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My recent experiences on ATS.

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posted on Jan, 17 2011 @ 09:26 AM
I prefer to think of this more as a general expression of concern and dismay than an angry rant. Anger doesn't really enter into it. Frustration? Yes. Certainly. Disappointment? Sure. And a little sadness, as well.

Anyone who has read my posts, I hope, should realize that I am a strong proponent of skeptics and believers (if you even choose to adhere to those labels) getting along. I am not derisive of people or ideas. If I don't agree with someone, I say so, but I always make sure I add that I respect everyone else's views. When something is uncertain or not yet proved to be fact, I still acknowledge it as a possibility despite remaining skeptical (which is not the same as asserting that something is or isn't true or real, which I do not do without proof.) I say that not to pat myself on the back, but just to underscore the fact that I believe in honest, respectful, civil, and if at all possible, friendly dialogue, even between those who disagree, and that I believe in being as patient as possible, and giving people every benefit of the doubt, always. The reason for that is simple. If we're here to try to find the truth about something - anything, regardless of what it may be - then communication is one of the most if not the most powerful tools in our arsenal toward that end. I'm not going to learn anything by making assumptions or yelling at people in my opinion.

Therefore, with that in mind, I unfortunately have to admit that my recent experiences on ATS have begun to disappoint and frustrate me. I only mention it at all because those experiences, more and more, seem to be part of an expanding trend. A trend which was, at least in my experience, not in evidence over six years ago when I joined this site. (At least not to this degree.) I'm not talking about just the last few weeks or months, but the last year or more. I can reduce those experiences into three basic thread types (although I'm sure there are more.)

1) The Hit and Run Thread. In this thread, someone posts a premise or theory, and asserts it as fact. They may or may not offer evidence to support it. They will doggedly defend this theory or premise as fact against all skepticism, often offering sources which they claim provide proof of the claims. When thoroughly researched however, this theory or premise is found to be unsupported by evidence, and the sources of the evidence they claimed existed turn out to be dead ends, or unsubstantiated assertions made by individuals on the web or elsewhere. It remains a possibility, and as I said, I will never assert that something is not true or real without proof. However, the topic creator will, when faced with this lack of evidence, then stop replying (often after arguing for their position for many pages, and receiving many, many stars and flags, elevating the thread to the front page of the site, crowding out other topics.)

Despite making it clear that I or others are not discounting the possibility and are not attacking the topic creator, the lack of evidence is never acknowledged, and they simply vanish (often to start up another similar thread in the future.) This is not to say that someone isn't free to post or not post, let alone in their own thread. Of course they are. I've created topics that I stopped posting in, or which simply died out. But I've never just ignored evidence or the lack thereof presented if it conflicted with my views. This is frustrating.

2) The Potentially Mentally Unstable Threads. This is a very touchy subject, for obvious reasons. Having a radically different worldview, unusual experience, extreme beliefs, etc. does not make someone crazy. I think that there needs to be a very, very, very high threshold when even considering someone's mental stability, especially based solely upon someone's words on the internet. However, there are some threads - especially in light of recent tragic events - that I don't think raising the possibility would be unreasonable in. Philosophical, religious, political, emotional, cerebral, and intellectual differences - of which I am extremely tolerant and even celebratory - notwithstanding, some people's writing here at times clearly meet the criteria for representing possible signs of serious mental illness.

I am not being a close-minded skeptic who thinks conspiracy theorists (of which I am one, incidentally) are crazy. I am trying to be very careful to avoid that interpretation of what I'm saying here. I'm just saying that, in my opinion, certain threads here - not the norm, by far - may indicate the possibility of mental illness, and I think it's reasonable and responsible to raise that possibility in those threads. Unfortunately, no matter how gently you introduce that notion, even when careful to remind the individual in question that you do not think they are mentally unstable, but are merely raising the possibility, people tend to be highly defensive about this. The result is usually that they outright ignore or dismiss you, and plow ahead with their (to me at least) frighteningly disjointed discourse. This is saddening and frightening.

3) The Incredible Leap Thread. In this thread, the topic creator asserts that a connection exists between myriad subjects, places, objects, people, and events. They provide no evidence for this save for tenuous coincidences such as similar or identical names. Nevertheless, in their mind, the association and correlation between these disparate factors is self-evident, requiring no further explanation or specificity. When requesting further elaboration, they simply respond that if you cannot see the puzzle pieces falling into place, then you must be ignorant, close-minded, or blind. When clarifying that you are not discounting the possibility that they are correct, but merely ask that they explain how these things are connected, they dismiss you as not having examined their evidence (even if you confirm that you have.)

