Bernard White


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In TED do we really give "thumbs up" when it is "argued well"? Or do we give "Thumbs up" when "we agree with it"?

I say this, because many people often argue their points very well. Even if I don't necessarily agree with them. How reliable is the "Thumb up" system?

  • Jun 13 2013: Look there are multiple reasons
    I messed up and I now understand
    I didn't think of that
    I don't want to look like a jerk
    You deserve encouragement.
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      Jun 13 2013: All of the above
      We've replied back and forth for some time, we've agreed and now it's just pleasantries
      We've argued back and forth for some time and we will not come to a consensus, so agree to disagree
      Thank you for the compliment
      You gave me a new perspective
      You are completely wrong but in a pleasantly naive way, keep dreaming
      I sympathize
      • Jun 14 2013: Why sympathize? It's just a conversation Maybe i learned more than you realize.
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          Jun 14 2013: Sometimes, people use personal experiences to illustrate a point.
      • Jun 14 2013: Okay thanks.
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      Jun 13 2013: Don't you find it rather worrying that we judge opinions how much they reflect ours? That we don't judge them on how well their argued.
      • Jun 14 2013: Bernard I do learn from the comments. people do tend to like people like themselves. But those of us who are ecentric get a thumbs up from Gandhi in his autobiograqhy. Keep the fraith
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    Jun 13 2013: The latter
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      Jun 13 2013: Why not the former?
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        Jun 13 2013: Human nature
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          Jun 13 2013: Shouldn't we change (or at least attempt) to change it? Or in other words, value opinions on their worth rather than how much they reflect our opinions.
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        Jun 13 2013: Bernard,
        What would you change? People have different reasons for using the feature. Is it reasonable to assume that everyone would use it in the same way, or for the same reason?
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          Jun 13 2013: I guess I would try to teach people to try to judge opinions on their value and worth, not on who said them, on whether it reflects your own opinion or whether it sounds nice. To simply judge something on its logic, and its logic alone. Also to try to encourage people to have the humility (and courage) to admit their wrong. Is this too much to ask? :D
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        Jun 13 2013: You can ask all you like Bernard, and the best way to teach anything is by example, which you do very well my friend:>)
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          Jun 13 2013: Thank you for your kind words (as always)!
          Personally I find the intolerance which plagues the world does trouble me!
          I believe if people (in general) were more willing to admit they are wrong, and forgive, then many troubles would be gone! However this is quite unlikely to happen.
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        Jun 13 2013: Thank you as well Bernard! I believe we are in the process of creating a kinder, more peaceful world right now, and TED is a GREAT facilitator for that mission:>)

        Consider yourself thumbed up........I'm maxed out again:>)
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          Jun 13 2013: "peaceful world right now"
          Well according to a book I'm reading right now "The Better Angels of our Nature" (By Steven Pinker), we are living in the most peaceful era of mankind! It's interesting to find out the environment which can shape human behaviour for more pro-social interaction (or a decrease in violence).
          This TED talk inspired me to get the book :
          "Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence"

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        Jun 13 2013: "Shouldn't we change (or at least attempt) to change it? Or in other words, value opinions on their worth rather than how much they reflect our opinions."

        That would be trying to control something that you cannot control?

        Agreement is not that important it is actually more important to disagree as that indicates some thought about the discussion although that might be just reactionary, may be just communication is more important? but then real communication is rare.
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        Jun 14 2013: Bernard,
        I watched Pinker's TED talk a long time ago and at first, the information he provided surprised me, because our world does not seem very peaceful right now. I also presumed that he had accurate statistics.

        In the past, people and places in our world were isolated, and many times we were not aware of violence and abuse in other parts of our world. Our advanced communications make it possible to know what is happening around the world almost instantly. So, perhaps it feels like there is more violence now, and I am aware that you read a LOT, so you are probably aware of violence and abuse in the past.

