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How to Avoiding Arguing in Bad Faith in 13 Steps


It is easy to assume the worst in people when discussing politics, philosophy, religion, or any other heated topic in person or online. This type of blatant cynicism leads to hostile interactions that needlessly interfere with the quest for truth. So, in an attempt to shift the narrative in online and personal communication, a couple members of the Reddit community put together a great list on “how to avoid arguing in bad faith.” Read it and let us know in the comment section what you think. Certain points were edited for clarity.

Thus begins the list of things to avoid:

Number 1: Asserting with certainty things that are open to question. For instance, “I know Jesus is god and any claim against that is untrue,” or the contrary “I know Jesus is not god and any claim against that is untrue.

Another instance would be, “Government officials always have our best interest in mind,” or the contrary “Government officials are all evil.”

Number 2: Responding to objections to these assertions with mere repetitions and/or restatements without giving consideration to the objections. For instance, saying “I have considered your claims and don’t think they have any merit,” without providing why they are without merit, is not arguing in good faith).

Number 3: Outright dismissal of provided evidence. Demands for more evidence that fits whatever magical conditions they have in mind that’s ‘good enough’ for their hyperskepticism.

Number 4: A refusal to explicitly state what you would deem acceptable evidence.

Number 5: Demanding that others spend time educating you when a half hour on Wikipedia will do the job just as well.

[Ed Note: If you're going to tell someone to go away and do some reading before coming back, it's probably best if you actually tell them what to read. Unless they're trolling, linking them to a source would be considerate. This also helps to decrease the likelihood that they'll spend the next half hour reading a straw man of the concept you want them to understand. (And remember the burden of proof!)]

Number 6: Any variation on “You’re wrong because I’m right!” or “My way or the highway.” Note that “You’re wrong because of x, y, and z” is not prohibited. You can call someone wrong, but you have to back yourself up with why they’re wrong.

Number 6a: Refusing to even entertain the possibility that other people’s take on a situation may be valid and that there is not necessarily ONLY ONE valid way to tackle a problem/view an issue.

Number 7: When multiple people are saying that there is something seriously wrong with your point (or even just how you’re presenting your point), you don’t assume that EVERYONE ELSE is wrong or not understanding your Super Intelligent And Reasonable Point. In these cases it is most likely that: 1) You are lacking critical evidence/using bad evidence to form your “reasonable” argument, or 2) Failing to understand a critical perspective (or perspectives) that either contradict your evidence or show that there are more valid options than just your argument. In other words: You need to be able to demonstrate that you are willing to consider yourself wrong and entertain the possibility that, even IF you’re right, others CAN ALSO be right. Not everything is a binary 1 or 0/yes or no/right or wrong type situation.

Just as a personal aside, something I have learned through the various fights I’ve had on the internet: It is often better to be fair than to be “right”. What this means is that, even if you think the person you’re arguing with is WRONGITY-WRONG-WRONG, it is often less productive to double down on your point (because I’m RIGHT and they’re WRONG!) and instead to do things like ask questions and try to understand why they’re taking the position they do. Not only does this allow you to better tailor your arguments to them (instead of just doing the equivalent of shouting I’M RIGHT YOU’RE WRONG I’M RIGHT YOU’RE WRONG WRONG WRONG), but it also leaves open the possibility to find out that there were things that they were “right” about.

Obviously “fair” doesn’t mean “must listen to anyone who spouts any kind of bullshit no matter what”. When it’s an argument you’ve heard over and over and over and over and over again, the next person who makes it is 99% of the time already coming from a perspective you understand. Like, when gamers use gendered slurs in games (or on gaming blogs) I don’t need to ask them why they think that it’s ok to do that (although, depending on the person/situation, it can be useful), because I’ve heard every argument under the sun. So if/when I decide to engage, it’s not a “right or fair” deal, but rather a “do I want to make a point for the lurkers or try and get this person to understand where I’m coming from?” decision.

Number 8: Do not assume that your argument is “objective”. Recognize that you are a human being who brings your own biases into a conversation and even when your argument is supported by facts that does not mean that it is objective. Facts can be objective; the conclusions that we draw for them can’t be.

