“The Cult Of Offensive Moderation”
Note: I am in the process of creating a plugin for political moderation of debates, without censorship.
There is far too much censorship on debate sites and blogs. Especially censorship of in-group language. The sentiment of inclusion in Democratic Secular Humanism (our current religion in the west) is at odds with the change in our word-wide status and economic position as a polity. In-grop sentiments are becoming increasingly important again.
1) The strategy of moderating sentimental (non rational) expressions will not work, because it leads to regression – increasing sensitivity as a means of ostracizing people to the point where commenting becomes more an act of policing until the board declines. It increase the transaction cost of participation.
2) As someone who runs a large advertising agency that must help companies and groups understand ‘social interaction’, I spend a great deal of time trying to educate editorials that the ONLY thing people find interesting is CONFLICT. Talking head shows are either internally engaging in conflict (crossfire), or externally (oprah/hannity). Conflict leads to ratings and ratings to participation. WIthout conflict, in either a novel, sort story, or a talk show, there isn’t much to hold anyone’s attention. And the more attention that you hold (the more viewpoints included) the more likely one is to have a member of the audience identify with one of the participants, and become involved.
3) People learn by first identifying the SENTIMENTAL statements that they agree with, and then seeing those statements refuted. If you eliminate the religious nuts, or the racists, or the culture-ists, you’re actually killing off the social value as well as the attraction of your medium. Because all people operate by sentiments. They may learn to articulate those sentiments as mythology, as reason, as science, or as economics, but they are still, almost universally, articulating their sentiments – simply with a different degree of precision.
4) Personalities (contributors) cannot be allowed take over the board or its brand and become the show itself. That’s board-hijacking, rather than thread-hijacking. So if you have permanent troublemakers that begin to draw too much attention to themselves then it is better to heavily moderate them. But not because of the content and form of their arguments. You ban them because they dominate the conversation and make their own ‘show’ on your dime. Losing participants is dangerous for any medium. Even bad ones. Sanitizing a board usually ends up with no board at all.
5) Increasing the number of editors so that they split posts into new threads is better than banning or correcting. Remember – people are largely seeking attention for their niche fantasies. Ignoring people is the most effective means of negative reinforcement.
6) Sentiments (unarticulated expression) are the most common form of narrative. They are analogical arguments. Reason (to the degree that few people can actually articulate causal properties of categories), science (directly measurable subsets) and economics (indirectly measured supersets). Religion as we mean it, refers to scriptural command, or external non-human knowledge, in the monotheistic meaning. Polytheism and history are simply differences of degree. It is scripture.
7) it is particularly troubling to eliminate what is called hate-speech or inter-group expression of sentiments. That ‘s because the most important dialog of our age is the change in group sentiments now that the worldwide change in status and power hierarchies has come about because of the worldwide adoption of western economic and material technologies.
Editing and moderating are hard. It is very, very, difficult to ascertain the quality of an argument in the social sciences. We are fairly sure that the entire Marxist religion, masquerading as a political movement, is as irrational as the Islamic political movement masquerading as a religion, are both extremely dangerous to mankind. But since we live in a POLITY, and the member of that polity largely use SENTIMENTS rather than reason in debate, and that their beliefs and debates are highly influential upon the outcome (more than reason by a long shot), and that most people criticizing these sentimental arguments lack causal depth in their own arguments, then the best board, the best discussions, the best social outcome, is determined by keeping an argument on track, rather than censoring it.
An alternate solution, (and I have done a little work on this) categorizing posts in a debate as to whether they are 1) content free or off topic 2) sentimental expressions 3) mythical, Platonic, or scriptural reasoning 4) Objective rational arguments 5) scientific arguments (using survey data but which are very fragile in the social sciences) and 6) economic arguments (which because of scale and aggregation allow cultural comparison.) If you could filter conversations by these arguments, you would be able to stack them by methodology, and the reader could participate in a conversation of his own level of capacity.
Although, we should note, that as scripture, you will have a hard time actually arguing against catholic doctrine as it’s based upon natural law: the observation of what men actually do. WHich is, what appears to be, the general sentiment and strategy underlying most semi scientific argument on this board. (Which I admire).
If you want to argue using reason, the libertarian methodology will most likely lead you to correct conclusions. However, libertarianism consists of a set of branches, some of which do NOT correspond to reality, including 1) Rothbard’s principle of non-violence which is a silly argument, since the entire problem of social order is non-violence 2) free trade would lead in the end, to as state of affairs not any different from world-governance 3) libertarians have not included the cost-of-forgone-opportunities which is how we pay for the creation of some set of property rights, and therefore, failed to account for the cost of developing social order. As such, it’s a platonic fantasy counter to evidence.
Conservatism is the best strategy for preventing social destruction, revolution and un-meritous rotation of elites. It is very skeptical of power – power should be obtained by public service in the market, or in the military in the defense of the market. Any other grab at power is specious. That’s the sentimental origin of the western city-market building shareholder system we call ‘citizenship’. But conservative philosophy has not provided a solution to our vast increase in the division of knowledge and labor. It has not provided us with an updated set of institutions for the contemporary world.
And FWIW : Conservatism is largely an unarticulated sentiment that is more complex than left-liberalism, as conservatives rely on at least five axis the most important of which is group persistence, and liberals only one (harm/care). The combination of harm/care simplicity, egalitarian equality, Keynesian macroeconomic policy (statistics, full employment, liquidity) and democratic government, are ideal tools for competing with a sentiment thats primary purpose is to avoid hubris, and protect the group for the long term. In other words, consumption on the left versus capitalization on the right.
The balance between liberalism (Pareto’s Instinct for Recombination, or Machiavelli’s Foxes) and conservatism (Pareto’s Preservation of Aggregates, or Machiavelli’s Lions) is a necessary conflict between the forces of stability that must allow change, but not disruption, and those that desire change regardless of consequences – because both innovation and stability are valuable to a civilization This debate in sentiments is particularly useful because reason is insufficient for solving this problem, largely because we have failed to make the same progress in induction and the social sciences that we have in deduction and the physical sciences. Partly because the physical sciences are vastly less complex than the more heuristic social science governed by the properties of the human mind.
And just so we’re all living in rational reality not committing the error of confusing our own religion with neutral objective science, much of what is argued for on this board by well meaning products of our the past sixty years of western educational system, most often is doctrine of the RELIGION of Democratic Secular Humanism (which is a religion as it is contrary to the facts). Or of egalitarian equality, which is is a property of the Democratic Secular Humanist religion, and is also contrary to the facts. Or the assumption that freedom is the desire of the majority is counter to the facts.
That is, as long as we realize that people are racist, culture-ist, class-ist, nationalist, cultist, members of competing civilizations, and they all are, because they all act that way under DURESS, and that it’s advantageous both for elites and for the underclass to be ‘anything-ist’, and that these traits are beneficial to economic man, beneficial to individuals, and an enduring part of the human experience. And if one doesn’t think so, then truth isn’t one’s objective, platonism is. Truth is correspondence with reality.