[extropy-chat] Insults in Posts (was Putting God to Rest)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Apr 27 02:57:27 UTC 2007

>> Even insult itself, however, does have a place

> That was my point, if insults weren't often quite good at getting the job
> done they would not be so common in the meme pool.

> Sounds like a group selection argument.

Sounds more like *meme* selection to me!

But John left out my *argument*---merely quoting my conclusion!
Here was my supporting argument, which he did not address.

> > ... behavior of this kind, according unimpeachable authority [1],
> > serves a *social* function.  It's inappropriate in a forum like this
> > where---joking and satire and abbreviations for the initiated aside
> > ---we are interested in a search for truth.

Let me add emphasis so that you see it this time:  INSULTS CAN

Damien writes

> I take it that Lee is saying "stupid" is a word (an offensive, 
> insulting word) applying to someone whose assessed intelligence is 
> especially low, but not applicable to a belief, opinion, claim,  action, etc. 

Yes, but though it may not have been clear the way I juxtaposed arguments
or I misstated it, indeed there are, I admit after all, "stupid" arguments as
well as "stupid people".  But such terms have so far as I can see only two
functions:  (1) a social function as explained by Miss Manners, and (2)
an abbreviation to save writing among similarly inclined thinkers.

It NEVER does ANY good WHATSOEVER to use them in serious 
argument, as say, against religious people or people who believe the
Earth to be flat.  I am appalled at those who do.  Have they utterly no
appreciation of the role of argument and the proper content of argument?

Even if talking to  someone who seriously believes in the Moon Landing
Hoax or who believes that the Earth is flat, what the hell good does it do
to pronounce, "you know pal, that claim is just stupid".


[1] Judith Martin,  "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior":

   The polite thing to do has always been to address people as they wish
    to be addressed, to treat them in a way they think dignified.  But it
    is equally important to accept and tolerate different standards of
    courtesy, not expecting everyone else to adapt to one's own preferences.
    Only then can we hope to restore the insult to its proper social function
    of expressing true distaste.

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