        I read a lot too, and this reminds me of years ago, when I went to Russia, I was reading a book about Russia from the 10th centruy to the present (rulers, government, socio-economics, etc.), and I kept thinking...."nothing has changed" in our world from the 10th century!!! Well, some things have obviously changed, and human behaviors have not changed significantly.

        Based on the many conversations on TED, it appears that we (humans) are now starting to explore, evaluate and seeking change regarding some human behaviors that are not useful to our global societies...violence and abuse for one thing. I feel hopeful for our future.
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    Jul 9 2013: I personally do both.
    Though I think we should focus more on what we agree with because at the end of the day a person who speaks entirely in slang and does not possess a broad vocabulary should get thumbs up because he makes a brilliant point and not for how he said it.
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      Jul 9 2013: concise, and what a mirror to really think about our own habits.

      Thank you so very much for sharing this page........
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    Jun 13 2013: There is another category I didn't see mentioned below. Many people give a thumbs up to everyone who responds to their thread. So in that case the thumbs up means "Thank you for contributing." I think there are other cases in which a thumbs up may mean "thank you."

    Regardless, it is important not to interpret how many thumbs ups you get as a good measure of the quality of what you have said! Sometimes lots of thumbs ups could mean simply that you have expressed a popular, if unoriginal, point of view. Sometimes many people may have appreciated your comment but, like Robert below, don't give lots of thumbs ups. For example, I think you have responded very constructively to the posts in this thread of yours, and I would guess many people who are reading the thread would agree with that, but no one has given you a thumbs up yet on any individual reply, perhaps because yours are mostly probing questions to other respondents.

    So I hope you are not worrying about how many thumbs ups you get.
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    Jun 13 2013: might not be either/or, it could be argued well, and we agree with it.

    I often give thumbs up to a comment just for being interesting, not being the average thing, a little out of the ordinary.
  • Jun 13 2013: Personally I would not give a TU to a posting which merely agree with my idea or opinion unless it is said in a way more brilliantly and contains more good points or good examples, such that it is a better argument than what I would have given. Sometimes I would supplement additional points to strengthen the argument, pro or con, then I may or may not give a TU depending on whether the argument is brilliant anyway, or not, on its own merit.
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    Jun 13 2013: Hi Bernard!
    When there was a discussion about the thumbs up/thumbs down feature a couple years ago, I strongly recommended doing away with the feature.....let's just have conversations....we don't need a point system! The end result of that discussion was that the thumbs down was removed, thumbs up remained, and we have the ability to flag comments.
    As I observe the use of these features, it seems to be working well.

    Since I've been active on TED, I have used the features to encourage respectful conversations. We have many TED members who are consistant with respectful comments, so I give a LOT of thumbs up! Usually more with comments I agree with, and like ZX Style, if a comment already on a thread clearly expresses my thoughts and feelings about the topic, sometimes I simply give a thumbs up, and I don't write a comment. Sometimes, if a comment is respectfully delivered, I give thumbs up even if I do not agree.

    Many new comers to the site express a feeling of hesitation about commenting, so I usually give them a thumbs up to support and encourage more participation. And as Fritzie mentions, it provides feedback.
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      Jun 13 2013: "if a comment already on a thread clearly expresses my thoughts and feelings about the topic, sometimes I simply give a thumbs up, and I don't write a comment."

      I do the same thing!

      A big bias of mine comes from looking for people without TEDcred, and reading them first in the conversation to see if they are producing anything intelligible to give them the first of the thumbs :-X More people should either use TED or be on sites which have the same type of format for conversation. (Conversation boards get rough to keep up at times...)

      As far as point systems... I don't know if I like them or not. There is definitely a 'ripple effect' with most comments... Once they get those first 2 or 3 likes, they tend to get promoted more quickly... So, yeah, no idea if I like them or not!

      The amount of cyber-sociology I learn from TED use is limitless.
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        Jun 13 2013: LOL! I've actually had a couple people tag onto my comments with....."there....Colleen said it....I don't have to write a comment"!!!

