TED Conversations

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.
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.

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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.

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