Pricks, Jerks, and Wisconsin Polites

[A note on sealioning based on an old comment at AT’s.]

It should quite obvious everyone make assertions based on insufficient evidence all the time. While this may be how stereotypes are being reinforced, this is also both how we communicate how we feel and how we do science. So it’s easy to conflate or to switch between the different modes of communication.

If someone tells you you’re an asshole (or alternatively, “i will bite my tongue and not respond to your most recent insult — at least for now.”), will you ask that person for his evidence basis? I know I won’t. Why? Because (1) it’ll redirect the discussion about me and (2) in a ClimateBall exchange it’s usually not my job to cater for that person’s feelings.

This is one reason why the “please, do continue” meme exists.

Now, we all make assertions that lack sufficient evidence. Sometimes, they look like conclusions. This is a blog. Commenters comment. What the hell do you expect?

Just look at this exchange:

[A] Both sides think the otter’s the worse.

[B] It’s quite obvious the otter’s the worse.

[C] Not a good idea.

[D] Take Clisep.

[E] Take SkS.

[A] SkS has its share of problems.

[G] My name is G Montoya. You offended my family. Prepare to die!

[C] Not a good idea.

[G] Not you too, C! My name is G Monto…

[C] Here you go: […] I don’t know where you learned to swing that sword that way, but it wobbles strangely toward your own chest.

[G] I’ll bite my tongue for now, but prepare to die!

How do you think this exchange will end?

This illustrates one problem with sealioning – asking for evidence is all well and good when there’s a point to it. How exactly are we going to establish a metric that will help estimate the level of civility of comments? Worse than that – how do we establish blog in-group relationships? Just take JohnH and me – do we illustrate an in-group or an out-group fight?

One easy way to measure civility in this very thread would be to look for the smileys ;-P As a guest appearance at the Auditor’s once said:

Lose the smileys – they don’t become you.


My own hypotheses regarding blog interactions follow Haidt’s research: libertarians are pricks, liberals are jerks, and conservatives are Wisconsin polite. If you can’t annoy someone, there’s little point in writing.

Published by Willard

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