        I also like to give some people "the first of the thumbs", when they provide a good comment:>)

        You teach a lot of the "cyber-sociology" Nicholas!
  • Jun 13 2013: I give people thumbs up in the hope that they will reciprocate.
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      Jun 13 2013: Your honesty is so refreshing.

      "Do unto others" :)
      • Jun 24 2013: But in this context, is it correct?Moreover i believe anything done in abundance tends to degrade its value.Choose wisely and use wisely.
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          Jun 24 2013: Your honesty is also very refreshing.

          "Do unto others" :)

          When one loves in abundance, does the value of love get degraded?
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    Jun 13 2013: I use the thumbs up when I think someone has contributed something useful to a thread- something that might help people understand the subject better or see it in a new light.

    It is irrelevant whether I agree with the position.

    I think the thumbs up provides information to the author of the post of who else either agrees or thinks the post was worthwhile. The aggregated thumbs ups show another reader how many people either agreed or found it valuable.

    I agree with Pat that many if not most people probably give the thumbs up primarily if they agree with the position.
  • Jun 21 2013: How reliable is the "Thumb up" system?

    I've argued for the 'Thumbs up' and 'TedCred' to be removed. I'd rather someone take the time to either expand on what I have said, or give a counter point to an argument. As for clicking 'Thumbs up' it does not really add any value or insight to the conversation, and could be used in lieu of a valuable insight. Also consider that a commenter, regardless of 'TedCred', often can and do add excellent thoughts and value to a conversation, so what exactly does 'TedCred' represent?
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    Jun 14 2013: In my first stint in TED, I took it literally. I observed that it's only rarely I could thumb up.
    I have grown wiser now. If you get a thumbs up from me these days, it can mean anything between, 'I agree with what you say' and 'I am happy to see you'.
    Actually, I don't want to feel less generous than my colleagues in the TED community.
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    Jun 14 2013: In what sense you intend know the reliability of "Thumbs Up" ? ( not sure how efficient the system is in not counting False "Thumbs Up", if it is mistake free than I agree with Krisztian view about reliability from the perspective of whether someone really clicked it or not . Do you want understand reliability from any other perspective?)
    I feel people give "thumbs up" for the reasons you and Fritzie mentioned already. However I feel some thumbs also means " happy to see you again"
    What you feel when you got 5 " Thumbs Up" so far for opening this discussion ?
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      Jun 14 2013: "What you feel when you got 5 " Thumbs Up" so far for opening this discussion ?"
      Pleased and Acknowledged! :D
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        Jun 15 2013: That's what matters if at all....I mean why people gave " Thumbs Up " you may or may not be sure of it...but how you feel after getting it that you can be sure of :)
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      Jun 14 2013: Salim and Bernard,
      I'm happy to see you both pleased and acknowledged:>)

      oops....I'm out of thumbs again for you Bernard!
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    Jun 14 2013: I can't really address this with any authority. I am too new to the program to harbor much of an opinion. I have used them on occasion when I was really impressed with a comment.

    I haven't used them just because someone agreed with me. I'm so agreeable.

    I didn't even know what they meant until I got a banner from TED. When I checked, I found out about credits and how they come about. I really didn't give it much thought. I found some good comments from people without banners and some questionable ones from those with high scores. In my opinion, of course.

    So, Bernie, if those in this conversation come up with a consensus on what how thumbs should be used, I'm in.
  • Jun 13 2013: Oh, all of the beneath!

    You ask, "how reliable is the thumbs up system?" Reliable, to whom? To ourselves? Each other? TED?
    Do you mean with respect to the TEDcred?
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      Jun 13 2013: A great question, with an answer which is unknown to me!
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    Jun 13 2013: I try to give TU sparingly. Some of us have been on TED for a long time. I can almost tell you who will be pro and who will be con on a specific conversation. There is a conversation about how rough the comments have become. Using terms like ... your an idiot ... or WTF .... SH*** for brains, etc .... I have never flagged anyone. The choices are inapproperiate or spam. Many of the attacks are personal and have nothing to do with the issue.

