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The Rise Of The ATS Invertebrate: or, it takes a spine to be a conspiracy theorist.

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posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 01:39 PM
The staff and I have noticed a distinct rise in a certain type of complaint via the complaint form, thread/post alerts, our contact form, and even in public drama-thread attempts. This distinct type of complaint has many forms and various styles of presentation, but all-in-all, can be condensed down to a simple common denominator, and to be blunt it is best described as: spinelessness.

First, before I elaborate, some important disclaimer type of stuff...

Since mid-2004, we have done our absolute best to foster an environment where rules of civility and decorum seek to shift the typical focus of discussion, seen on nearly all other boards, from flames and snipes about each other to (hopefully) productive debate about the actual issues and topics. For the most part, we've been very successful as we continually get positive feedback and commentary from outside sources about the incredible quality of the user-generated discussions on ATS. We know it's not-yet perfect, and certainly have no illusions it will ever be like a perfectly civil afternoon tea (nor should it be). But on the whole, our efforts appear to be worth it.

The Rise Of The ATS Invertebrate: or; it takes a spine to be a conspiracy theorist.

Back to the topic at hand.

What we're now seeing, in a wide variety of forums and topics, are relatively new members (less than one-year of ATS membership) with a scattering of old-hands, is a distinct trend toward heightened sensitivity. More and more of the complaints we see are little more than the result of being overly thin-skinned about criticism of a viewpoint.

9/11 Truth supporters being overly sensitive toward conspiracy debunkers

9/11 debunkers being overly sensitive to 9/11 Truth supporters

Chemtrail conspiracy supporters being easily upset over alternate explanations

Chemtrail debunkers being delicate in regards to chemtrail conspiracy supporters

Religion supporters being easily upset over comments critical of religion

Atheists being uptight over comments from the religious

Extraterrestrial/UFO fans easily hurt by pointed questions and comments

ET/UFO deniers/debunkers offended by the staunch position of supporters

Conservatives upset over liberals

Liberals upset over conservatives

Members who call another member a "disinfo agent" being incensed at being call the same

The list of an increase in ultra-sensitivity toward topics can go on and on, and includes those on all sides of a given topic, debate, issue, politics, etc.

Where there are genuine personal attacks within these complaints, we take action. And in some cases, such as the 9/11 or Secret Societies forums, our action may be more severe than other forums because of previous problems. But as of late, more often than not, the complaints we're seeing are less and less about personal attacks, and more and more inspired by personal sensitivities.

Criticism and Harsh Questions About Your Theories Are Not Personal Attacks

This is the most common form of invertebrate complaint we're currently seeing. One or more members posing on-topic and pointed questions about your theory or position is not a personal attack. Anyone posting to, regardless as to your position as a conspiracist or debunker, should welcome and embrace the environment of critical analysis that is ATS -- it is the only way to refine, improve, harden, or even discard the ideas we have.

Skepticism is not "anti-conspiracy"

We've seen, on many occasions, where newer members are often shocked, if not put-off, buy the general amount of skeptical contributors on ATS. Those members should be aware that there is a significant difference between "skepticism" and "denial." All too often, we've seen exuberant conspiracy followers automatically assume that the skeptical point of view is that of a habitual debunker and knee-jerk denialist. This type of thinking is counter-productive to seeking the truth. Skepticism and critical-thinking are vitally important attributes to anyone who is genuinely concerned with any conspiracy theory. A healthy dose of skeptical questions hones our theories and aids in the process of discarding speculative aspects that may not be properly supported. With that in mind, however, there are those who appear to practice reflexive-denial toward anything conspiracy related, and those people can be disruptive to the type of environment we seek to foster. However, they should not and shall not be ignored because they provide a valuable metric that our suppositions and conclusions must surpass.

Criticism Of A Group Of Like-Minded People Is Not A Personal Attack

This is the second-most common form of hypersensitive complaint we've been receiving. While such comments may help to provide insight into the author, posting something like, "UFO believers are fools," may be somewhat offensive, but is not typically a direct personal attack (this where context becomes important). As proponents of a broad spectrum of highly-speculative concepts and provocative conspiracy theories, our most important attributes that display professionalism and earnestness are a thick-skin, resiliency, and grace under pressure. We cannot be over-sensitive to broad-stroke criticism and instead must politely smile, brush it off, and continue our quest.

Conspiracy Theorists Will Be Anti-Establishment

This is an area of complaint we've actually been expecting... and are now experiencing. For the past eight years, an intensely-disliked Republican administration inspired thousands-upon-thousands of threads of highly critical and often derogatory topics. For a long period of time, conspiracy theorists appeared to be fanatical democrats/liberals. Now that we have a democrat in office, many of the liberal "fan boys" are incredulous in their dismay over the apparent transformation of ATS -- we dare to harshly criticize the new administration. We've even had long-term members announce their frustrated departure form ATS for this very reason. Criticism of a political ideology is not a personal insult directed at fans of that ideology.

