Rudeness Fails

[This is a heated debate about the uses of rudeness. The heat was started by the words 'general' and 'simply' in one sentence. You may check the links at the bottom for more balanced accounts.]

In general, rudeness simply doesn't work. It does not "fix" people. I've seen rudeness make the problem worse far more often than helping the situation. I don't have any OfficialCertifiedDoubleBlindPeerReviewedPublishedStudy to show this, but my observation and various books I've read on the subject have born this out. (I'm still rude sometimes, but I accept it merely as a personal catharsis, not a solution to the problem itself.)

Those who want to make a case that it does work are welcome to present it. Sometimes it will work once or twice, but it's a weapon that loses its strength on each usage. Used sparingly and with proper timing, it can help; but it's not something to rely on as your primary persuasion tool and has longer-term consequences. (There perhaps are individuals who enjoy abuse overall, but they are the exception.)

The art of persuasion is difficult, especially for us techie types who are often under-socialized by choice or nature. But if you really want to persuade people and change their behavior or outlook[1], you have to do it the careful, patient, and smart way. There's no shortcuts. I'm just the messenger.

Further, rudeness is overused on the web such that if it had any impact if used sparingly, it's rendered moot by the excess one finds on the web. Wolf has been called repeatedly.

[1] You may end up changing our own as an unintended consequence.

- top

[Please note that to have top create such an argument boggles the minds of those who understand the concepts of "irony" and "hypocrisy." Apparently topper does not. Sorry, man, but that's how it is, eh?]

I believe you missed the statement above: "I'm still rude sometimes, but I accept it merely as a personal catharsis, not a solution to the problem itself." The topic is in response to the suggestion that rudeness fixes people and thus it's justified as a common teaching technique. Yes, I am rude sometimes, but do not claim or expect it to change other people's behavior or mind. Thus, there's no irony.
I've rarely seen rudeness applied as a 'persuasion' tactic. Complaining about rudeness on the basis that it doesn't work as a persuasion tactic strikes me as similar to complaining about bricks on the basis they can't fly under their own power.

Anyhow, this whole 'art of persuasion' issue always bumps into ethical dilemmas. Lies, sophistry, and fallacy often do "work" as persuasive tactics, especially when expressed with passion, or when convincing oneself (humans are far too prone towards confirmation bias). Should one measure the quality of an argument by how persuasive it is (how well it "works"), rather than by how reasonable it is?

If one refuses to accept that the ends justify the means in persuasion, then one also might refuse to fight fallacy with the sort of fallacy or illogic that the opposition might grok. This can lead to much frustration, which is often expressed via rudeness.

In many cases, being "right" in a vacuum is of little use, especially if collaboration is required to implement an idea. (Those who are so certain they are right are often not right, but that's another topic. Certaintude for situations with many variables is a smell.) If you are sufficiently satisfied with merely "being right", then there's little use of communicating such on this wiki anyhow, or at least debating.

Being 'right' and being 'reasonable' (in the sense of 'reasoning') are two very different things.

Almost everyone thinks they are reasonable.

Indeed. Many people are UnskilledAndUnawareOfIt when it comes to 'reasoning'. Many people don't even recognize 'reasoning' as a skill or something that can be performed incorrectly.

Reasoning is a skill; one learns to be reasonable the same way one learns any other math, and the foundations for this skill are traditionally taught as part of Geometry, advanced Philosophy courses, discrete mathematics, diagnostics, and many other courses. According to my dictionary, being reasonable means being agreeable with 'sound' judgement, logical, not exceeding the limits of reason - which implies that one can justify inferences without unsound or illogical steps. It has been my observation (as an assistant to an undergrad course in discrete mathematics) that many people have troubles grasping 'reasoning' - even among those aiming to become programmers and engineers.

The widespread incompetence in reasoning isn't too bad for day-to-day stuff - those not skilled at reasoning may be quite skilled at reaching correct and verifiable answers by other means (intuition, search, pattern matching, ExploratoryProgramming, etc.). Reasoning is sometimes overrated in practice; it's really important for BigDesignUpFront (especially when attempting to improve cross-cutting properties of existing systems), but AgileMethodologies don't rely upon it. However, this incompetence really hurts when it comes to technical discussions. People can't 'reasonably' argue from intuitions - that would be a contradiction in terms.

Merely 'thinking' you are reasonable is intuition. Intuition does serve as a good first filter if one has experience in the domain, but any person competent in reasoning knows that the trick is to reconstruct, justify, and (where possible) verify one's inferences, habitually. Reasonable people know they are reasonable, because they can justify it. Reasonable people also know they could be wrong, because they can justify that, too.

The tricky part is when we encounter topics with TooManyVariablesForScience. It would be nice if we could simply apply math, formal logic, and direct scientific experiments to all debates, but because of the variable quantity and funding problem, we can't, or don't know how yet. We have to make assessments based on lots of information, but also with lots of incomplete information.