Number 8a: “Objective” is not another way of saying “correct” and “subjective” is not another way of saying “incorrect”. It is probably most helpful to look at “objective” as observations that are value neutral (“water is wet”) and “subjective” as the conclusions we draw from our observations (“water should be a basic right because people will die without it”).

Number 9: Don’t use claims of “logic” or “reason” to shield yourself from criticism. Just because YOU think that your argument is “logical” or “reasonable” (or, conversely that another person or persons’ argument is “illogical” or “unreasonable”) does not mean that your assessment of the situation is correct.

Number 10: Coming to a thread with the attitude (stated or implied) that you will be attacked by the mean forum goers is toxic to productive discussion. It is also a pretty common trolling tactic, where the troll “predicts” that they will get shit for daring to disagree with the community, proceeds to engage in several bad faith tactics, and then jumps in with “SEE, JUST LIKE I PREDICTED!” when they are called out by the community and/or banned. They use this to justify their original position on the community, and will sometimes point to the thread as “evidence” while commiserating with their buddies about how horribly they were treated.

Number 11: Communication involves two people. This means that what you intend to say is not always what you end up actually saying to the person or people listening to you. When you’re told that you’re coming across in a certain way, DO NOT assume that the listener(s) are the ones having the communication fail (this is especially true if multiple people are saying that they heard “x” when you thought you said “y”). In this case it is best for you to try and figure out where the disconnect happened (rereading arguments and asking for clarification–understanding that no one is obligated to give it to you– are good ways of doing this) and then figure out how you can communicate in a mutually understandable way.

Number 12: Do not hide behind vague, all-encompassing ideologies. [Ed note: Do not defend or condemn ideologies if you are not certain what those ideologies are.]

I have seen two cases of this, one from a self-identified conservative and another from someone who claimed not to be a conservative but was still defending it. In the former case, there wasn’t even a discussion, just bloviating about how there’s so many liberals here and will the poor conservative be accepted. In the latter case, the defender of conservatism was forced to create a fairy-tale construction of history just to defend the basic conservative ideology, and paid absolutely no mind to how conservative politicians have always been against any form of social justice where specific issues are concerned; they’ve just “moderated” their language as their privileges have been eroded.

Number 13: You are more likely to have positive interactions with people if you learn the standards and conventions of the community before posting, especially if it’s on a thread where hostilities have already occurred. Lurking is a great way to do this, but learning the “flavor” of the community is not enough. When watching people communicate with each other, try to see what kinds of words/phrases get positive responses versus which ones get negative responses.

The basic idea is: Think of your internet conversations and forums you like as a dinner party. When you go to a dinner party it’s with the expectation that you will be respectful to your host(s) and their guests. Coming to the party with a bad attitude, being rude to the guests, insulting the host, or shitting all over the house (even if you’re being perfectly polite to everyone!) are all things that will get you thrown out of a party. If you wouldn’t do them there, don’t do them here.

No, Donald Trump Did Not Ban Words at the CDC, Says CDC Director


(PBS)U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald on Sunday addressed a report that President Donald Trump’s administration had banned the CDC from using seven words or phrases in next year’s budget documents.

The terms are “fetus,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “evidence-based” and “science-based,” according to a story first reported on Friday in The Washington Post.

But Fitzgerald said in a series of tweets on Sunday said there are “no banned words,” while emphasizing the agency’s commitment to data-driven science.

“CDC has a long-standing history of making public health and budget decisions that are based on the best available science and data and for the benefit of all people—and we will continue to do so,” she said.

A group of the agency’s policy analysts said senior officials at the CDC informed them about the banned words on Thursday, according to the Post’s report. In some cases, the analysts were reportedly given replacement phrases to use instead.

But in follow-up reporting, The New York Times cited “a few” CDC officials who suggested the move was not meant as anoutright ban, but rather, a technique to help secure Republican approval of the 2019 budget by eliminating certain words and phrases.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, said the reported decree on banned words was a misrepresentation.

