No. of Recommendations: 3
vtnaevh said in #4519 << When people publish messages they need to keep in mind what assumptions people are going to make when they read them. And when people read messages, the need to realize that the writer might not have used the perfect language to get his message across to every Tom, Dick, & Harriet. I guess it's too much to expect everyone to keep an open mind. >>

I believe the above statement says something important about how to approach public message boards as both a contributor and a reader. It is both idealistic and naïve in its call for a presumption of good will and intellectual honesty. Call me a Fool, but I happen to agree with Eric's statement -- including, unfortunately, the sad truth in its last sentence: "I guess it's too much to expect everyone to keep an open mind."

Spirit replied in #4522 << I disagree...most people don't make wild assumptions based on a few words plucked out of a paragraph. How can any author write and be responsible for a biased assumption some reader wants to cast on a few select words? Maybe we need to teach the Tom, Dick and Harriet to read the entire article or post before assuming anything. :) >>

I agree that it would be good if we could teach people to read the entire article, and background articles, or the entire post, or thread, before assuming anything. We're talking about context here, which is not only a good thing, it may well be the only thing.

I also agree that authors -- if there are to be authors -- have only limited responsibility for, and limited ability to prevent, a biased reading of their original words; the biased presentation of their words, selected and taken out of context; the biased presentation of their ideas, paraphrased and "interpreted" by others; and the cumulative results of all that. That's life in -- if you'll excuse the expression -- the marketplace of ideas.

I also agree that "most people don't make wild assumptions based on" actions such as I just described.

Unfortunately, it doesn't require "most people," or the making of "wild assumptions," to pollute an information environment. It takes only a small quantity of the right combination of incentive, will, "élan," and the ability to construct credible untruths; and an audience with a complementary incentive to believe, and insufficient will or energy to think for itself. At their intersection, the "wild assumption" is domesticated as a pet, while good will dissolves and intellectual honesty prostitutes itself as an expert witness at the witch trial.

Anonymity and money have a way of doing that.

Beware flatterers and reassurers.

Watch the parking meters.

Click on.


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