The art of disagreeing (community guidelines)

(Justin Brown) #1

When I was studying international relations at the Australian National University, I was told a story that has stuck with me ever since.

The story was about Hedley Bull, a famous Australian scholar of international political economy. He developed a theoretical approach to international politics known as the English School.

It was in reaction to the dominant theoretical approach known as realism.

The details of these theories aren’t important to what I want to say here.

Rather, I’m interested in Hedley Bull’s thought process.

He was famous for successfully debating with his adversaries and putting the English School approach on the world stage.

Hedley Bull’s secret?

He says he would sit by the side of his opponent and study their ways of thinking. He would only debate with them once he could explain their perspective better than they could explain it themselves.

I would like Ideapod Discussions to be a place where we develop the skills of arguing with others in a way where the person doing the arguing becomes more enlightened in the process, just as the person we’re arguing with as well.

And crucially, I would like Ideapod Discussions to surface discussions where the reader becomes enlightened from reading it.

By “enlightened”, I don’t mean it in a spiritual sense. I just mean that we develop our understanding or become better informed in a general sense.

Ideapod’s purpose is to be a platform where people can be united in developing ideas (even when we disagree). I think this is important in an age when ideas polarize us.

As a platform, we’ve always had a strong emphasis on social ideas, or collective understandings. Concepts that shape how we think, who we think we are, where we believe we’re headed.

My own passion comes not so much from developing ideas but from unlearning ideas. Breaking down what we believe to be true.

I believe that the rapid destruction of one’s own ideas, while retaining a strong connection with a sense of self, is one of the most important qualities one can have in the modern age.

Ideapod is very much about going on an inner journey in order to engage with the world around you in a different way. It’s got strong self-development tones, along with sociology, psychology, politics and a few other disciplines. As a publishing platform, we publish commentary pieces that are meant to be discussed. As an education platform, our online courses focus on helping people “unlearn ideas” and “develop their personal power” in the process.

I wanted to share these brief thoughts, and ask the participants here to familiarize themselves with the community guidelines.

Most importantly, please make sure in discussions to focus on the ideas being communicated rather than the people communicating them.

Please try to be civil in conversations and learn from the person you’re in dialogue with. If you disagree, that’s great. Please make sure to communicate things you disagree with from a place of humility and politeness.

Ideally, I’m hoping that together we can steer this forum in a direction where we could see a conversation develop between someone who viscerally hates Trump and someone who idolizes Trump (to use an example of a divisive figure). In this example, I would consider Ideapod is successful if the two people were able to learn from each other, without necessarily needing to change their stance (though it would be nice if they each did in some small way).

If you see posts that aren’t consistent with the community guidelines and the general sentiments expressed here, please flag the post. I would really appreciate your help with this.

Finally, please “like” :heart: any topics or replies that you appreciate. This helps to surface those replies in the emails that get sent out to users each week when they haven’t logged in. It shows them what Ideapod Discussions is about and encourages them to come in and check it out, which will result in this place growing and having more minds to engage with.

I really appreciate all of the early users coming in here and shaping Ideapod Discussions. It’s a new initiative of Ideapod, and we’ll continue to use this platform to host conversations in different ways.

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(ACD) #2

Also let us try to root out silliness and intentional obfuscation of serious discussion.

(Justin Brown) #3

This sounds good. I think that the original creator of the topic should feel free to “curate” the conversation that ensues, so to speak. They should play a role in ensuring that the topic remains on track as they intended it when they started it. If “silliness and intentional obfuscation” occurs and it’s against the original intent, delete the comment or flag it.

If someone wants to take the conversation in a different direction, please use the “reply as linked topic” option as per the screenshot below.

(Please note: if you can’t see that option yet, you just need to keep on using Ideapod Discussions. The more you engage with others, the more features slowly become available to you).

(ACD) #4

Also, it seems to me that good will and common sense on the part of all involved goes a very long way. There should be a place for the community to communicate this to trolls who are giving themselves pleasure by attempting to wind up others and to derail otherwise useful conversations.

(Justin Brown) #5

Please flag the posts of “trolls” rather than attempt to shape people’s behaviors through responding to them. Often, attempting to govern other’s behaviors comes across as troll-like from the person who often has good intentions. So, just ignore it, flag it, or if you’re the original creator of the topic, delete it. But don’t respond to it.

(ACD) #6

I think that calling out anti-social behavior, which has nothing to do with expressing an opinion, serves a purpose. While riding a very congested train years ago, I heard a loud thud and the someone saying “Next time someone asks you to get out of the way, you will.” He had punched the person to whom this remark was directed in the face. No one said anything. He got off the train and presumably went on punching others.

“Mr. Ferrante, a furniture delivery driver, said he knew about Ms. Genovese from a college sociology class in which he learned about a term that grew out of the murder. ‘They call it diffusion of responsibilities,’ he said.”

If only someone looking on had shouted, “Stop!”

“It seems it was far less politically complicated to keep quiet.” — Baroness Cox, address on grooming gangs to the House of Lords, May 14, 2019.

(Justin Brown) #7

@acd, while it’s a good example in society, in these forums I’d prefer to just flag troll behavior or ignore it. Otherwise spats will emerge. I think it’s going to result in much better conversations and bring more people in. Let’s see what others think.

(ACD) #8

This is exactly the problem I identified when you first asked me about establishing a social media platform more than ten years ago. Yet, when a community deals with anti-social behavior in an authoritarian rather than a discursive manner, it risks becoming a cult.

(Bill Ames) #12

There are people who are so obviously wrong that it would be impossible to see their position from any rational perspective. These are not “crazy” people, they have just been given the false facts, and they believed them. It could be a cult, politics, or religion but wrong. How do you deal with them? We see them all around us, in the news, on the internet, trying to spread their terrible ideas to anyone they can manipulate.

(Justin Brown) #13

I suggest that instead of trying to agree with their position, you attempt to be able to explain why they believe whatever they believe, without trying to change what they believe. This will result in better discussions and we will all learn from each other in what we are putting forth here.

You could use the block quotes a little more regularly to engage with people. It helps to more directly engage with what they are saying so we can build an understanding together.

The purpose of these discussions is absolutely not to try and change soemone else’s perspective. I’m hoping that the materials we all create together may help someone reading these conversations go through whatever insightful experience is appropriate for them. Maybe it’s learning, maybe it’s becoming stronger in their current perspective. But the goal replying to someone shouldn’t be to try and change what that other person believes.