I usually cut people some slack when dealing wish such issues. I may not agree, but I will respect their opinion if they made a good effort to justify their opinion and counter mine. I don't see that from the other party. They are filled with certaintude about their opinions on variable-heavy topics and accuse the other side of committing formal or objective fallacies. Certaintude in the face of many variables is just plain smelly. - t
Tags like 'HandWaving' also "work" to at least caution others in the potential audience, even if they strike the immediate recipient as rude.

Anyhow, this topic has degenerated into a LaynesLaw battle over what "rudeness" is. - t

[EditHint: consider moving GUI issues to a different topic if communications-related issues can be extracted.]
Top, you said 'I'm still rude sometimes, but I accept it merely as a personal catharsis, not a solution to the problem itself.' Could it be that the mentioned catarsis helps on a meta level? So rudenes does show something (see WhatStrongEmotionsShow). -- GunnarZarncke

You mean help the rudeness giver instead of the givee? Perhaps, but at the risk of agitating the receiver, further complicating communication. Perhaps the topic should be "rudeness fails to improve listener". The listener essentially becomes a punching bag for the rudeness producer. Better to go get some Paxil. -t
Scope of Illogic

Maybe there's a misunderstanding about "illogical". Are you saying that my argument itself is "illogical" because I won't consider your favorite technologies (YFT), or are you saying that I as a person am illogical for not considering YFT? The first one makes no sense. I was comparing GML to HTML++, not to YFT. Failing to compare to a third option (YFT) is not a fallacy in the debate text itself, for I never set out to compare it to YFT (other than side comments, which was a social mistake).

Neglecting to compare to YFT may arguably be a "decision error" on my part as a human being, but that's a different animal. I made no clearly-identified logical pivotal fallacies in my comparison between GML to HTML++. Whether I personally am illogical for not considering YFT, I won't even consider that at this point, other than ask why your prerequisite-heavy GoldenHammer should get a hearing before some other prerequisite-heavy GoldenHammer. But I do request that you be clear about whether my statements are "illogical" or me as a person. Or is the vagueness part of an intimidation tactic? - t

I say your argument is "illogical" because you fail to reasonably justify that your designs achieve your goals. Your attempt to develop from a vacuum, neglecting alternative technologies and the concerns addressed by them, is perhaps "unwise", but not by itself "illogical".

If you are specific about where evidence lacks, I'll be happy to flesh it out. The problem is that you are either rarely specific enough or find some way to tie it to some favored complex tool that has little to do with GUI's. I'm trying to remove issues that tie into your favored tool kit to see if I can tease out specific examples of allegedly poor reasoning to understand what makes you so eager to claim it all heavily flawed. I'm not seeing something that you are (or think you are).

Thus, what is a specific example of flawed reasoning assuming we are only comparing GML to HMTL++? If none of the world's IT problems can be solved "logically" without using your fav thingamabob, then let me know now so that I can end my attempt to figure you out.

My primary argument on GML has always been the same: your answer to "why?" is unsatisfactory. "Illogical" refers to specific sub-arguments, none of which are especially focused on GML (the word only appears twice in that page). HandWaving refers also to specific arguments - i.e. your attempts to argue 'security' benefits that are unrelated to security, your prophecies that Microsoft will somehow break HTML++ even worse than where GML is starting, your dubious anti-fanboyism marketing tactics, plus some meta-level argument about argument. Every time you start trying to answer "why?", sound and valid 'reasoning' gets left behind. The broad differences between GML and HTML (e.g. the four-column approach) are left unjustified.

Even your one reasonable sub-argument that GML is more CrudScreen-friendly on the basis of having a few extra widgets is unsatisfactory, since that saves me perhaps 20% of the ugliness associated with a typical WebApplication: I'll still need scripts to validate inputs; I'll still have server-side and app-developer ugliness to bind inputs to the correct server side operations; I'll still need to support accessibility (multi-lingual, blindness, text search), still need to support hints and auto-complete, still need to support 'undo', still need confirmations and conflict resolutions, still need to support progress bars, alerts, and other forms of real-time updates; still need to support persistence or session recovery and mobility. I have no reason to believe GML is CrudScreen-friendly in any but the shallowest of senses. I am left wondering why you don't just tweak HTML to add a few widgets and call it a 'new standard' (goodness knows we have enough standards) - that, at least, would have easy implementation since you could easily use MozillaFirefox or GoogleChrome as a starting point for the client, and many existing tools could adapt readily to use the new standard.

My replies are at GuiMachineLanguageDiscussion, since we are drifting away from rudeness and toward GML.
See: HowToWinFriendsAndInfluencePeople, HowToSellGoldenHammers, WhatStrongEmotionsShow, MudWrestlingWithPigs



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