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The creeping virus of "polemics"

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posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:06 PM
Hello, my friends. Yes, this is yet another "what's happening to ATS" type thread. Here, I'd like to deal with with a trend I see increasingly on ATS. I'm calling it "polemicization" or the "increased use of polemics" for want of a better word, but this is perhaps not a perfect match for the more subtle trend I've been noticing.

The way it works is something like the following:

Poster A: points out a trend he/she finds interesting, noteworthy, or just "grok-worthy." ("hey, check this out...XYZ happend...pretty unusual, no?")

Poster B: Immediately assigns a political/religious/social stance to Poster A that Poster A may or may not have, and begins to attack. ("You used the word "XYZ." Only [liberals]/[conservatives]/[members of such-and-such religion]/ use that word. Why do you support that ridiculous trend?"

Poster A: "Relax man, I just thought it was an interesting story and I wanted to see what people thought. I have no strong political or religious beliefs, and frankly I can't see the direct relevance to this topic."

Poster B: "Yeah sure, ya filthy rat. It's YOUR movement that is destroying the world."

...following which the thread turns into a black-and-white, cartoonish, clowns-bopping-each-other-the-head political or religious pigfight having little to do with the content of the OP's post.

I find this frustrating and spreading rapidly. People try to turn non-political or non-religious threads into the same old tired arguments. It's seemingly not acceptable anymore to just toss out interesting info, marvel at it, ponder it, and roll it around in the collective ATS psyche without making any inferrences. No, now everything is reduced to crude polemical battling. The interesting and nuanced intention behind the original post is ignored and the thread is hijacked because somebody happens to use a certain word or express a certain line of thinking that somebody else can't stand.

It's like some posters presume that others have some "hidden agenda" when all they are really doing is speculating or savoring a unique view. Where is the "awe" and the wonder that allows people to just play with ideas and see where it leads them? This open-ended, exploratory mentality seems eclipsed by the "polemical" mind, that comes to every thread with an axe to grind and has already decided on the truth. No exploration or speculation tolerated: only vicious arguments designed to advance such-and-such an ideology.

I hope this makes sense...the phenomenon is hard to describe, at least for me, but all too apparant, both on and off ATS. So what can we do? Nothing, really, except be more aware of it. Which is why I'm throwing this up there.


Silent Thunder

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:10 PM
Yeah, it's annoying and has been around forever. I actually think it's getting less vitriolic lately though. Which is a surprise seeing as we're so close to an important election. Members are starting to ignore the trolls and the discussions have been a lot better imo.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:21 PM
Ya soon learn who you can discuss things with, who you can argue with and who to ignore.......
A thick skin is required for membership.
You dont suppose some of these posters are paid disinfo agents or political etc type hacks who do it for the party?

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:22 PM
reply to post by intrepid

That's a nice positive outlook.

I hope you are correct.

I expect an influx of "noobs" from the ATS-on-Facebook thing. That will be good for ATS in the long run but I expect a lot of the trolling and choppy waters will be coming from newer members who are used to crasser, more unpolished interactions.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:24 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

Then it's up to us older members to maintain civility and show them the ATS way. Not fall from it and make the board a morass of bickering.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:32 PM

Originally posted by stirling
You dont suppose some of these posters are paid disinfo agents or political etc type hacks who do it for the party?

I keep hearing about these paid disinfo agents and I get so sad and jealous...Can someone please tell me where I can go to get paid to be a disinfo agent? I am begging to get recruited here. Sign me up!

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 04:32 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

Hello silent thunder, I agree with what you say and I also agree with intrepid that there seems to be less of it lately. Maybe some of those threads about trolling or attacking posters had an effect.

I think what you mention is just human nature, but it can be influenced or de-influenced by how people respond. The proverbial " don't feed the trolls" is still effective imo. I have made it a personal challenge to address criticism with tact and openness. If it get's us nowhere, then move on and let the skin grow thicker. People learn from example so let us all try and maintain some decorum and maybe it will continue to reverberate(including newbies) making a change for the better.


posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 05:00 PM
I think that society teaches us from an early age to label people. After all, they want us to fight with each other rather than us fighting with them. It is an old and effective tactic.

I even find myself doing it sometimes and i have to stop and think about it. Its easier to just throw a label on someone and try discredit what their saying if you dont agree with them rather than consider them being right, and you being wrong.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 05:52 PM

Originally posted by intrepid
reply to post by silent thunder

Then it's up to us older members to maintain civility and show them the ATS way. Not fall from it and make the board a morass of bickering.

If I'm honest Intrepid - I think this is part of the problem. Not only have a sadly large number of open-minded and experienced members left the site, I've also noticed a marked deterioration in the posting quality and general behaviour of those left behind who should know better. Myself included. I've allowed myself to respond to so many people in a combative fashion that I seem to accomplish little in exposing these fools for what they are through concise and civil debate.

There is denying ignorance, and then there is denying the IGNORANT.