“The assertion that H.H.S. has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,” Matt Lloyd, an agency spokesman, said in a statement. “H.H.S. will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. H.H.S. also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

But some in the scientific community said that forbidding certain words could help change the direction of policies at the CDC, the nation’s top public health agency.

“If you are saying you cannot use words like ‘transgender’ and ‘diversity,’ it’s a clear statement that you cannot pay attention to these issues,” said Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, to the Associated Press.

What Keeps Communism Going? | Jordan Peterson


Professor Jordan Peterson explains what exactly is driving the communist mindset, and why do we still see branches of the movement sprout in different places of the world.

Why I Don’t Teach My Children to be Obedient


Who would want to train children to be obedient, when we can bring them up to be discerning, critical thinkers with a highly developed capacity for big-picture thinking, for empathy for self and others and to value integrity and what feels right above the directions of authority figures?

It’s difficult for most adults to challenge authority figures if they weren’t allowed to challenge their own parent.

Children who are trained to be obedient are often too busy either trying to stay in the good books or feel too misunderstood and defensive to think things through clearly, including how their actions affect other people. Their motivation is to evade punishments rather than do what feels right. Authoritarian parenting conditions children to believe that they should do what they’re told whether they like it or not, whether it feels good or bad, and to not “talk back”.
It’s difficult for most adults to challenge authority figures if they weren’t allowed to challenge their own parent. Obedience training can lead to a susceptibility to being unduly influenced by peers or authority figures as children, adolescents and later as adults.
To have the courage to express our concerns and opinions in the face of authority or peer pressure, we need to be able to stay strong and overall at peace in ourselves. Most of us want this for our children, especially as they reach the teenage years!

To act from integrity and do what feels right despite pressure to conform to the norm or to authority, we need to be balanced and centered enough to make decisions based on considering the needs and feelings of others while also considering our own feelings and needs.


Shocking Research
In recent decades, there have been many interesting social studies exploring human behavior and what influences a person’s tendency to act ethically or responsibly or not. A famous groundbreaking study by Stanley Milgram, a Yale University psychologist in 1961 paved the way for many more, which have uncovered very similar results. When Milford asked university students to guess how many people would willingly comply if a person in a position of authority told them to deliver a 400-volt electrical shock to another person, they predicted that no more than 3% of participants would deliver the maximum shocks. In reality, 65% delivered the maximum shocks.
36 out of 40 people continued to do what they were instructed.

During the experiment, each subject was asked to press a button that they believed delivered increasingly high voltage electric shocks to the “student” on the other side of the wall if they gave the wrong answer to the “teacher’s” questions. Many of the subjects, while believing that the “student” was actually receiving shocks and hearing their protests and cries for mercy, including complaints of a heart condition, became increasingly agitated and even angry at the experimenter. Yet 36 out of 40 people, in turn, continued to do what they were instructed to do all the way to the end. Even when the “student” became silent when apparently receiving shock from a switch labeled “danger: severe shock” the subject continued based on the instruction that silence is to be read as a wrong answer.
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Here are the Best Air-Purifying Houseplants According To NASA


Back in 1989, NASA researchers were working to determine the best ways to purify the air using standard plants found on earth. Unlike the information you’ve gotten from terrible sci-fi films, being stuck in a cabin for weeks or years on end leads to some pretty unsanitary conditions.

As astronaut Chris Hadfield explains“It’s like seven people in a camper van with a porta-potty for two weeks, where you can never get out.”

Besides issues with toilets, even the vapors from “cooked” food stick around for awhile. As astronaut Clayton Anderson expounded upon in an article for Gizmodo: “Eating a fish dish often produced the most pungent odor, especially the US version of seafood gumbo. It might take a couple of hours to “purge” that smell from the airflow of the ISS. On shuttle missions, many commanders outlawed the eating of seafood gumbo due to its distinctive—and disliked—smell.”

As a response to these disgusting aspects of space travel – and there are many more – NASA produced the Clean Air study. Unlike million dollar government research programs studying How Monkey’s Gamble or How Mountain Lions run on Treadmills, you can actually benefit from this study.