It would be one thing if they made an earnest attempt to explain further and I simply failed to comprehend it. In that case, I would concede that it was simply above my head or beyond my capacity to understand fully. That isn't what I'm talking about, though. I'm talking about a potentially incredible leap being made to a conclusion and a persistent expectation that everyone simply make the same leap, with no further explanation, description, or specificity. Sometimes a laundry list of links purporting to provide evidence will be provided, but after perusing them yields no clear correlation between them, requests for further clarification are shot down summarily. Needless to say, this is highly frustrating and disappointing as well.

It is my sincere hope that I haven't offended with the above posts. I have avoided specifically referring to individual posters, because 1) I don’t believe that’s right, and 2) anyone who reads this and thinks I'm talking about them should be aware that they are not the only ones by a long shot. This has happened many, many times over the last year or so. Recently, it seems to be proliferating and accelerating, however. It is not my intention to offend, belittle, condemn, or invalidate any person, belief, position, theory, thought, idea, or feeling. As I said when I began this thread, and as I always try my best to reiterate as often as I can, I respect everyone's opinions and feelings. I am not telling anyone that they are wrong. Nor am I suggesting anyone abandon their beliefs, or that they are mentally unstable, wrong, or irrational. I am simply expressing my own personal frustration, disappointment, and frankly, sadness, at the nature of certain discussions lately. Or, more to the point, the lack of discussion; the cessation of meaningful and considered conversation in favor of instead ignoring the mere suggestion of other possibilities.

If I am willing to entertain even the most unusual of claims, is it so much to ask that people making such claims consider in turn those alternative possibilities raised by skeptics who try their best to be open-minded, considerate, and polite despite their skepticism? I think believing in something - even something that hasn't been proved - can be a rewarding and even beautiful thing, as well as a useful tool. It's a different mode of thought and logic. But there is a reason belief is distinguished from fact, and the refusal to even acknowledge the possibility of being wrong about a belief - especially when the one suggesting that possibility is actively entertaining the possibility that your belief may be reality - is a frustrating and disappointing turn of events that seemed much less prevalent when I first joined the site. There was a time when skeptics and believers could have stimulating, vigorous, thought provoking, friendly conversations and exchanges of ideas. Lately that seems to be on the decline, though. I hope I'm wrong.

This was the only forum I felt this was appropriate to post in. Thank-you for reading, and peace.
edit on 1/17/2011 by AceWombat04 because: Sentence in wrong location due to spellcheck editing.

posted on Jan, 17 2011 @ 09:39 AM
reply to post by AceWombat04

I have respected your posts as well as admired the way you go about things.
For that reason I have enjoyed reading what you post including the post I am replying to.
Take care and have a great day.

For the record...I agree with you.

posted on Jan, 24 2011 @ 05:02 PM
I appreciate that. Lately my disappointment and frustration level with certain topics has begun to exceed my faith in ATS.
I don't want to generalize, and I wouldn't mind really because I know there are also honest, forthright members who can acknowledge different views and evidence contradicting their beliefs. (And who can and do challenge me to change or expand my own!) But for some reason, lately, it seems that the kinds of threads I'm talking about are the ones with the most stars and flags. I wouldn't mind that either, except that that means they're the ones higher on the forums and the ones with the most traffic.

It's just very frustrating, and not how I remember ATS being when I joined. Maybe I had rose colored glasses on, then. Am I just looking at this the wrong way? Input and perspective would be appreciated.

Peace and thanks.

posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 07:32 AM
reply to post by AceWombat04

I have noticed that as well and have voiced my frustration about in private to another member.
I remember when I was new to the site and every day I would be freaking out at the topics because they were just blowing my mind.
What I see now is the same insanity but from a more mature perspective.
Now those same topics make me chuckle and roll my eyes.
It made me realize that the thing that frustrates me now is just part of the cycle of being a member....I used to be exactly what I am frustrated about now.
In a year or 2 the newer members today will be matured and frustrated by the newer members ruining their ats experience.
It is a cycle.

I tend to pick my battles with members that can be mature and polite and can be openminded enough to accept a good debate instead of sticking their fingers in their ears screaming LA LA LA LA LA I am right and you are wrong.

posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 08:50 AM
You're right, of course. Maybe I should just take a break until the cycle swings back the other way. Thanks for the perspective.

posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 10:38 AM
You should take the attitude of not caring about subjects that do not interest you.

