Sunday, September 23, 2012

Random Stuff From The BookShelf

Inspired by the recent postings on Facebook in honor of International Book Week, I followed a slightly different procedure. Starting at a random spot on my bookshelves, I found the first three sentences from the second paragraph on page 52 and recorded it below.  Then I skipped three books on the shelf and found three more sentences in the same way.  If they relate in any way to the previous book, you'll see them here. Otherwise, I skipped that book and moved along until I found something that connected, until I had gathered the fifteen sentences, below.  I find the result surprisingly interesting. It doesn't prove much of anything, but I had fun revisiting some old friends on the bookshelves.

Choices between lies and truthful statements, therefore, exhibit the difficulties often thought to beset utilitarianism as a method for coping with moral conflict. But the problems mentioned so far might in principle be counteracted within utilitarianism. They need not invalidate the general effort to weigh factors in a moral problem. (1)  
Emotional appeals can also work as a way of supporting actual claims made in an argument. Quite often the emotion is laid atop logical propositions to make them stronger or more memorable. The technique is tricky, however. (2)  
Often, though, it is the most basic things that distract your audience. In 1954, humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow defined five basic human needs that we all try to satisfy in priority order. These five needs are: physiological. safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. (3)  
It is instructive to remind ourselves that professional persuaders, who realize that the public at large does not always behave rationally, try themselves to arrive rationally at the persuasive techniques they apply on the "non-rational" citizen. The advertiser who sells soap or cars carefully and objectively analyzes the public "taste", its whims and fancies, its buying habits, and carefully tailors his advertising to appeal to those "whims and fancies." (4) 
Give people reasons to listen. We listen to ideas that seem tied to our lives. We want to know why we should pay attention to someone else's words. (5)

(1) Lying, Sissela Bok
(2) Everything's An Argument, Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruskiewicz, Keith Walters
(3) Kruschev's Shoe, Roy Underhill
(4) Ethics of Speech Communication, Thomas R. Nielsen
(5) Public Speeking for Personal Success, Michael S. Hanna, Dick L. Stine, James W. Gibson

Monday, September 3, 2012

I Promise

May we please have less name calling and a little more open discussion?

  • If I think you are wrong, I will not call you names. I will not say that you are an idiot, or insane, or evil.
  • Your logic is probably sound. We start from different core values and first principles. We may have different loyalties. We base our conclusions on a different set of facts. 
  • I take none of these things as permission to attack you personally or to question your intentions. I won’t. I promise. I ask only for the same.
I hate it that I even felt a need to write this but if you spend any time at all on social media, especially Facebook, you've no doubt seen the steady stream, from both the left and the right, of goofy pictures, statements used out of context, rants with little substance, angry and hateful comments thrown at entire groups of good people because of a different idea about something, and so on, and on, and on. So far, the social media communication revolution has done very little to improve public discourse. It has simply made us more efficient muckrakers, complainers, and name callers.  Shame on us!

That's my opinion. If you have a different one, you're wrong. You're not stupid, or insane, or evil. You're just wrong. Let's discuss it.

k only for the same.