Friday, May 20, 2005

Liberal Debating Techniques, and Other Comic Relief

I want to take a moment to thank my commentators for their useful feedback - Vache folle, whose blog I find very interesting, Franko the faithful, Gordo and Jim H my defenders, and all the others who encourage me to continue. Even Fred, who didn't take to my style, is forcing me to look at myself and admit I can be didactic - oh all right, downright pedantic at times, and has provided me with some useful feedback.

Just for fun, for those who haven't seen it, and at the risk of appearing to enjoy self-flagellation (not my idea of a good time as a rule), here is Fred's comment regarding my latest Government Lesson No. 8 on the nature of science:

"I randomly stumbled upon this blog and sincerely regret the 5 minutes of my life lost to the inane babble of government lesson number eight. While I trust you will snicker at me from your perceived lofty intellectual perch for employing a quote from Billy Madison, I find it most appropriate for your post:

"What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Thank you, Fred, for that nice piece of borrowed humor. However, if you don't mind, I would like to profit (capitalist that I am) from this occasion to point out a defect in your thinking that very much resembles that of liberals: You resent anyone who may differ with you or whom you don't understand, and your immature and irrational reaction is to use tantrums, personal attack, ridicule, and/or sleight of subject to avoid the real debate. (I hesitated between "liberals" and "most liberals," but in order to be a liberal in the first place, this kind of emotive gymnastics is a prerequisite; so I went ahead with the generalization.)

The avowed liberal, Professor Krugman, whom I slapped around in a previous post (shameless ignorant upstart gadfly that I am), is also guilty of this technique. In fact, one of his academic colleagues, Professor Arnold Kling, who is a much more frequent contributor to the Tech Central Station website than I, has put his finger quite squarely on the problem here.

From Fred's own performance, I'll go right ahead and jump to the conclusion that he has at least leftist tendencies (although I could be mistaken, because I also got a very definitive "?" from another reader/blogger whom I wouldn't describe that way.) Having said this, I wish to tell them both that (1) I have learned from their contribution and will henceforth try (a) to put a lid on my pedantry (the "Lesson" idea was pretty lame, I suppose), and (b) to bring all of this down a peg while attempting to maintain the same philosophical punch; and (2) I have given my ego a thorough lashing and, thanks to them, have managed to get it back into its ill-sealed box, at least for the moment.

Seriously though, I'd like to invite them both back so we could attempt to have a real dialog (although I doubt that's possible with those of Fred's ilk - prove me wrong, Fred), or at least so I could knight him The Right Honorable Thorn in the Side, as a reminder to strive at all times for clarity, humility, humor and, last but not least, respect for - or at least tolerance of - each other's opinions, differences, and personality.

I also would like to take a moment to thank some webmasters and bloggers who have referenced me in their links:

- The Von Mises Institute, at this site

- The Prudent Bear people, here

- Gil, over at MacroMouse, who has been kind enough to republish some of my stuff and to put me up in his links column

- L-Train, a co-blogger whose ramblings I really like, in spite of the fact that he/she sent me Fred. Here's L-train


Blogger Fred said...


Well played for enduring the mini-diatribe with a healthy dose of humor. In the spirit of self- flagellation I cannot reasonably refute the "immature" label after utilizing a quote from an Adam Sandler movie.

However, I find it presumptuous on your part to assume the post stems from poor reading comprehension. The enveloping waves of ennui felt by this reader and the soporific elements of the disjointed commentary produced my ill-fated attempt at humor.

I humbly suggest my implied tactics of "tantrums, personal attack, ridicule and/or slight of subject" are rivaled in defect by your use of hackneyed ideological and political labels. How is the quality of this polemic advanced by name calling?

You immediately categorized me into an ideological framework and implied every generic negative connation therein to assert superiority in this discussion. You may well hold the better cards in this debate but I suggest you examine your hand again.

For my part I pledge to visit again and elevate the discourse with quotes from better movies.


2:02 PM  
Blogger Katy said...


I'm so surprised and pleased (to use a hackneyed phrase) that not only did you "hear" but you responded to my plea.

First of all, you are mistaken to say I presumed poor reading comprehension on your part; on the contrary, in fact, I assumed you disagree with me. (It has to be one or the other; you tell me which it is.)

Secondly, I sense a tad of disingenuousness here, because if you had been bored and/or put to sleep by my post, you wouldn't have bothered to comment, it would seem to me. The evidence seems to prove that I hit some unconscious nerve. If not, why did you take the time?

Third, I haven't called you any names. I've simply described your style as I see it. I confess, this is a kind of childish tit-for-tat game, reacting to each other's darts - things like "ennui," "soporific," "ill-fated attempt at humor" (not so ill fated, in my opinion; the truth is I actually liked it - and it sure got my attention!)

But Fred, all of this is neither here nor there. (Darn, another hackneyed phrase.) I'd love to get down to the subject matter. What is your opinion of the theme I discussed in my "presumptuous" Lesson No. 8? (All right already! I've admitted you may be right about my attempts at misplaced pedagoguery. Let it go.)

In case my hauty style was so "ennuyeux" as to obscure my drift altogether, let me clarify. My main premise was that there are a good number of people today who walk like a scientist, talk like a scientist, but who are not, given that actually BEING a scientist implies subscribing to a professional code of ethics that these persons have betrayed.

So let's make a deal. I'll stop the snipping if you will, so we can actually discuss something of import here. Are you up for it?

If not, thanks for visiting, Fred. Always love a good debate! (If that's what this was ...)

2:36 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

In the spirit of good will which inundated the hallowed halls of our nation's capital after the tumult of the filibuster, I accept your olive branch and pledge a concerted effort to provide more enlightened responses to posts in the future.

9:28 AM  

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