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aaronde comments on In Defense of Tone Arguments - Less Wrong Discussion

24 Post author: OrphanWilde 19 July 2012 07:48PM

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Comment author: aaronde 21 July 2012 06:44:58PM *  20 points [-]

I used to be a young-earth creationist. I was convinced that young-earth creationism was wrong by old-earth creationists. I was convinced that old-earth creationism was wrong by theistic evolutionists. I was convinced that theistic evolution was wrong, not by Dawkins, but by equally bombastic atheists before the God Delusion was published. I was never convinced of anything by mealy-mouthed atheists pretending to think that religion was a reasonable position that they just didn't personally agree with.

There is a case to be made for "easing people into it", when it comes to advocating ideas. That doesn't mean atheists should advocate Intelligent Design in an attempt to lure in YECs, obviously. And I think it would be equally ill-advised for people like Dawkins to pretend they see religion as anything other than transparently stupid and evil. Better to have the people who actually hold moderate positions advocating those moderate positions.

I don't think criticisms of tone are necessarily fallacious. But I am suspicious whenever anyone says "stop advocating your position so stridently, or you'll only drive people further away from your position", because such claims are usually unfounded, and often associated with sinister ulterior motives.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 24 July 2012 06:45:19AM -1 points [-]

Do you think it is ill-advised for homophobes to pretend to be okay with gay people? Are you okay with Klan rallies? Or does your support of people making their beliefs clearly, publicly, and loudly known extend only to beliefs you share?

Comment author: aaronde 24 July 2012 09:14:41PM *  7 points [-]

I'm glad you asked this.

I actually get really angry when I hear people mindlessly badmouthing the Westboro Baptist Church (the "God Hates Fags" people). I even get annoyed when I hear people defend WBC on free-speech grounds, because they always say the same thing: "Sure, I wish we could throw these people in jail, but gosh darn it, we gotta defend free speech!". As if the only reason we let people with odious opinions speak their minds is because of some slippery slope belief that otherwise we ourselves will be censored.

The truth is I'm grateful for WBC's honesty. I don't just reluctantly support WBC's right to free speech, while really wishing they would shut up. I wish they didn't hold the opinions they do, because I think they're wrong, but given that they do hold those opinions, I'm glad they're forthright about it. I don't think anyone would be better off if they kept their hateful views to themselves. Their children are arguably better off being exposed to mainstream culture, knowing how controversial their family's views are, rather than being quietly indoctrinated.

And yeah, I think it really sucks when homophobes pretend to be okay with gay people so they can push their agenda. Whenever you misrepresent your goals, in order to further your goals, you are tricking people. It's tempting, when you have some great revelation you think everyone should share, to think in terms of winning people over. But what if you're wrong? What if your manipulative talking points backfire? Imagine how much worse it would be, if Westboro Baptist Church had come up with some ingeniously subtle way to spread their message, that actually gained converts? Honesty is always the best policy, because it's self-correcting. I'm glad when people I disagree with loudly, publicly speak their opinions, for the same reason I'm glad when people I agree with loudly, publicly speak their opinions: it allows others to judge those opinions on their merits.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 24 July 2012 09:33:29PM 3 points [-]

I would prefer that homophobes (and other people with opinions) express their beliefs in some way other than, say, rudely interrupting funerals.

I don't think that the world in which that were reliably true would be worse than the one I live in.

Comment author: aaronde 24 July 2012 09:44:22PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, probably. But that's way more extreme than anything atheists do anyway. OrphanWilde was asking if I have a double standard, and I don't.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 25 July 2012 01:17:49PM -2 points [-]

I already have a judgment of the opinion of homophobes.

I agree with you on this for slightly different grounds; hatred grows in the dark, and shrivels up in the light. Which is to say, I don't see any particular value in agreement or disagreement or judgment, per se, but I do see value in the ability to offer counterargument. I might not be able to change the opinion of this particular person, but those who might grow to share their opinions otherwise.

(That being said, I wish -my side- would shut up most of the time, particularly on political matters. I have to put up with the reputation their nonsense engenders for us. Sturgeon's Law means free speech is best left for your opponents to hang themselves with.)

Comment author: aaronde 25 July 2012 04:41:22PM 1 point [-]

You're looking at this very strategically. You want people on your side to be more discreet, so that "your side" can "win". This seems inappropriate, because your side is defined by a set of beliefs, not a group of people. It's almost as if you want people with whom you share some beliefs, to help your side win, by promoting those beliefs while holding back their other beliefs.

For example, it sounds like you disagree with most self-identified rationalists/ atheists on political matters. If so, how are they on your side, anyway? They have their own agendas, which don't align perfectly with yours. So shouldn't you be glad that they've given you enough rope to hang them with?

Comment author: OrphanWilde 25 July 2012 04:48:31PM -2 points [-]

They hang part of my agenda along with themselves.

There are always casualties, but the more of my agenda I can salvage, the better.