As this conversation draws to a close, I would like to thank all who participated. I think I have learned a couple of things about TED contributors. Most seem responsive to comments in a courteous manner. A few justified emotional responses because of the subject matter. Contentious subjects require contentious replies.
    I am not sure, Most of us are flawed, at least I am, we have opinions, at least I do, but I see no reason be contentious regardless of the subject. I am not that contentious... well, maybe, but I don't have to express
    it. So, if this sounds like an apology for my transgressions, it kind of is.
    Thank You All
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      Jun 20 2013: Hi Mike,
      I do not agree that "contentious subjects require contentious replies". A subject is simply that.....an opportunity to share our own perspectives. How we do it, is the important peice, and that is a choice we make, depending on how attached we are to a certain outcome in the conversation.

      I agree with your statement Mike...."I see no reason to be contentious regardless of the subject". You and I have participated in a couple conversations in which we disagreed, and I did not feel that you were contentious.....hope you didn't feel that from me either:>)
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      Jun 20 2013: I interpreted your interest, Mike, to be not in whether posts are actually contentious (dictionary definition) or provocative on a subject but rather whether comments involve personal attack, including gratuitous attacks on population groups of which the discussant may be a part.

      I agree with you that there is no reason for personal attack, for telling others their posts are not good enough for TED Conversations, and so forth. We do see some of these things occasionally.

      I think people do not always notice that their posts are often rude or fall in such categories.
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        Jun 21 2013: That is my interpretation as well Fritzie, and I agree with the rest of your comment:>)
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      Jun 21 2013: You know Mike; it depends on the subject. But, I think we have all learned in this discussion that Contention breeds contention. What is contention if not the effort of an individual to send the message that they care strongly about their feelings, ideas, beliefs or any of the multitude of reasons they cling to the elements that give them a sense of hope --the power to dream.

      We all covet our dreams. We are sometimes elated when we discover that someone else has the same dream. Contention in writing is more desirable than physically beating each other over the head about our dreams. Words can be erased or revised. Physically fighting, as a form of contention, can be dreadfully mortal to the human body and mind.
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    Jun 12 2013: Does this have to do with something I said?

    I can think of several possible reasons Mike.

    1. It simply isn't offensive! You just perceive key words of the questioning, take them out of the intended context and get offended because it questions your beliefs. It's like when I asked you if you wanted examples of religious prostitution or the cutting of genitals from the scriptures.

    2. It may be an upset reaction to the EXTREME vitriol that Christians promote. If you are a "true" christian and believe in the word of the bible, that Jesus is our lord and that heaven and hell exist. You naturally say that when you believe in heaven and hell that people deserve eternal bliss or eternal punishment. And every time someone agrees with this they are saying that I deserve to be tortured for eternity, and so do the other 6 Billion people that aren't the right kind of christian. And even if they (you) didn't think it was quite right it shouldn't be their (your) thing to question the Lord.
    If you're doubtful you need only seek out a clergy and ask them to please convince you that they are right, and that you shouldn't have doubts.

    Vitriol behavior shouldn't be accepted, and neither should zealotry or religious proselytizing, as it says in the terms of use. But we can't abide to everyone's feelings here so we'll just have to allow some degree of most behaviors I guess.

    And it has been proven that theists are generally less educated, so speaking in a general, comparative and objective way... they are stupid... ... Did that offend every theist that read this?
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      Jun 12 2013: I really hadn't specified any one in the conversation. And I have said that most of the reference comments where made to others. Your last comments about theists offensive?
      I can't imagine. Does anyone think that it is not an acceptable comment?

      You presented examples of religious prostitution and the cutting of genitals noted in Scripture. OK lets discuss them.
      Lets review. The bible and scriptures are for the most part a recording of history of the Jews from about the time they left Egypt to the time of Christ. .Did some religious of that day engage in questionable sexual activity? Do they do so today? I think that has been reported. I don't know, I can't attest to it.
      So, you feel strongly about nipping those little guys in the bud. Did you know they had an aversion to bacon and some other strange customs and rituals. There were a series of Temple Laws that actually were public health issues. Cloven foot animals carry trichinosis: foreskins hid infection and even cancer, cutting down on reproduction. They didn't have advanced health information, just a long period of observation. And when people died after eating pork and men didn't sire children. It was aign from God. So, no bacon and snip, snip. Now if you really want to take offence; at one time, it was bitten off..
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        Jun 12 2013: I, for one, think saying theists are stupid is not a constructive way to advance discussion and is deliberately insulting to people rather than addressing an argument. That it makes a questionable logical leap from "less educated" to "stupid" enhances that effect.

