Bluntness Discussion

From CriticizeDiplomatically:



Pure discussion (or rather disagreement):


Regarding HowToWinFriendsAndInfluencePeople...

But really.. isn't marketing hype and making money all about making customers your friends, even if it is lies and hype that you are feeding them?

Top, you do not have many friends on this wiki, nor does FabianPascal, nor did Dijkstra have many many friends (maybe some, select people). They have some very select friends and it is important not to have many friends but rather a good few friends. Influencing people through marketing hype and lies and gaining friends at dumbed down level is much easier than gaining a few good friends and good students/associates.

It is of some people's opinion that one should not agree with the masses and one should not make friends with the masses. But that book may provide some good tips, regardless.

For me it's also more important to have a few good friends than to make friends with the masses (actually I was a loner during school). I also prefer direct and clear statements. And I cannot really deal well with uncommitive evasive statements - I just don't get them (I'm happy to have a wife who states here likes and dislikes clearly und unmistakably).

But this doesn't mean that I think this is the only or the correct approach. There is a need for people who unify the masses, who smoothen topics until most can agree. Though obviously this doesn't work well for topics that have an inherent need for sharpness or precision. So everybody has to find his place here. -- GunnarZarncke

I wonder whether CriticizeDiplomatically (or rather talk uncommitively) is a CulturalAssumption (an AmericanCulturalAssumption?). Here in Germany requests are made smoothly, but responses are expected to be direct and clear. If I want to buy/order something or need something from collegues it is usual to beg and ask "could you please?" I do not say directly what I want, but the request is nonetheless understood as an unconditional request. On the other hand the other one is expected to clearly say when he doesn't want to fulfill the request. This combination seems to be unusual. I have heard that e.g. Canadians and Turkish people don't like to decline requests ("Maybe" means "No") and then in Germany run into the problem of being expected to do lots of tasks they didn't explicitly declined.

Candians do indeed often said ridiculous things such as maybe when they actually mean no (to be nice). American/Canadian culture can even seem a bit too nice (and hyped, and product oriented) from the view of other countries. Some American/Canadian people are not even proud about their own countries for this very reason. Some seem Europeans/Germans do even seem rude to americans/canadians through email forums, wikis, or telephone, due to the way they say "No" rather than imprecise terms such as "maybe, possibly". But when dealing with precise topics such as math, programming, we must be more precise and direct.
There seems to be a pattern to the criticisms of diplomacy. Contrast these algorithms:

Diplomacy Algorithm:

  if diplomatic-approach-A does not work  
  then if diplomatic-approach-B does not work  // try B
  then if diplomatic-approach-C does not work  // try C, etc..
  then if diplomatic-approach-D does not work
  then if diplomatic-approach-E does not work
  then politely discontinue dialog.

Apparent CriticizeBluntly critic algorithm:

  if diplomatic-approach-A does not work
    then criticize-bluntly.
  if diplomatic-approach-B does not work
    then criticize-bluntly.
  if diplomatic-approach-C does not work
    then criticize-bluntly.
  if diplomatic-approach-D does not work
    then criticize-bluntly.
  if diplomatic-approach-E does not work
    then criticize-bluntly.

Whoever wrote this doesn't understand that those who consciously choose to CriticizeBluntly embrace it. The correct CriticizeBluntly algorithm is:
  if a person criticizes you bluntly
    then examine his argument, ask for any necessary explanation, and clinically 
    determine whether the criticism is valid.  If so, correct your behavior.  If 
    not, ignore it.  Honesty to self is extremely important for CriticizeBluntly. 
  if criticize-bluntly does not work
    then repeat, with further explanations or proof.  Honesty to others is 
    the foundation of CriticizeBluntly.  
  if the person complains about rudeness, hurt feelings, or starts
  making demands for apologies
    then BAN the emotional ignoramus who shouldn't be getting involved in the discussions.
    The purpose of academic argument is seeking truth, not compromise or keeping people
    from pain.  Truth can be painful.  GetOverIt.

We save CriticizeDiplomatically for where compromise or friendship is a goal.

I disagree that there is ever a good reason to be consistently rude. Rudeness is only useful if used sparingly. Otherwise, it's ignored in the "calling wolf" sense. There is no consensus empirical evidence that rudeness works, and its merely a manifestation of male aggression in my opinion. Also, I disagree with the characterization of certain accusations as "honesty". For example, "you are dumb" does not count in my book because it is not specific enough. Criticism has to be very specific in order to even have a chance to be observed.

Often it is very specific - such as actual examples provided of where someone was arrogant, rude, or a hypocrite. Not very often people claim things like "you are dumb" on the wiki. That is very rare - if ever. However, some people are very sensitive to criticism and assume the criticism is just a "you are dumb idiot" intention. Even if it is healthy criticism, people reject the criticism!

I disagree in general. Wiki is full of poor criticizers. Often things that are clear in their mind are not clearly stated in their writing. They assume that others think like them and are weighing the same evidence the same way, but that is not really the case. The "proper" way to help people see things your way takes a lot of details and patience, and may "blunters" simply don't have enough patience; falsely seeing bluntness as a shortcut. To be blunt, they are lazy.