The graphic below from Love the Garden gives you a great look at which houseplants filter the air the best.

Exclusive: The Attorney Who Paid Cash for Trump’s Sexual Assault Accusations


A well-known women’s rights lawyer sought to arrange compensation from donors and tabloid media outlets for women who made or considered making sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump during the final months of the 2016 presidential race, according to documents and interviews.

(THE HILL) California lawyer Lisa Bloom’s efforts included offering to sell alleged victims’ stories to TV outlets in return for a commission for herself, arranging a donor to pay off one Trump accuser’s mortgage and attempting to secure a six-figure payment for another woman who ultimately declined to come forward after being offered as much as $750,000, the clients told The Hill.
The women’s accounts were chronicled in contemporaneous contractual documents, emails and text messages reviewed by The Hill, including an exchange of texts between one woman and Bloom that suggested political action committees supporting Hillary Clinton were contacted during the effort.
Bloom, who has assisted dozens of women in prominent harassment cases and also defended film executive Harvey Weinstein earlier this year, represented four women considering making accusations against Trump last year. Two went public, and two declined.
In a statement to The Hill, Bloom acknowledged she engaged in discussions to secure donations for women who made or considered making accusations against Trump before last year’s election.
“Donors reached out to my firm directly to help some of the women I represented,” said Bloom, whose clients have also included accusers of Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly.

Bloom said her goal in securing money was not to pressure the women to come forward, but rather to help them relocate or arrange security if they felt unsafe during the waning days of a vitriolic election. She declined to identify any of the donors.
And while she noted she represented sexual harassment victims for free or at reduced rates, she also acknowledged a standard part of her contracts required women to pay her commissions as high as 33 percent if she sold their stories to media outlets.
“Our standard pro bono agreement for legal services provides that if a media entity offers to compensate a client for sharing his or her story we receive a percentage of those fees. This rarely happens. But, on occasion, a case generates media interest and sometimes (not always) a client may receive an appearance fee,” she said.
“As a private law firm we have significant payroll, rent, taxes, insurance and other expenses every week, so an arrangement where we might receive some compensation to defray our costs seems reasonable to us and is agreed to by our clients,” Bloom added.
Bloom told The Hill she had no contact with Clinton or her campaign, but declined to address any contacts with super PACs that supported the Democratic presidential nominee.
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The End of “Net Neutrality” is Not the “End of Internet Freedom”


With “Net Neutrality” legislation being discarded today, the internet is blowing up with article after article stating that this is the end of internet freedom. But is it really?

First and foremost it should be understood that the Obama administrations Net Neutrality regulations, the Open Internet Order, did not do what people are fearing the repeal has turned back – all content has not been treated the same by ISP’s before and it never has.  What they did was erect an awkward permission-and-control regime within the FCC that only affected a small portion of internet technology companies. 

“Net Neutrality” is a beautiful catchphrase but just that. Much like the term “Patriot Act” was used to drum up the support of nationalistic citizens for regulations that were in opposition to their very freedom, Net Neutrality has everyday people fighting for internet regulations which will prevent an even better & freer online experience.

Regulating internet under Title II framework originally created in the 1930’s – so-called net neutrality laws which were implemented just 2 years ago – have slowed down the rate of innovation by forcing companies to spend more on useless compliance issues rather than infrastructure and scaring off investors.

From the beginning of the commercial internet, ISPs have been investing in infrastructure to compete year over year with no stoppage, that was until 2 years ago when stiff already outdated regulations were implemented – leading to a 6 percent decline in broadband investment, and even higher costs for newer nimbler companies from entering the marketplace.

Casting broadband providers as enemies of the State looks great politically – everyone hates their cable, phone, electricity, and water companies – but it also makes for lousy economics. Investors want a return on investment – spook them with overbearing regulations, and they’ll leave. It should be pretty telling that the first investigations into companies “breaking Net Neutrality rules” were ISP companies offering free data.

