peter lindsay

Physics Teacher,


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What words should people avoid using in Ted discussions? I don't mean inappropriate words I mean words that are unhelpful.

Stuff like sheeple, kool aid, hippies. And from the other side BIG (insert stereotype), and for god's sake look up chemical and organic so you know what they actually mean. Please list your favourite "button pushers" below.

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    Aug 7 2013: I think that, with the exception of deliberately hostile and rude words that put a post outside the terms of use, people are going to use the language they love. The language people choose does 'mark" them in other people's eyes, so I would say these words bring a benefit or cost.

    I don't consider "hippies" a derogatory word. When someone refers to "sheeple," that is a signal to me that the person tends to generalize about large groups of others, often without worrying about the details and usually assuming those others are inferior to himself.

    I think it reflects poorly on a speaker when he calls another a coward or calls the other person's views laughable, but I don't think discussing these word choices will change anyone's behavior in online discourse, particularly when the person uses a pseudonym. People choose the sorts of language and style of discourse that brings them pleasure.
    • Aug 8 2013: Interesting. I never thought about word choice that way. It's true, people will stick with what they love. It can be frustrating because it sets us apart from one another, but that inspires different thinking. What's lovely is that we will further develop our styles, learning from others in forums such as these. Thanks for your contribution. I will embrace different styles of voice with more open eyes in the future.
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      Aug 11 2013: Fritzie, Valid argument. I totally agree with you comment ... particularly when the person uses a pseudonym.. This allows a form of cyber bulling and string pulling.

      I use many of these terms. I do try to make it generic not personal. In the last five years TED has went from discussing issues to where we see more direct attacks on individuals.

      I try to remember that no one can make me feel bad about myself or provoke me .... without my permission.

      I wish you well. Bob.
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        Aug 11 2013: I am hoping, Bob, that the change you note is not a trend at all but rather a reflection of one or two people recently trolling under multiple names in a way that makes it look like the behavior of lots of people when in fact it is one hostile troll.
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          Aug 11 2013: Upon reflection you are probably right. There for a while it did seem like there was a lot of negative input and personal comments.

          I will look on the bright side and retract the trend comment.

          Thanks. Bob.
  • Aug 19 2013: Who are you to prescribe what words people should or shouldn't use. Next thing you'll only want people with blue eyes to be allowed to comment. What ever happened to freedom?
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      Aug 19 2013: You're completely missing the point.
      • Aug 20 2013: I'm just seeing it from a different perspective. Or am i not allowed to do that?
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    Aug 13 2013: Basically just avoid "Ad Hominem" attacks which happen far too often.
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    Aug 13 2013: We should probably avoid using "avoid using," because it sounds like an order.
    TEDsters don't respond well to orders.
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      Aug 14 2013: I'm trying to get at words that have unexpected consequences when used. It's noy a banned list I'm after it's a words that might cause some people to make unfounded assumptions about you list.
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    Aug 10 2013: In my "opinion".....that's why we have a comment section.
  • Aug 8 2013: Two words push my buttons, "should" and "fair".
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    Aug 7 2013: Words that express that their opinon is truth and always true. Absolutes, I think, should be omitted more often than not.
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    Aug 7 2013: I avoid say anything is unquestionable.
    If I said “one plus one unquestionably equals two” I’m sure I would start a passionate TED debate. ;)
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    Aug 7 2013: never encountered a word that bothered me. I think Peter I'm just looking for the idea that the person is trying to communicate, if they use a "hot" word I believe I can read beyond it and see what they're getting at in terms of the pure idea. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with you helping people become sensitive to language.
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    Aug 7 2013: I use "sheeple". I think it refers to a person, or persons, who fail to inform themselves and are so apathetic that they ignore their freedom and opportunity to participate in the operation of their government and of the society in which they live. It is not an epithet to be desired, but it is valid and useful. I use "kool aid". It is a metaphor for harmful acts proposed by leaders and disguised by spin doctors to appear harmless, or even beneficial. I use "hippie". It denotes the opposite of a sheeple. Wouldn't it be fair to lump all "unhelpful" words in with the "inappropriate" words? TED strives for Crisp-Candid- Provocative- Relevant dialog.
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      Aug 7 2013: I try to avoid words like sheeple because it can convey to the reader an air of smugness which can provoke hostility from the reader which is generally unhelpful. Much like the use of the word "big" as a prefix tends to imply your politics are quite left of centre causing the reader to make assumptions that may not be valid.
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        Aug 7 2013: Agreed. I see how some individuals might take it personally if they were called sheeple. I do not apply the word to individuals, only to behaviors. But you are right it can cause offense when a person finds the shoe fits perfectly. But should the word be eliminated? I'm not convinced. I'm not sure I get how the prefix "big" implies leftist politics. Use it in a sentence please.
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          Aug 8 2013: Big as in "The problem with big-oil" or "the problem with big-pharma". Generally I find that if a person is making a valid observation of the oil industry for example, they would say "the problem with the oil industry". As soon as I hear the "big" prefix I picture someone with left leaning politics who conflates the size of an industry with some sort of "evilness".
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    Aug 7 2013: Any words that generalize, stereotype, or assume.

    'Always' and 'never.'

    Words that attack the person rather than the opinion.
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    Aug 7 2013: Words that hurt
    should be avoided.

    I believe you can always convey your point of view
    how much it may be obnoxious
    without hurting any body..

    I take it as challenge.