This site isn't bad at the first one, but is VERY POOR at the second point. I don't use my ignore button, as that precludes info agglomeration. But it doesn't half do my head in dealing with the consequences of that.


posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 06:28 PM
There are certainly intentional disinfo agents here. As to whether they're paid -- I guess so, who knows. The reader has to learn to spot the tactics and discount them. Unfortunately that takes a lot of work, which the disinfo agents will continue to require. I'm sure they are not going away. They're determined, and any attempt to identify them can be strung out or twisted around. I don't have any good advice for the site admins about this.

They don't use bad words and appear to be generally reasonable. Indeed sometimes they act so stupid they incite people to insult them, then they can act all wounded. On the other hand, if people are ignoring them, some will even throw in little provocations and insults to roil the waters instead. Some are just trying to suck down the energy of certain others, I think.

The ignore button is a useful tool. I've got some people on ignore. It amounts to writing them off. Yes indeed, I've done it, and I feel no remorse. I doubt I'll be taking them off ignore in the future. If they change, maybe I'll get to know them again in a future life.

I could name specific threads and people who are guilty of tactics I describe above; if admins want to U2U me about it I'll provide that detail regarding my opinion.

posted on Aug, 31 2010 @ 07:39 PM
I had to look up polemic.

I do know what you mean, silent thunder, and I have been frustrated by it many times, too. And I agree with Intrepid that it ebbs and flows over time. I've seen it a lot worse than right now.

The only way a forum could avoid this 'virus' would be to have someone (or maybe a panel) decide who contributes enough quality substance in their posts to be granted membership. I'm not advocating this for ATS, but sometimes I think it would be a neat place to hang out and have really good informal debates. I do know of some boards on the Internet that keep a close eye on the quality of their membership and toss anyone that doesn't fit their criteria. But I don't think I'd want to be a member. They'd probably toss me.

IMO, The best thing to do is ignore the posts that hijack and provoke and post the best quality stuff that relates to the OP. If a thread gets out of control, leave it and look for something else. I don't always do that, but I think it's the best thing.

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 06:18 AM
I think in the main its important to realise that there are things one can do to avoid a thread becoming a victim to the mind cancer which has afflicted the site on occasion.
First, where ever appropriate, start a thread with a little background, and a little information on where OP is comming from, then make the point. This provides an understanding of the OPs veiwpoint, and understanding where people are really comming from is a hefty dose of the context people require in order to respond to the substance of the post or point made.
Second, where this measure fails utterly to disuade vitriolic and unhelpful posters , it may be nessacary to have a little discipline. Obviously everyone knows its a bad idea to feed the trolls, but when you get threads turning into battle fields, it falls to expirienced ATS members, and the OP themselves, to try thier damnedest to steer the discussion somewhat, away from confrontational positioning, and toward a better understanding of the subject matter.
Third. There will be posters who refuse to take part in sensible and constructive debate, who believe that the best way to contribute to a thread is to lay waste , and set about them with personal attacks and blanket statements, flag waving , and general ignorance. The only realistic way to avoid these people becomming a problem, is for everyone on the boards to understand the basic principles of the ignore button. Ok sure, the hate and anger posts will remain on the board, but you wont have to see them, and those who have come here to discuss and debate with reason rather than nuclear hatred, will know the difference between persons you can rationalise with, and persons who have that " I just want you all to die, so so bad" attitude. Trust your fellow members to discern between useful comment and outrageous ignorance. This allows for two results:
One) Problem posters either learn the ways of ATS , by seeing the intellect in the posts of those who know the way, or will shuffle off someplace else because they havent the mental fortitude to contribute.
Two) The problem poster will get so enraged by his or her own ineptitude that they slip up and get thier posts removed, or in serious cases, banned in general.

I guess to summarise, dont let it be your problem. So what there are more douchebags than some of us remember! We arent douchebags, and thats what counts. Let the ignorant ones look after themselves and gain insight in the hope that they are enlightened. The rest will fall by the way side given time.
Dont worry , be awesome!

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 07:55 AM
I'm a disinfo agent,
my agency gave me permission to say to all of you that we are real,
but that does not matter, because it is impossible to spot us, not knowing our tactics.

Too bad i see no complaints about the total useless and crapy threads wich ATS is full of. Come on, do you really think there would be disinfo agents here on ATS? This is an exagerated overestimation, because there is no need for disinfo agents on ATS, the user generated disinfo is more the enough.

[edit on 1-9-2010 by ProdigalSon]

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 08:12 AM
I find that ATS is a buffet of sorts...

Pick and choose wisely, and you can enjoy a wonderful meal here.

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 08:33 AM
There are options.

1. Politely ask those posters to return to the topic.
2. Report off topic or rude posts.
3. Ignore button.

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 08:47 AM
I try for the most part to live my life around a Farmers Almanac kind of age old wisdom of adages and sayings, things like “No man is an island”.

Because I believe no one real person is a true stand alone totally independent entity and that all of us are codependent to one extent on another for our survival in life, and success in life, I know that people conspire with another to be mutually supportive in that regard and towards that end.

Sometimes they conspire innocently with the best of intentions sometimes conspire not so innocently and with not so good intentions.

So I am one of those accursed posters who believe everything is a conspiracy as a result that people will sometimes chide and say “Proto not everything is a conspiracy you know”.