Technically, under current Net Neutrality laws, if T-Mobile chooses to not count Netflix, Spotify, Youtube and a host of other services against your monthly data allowance, that’s not allowed. That’s right, free offerings are illegal in these cases. Not sure about you, but I don’t see how that benefits anyone. Furthermore, the assumption that government regulation will benefit in preventing the cost of internet to go up has been disproven by…every single time the government regulates anything.

This is the same government that spent an amount equal to Facebook’s first six years of operating costs to build a website for healthcare that doesn’t work, the exact same government which cannot keep the country’s bridges from falling down, the same government that has increased school funding by 200% without a single improvement in grades in the last thirty years – even adjusted for inflation- and the same organization that spends 320 times what private industry spends to send a rocket into space. As Digital Marketor Josh Steimle put it in Forbes:

“Think of an industry that has major problems. Public schools? Health care? How about higher education, student loans, housing, banking, physical infrastructure, immigration, the space program, the military, the police, or the post office? What do all these industries and/or organizations have in common? They are all heavily regulated or controlled by the government. On the other hand, we see that where deregulation has occurred, innovation has bloomed, such as with telephony services. Do you think we’d all be walking around with smartphones today if the government still ran the phone system?”The major issue is that Net Neutrality laws are pre-emptive in nature by definition. Why’s that a bad idea? Because we have no idea what is in store for the future of the internet.”

If you regulate pre-emptively you necessarily prevent competition leading to better products. This is why tech giant content curators like Facebook and Google are for it – they’ve become part of the status quo and want it to remain that way. To act like these two megacorporations care about “internet freedom” and that’s why their pro-net neutrality is ridiculous. Both have been shown to censor creators which are antithetical to the political values held by these companies, by demonetizing their videos as well as increasing the barriers to viewing videos.  The same people saying that the end of the internet is coming said that the time Warner-AOL merger in 2000 was the death of instant messaging because they were the only ones “controlling it at the time.”

Even the way internet use by net neutrality proponents is being used presently is outdated. The majority of internet use is not at home, tied to wifi. Rather, it’s carried over between multiple hotspots and mobile networks throughout the day, and as time goes by, that’s going to continue.

This makes it difficult for specific ISP companies to get a stranglehold of your information or a restriction of the information you’re searching for. There’s already a limit on that information through the HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) system.

Net Neutrality is prescriptive and thus likely to serve the interests of existing companies in maintaining a status quo that’s good for them. In terms of enforcement of anti-competitive practices, going back to a system regulated in a case by case basis by the FTC, rather than the FCC, will allow for a more nimble and sane system that doesn’t prevent innovation. Today, with the repeal of Obama’s policy, the system has changed for the better.

Why the “Organic Food” You’re Paying For is Anything But


Editors note: This isn’t just another article trying to “debunk organic foods”. This is an examination of the corruption involved in the food industry as a whole, and why it should be a central concern of anyone who cares about clean food. 
Strap in, because you’re about to relearn everything you knew about the organic food industry.

Costa Rican farmer Jose “Pepe” Castro Otarola is certified to grow organic pineapples under the U.S. Department of Agriculture seal. Castro says that managers of a fruit processing company exaggerated quantities they bought from him to make their U.S.-bound shipments appear organic, an accusation the processor denies.

Pital, Costa Rica—Plenty of people knew that the numbers didn’t add up in pineapple fields here that stretch like green carpets beneath brooding volcanoes.
They knew it in Washington, D.C., where the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program saw Costa Rica was shipping more organic pineapples than it was certified to grow.
They knew it in Pital, hub of the world’s biggest pineapple exporter.
Costa Rica’s surplus indicated that someone was mislabeling fruit produced less expensively with chemicals forbidden for organic products—thereby cheating U.S. consumers, who pay high premiums when trusting the USDA organic seal.
A Costa Rican government investigator assembled 1,500 pages of evidence. He found that PrimusLabs, a USDA-accredited certifier, improperly approved Costa Rica’s Del Valle Verde Corp. as a grower of organic pineapples.