        I don't think only those who are deliberately insulted (theists) would find such a comment or rhetorical strategy unconstructive in promoting mutual understanding of points of view on a subject, except in that it clarifies a speaker's bias about a group of people.
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          Jun 13 2013: Fritzie,

          No, it isn't very constructive, I admit that.

          What is a constructive religion debate if it's not to find the objective truth. But every theist (that I've encountered) believes in their own version of truth. They make it up as they go along and don't accept facts unless those facts support their thinking.

          I don't think the leap is questionable in any way "Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or sense" by that definition it's true, isn't it? Constructive? No. Correct? I think so.

          The thing is that I really took Richard Dawkins TED Talk on Militant atheism to heart. I will not say that you're half-right just to spare your feelings. I will not argue with you as if the bible was a scientific document. And so on and so on.
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          Jun 12 2013: I do indeed flag such comments, but you can also, Chris. With the number of posts on this site and the small number of staff and hosts, the community relies on members to flag comments they find out of line.

          The staff then takes awhile to review comments that are flagged. Sometimes it goes very quickly, and other times in can take a day.
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          Jun 12 2013: Chris, I didn't flag the comment.
          I asked this question to address civility in our conversations. Examples are examples. Instigating? I guess, but some will say that that is not a harsh remark.
          You can read some of those in other comments. I hope that I can begin a conversation on what is acceptable communication. We shouldn't have to flag
          any conversation. The only time I did use a flag, when I found a comment that directed me to a site selling merchandise. That is the need of our flag system. The rest of us should just use considerate speech.
          But, out of curiosity...

          Had those remarks be addressed to your comment would you have flagged him?
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          Jun 13 2013: I agree Chris, it is fruitless. Many of the conversations and comments on here for example promote pseudoscience and new-age fluff, these are almost never deleted.

          Like conversations on ID, clearly pseudoscience. And most "God" debates promote zealotry and proselytizing, still they remain.

          It's been a good conversation and I've written to TED to ask if I'm out of line, which I don't think I am. But if they say that I am I'll stop and probably disappear from Conversations again.
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      Jun 13 2013: "Lack of intelligence , understanding, reasoning, wit, or sense?" You might stop and reflect for a moment on whether you truly believe there are not many people who believe in God, and many people who don't, who are more intelligent than the average person who does not believe in God. Or than yourself.

      I am not asking for an answer but only think that your considering this question might give you some useful perspective.

      On the pseudoscience, I think the moderators would agree that they have difficulty managing such posts. It is difficult in part because people who make these posts do so in good faith, not realizing that claims they believe are scientifically supported are not. If community members would flag such posts or respond to them with evidence, they would get better attention.
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      Jun 20 2013: Sometimes a persons education or ability to rationalize is not so important as they good they do in the world.

      During the Great Depression in the US in the 30's, it was religious people who fed and clothed the most homeless people, exceeding the government and other segments of the population.

      "You are what you do."

      Not so much what you say or as they say on the street. Talk is cheap.
  • Jun 11 2013: Some people just cannot control their behavior when they become emotional.

    I take pride in my ability to tolerate small indiscretions.
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    Jun 11 2013: Mary said: "Your third paragraph on logic reminded me of something I contributed to the conversation on "why are we afraid to make mistakes".

    Here it is:

    From the book I am reading "Being Wrong" (K Schulz) page 121-122:

    "....a fundamental lesson of inductive reasoning...our mistakes are part and parcel of our brilliance, not the regrettable consequences of a separate and deplorable process......Believing something on the basis of messy, sparse, limited information really is how we err. But it is also how we think. What makes us right is what makes us wrong.""

    You might probably find a fundamental lesson via inductive reason. I'm not sure. One thing I'm sure of, people who use the words 'right' and 'wrong' in a conclusive way, usually produce fundamentally weak arguments.