Criticism Of The Israeli Government Is Not Anti-Semitism

We've only seen a slight rise in this type of complaint, which seems to be lock-step in sync with the rise of general sensitivity to this within the culture at large. The past few decades have provided conspiracy theorists and historical scholars with several reasons to be harshly critical of many of the policies and actions of the Israeli government... as is the case, most certainly, with nearly every nation on this planet. We anticipate, and hope, that the kind of member who chooses to participate in discussions on ATS is able to parse the difference between this type of commentary and that which is racially motivated by a generalization of Jewish people.

We Will Do Our Part

As always, we (the staff of ATS) will do our part to ensure that civility and decorum are maintained within discussion threads. But please, we ask that you (our members) do your part to understand that disagreement and criticism is not automatically uncivil impropriety... it is the nature of intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate debate. No one learns from a vanilla environment of like-minded people, knowledge and wisdom is acquired by testing the limits of our understand and having our ideas challenged. Embrace that challenge. You will be the better for it, and you will evolve a spine to be envied.

[edit on 29-3-2009 by SkepticOverlord]

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 01:55 PM
Well I am glad somebody cleared that stuff up.

Maybe we will see a little more productive discussion and perhaps more imput from the mods since they won't be so busy passing out detention passes


posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 01:58 PM
Superb!!!! It is good to remind people that one can disagree, without having to resort to name calling and personal attacks. Civilized discussion often involves disagreement, and it is the nature of society to have different viewpoints. That should be celebrated, not discouraged.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:02 PM
I have avoided many threads because of that, which has limited my participation. I think this is an awesome step in the right direction.

Applause awarded!

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:04 PM
Nice well written OP.

I think some of the problem you are describing was in part due to poorly defined policies being announced in the past.

Although we may think what "personal attacks" are, or "civility" is, or "hate speech" is, should be clear and that understanding should be shared by all, without good clear definition, it is likely that there will be as many interpretations of those terms as there are interpreters. Most of us humans are naturally self centered, and "personal attacks" really means "attacking my position." "Hate speech" is "speech I hate." And civility is "what people should give me no matter what I do myself."

I think this post will go a long way to clearing some of that up.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:16 PM
Thank you, there have been times, I have felt something was personal, but also knew it was a differing opinion than my own and I was the one who had started the conversation in the first place through threads or postings.

It is easy to take something personally at times, but you were able to spell things out, where people can take a look at it, in a different way, than the personal way.

I know, it got very heated after the election and inauguration - we can all get caught up in our own strong opinions. Understanding the line, between expressing our opinons compared to someone elses - and attacking the other for their opinion... became blurred right afterwards.

Thanks, I will remember this thread, when I begin to take things to heart, over a posting, opinion or thought opposite than mine from someone else, that seems to be aimed at me.

But..... I will say.... gosh darn, some people have added me as a "foe" and I had never come across them before. So, I still haven't figured out, if I should take that personally or not yet.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:24 PM

I am encouraged by this wonderful development.

My mea culpa: while I must admit I have personally "crossed-the-line" a few times lately with spirited and passionate posts, I was promptly and justifiably warned and suffered appropriate post deletion and point deduction.
( Along with appropriate "cooling off" temp ban by more than fair and reasonable mods.) My sole regret is that the mods were burdened as a result of my actions. Admittedly, at times I push the envelope.

I think this a huge step towards improving the high standards and continuity of this forum.

Perhaps the "constant complainers" should also receive some sort of appropriate penalty. (Or at least make their complaints made public.)


[edit on 29-3-2009 by kinda kurious]

[edit on 29-3-2009 by kinda kurious]

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:24 PM
Well, I'm glad that you've posted this. I'm relatively new here to ATS and really don't post a whole lot due to time constraints (by the time I get to a post what I think has already been said so .. lol)

I have indeed noticed a very recent phenomenon of (what I would consider) personal attacks. Not questioning someone's view, but the person themselves. These are mostly related to politics (suprise suprise).

And while I have had a few comments made about posts I've done, I do try to not take it personally, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that's what ATS is here for. For the discussion of various opinions regarding various topics of discussion.

YaY for ATS for being such an awesome forum to be a member of.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:25 PM
very nice, i was kind of holding my breath wondering who was going to be the "spineless" ones. this is good, the label "troll" has been thrown around a little loosely lately. maybe this will shake people up a little bit.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:32 PM
I agree with most of your post except

Criticism Of A Group Of Like-Minded People Is Not A Personal Attack

If you a member of a group and the poster knows this they can make a spineless attack of the group to get at you. This is wrong.

Where do you draw the line?

You quoted a trivial example.
What if I substitute "UFO believers" with other groups such as


I think if I did, then I would be in big trouble with mods.