A lot of people assume all criticism must be destructive if any of the criticism goes against their belief system. Quite often it is constructive - even if harsh - because criticism by nature is not purely positive even when it is constructive. If communication, science, and discussion was always purely positive and kissy wissy - then we wouldn't have any rigor, critical analysis, math, or science.

One does not have to lie to be diplomatic.

You don't always lie to be diplomatic, but lies are still a very big part of diplomacy. So is withholding the truth. So is standing by, politely, while people teach hateful things, untruths, and lies to other people. So is holding your tongue when people commit immoral acts right under your nose. None of these is entirely honest. If you treat diplomacy like some sort of virtuous or golden ideal, you're just being as dishonest with yourself as much as you are with everyone else.

I cannot speak for other diplomacy proponents, but I do not promote lying.

In any case, I don't really care if CriticizeBluntly doesn't work for some people, or even for most people. In fact, I consider it a TEST. People who can't handle and benefit from CriticizeBluntly should just be banned from academia, science, and pretty much every field that seeks truth, because, frankly, being humbled and bludgeoned by reality is part of the job. If you can't handle it, if you can't benefit from it, then you've failed.

One does not have to be rude to provide useful criticism. If you have a UseCase that demonstrates otherwise, I'd like to see it. (In fact, being rude can get you a nice "harassment" lawsuit and fired these days, for good or bad.) No, one doesn't need to be rude to offer useful criticism. But blunt, honest, thorough criticism is NOT rude - not even if it hurts. Kicking and screaming in public about the pain is rude. So is dishonesty, fallacy, not doing your homework before joining a discussion. In these ways, you're often rude. Ignorance is not an excuse. Nor is lying to yourself about the issue being 'hobby horses'. And rudeness begets rudeness. It is true that two wrongs don't make a right... people shouldn't be rude to you in response to your often rude behavior. They should just ban you for several days every time you say something stupid or poorly considered until you get in the habit of thinking and researching and educating yourself. I've seen forums that do this, where people get multi-day bans for posting as a fact something that can be confirmed to be in error or any argument with a fallacy in it, and it works well - people who can't handle it, leave, and good riddance to them. Rudeness, in the form of both veiled and direct insults, is a behavior people fall back on only because they're powerless to change your behavior or be rid of you.

You are honestly suggesting that people be banned for not doing what you consider is the proper prerequisite work? But they can say the same about you: you are not simplifying your argument enough and want to them to speak your pet lingo so that YOU don't have to do any "homework". If you can clinically prove that a given book or reference is the shortest and simplest possible explanation, you may have an iron-clad gripe. But that's not likely to happen. The other party may instead want you banned for being a poor or lazy writer (via their standards) for essentially the same "sin" of "not doing your homework before joining a discussion" (from above). Thus, it gets bogged down in a BadReaderBadWriterAccusationLoop where both sides think the other is lazy.

[I don't mean to be, er, blunt, but the problem is this: Top, it appears you have a great deal of interest in SoftwareDevelopment, SoftwareEngineering and ComputerScience. That's great; unfortunately, you know very little about these subjects, but it appears you think you're an expert. No, not even an expert; it appears you believe yourself to be an authority, especially in the area of database-driven business application development.]

[In reality, you're like someone who's had a subscription to "Psychology Today" magazine and thinks he knows psychiatry, or who's read some of the Merck Manual and thinks he knows medicine. Or, perhaps most accurately, someone who's assembled a lot of flatpack Ikea furniture and thinks he knows mechanical engineering. Sometimes, we go to a lot of effort to provide you with carefully-crafted, carefully-written explanations. Typically, you dismiss them without appearing to have considered them, and you often seem not to have read them at all. I suspect it's because without the benefit (and context) of the education that we assume and that you're obviously lacking, our explanations come across to you as obtuse, technical gibberish. Trust me, they aren't. In many cases, we've been talking down to you and have provided more explanation and detail than would be due a typical beginner in our field, because at least we can assume the beginner is learning the crucial knowledge in a typical educational sequence. We can't assume that with you (indeed, it's obviously not the case), so you need more than just an explanation. You need to read and absorb and truly understand a number of textbooks. Otherwise, we're forced to write an entire textbook for you, or we yet again endure the frustration of watching you ignore or misinterpret a lengthy, carefully-crafted explanation intended for you and you alone.]

[As a result, I've given up on you. You've posted some things recently that I take issue with, but I can't be bothered to debate with you any more. It never makes the slightest difference, and I have better things to do.]

Your responses are NOT "well crafted". You mostly just repeat what you've already said in a similar style, appearing uninterested in taking a different approach. If I know much more than somebody about a topic I'm trying to explain about, I can usually use my superior knowledge to provide demonstrations and scenarios that illustrate my viewpoint. I often don't need to give them an entire programming lesson, but just need one or few specific scenario that illustrates the point at issue. I don't need to send them to programming class.