    Each time we use the word 'Probably' we are being inductive. I don't know Ken and haven't read much of his work, so I can't really comment on his book. How is the reading going for you?
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      Jun 10 2013: "Passive aggression and projection are even worse than insults."
      Indeed. All you need is someone to support you, this has been well-documented in psychology. Considering when you are "against the group" you will feel an anxiety (if alone).
      Yet, to be honest, on TED if you have a good argument most people will admit their wrong. If not, then that suggests there may not be any point to debating.
    • Jun 10 2013: Passive aggressive behavior is a very toxic personality trait.
      Out of the four dominant personality traits psychologists categorize PA behavior the most dangerous to communication and relationships.

      I hosted a conversation on Passive aggressive behavior earlier this year.

      You might find the contributions there interesting to read:

      http://www.ted.com/conversations/16107/how_do_you_deal_with_passive_a.html

      As for cliques of any kind, I personally have always steared clear of them.
      This sticking together with others to shut one person out or make them be less favorable is absolutely unkind and unloving. It's almost like "Survivor" online edition.......make alliances and then vote out the outcast. tsk tsk

      We always have the choice to ignore people.
      If we do not like their communication style, simply do not reply.
      We just do not know if they are undergoing severe emotional issues.
      Our unkind words, whether straight forward or tactful, may just push them over the edge.
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          Jun 12 2013: Chris Kelly,
          You don't seem to have a very good understanding of what passive aggressive behavior is, and since you like to label folks passive aggressive, it might be helpful for you to be aware of what you are talking about.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive-aggressive_behavior
        • Jun 13 2013: Hi Chris, I'm glad you enjoyed reading through the conversation.
          It was very eye opening for me, in more ways than one.

          I was reading three books on PA behavior at the same time I hosted the conversation, and these came in handy as well.

          From what I have read, and experienced, we all at one time or another display all four personality types. But, we each have one dominant type of personality.

          Mine is assertive....I think?..........I am making a concerted effort not to act in a way that belittles others, and I try as much as possible to respect other's points of view.

          [Edit....I'm coming back to say that I have encountered passive aggressive behavior in many forms and from many individuals. One of these individuals is around me often, and I have spent almost two decade of my life dealing with this issue....but I just did not have the knowledge I do now, and did not know the why's of this behavior, or what to call it. I finally learned why the individual acts this way, and I have a name to call the behavior. I have since started to change my way of dealing with the individual. And I feel liberated. Our relationship is completely different now........I had to change....because that individual has no desire to change their behavior......and there is nothing I can do]
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          Jun 20 2013: I don't know if that is exactly PA but when you describe the person I definable get a picture of someone that fits your picture. :) Some people are just lonely and want to appear, not only in the conversation but at the top of it.
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      Jun 11 2013: That usually happens when you are close to beating the crap out of one at a time.
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      Jun 12 2013: CK, Well played! Game. Set. Match.
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    Jun 9 2013: . My answer:
    .
    Based on well-proven common sense,
    human makes symbiosis first and, if necessary, fights last.

    In our brain, the “vitriol” generates pictures close to the fight.
    It means the “vitriol” speaker is at the end of his/her wits.

    Wrong?
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      Jun 11 2013: No, not entirely wrong or right. By symbiosis do you mean putting yourself in someone else's shoes?

      I can see where if you run out of steam you move the bar up (or should I say down), pull out the rocks and start chucking.
  • Jun 8 2013: Mike I hadn't really noticed that. Gee you make me so angry mad hostile etc. when you say things like that. Okay all kidding aside I'm sure you have reasons for saying that but I haven't really seen much of that on Ted or the Huff Post. I did read some comments by Einstein recently (trans to English) where he deferred to Shopenhaur where one could do what he wills but how to determine what one wills. There are so many influences on us. There is so much propaganda that some of us get very worked up about things we really don't care about. It's always been like that.
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    Jun 8 2013: I know nowhere on TED where 'cruelty' and 'bitterness' are promoted. TED seems to be the antithesis of these. TED's 'cutting edge' subject matter would, in my opinion, preclude those who resort to such tactics from participating, but, probably because of its open-forum structure, this is not the case. I read in a comment below that we should develop 'thick skin'. I would have to agree. If in such a forum as this some resort to such tactics, a click of the mouse will cure it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It's up to the reader to decide how valuable that opinion is, and whether or not it warrants a response - either in kind or something better.
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      Jun 10 2013: I think we should develop a softer attitude. I can see someone shouting out the word "stupid", before realizing what they said, but to write it, is a different matter.