    I would like to think I give a thumbs up for well argued to both the pro and con but I probally do favor those who show the smarts to agree with me ... LOL. We all enjoy being validated.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jun 13 2013: I have come to accept that it is a matter of both 'argued well' and 'agreed with' but only if they satisfy some type of 'collective conscious' archetype or position.

    Take conversations about science v religion... At any given time there will be an abundance of overstatements of what science/religion is, and is not - being guilty myself at times. Definition which are clearly not universal, but satisfy a particular groups of like-minded individuals will get that "like" for saying "science proves, religion disapproves" or something of the sort. The atheist culture on TED is apparent - and the evidence will be shown in the 'thumb ups'.

    I would say most of my thumbs ups came from talking about "love" "religion/spirituality" and "psychology" - so maybe there are themes for people to not be conservative about. But, usually, most people are going to stick to what they know and build off of that in their comments. So this attitude creates an inheritance of who they choose to admire and support.

    Colleen forever will be an example of how "being nice" is a great way to get thumbs ups - but, to me, that isn't enough to be 'feel good' and 'positive' but to be virtuous about knowledge, even if that may not sit well with so many others - the truth is important.

    Finally, logic isn't everything Bernard, as you statement below.

    Logic is but a part of the communication process, a long with semantics and rhetoric... What is logical is situational and dependent on the individuals practice of logic, and the degree of how well they can structure their argument is also only a part of what I usually choose to thumb up. I stress the rhetoric and semantics far more..

    Where their heart is, is most important, what is the reason they are even talking - is more important than how they talk. And it doesn't hurt to have a vocabulary which is not solidified as words can have mulitple meanings.

    So, if someone is teaching me something, and provides good reason to, I thumb them up!
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      Jun 13 2013: Nicholas,
      I try to be nice (respectful) just because it's more enjoyable than the alternative. I also have a thirst for learning and truth. I believe that with awareness, we can communicate with kindness, respect and truth, as we think we know it at any given time.

      I totally agree....words can have multiple meanings, and it's good to be aware of that, especially on an international forum, where english may not be the primary language for so many people.
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        Jun 13 2013: Part of my problem is we (as an American speaking) already live in a culture which cuddles, coddles and tries to hold every bodies hand... And because of this awful attitude, we have come to a point where special education gets more funding than extracurricular activities. So perhaps I cannot virtuously continue to support that type of mindset. Positivism should not come at the expense of tolerating ignorance.

        If your position is valid and benefiticial it should not be the difference between kindness and respect which gets the thoughts promoted as credible. Respect is earned and shouldn't be given because we agree or disagree superficially - the respect should be towards the words and not the persons. Fallacious thinking strides from pride and ego of thoughts (believing your words are an extension of you, the truth and the only way to know)... Words are just tools. How you take them, says more about you (anyone) than people care to think about.

        I guess I rather be a brutish justice seeker than a concerned care seeker... For I feel as though we have entirely too many of the latter.
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          Jun 13 2013: Nicely said
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          Jun 13 2013: I don't believe in cuddling/coddling or holding people's hands at the expense of anything else either. Agreeing or disagreeing does not have to be can be honest.

          I also agree that words are tools, which we can use to express ourselves in a respectful way. I believe our words ARE an extension of us, and with our words, we send a message about who and what we are, and how we choose to interact with others.

          Sending the message that our words project the "truth and the only way" is not useful, in my perception. How we use words, and how we accept words gives information about us.......I think we are agreeing?

          And I think/feel that we can seek justice with respect.....I don't think/feel it has to be one or the other.
        • Jun 14 2013: I respect compassionate people. I used to be of a similar opinion to Nicholas L, based on the belief that the "concerned care seeker" was misinformed of manipulated. I now believe that both the "concerned care seeker" and the "brutish justice seeker" are prone to manipulation. I therefore choose compassion. I would rather be manipulated to be kind than to be uncaring.
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          Jun 14 2013: Craig,
          I believe we can only be manipulated, if we allow ourselves to be manipulated, and that process can be more or less conscious, depending on how aware we are. As thinking, feeling, intelligent, multi sensory, multi dimensional humans, I believe we have choices, and when we "know" ourselves, it is less likely that anyone can manipulate us in any way. I'm glad you choose compassion:>)
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        Jun 14 2013: People are often insulted by honesty.

