What is your opponent trying to protect?

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Brendan Hodge of Darwin Catholic has shared his approach to judging and competing in this year’s Ideological Turing Test. He had planned to write a secularized version of himself in the atheist round, but revised his plans when he discovered that polyamory was a good deal more popular among libertarian atheists than he expected. So now I had a problem: It seemed like if I wanted to write a fairly mainstream atheist piece for the Turing Test, I needed to argue in favor of polyamory. However, I m … [Read more...]

One-Sided Turing Tests and Privilege

glass wall

Next week, the second half of this year's Ideological Turing Test opens, and, in the meantime, PEG has come up with an interesting connection between Ideological Turing Tests and what I like calling 'reverse dog whistles' (someone please help me come up with a better name).In rhetoric, a dog whistle is a way to say something that seems innoucuous to most of your audience, but carries a message to a core group of supporters.  Think of businesses that include a small Jesus fish in their ads, o … [Read more...]

Come Pick a Useful Fight with me in NYC

Oh, were we speaking of piercing rhetorical armor?  My mistake

This weekend, I'm in New York City for the alumni debate of my college group, and while I'm in town, I'll be giving a talk on productive ways to have arguments this Saturday (August 10th)  at an event cohosted by the NYC Less Wrong meetup group and Ergo (a rationalist group).Now, if by productive arguments, you mean quick and dirty ways to win, I think you may be a bit more interested in Words that Work or The Strategy of Conflict.  But when there's a difference of opinion, at least one of yo … [Read more...]

The Besetting Sin of Bloggers

magpie

Yesterday, Mark Shea posted a mea culpa about the way he's interacted with some of his ideological sparring partners.  And, for me, there was one part that really hit home: [M]y attitude toward Public Figures is much the same.  I tend not to see them as human beings, but as sort of semi-fictional characters.  People who don’t fully exist but who are In the News and therefore symbols or representatives of ideas.The upshot is this: Irony of ironies, a friend asked me today if I had contacted L … [Read more...]

Anyone have an ideological immersion course?

vous comprenez

Yesterday, Chris Hallquist put up a post in the Atheism channel titled "Everyone in America should fail to learn a foreign language" which I quite enjoyed, especially this section: So they can have the experience of failing to learn a foreign language. You can learn a lot from failing to learn a foreign language. You learn about how languages work. About the features of English you never thought about before even though they’re around you constantly. About the ways in which English did … [Read more...]

Four Tips for Public Speaking

debate-rostrum

During a call for post topics, I signed up to write a post on speaking tips for LessWrong, which is up today.  I thought it might be fun to cross-post here.  Most of it is tailored to talking, but it can be applicable to writing anything from comments to posts.  I've done a fair amount of debate and murderboarding (helping people prepare for interviews) so these are the four tips that help the people I've talked to have the most marginal improvement:Fortissimo! Don't apologize for ta … [Read more...]

Can We Play Not-Nicely Better, Please?

And speaking of sparing feelings without pulling punches, there's been a donnybrook going between Tom McDonald (Catholic) and Hemant Mehta (atheist) and JT Eberhard waded in yesterday.  I'm not planning to tag in exactly, but I would like to suggest that they have a slightly different fight.Both Tom's original post mocking atheism and Hemant and JT's rejoinder seemed pitched particularly to their own sides, so, even though the posts got pretty heated, it has kind of the effect of a flurry of … [Read more...]


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