      When you become vitriol in your writing you are revealing a distinct problem with your emotional behavior that probable is noted by those who are closest to you. You are taken with emotion to the degree you can't control it yourself.
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        Jun 10 2013: Totally agree. Well said. The manner in which you reveal yourself often says more than the actual opinion - if there is even one expressed. There is a distinct difference between a 'passionate' response and vitriolic one, would you not agree? And although this is an open forum, with the 'elevated' subject matter presented here I would think that it would bring out the best, the most thought provoking, responses rather than the adolescent angst often offered. Thnx.
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          Jun 10 2013: Yes, I agree. I can different between passion and Vitriolity. Most Vitriol is canned spite. It's always the same old Obama stuff, redneck stuff, or your stupid because.... Same old stuff different day.

          I've been called a Sheeple, hawk, Cool-Aid drinker, etc for so long, it just rolls off my back.

          I just deleted my Google Account. Forever. I don't have a cell phone of I'd get ride of that.
          I'm done with playing the game.

          I'm Done.
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  • Jun 8 2013: I think its natural evolution from the political landscape many of us watch, where the more mudslinging that happens the more a certain person is perceived as wrong. So I think from seeing our 'leaders' in debates and in campaigns throwing mud it has validated the tactic.
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      Jun 10 2013: It was like that during the last presidential election here in TED. There were a lot of deletions going on.
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      Jun 10 2013: I know what classic means. What is transference?
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          Jun 10 2013: Yes Chris, sometimes I find it more helpful to have something explained from someone who can give an explanation that is associated with real life case in point.

          It reminds me of a game we sometimes played in College. While stereotyping people is considered a bad thing (I believe TED takes points away when you use the words bad or good), It can be used to help us get a picture of how others may perceive us?
          If you wanted to describe me, based on my comments in this forum, by giving me the name of a character image that comes to mind, who would that character be?

          You first.
          :)

          To help those who may find this tough, what you need to do, if you haven't engaged that person very much, just click on their name and read some of their comments. to others. Of course if you have engaged with a person for a long time, you won't have any problem.

          You may ask, why do you have an avatar of a thinking monkey? The answer is: I don't really know but I feel it personifies me in some way.

          Of course if you find this dull or boring or silly, you don't have to answer.


          So what character image comes to mind when you read my comments? Also, another question, how old do you feel inside? If I had to put an age on my mind, I'd say around 19 or 20.
        • Jun 10 2013: "If they don't have one, welcome to TED"

          Too funny Chris.
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          Jun 10 2013: Viggo Mortensen, with a religious flair. He marked the statement: "...when I want your opinion, I'll give it to you." from one of your and LaMar's exchanges.


          Ageless is cool. At what age do you consider you became a whole man, free of your teenage years?
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  • Jun 7 2013: Mike.
    I agree with you 100%. My recognition would be that in several topics involving the religious belief, evolution, income inequalities, sometimes even gender differences, school grade systems, etc., there usually won't be winners or losers because either side won't be convinced by the opposition due to the emotional attachment by at least one side which were usually being told that they should "defend" their belief for whatever the price. Look at the whole world, you can see how serious these conflicts could inflict so much harm and lives lost. My only way would be posting only once, and if retorted without much logical reasoning, then you refuse to keep the argument going. Also, TED should allow a "thumbs down" button for something you don't like or it's not reasonable or logical. So even if the TED management won't punish the guy in any fashion, at least other participants will see the frequent thumbs down flags and won't waste their time to argue with him anyway. As a matter of fact, on several occasions, I really felt like to press a thumbs down button, if it was available.
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      Jun 7 2013: There used to be a thumbs down button, but it was used against those, like myself, who had unfashionable opinions, while the Trolls escaped scot free. The present system is much more civilised.

