Being nice really isn’t a bad thing.
Posted July 13, 2010on:
In episode 56 of Righteous Indignation I made some comments about the attitude some listeners held towards the guests we’d had on in the past who held beliefs in certain things that didn’t stand up well the skeptical scrutiny.I said:
“I got annoyed that there were some people in the skeptical community that have a bad attitude towards people who have opposing beliefs, and ideas that aren’t scientifcally viable. Rather than debating with them and being polite there is name calling and stuff. It does nothing proactive for the skeptical community whatsoever.”
In response to the discussion on the episode about attitudes we have had some interesting comments left on the Righteous Indignation wesbite. One reads:
There’s no polite way of letting people know that you you think they are fooling themselves– that the thing they think is true is a thing that you think is woo.
Whether someone is rude or not is an opinion. I’m much more interested in what is true.
I love the show; keep up the great work! I like my truth “straight up”.
I wasn’t necessarily talking about the way in which believers and peddlers of bad ideas percieve skepticism because unfortunately that isn’t something that people who identify themselves as skeptics can always control.
However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be polite and structured in the way you approach a debate or a discussion with the people in question.
I also wasn’t talking about sugar coating the truth, I also like my truth straight up, but not in an aggressive smug way. You can be truthful without being rude and pushy. Two great examples of people who work in a respectful and polite way while still getting the reasonal point across would be Michael Shermer from ‘skeptic’ and Richard Saunders of ‘skeptic zone’ and ‘Australian skeptics’.
It’s true that a lot of people who believe in weird claims and ideas will not listen to people who are skeptical of those claims and ideas, it is also true that in a discussion they will sometimes get hot headed, rude and insulting.
What better position is there to be in other than one where you have been consistently polite and nice to them? Who looks the fool then?
Thinking that to be heard, or to get your point across you have to be loud is wrong, you can be heard just by being there and providing the information people need.
Of course, I’m not big headed enough to think I’m only one of few people who understand and know this. I’m not smug enough to start preaching at people because they’re doing it “wrong”, I’m just wanting to get my thoughts across because I have seen people who are rude and aggitated when they communicate with proponents of weird and bad ideas.