However, it does take work and patience to reframe the issue into something non-programmers can relate to. Sometimes I don't have the time or patience and just call them a "dummy", like you do to me. However, it's usually a failure on my part to not work hard enough to make the issue clear. Name-calling is just my ugly reptile side spilling out. It's a lazy shortcut. There's almost always a path to a better explanation/demonstration regardless of whether I actually find it or not. You don't want to admit that you have an articulation problem to protect your ego and avoid thinking hard enough to find such path. Buck up and face it, Bub. You haven't made a good argument that there is no such path.

And often the issues at hand are not really so academic after all upon further analysis. For example, in BagNeedScenarios you guys state: 'You ask why I cannot offer a "reasonably-easy-to-describe scenario" that "illustrates" an issue such as "scalability". It's an issue of ArgumentByLabToy. Unless you understand the math, you won't understand the significance of the example.'

Then as we later see in "PageAnchor: inherently_slow", it's made clear that the scalability issue is not as you originally painted it. I did NOT dispute that "processing" bags may be "slower" than processing sets in many instances. The key issue was only marginally about bag processing after-all. (I'm a bit skeptical of it for common usage patterns, especially in the light of your penchant for exaggeration, but that's moot to the debate.)

You wasted a "your are dumb" insult on nothing. You probably saw the word "scalability", and your mind went, "Aha, I know Toppie doesn't know shit about implementing bag processors, so I'll catch that sucker on that point, blam blam blam!" In the end, you butchered the wrong target. Your blunt criticism is aimed wrong.

It appeared that you consciously or unconsciously wanted to frame it in terms of mathematics, perhaps out of habit, but in the end all that complaining about me being dumb about the math was irrelevant. I believe you have difficulty framing academic concepts in terms of real-world benefits, and instead get mentally stuck into academic corners where you are more comfortable.

Further, you fail to take into account WetWare. For example, I don't dispute that avoiding nulls in tables may result in a "more elegant" and perhaps more efficient database engines. (Although I do expect you may be exaggerating the case, that's moot to the immediate argument.) But you've made a piss-poor argument that such trumps any WetWare issues. Many find "thin tables" conceptually more difficult to grok and code for software development purposes. We have to think one way for the customer's view, usually "wide-table", and a different way for the internal thin tables. The context switching slows our brain down, and possibly more code as one has to translate back and forth between thin/wide.

Your response seems to be that it's my burden to smash open people's heads and prove that WetWare is an issue by putting electrodes on their neurons, as if the default is that WetWare makes no difference. Most rational people would disagree with this view. Your obsession with "smart" compilers appears to make you biased against other factors outside of smart compilers. You see the world through compiler-oriented glasses.

In short, your complaints about my academic background are usually just a red herring. My assessment of your motivation is that you are probably trying to re-frame the debates in terms of areas you are comfortable with, not necessarily the "real" issue, which is closer to WetWare and economics than you'd like.

--top

...and as with nearly any discussion involving top we end up with a TenSeven.

There are one or two WikiZens who don't like me and retaliate via AdHominem's.

There are far more Wikizens who consider arguing with you a complete waste of time and dismiss you with a well-deserved wave of the hand and an utterance of "Pfft."

Another beautifully-written scientific survey of yours. Before I shut off my public email, I used to get many letters of support from those who've yet to grow a thicker skin, as I have over time. They asked me to keep up the fight on their behalf. Kill me with evidence, not insults. --top

<Waves hand. Utters, "Pfft.">
Here's an example for your consideration from BagNeedScenariosReWork:

Re: "Your implied claim - that 'baginization' is offering an objective (and therefore rational) trade-off decision on risk, time, labor, cost, etc. - is utter bullshit. And that earns rudeness towards you, you crank - you should be raked across coals, laughed at, treated as the 'butt' of a joke for presenting that sort of 'counter' without doing extensive research beforehand. If you want civilized discussion, you first need to play by the rules and present a reasonable argument." [Emphasis added]

It appears to be a belief that some people "deserve rudeness". I allege that I'm arguing in good faith and that if I am as clearly and blatantly wrong as claimed, then careful logic and reasoning should be enough to squash my point of view. Either that, I'm inherently delusional, and even if so for the sake of argument, people with mental problems don't deserve rudeness either. There's no evidence that yelling at mental patients cures them. (Personally, I think the other side may have some mental problems in this case. They fly off the handle instead of carefully dissecting the alleged problems with my arguments. To be fair, sometimes I make outbursts also, but it's intended as catharsis, not punishment.)

I believe the above to be cyber-bullying and believe that the wiki community should condemn such behavior. While I don't think they deserved to be banned, they should be clearly reminded that such behavior is unappreciated. Also note that the "extensive research" suggestion is a double standard, for I see no anti-bag "extensive research" (other than special-case efficiency issues, which work both ways). --top
See: AssumeGoodFaith, AssumeGoodFaithLimitations, CriticizeBluntly, RudenessFails

CategoryCriticism, CategoryDiscussion

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