        Look at Craig's final thought, which I believe is widely universal, "I would rather be manipulated to be kind than to be uncaring." At times, taking yourself out of the equation, argument and even position is important to be truly compassionate, but not to their emotions, to their entire individual.

        I never believed you cuddled or coddled anyone, we been reading each others thoughts for years I must have given you a chunk of your start up TEDcred. You are always reasonable and highly tolerant of others. But to be manipulated? Not you, but, anyone as an acceptable option? That's innately wrong, for we are supposed to be free spirits, controllers of our own destiny.

        Justice seeking is in a sense, analyzing truth value.

        Now if the measure of - whether or not an argument is good or bad -or- worth supporting- is dependent on how 'personable' or 'emotionally' that argument is, this doesn't seem like good valuing analyzing. Therefore, you are only analyzing with what you believe to be just already.

        And you're right, they are not exclusive ideas of seeking. Everyone has both type of attitudes. But how we behave and practice idea sharing becomes a demonstration of what others believing you are seeking. So, if caregiving is essential (personal and emotional involvement) towards the value of truth, that seems intrinsically biased. Measuring by 'positivity' rather than pragmatic basis.

        Ultimately, I agree with both of you - we need to care and be compassionate with how we communicate with others. I am just at ends with myself. Virtue epistemology isn't enough of a phrase to suggest the amount of integral thinking I place on my arguments. Perhaps, just maybe, expecting others to feel the same away about 'value seeking' is a bit rash. I'll just stick limiting my interactions on TED and mess with my blog...

        Always nice to exchange words with you Colleen - I been avoiding the more 'feel good' conversations as of lately :-P
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          Jun 14 2013: Nicholas,
          People may feel insulted by honesty when they are so attached to their own beliefs that they do not want to even hear anything different. So, anything outside their comfort zone may cause discomfort or the feeling of being insulted.

          I agree that taking ourselves out, or being the observer, often leads to genuine compassion, and that is the way we may be able to see and understand another percpective.

          You say......"But how we behave and practice idea sharing becomes a demonstration of what others believing you are seeking".

          Is that idea consistant with my belief that we are all mirrors, reflecting back and forth to each other? That we project and reflect to each other all the time? What, to you, is a "feel good" conversation?

          Always nice chatting with you too Nicholas:>)
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        Jun 14 2013: Colleen, Thanks from those of us who aren't too good with the language.
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          Jun 14 2013: Sean,
          You are perfectly good with language. Understanding you and sharing many of your ideas has been, and continues to be a pleasure:>)

          I also use google translate at times when I feel that another person and I are not connecting because of language, and that is a very interesting experience. I send the translations back and forth several times to insure that I am sending the message I wish to send. Languages are VERY interesting:>)
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    Jun 13 2013: I have used the thumbs up for all the reasons stated below.......and more.

    I will admit here and now, that sometimes I have used thums up just to validate that the individual participated in the conversation, whether I agree or disagree with the answer.

    It takes real courage to voice your opinion on line.

    And sometimes I will go into a conversation and everyone has +1 or +4 and there is one person who said something valuable, but noone acknowledge them.

    I feel moved to acknowledge them with a thumbs up.......don't judge me because of this.
    It's just the way I'm wired as a teacher. :D
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    Jun 13 2013: I think we see more TU's on highly polarized subjects like religion. Folks tend to use them to say, "Right on! You tell 'em!" as a way of strengthening the appearance of the shared opinion. Also, notice TU's can be awarded to the post itself which really makes no argument at all. I think the "well argued" tag on the TU is inadequate, and perhaps unneeded because, like other hand signals involving fingers, the world knows what they mean! I wish I had the depth of character to give a TU to someone who (and this happens to me frequently) just landed a brilliant, but crushing, blow to the logic of my argument. Anyway, old chum, here's a TU for you!
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    Jun 13 2013: Normally when I agree. Why encourage a good argument if you think it's wrong?