Therefore I think ALL attacks are wrong; there is no need for anyone to attack any individual or group.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:35 PM
thanks for brining this subject to our attention.

i don.t know why this happens, that people tend to take stuff more and more personally and somewhat more seriously as it is healthy.
they usually can.t differentiate anymore between critic of the case and critic of the person, and therefore they take everyhng personally.
and so they are insulted very easily.

i know that it is easily done, i have to think sometimes by myself about it.

i can only take the opportunity to encourage people to do the wonderful debates on ATS.
it cures from taking everything personal and getting insulted.
you have to debate what ever topic you might get and what ever position.
but you always know that your oponent is your friend.

so i try to take this attitude with me when reading and discussing topics on the rest of the board.
we are fighting cases, everybody and everytime
but we are all friends, or should be friends.

fortieter in re, suaviter in modo.
strong in case, but soft in the way.

i don.t have to hit another person to bring my point across, and if i think somebody hits me, i just have to imagine, that that member is a human like me and might have had a hard day.

i will try to keep this in mind so thanks again.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:38 PM
Every one of us at some time or other has had a comment made about something we have said, and have posted something in response which has caused arm waving and a tantrum or two.

Some of the comments have been pretty vicious, there is always some who will jump in to defend when that happens, best thing is to let it wash over you and ignore it if you cant do it with some maturity, but there will always be some who are more sensitive than others.

some people don't understand everyone has and is entitled to an opinion, no matter what the subject is, if it is taken to heart, then browse more threads, see how it's been done for a long time, there are members on here who cant stand each other, yet they are civil during discussion, and those who believe everything they say is the way it is, and not willing to give others a voice, and consider their thoughts on subjects.

Debate is good, but whining just takes the enjoyment out of hearing the views of others, laugh it off, this is the internet, just words, when all is done and dusted, you turn off your computer, you should leave it there, not let it spill over into your life enough to let it worry you, you still have your opinion.

You benefit from a site like this a lot more when you can take criticism, if it upsets you, nobody forces you to be here, give it a go, you may well be surprised.

It's a conspiracy site, not the school playground.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:38 PM

Originally posted by lightchild

Therefore I think ALL attacks are wrong; there is no need for anyone to attack any individual or group.

What constitutes an attack in your opinion?

Is it the use of certain words? (Like "evil" "hateful" "horrible" etc?) Or an overall negative tone?

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:41 PM
Hello out there!
I´m also relatively new at ATS and was recommended to the site by a friend.
I´ve noticed that theres a lot of spammers who doesn´t comply much to the treads and thats kind of irritating but besides that my own opinion is that whatever way ones beliefs points to it´s important to respect that fact.

For one thing its good! If everyone had the same opinion then how fun would it be?

On the other hand I get new opinions all the time with loads of angles I wouldn´t ever imagine.

The ability to shift your mind and view topics from the OPs angle enlightens your mind more.

And last, one ord....RESPECT!


posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:47 PM
Am I the only here who thinks that most people in this thread think it refers to someone else?

Just sayin'

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:47 PM
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

Generally attacks have insults attached.

I always try and look at the message and not the person who wrote it.
Attack the message and not the messenger.

Part of the problems seems to be peoples egos, they have to be right. Most of the time there is no wrong or right, there are just differences in opinions. If it was all that black and white there would be nothing to debate.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:50 PM
reply to post by SkepticOverlord

Thanks for clearing that up, the dude abides.

I may very well be guilty of that too, but the one that makes me laugh the most is

"Atheists being uptight over comments from the religious".

That is not to say I am personally attacking anyone when I say I find humor in how Atheists will attempt to defend their religion, it is funny. Ask Penn,

That man is a tool, a living, bonafide, tool. And it's not because he is an Atheist, it is that he goes headlong into contradiction every second of his life that he tries to "defend" his belief on non-belief. That is what is funny. So if someone like me laughs at, clearly, a rhetorical gaffe of asinine proportions, I am not a bad person for it and should not be reported to the authorities. I just have good sense of humor, add me as a friend and we will laugh about other stuff too.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:56 PM

Originally posted by Illusionsaregrander
What constitutes an attack in your opinion?

It's all in the wording. Intent also comes into play. Examples?

1- Can you be any more obtuse? Is this an inherent part of your personality?

2- Why is it not clear what civility and decorum means?


I think the first is pretty clearly a personal attack. The second says the same but it is not.

Does that help?

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 02:57 PM
reply to post by SkepticOverlord

Your doing a good job, keep up the good work.

posted on Mar, 29 2009 @ 03:01 PM

If you a member of a group and the poster knows this they can make a spineless attack of the group to get at you. This is wrong.

The "spinelessness" and "invertebrate" terms in the opening post were directed toward the trend for over-sensitivity we (staff) have been seeing in complaints. They are NOT used as an adjective to describe the kind of "attacks" that may or may not have occurred.

Any post that may contain language that could be interpreted as an "attack" toward a group will be considered within the context of the post, and with a spine. Terminology intended to be vicious may warrant action, whereas terminology that is simply intensely critical may not.

The whole point with this thread is help us all focus on what is being said and to reduce or eliminate the knee-jerks sensitivities that may cause us to focus more on a retaliatory reaction than much-needed contemplation.

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