Just open threads you think you may want to view.

posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 11:56 AM
reply to post by andy1033

I do. Why would I open a trhead I have no interest in? But often times they end up being the kinds of threads described in my first post, unfortunately. After today I'm taking a break from ATS, though, to let some time pass.


posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 12:04 PM
reply to post by AceWombat04

Nothing wrong with taking a breather and coming back with a fresh outlook.

posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 02:25 PM
Let me see if I have this straight. You don't like threads where the OP fails to prove his point and eventually abandons it rather than take more of a beating. You don't like threads where you discern the OP is potentially mentally unstable. You don't like "logical leap' threads where people jump to conclusions based on little or no evidence. And all this makes you frustrated and sad.

I'd guess that leaves you less than a dozen threads to choose from on ATS, then. It's the nature of the site. My advice?

posted on Jan, 25 2011 @ 08:12 PM

Originally posted by schuyler
It's the nature of the site.

LOL @ the video.

But, it wasn't always the nature of the site. Not to this degree. When I first joined this site, sure there were the heated flame wars and hoaxes you'd expect on any website. But the majority of featured topics were constructive, thoughtful discussions where people who disagreed with each other could politely discuss their differences, and actually entertain others' positions as being possible. Now skeptics are automatically labeled closed-minded, and believers are automatically talked down to or called crazy whether there's evidence of that or not.

Another thing that's changed is that ATS used to be my primary source for news. That may sound crazy, but I'm not kidding. There was a time when ATS would be filled with news stories on the front page, hours, and sometimes days, before the mainstream media got them. Now the front page is crowded with the kinds of topics I'm referring to, or news already reported elsewhere extensively. Or the one thousandth prediction thread which, being someone who tries his best to be an open minded skeptic, I am required to at least entertain as possible - and I always say so, going out of my way not to leap to conclusions or make assertions about its legitimacy - but which then inevitably never comes to pass, before being abandoned by its author.

And yes, that does make me sad and frustrated. Seeing things I love change in ways that are painful to behold tends to do that to me.

Anyway. Now begins my break from ATS. I'll be back in a few months to see if things have improved. Peace, and I'm grateful for people's replies. Have a great year, anyone reading this.
edit on 1/25/2011 by AceWombat04 because: typos

posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 11:58 AM
I just found this AW, after reading your post about a "racially motivated crime".

I'm pretty new to ATS... and I understand your above expression exactly. I find some gems on ATS, but it's not unlike the spring cleaning of the holding pond at my friends farm... lots of s**t, and you have to wade through it to get to the good stuff.

I have read almost nothing of your posts, just a couple of them, and it is clear if I met you randomly out in public and we were introduced, I would be really impressed by what a good person you are.

I absolutely LOVE meeting people who are thoughtful, considerate and have a handle on something like a humble walk on the journey of life.

I tend to be more reactive and hot headed at times, and knocked off my heart based moorings by silly a** stuff... but I aspire to be like people I meet that are kind and compassionate. I'll keep working at it.

Though it's a full 6+ months since you originally started this thread... it is clear that your presence in this venue is a blessing to those who read what you have to say about the things human that matter. You comments touched me today... certainly in their clarity, but more in the spirit of love, kindness and compassion that you make an effort to share with your fellow travelers on the road of life.

Good on you my friend and human brother. Thanks for your efforts and fine example of what it is to be a human being.


posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 11:55 AM
Well, as I mentioned above, I took a break from ATS for a month or two, then came back. I regret to report that it's time for me to leave again.

I love ATS, and I respect the opinions and beliefs of everyone here. I really do. But my experience in this topic (just read my posts on that page, and the following page; please note how I go out of my way to try not to offend anyone and to express my respect for others' opinions) is a text book example of what I was talking about when I created this topic. And it's only the most recent example.

Therefore, sadly (for me at least) I'm departing ATS and I'm not certain I'll be back this time. I will continue to use it as an information resource in a discerning, careful manner, but I see little benefit to myself or anyone else in taking part in discussions here any longer personally. I say that with no anger or enmity. Just resignation.

As I said I respect everyone's beliefs and opinions. I will go farther than that, in fact, by reiterating what I said in the "I Love You" topic someone created a while back. I actually love everyone here, regardless of whether I agree with them.

I wish anyone who sees this continued learning, growth, peace, fulfillment, and happiness, whatever that may mean for you.

That's all I have to say.

posted on Aug, 23 2011 @ 09:11 PM
Starred, flagged and in total agreement.

I may do the same, just read the occasional thing and not contribute because even though that shiny gold thing on my posts seems cool to strive for through intelligent discussion, it seems there are too many shills, anti-Semites and pro-terrorist supporters who seem to think that rioting, looting and killing are good and freedom and democracy are evil and should never happen ever yet are those who complain and bitch that they'd fight an oppressive government at the drop of a hat.

Fools, the lot of them.

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