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      Jun 13 2013: wait. it is impossible that you agree something that is well argued?? :)
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        Jun 13 2013: Oh....I just realized what Peter are right.
        I should have read more carefully.
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        Jun 13 2013: Is there not such a thing as well-argued error? Just because an opinion is well-argued does not mean its conclusion is valid. For example: "Sacrificing one's own best immediate interest for the betterment of another will probably result in some personal loss." That's well argued, but it sucks as a philosophy of life and I wouldn't give it a thumbs up.
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          Jun 14 2013: Ed, I have understood, I think? what the three of you have said.

          But I get the feeling that Peter means that he will 'never' thumb up someone with a good argument, whe he disagrees with order not to encourage it. And then, I think that is why Krisztian asks the question "it is impossible?"
          I wish Peter would come back and clarify.

          I have thumbed up good arguments/reasonings that I disagree with, because it sounds convincing, and the person has truly shown insight in the matter. Of course, by the same token I have refrained from thumbing up others as well.

          Arghh.......perceptions of words.....

          If you can help me make heads or tails of this I'd appreciate it.
          Otherwise, I hope Peter helps.
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          Jun 14 2013: i was kidding of course. you can read peter's comment as if he separated comments to agreed and well argued categories.
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        Jun 14 2013: Krisztián,
        I enjoy your sense of humor, which I perceived your comment to be...LOL:>)

        How about simply looking at Peter's comment, without analyzing? It's really a very simple statement:>)
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          Jun 14 2013: Hi Mary,
          Sorry for the confusion, but I think the rest understood ok. A car salesman can be a very persuasive character, but if his car is a duffer then you wouldn't buy it, no matter how eloquent. Or a Rolls Royce salesman may be an oaf, but you may buy his car; assuming you are very rich.
          I would save my thumbs up for an eloquent R R salesman. He has made a professional job of explaining the truth. From my perspective, of course. It is my thumb after all.

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        Jun 14 2013: Krisztian thanks.
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      Jun 13 2013: I read your comment several times Peter, and it makes perfect sense. Yes Edward, there can be a well argued error. Good debaters do that all the time!
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      Jun 14 2013: "Why encourage a good argument if you think it's wrong?"

      A new perspective. If it doesn't get me to change my mind, then I get the chance to counter with more personalized reasoning. Another chance to win them over. The whole point of debating.

      Having more people with more viewpoints helps to refine an idea. So rather than having a just your starting viewpoint : x is good
      you can end up with
      the reason x is good is because y
      So in z situation the reason is no longer valid, therefore x is moot
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        Jun 14 2013: Manishka, thanks for this explanation of x.y and z.

        "Having more people with more viewpoints helps to refine an idea."
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      Jun 14 2013: Peter, thanks for chiming in.

      You know, I understood what you said, and I gave you a thumbs up for it when you posted it.
      I also realize that Krisztian uses alot of humor in his short answers. But since he posed it in the form of a question, I was kind of waiting for a reply from you.

      I guess it was a rhetorical question.

      I don't really like to assume, that is why I asked.

      I think Ed's comment in addition to yours and Krisztian's short-circuited a fuse somewhere up in my mind.
      Oh wait....I think I had not had coffee I know what went wrong.
      Well, that'll teach me a lesson. LOL

      :) Thumb Away Peter......or not, after all it is your thumb ;)
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    Jul 13 2013: I'd give "thumbs up" to comments that give interesting point of views, although I may have different opinion. :)
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    Jul 7 2013: I have asked myself this same question. Generally I find the people will "thumbs up" a popular response and not a well argued or informative response. I try to give credit to those that provide additional information by adding a link or a resource.
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    Jun 13 2013: it is reliable. it shows how many people clicked on it.
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      Jun 14 2013: LOL! a very good click counter!
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      Jun 14 2013: Krisztián,
      That is really very profound! I must ponder..............:>)