Musings from the Peanut Gallery

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[Last Update: 2011/04/07 – Grammatical and Stylistic Corrections, Meaning Unchanged]

Earlier yesterday at the local library, I was going over a cute little book I’d picked up on improving my verbal people skills.

Now, while I’m generally skeptical (what else?) of the usual sort of claims in most self-help books, I had a blast trying out some of the techniques (really just quick tips on how to make my point without coming off like an ass about it, a common issue with me, unfortunately) in it. The verdict?

Muahahahaha! They work! (I hope I didn’t just commit the pragmatic fallacy there. *sigh*)

Well, as far as I’m concerned, self-improvement is always a good thing, and while, as I’ve said elsewhere, I ain’t Carl Sagan, I can at least learn from the basics of his style, and it seems to me that a good portion of the man’s success as a communicator was the fact that he was just so damn likeable.

Me? Likeable? Shyah, right!

I can’t hope to emulate his style, being myself and not him of course, but I’ve learned a thing or two in the last couple of days that will help immensely in responding to new commenters on this site, including the occasional fringer and even would-be trolls.

One thing about that.

My…psychology…has some interesting cognitive properties, mostly really annoying ones, but I believe that many of those can be worked around as long as I acknowledge their existence, for an enemy that you won’t admit exists cannot be fought. But one you do acknowledge can have its butt kicked.

It appears as though I’ll be using several different ‘voices’ on this site, the presence and relative level of snarkitude depending on who and what I’m posting on, whether the post is critical of the subject or not, and a tone in comment responses for said posts less conducive to a hostile reaction by newcomers to the site.

We’ll see.

Ridicule will of course be used when appropriate, when it would be out of place to imply too much or any credibility to the subject under discussion, and you may expect to see the image below more often in future posts, despite my earlier objections to using it gratuitously.

Note that in my view, “stupid” or “idiotic” applies to ideas and claims relating to them, and I distinguish people from the ideas they harbor, for though I know of people who are clearly distressed or confused, maybe even delusional, in the same circumstances as they I might even come to believe the same things.

Now whether or not people distinguish themselves from their ideas is a different matter, and I can do nothing about that. Some take criticism too personally, but I see it as a necessity, in both directions.

But the point is, with me, criticism isn’t meant personally, even though that view may not be reciprocated.

When that’s the case, I’m afraid I can’t help them. It’s out of my hands.

Valid criticism keeps my head out of my backside and is one thing that makes science and skepticism so interesting to me, and that’s what makes posting on this site, and checking out new social media so much fun. Fnord.

3 thoughts on “Musings from the Peanut Gallery

  1. Yesterday at work I was accused in about five minutes of being both “passionate” and “schizophrenic” by the same person. First she was trying to argue that PETA essentially had a ‘lilly white’ reputation and was discounting their own tax records and the incident with the dogs behind the grocery, We without saying so basically agreed to disagree. Skip ahead five minutes, I return to her office and she noted I was talking to her about another item and some ‘work stuff’ like our previous conversation hadn’t even happened. She found this ‘very odd’ to a co-worker.
    It makes me wonder if the people who post to places like WP here and other blog sites are of a generally different mindset. I actually enjoy the mental gymnastics of thinking through problems and concepts.
    … … … … … … … …
    I am sitting here listening to Christofori’s Dream by David Lanz and thinking back over some of the discussions we have had in the past….
    You have posted more than once that “…extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence…” and I know that more than once I have posted a version of “….I know this isn’t going to change your mind…”. I guess that is my writing flag that I am getting into my mental Nymex siut, and I in the back of my not always clearly thinking head realize that my argument is not going to reach your standard. You have more than once replied with a comment that is ‘up a nothch’ in tone. Then afterward we still look forward to seeing each other in person later on.
    I think most of the people here on WP enjoy the mental parts of the exercise and that we are not just “…viscously venting all the time…” like my friend at work claimed earlier yesterday. More than once I have started reading your blog and wandered to somebody elses from your sidebar feeds.
    Well, it is now 0446 and my current little stint of insomnia has worn itself out. Later…. 🙂


  2. That graphic is used way too often. There needs to be variety in the thing.
    So if anyone will send me a scanner, a copy of Photoshop, and a “for dummies” level of tutorial, I’ll back up my words with actions!


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