Of course I strongly disagree with that premise which is why I have chosen a conspiracy site for alternative news and to converse and network online.

Now I point that out simply because yes I believe based on “No man is an island” that there is always some kind of conspiracy involved be it harmless or not so harmless.

Some posters who are religious in nature and believe God created everything and control everything and see everything and steers everything around a predestined course that no matter how people conspire is bound to come to pass do see everything from a religious angle.

To these posters everything is about religion, very similar, yet of course very different to my own view that everything involves some kind of conspiracy.

Politics it would seem is very much about people who are not an island then conspiring with one another often to convince the religious to do something in stark opposition to what their religious texts teach them.

Sure Jesus said turn the other cheek and the meek shall inherit the earth but let me explain good folks of the dale and valley why we are going to go to war against and annihilate those godless city slickers and why God is actually going to approve of this.

Politics which some people argue is about 85% of not ending up an isolated island unto oneself is about forging a consensus of opinion that creates a like minded mass that can not only grant absolution for the people who believe everything is about religion now abandoning it in part for the sake of a politically minded herd seeking safety and security and power through the sheer numbers of people in the herd.

So as people do conspire since no one is an island, and so many of them are influenced by God and religion, and then explaining and quantifying why its often desirable or seemingly necessary to step out of it’s tenets, edicts and confines does then cause some people to believe everything is about the politics of one herd or another.

It’s almost a chicken and an egg story, what came first, God or people conspiring to create notions of it, for the politics of creating a like minded and powerful herd?

Because these three things conspiracy, God/religion, and politics seem to be a fixed mainstay of our earthly existence, most of us do fall into one of those categories of either everything is a conspiracy, or everything is about God/religion, or everything is about politics.

Once again nothing is an island, and without people conspiring politically to make God and religion a kind of central focal point and form of compass and guide, well we probably wouldn’t have such a central focus of what God and religion is that causes people to conspire politically to evoke it and abuse it to create their herds and then be forced to employ politics to justify the herds action and entice people to join it.

The swell news is when politics don’t work they resort to war!

Sometimes its an information war and not one of guns, bombs and bullets but that politicized propaganda meant to justify their actions that are in stark opposition to what God/religion proclaims is the way to live, while keeping an eye and a mind on how to explain this deviation as something God very much would believe is alright in relation to these circumstances so that God and religion always has a powerful place in their herd, which is not an island, but a like minded group of people conspiring.

Hence Proto does believe everything really is a conspiracy!

Since almost everyone who has a herd wants to use God/religion and maintain God/religion as some kind of a trump card, with most bristling at the notion of having to give up that powerful motivating tool, justifier and absolution grantor I think things will remain being polemic.

As long as these notions and manipulations of God and religion are prevalent it does allow many if not the vast majority to not take responsibility for their own actions proving not only that no one is an island, but no one really wants to be.

As long as we can blame it on the other guy, and claim a moral authority and justification through the political manipulation of God and religion, that is sadly what most people will choose to do.

Hence the fun war torn world of cruelty and indifference that no one wants to be responsible for, yet everyone is responsible for, that no one is responsible for as long as anyone can claim it’s God’s will for the sake of politics of a herd that wants to dominate.

Someone let me off this ride please, because in reality all it does is go round and round and round and round, with no one knowing where it stops, because thanks to God, Religion and Politics no one wants it to stop unless they are in the absolute dominant herd.

It never will stop until we can actually address the root of it.

Which politics and religion are both designed to assist one another to see that never happens!

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 09:07 AM
To some extent the polemics here are just a reflection of the larger society today; thanks in no small part to the conservatives who seem especially fond of using hyperbole and emotion to sway public opinion. The evangelists use the same strategies in religion.

I have found that the best tactic is to consistently reply in such threads with considerate, moderate, and kindly worded answers or questions. This usually bores those who want only to fight and they go away.

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 09:21 AM
reply to post by wayno

I was just about to agree with wayno until I found that he only made it 23 words into his post without falling right into the same tired trap. I'm going to assume he's being facetious (no one could possibly be THAT dense). But I will agree with his first sentence.

It is refelcting a trend in the population at-large. Critical thinking is hard. People can't be bothered. It's much easier to parrot something they hear than it is to read sometime complex articles to form a cohesive opinion. It seems people need to distill things down to the most basic level in order to deal with them. Even if that means totally losing the factual basis of the argument. The my-team-is-better-than-your-team mindset is primal and often the most some people can muster. To a large degree that is a primary reason why we're circling the drain at the moment.

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 09:37 AM
When people are taught that one way of thinking is correct or never given a proper education on the definitions of opinion and perspective, everyone wants their own way and nobody is willing to understand the necessity of balance and compromise.

Shortly thereafter we as human beings begin to resemble our chimpanzee cousins: screeching and flinging our poo at one another.

(Funnily enough that was usually enough evidence of evolution for me.)

posted on Sep, 1 2010 @ 10:02 AM
reply to post by intrepid

I would just like to say that your avatar makes me feel uneasy. WHY ARE HIS BOOTS GOING ERECT WHEN HIS CLAWS SHINK OUT!?

I have nothing to say relevent to this topic. But I agree with the OP

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