In Pital, neighboring organic farmers felt vindicated. They believed they had further examples of how the pineapple company had gamed the USDA. U.S. importers, hurt by competition they considered unfair, expected strong action by regulators.
But they got nothing of the kind. Instead, a NerdWallet investigation found, the USDA punted — kicking a gaping hole in the credibility of its organics seal.
The USDA closed the case last summer without addressing the extensive Costa Rican investigation.
Not only did the USDA allow farming company Valle Verde to choose and pay Primus for organic certification—a conflict of interest enabled by federal rules—but the agency trusted the accused certifier to declare the grower innocent.
“It’s a horrible story,” said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association. “This information was handed to the National Organic Program on a silver platter, and they still don’t take the enforcement actions that are permitted under the law.”
If the USDA won’t act when presented with stark evidence of fraud, critics ask, how can consumers rely on the agency to police any of the annual $43 billion in U.S. organically certified food?
The answer is that the system can’t be trusted, NerdWallet found.

USDA Appoints Certification Gatekeepers
The National Organic Program, a USDA division with a $9 million budget, sets standards for labeling and accredits the agency’s 80 certifiers worldwide. Many certifiers have solid records. Growers, processors and handlers they approve sell legitimately organic food under the USDA seal.
But the system is ripe for abuse.
The USDA allows growers and processors to choose their own certifiers from its accredited list. The certifiers then get paid by those producers, even getting percentage of sales, a financial incentive that creates a conflict of interest.

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Marijuana Minors: What Life is Really Like for Young Medical Cannabis Users


Medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, but there are still use cases that are very controversial, like medical marijuana for children. Some claim it’s a wonder drug for epilepsy, severe autism, and even to quell the harsh side effects of chemotherapy, while others decry pumping marijuana into still-growing bodies.

We went to the small town of Pendleton, Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal, to visit Mykayla Comstock, an eight-year-old leukemia patient who takes massive amounts of weed to treat her illness. Her family, and many people we met along the way, believe not only in the palliative aspects of the drug, but also in marijuana’s curative effect—that pot can literally shrink tumors.
Video Below the Ad

What are your thoughts on this controversial practice?

How to Identify Wild Poisonous Plants – The Essential Guide


How to Identify Poisonous Plants--Poison Oak

My brothers once volunteered at a local state park and cleared out overgrown greenery, only to discover later that they’d been thigh-high in poison ivy. Oh, nature, you’re sneaky.

But poisonous plants can be more than just uncomfortable—they can be dangerous. Here are a few tips on how to identify poisonous plants when you’re out in the wild or, and I’m going to shock you here, in your own yard.

First, a reminder. Plants can be poisonous in two ways: when touched or when ingested. This post will address identifying plants that are dangerous to touch. For a great guide to foraging safe plants (and to avoiding eating deadly ones), see Survival 101: Foraging for Edible Plants.


The best way to identify poisonous plants is to become familiar with pictures of varieties growing in your area (like poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, poison hemlock, stinging nettle, etc.) This is because poisonous plants come in so many forms that any individual rule of thumb won’t be sufficient. For instance,  poison ivy grows on vines, poison oak and poison sumac grow in shrub form, and poison hemlock looks like giant parsley!


How to Identify Poisonous Plants
poison sumac leaf

Inflorescence of a herb of Hemlock or Poison Hemlock (Conium mac
poison hemlock


The traditional rule “leaves in three, let it be!” only applies to poison ivy and poison oak; poison sumac has clusters of 7-13 leaves. To complicate matters, there a lot of other plants that also have leaves grouped into three, e.g., box elder saplings, making it harder to distinguish specific plants.

According to the University of Maryland Medical center, Stinging Nettle leaves are heart shaped, finely toothed, and tapered at the ends. Stinging nettle plants are very hairy—the entire plant is covered with hairs on the underside of the leaves and stems. Although you can eat Stinging Nettle, it’s advised to collect them with gloves because if you touch any of the hairs, a stinging chemical is released.

How to Identify Poisonous Plants

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle is also known for its brightly colored, yellow or pink flowers, which the poison ivy, oak, and sumac are not. Although, check out this lovely picture of poison ivy flowers. Who Knew?

ivy flowers

Photo Courtesy of Flickr.com 


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