      :-)
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      Jun 7 2013: I agree with Peter on this issue. There are easy ways people can, and I understand did, abuse the thumbs down when it was available.
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          Jun 7 2013: I know I pay no attention to the points, if by points you mean ted cred. I have not studied the ramifications of credits in discourse communities.

          To me if a great slew of people give a popular view a thumbs up, that's fine. Lots of thumbs ups may mean the post expresses a popular view or a valuable new perspective. Upon reading the post, one can usually tell which one or both it is

          The only time I find it destructive is when a slew of people gives thumbs up to someone for hostility to a person they disagree with. But I have seen that very, very rarely.
        • Jun 8 2013: I have honestly never thought of doing that, 'thumbing up' an argument against a standpoint I didn't like... just shows how naive I am!
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        Jun 8 2013: Lizanne,
        It doesn't indicate that you are naive, it simply indicates that you have not thought of, or used that tactic.....neither have I..... apparently someone has indeed thought about it and uses it....LOL!

        Oh what webs we weave.....
      • Jun 8 2013: I was surprised to hear of the use and abuse of the thumbs down button. After a few days of thinking , I am even more alarmed about it because the intolerance of many TEDsters of any opinions that are incompatible with their belief. That's really sad that such behaviors are encroaching into TED, even though I personally haven't had such experience. Usually when I feel the need of a T-D button is for the posting that is illogical or "doesn't compute", regardless whether the idea behind it agrees with mine or not.
        The abuse of the T-D button, you say, is too much of a deterrent for an open discussion, then I would like to suggest another modification of the editorial policy:
        Let's look at an example on a recently listed topic on "teaching of the "Intelligent Design". In its introduction, the author/host had already listed all the argument against evolution -random occurrence and the Big Bang theory, and he was asking whether the ID should be taught in high school. I could have argued about his statistical argument, but I decided to be "why bother at all?". Anyway, I saw that ZX had already give him a retort. My idea is that TED editorial board should either reject such topic or should at least edit the wording limiting only the question of whether such material should be taught followed by an introduction of what the Intelligent Design is, but no attack of the evolution and the random change for the purpose of an open discussion without a prejudiced antithesis.
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          Jun 8 2013: Hi, Bart. I have been participating here only about 18 months and therefore wasn't here at the time of the thumbs down problems. In December when TED program staff hosted a very active thread asking for ideas of additional features people would like to see, some of the old timers like Colleen shared the experience from that time.

          In terms of the editing of thread introductions, I get the impression that the TED staff likes to use as light a hand as possible, not interfering with how people express themselves unless things are really outside the bounds of civility. It is part of trying to be really inclusive of people from all over who express themselves very differently.

          That is my impression. I have not asked.
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        Jun 8 2013: Fritzie! Who are you calling an "old timer"!!! I'm going to have to contact the TED moderators!
        ROFL!!!

        Seriously,
        I agree that the TED staff uses a "light hand" when deleting comments, and it is only comments that are way outside the bounds of the TED terms of use agreement that are deleted.

        Bart,
        I also am frustrated sometimes with people who are intolerant of other people's beliefs. This is not a new "encroaching into TED", however, and I believe it is improving BECAUSE of the moderators.
        Perhaps if some folks have their comments removed enough times, they may get the idea that their intolerant, abusive, off topic comments are not welcome?
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          Jun 8 2013: If you have been here under four years and I under two, that makes us both active toddlers!

          I have observed that people are comfortable with really different styles of discourse. Some people love really aggressive, emotional exchanges and others lean to analytical kinds of discourse, for example. People who prefer the latter can feel really put off by the former. But we can see elsewhere in this thread that there are people who equate analytical ways of approaching subjects with robot-like behaviors to the extent of being tempted to flag comments WITHOUT emotional content!

          Ideally we can handle a range of preferences here and accept a great range of ways of participating as belonging.
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        Jun 9 2013: OK Fritzie....I'll accept the label of "active toddler"! LOL! It's particularly funny to me Fritzie, since a recent birthday puts me closer to 70 years of age!

        I totally agree about "styles of discourse", and I think it really helps to pay attention to the different styles of communication.
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      Jun 10 2013: I've seen where the opposite works. Give them a thumbs up, where TED alerts them from who the thumbs up came from, and they become confused. Works every time.