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n. The practice, on an internet discussion thread, of making substantive comments in a confrontational and insulting manner as a means of sorting the other participants into those who can understand the substance and those who only see the tone and the form. The latter usually reveal themselves through remarks such as: "I'm sure you think you are some kind of badass behind your computer screen...", "Your philosophy makes you very unhappy/angry/defensive, so how can it be right...", or "Do you really think you're going to convince anybody by acting like a child/an extremist/the Unabomber?"

Note that this practice often has a similar effect to Godwin's Law, in that it may cause further discussion to revolve entirely around the assumed personal, intellectual, social, financial, and residential deficiencies of the person using it, (though this can also further the sorting purposes of the technique, particularly with regards to late-comers to the discussion). In extreme cases it can elicit insults or even threats directed at the person's family, friends, third grade English teacher, or barber.

NOTE: Just to be clear, in case anybody feels compelled to misinterpret this, I don't speak for Billy, his motivations, nor his intentions. I've observed the actual result of things that have happened out there, and integrated them into a concept and a term that describes what I've seen. I don't know the whole of why Billy argues what he argues, nor the reasons behind manner he does it in. I have some ideas, and I believe his purposes go far beyond "Beck's Razor", if that is even part of his intent, but I can't and won't speak for him. Don't think for a minute that that is what I was doing.

Comments

Yes, or you arrogant pricks could dismount from your mounts of moral self-anointment and simply make your arguments as clearly and concisely as possible and judge who understands the substance based on their responses.

Posted by Grimshaw at Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:02 PM

But Grimley, if I spoon-fed you, how would I know whether or not you know how to use a fork?

Posted by kylben at Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:06 PM

I hardly think spicing up one's arguments with insults is spoon-feeding. In most cases it's simply immature and a method for the insulter to feel superior.

Posted by Grimshaw at Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:10 PM

Well, Grimley, thank you for self-sorting.

Posted by kylben at Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:16 PM

I'm not the only one who has self-sorted here, and I'm quite comfortable being in a different pile than you.

Posted by Grimshaw at Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:18 PM

Then we're agreed. Good day.

Posted by kylben at Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:22 PM

Lol, I've notice Billy doing this on many an occasion (I think he may have done it to me once or twice over on Samizdata) and it is quite effective.

Posted by mandrill at Thursday, January 17, 2008 03:36 AM

The spice and "*style*" serves to dissipate the essence of the message; tentative connections are broken, prejudice and misunderstanding solidified. I've seen it happen too many times, and it's not going to change. The Adorable One knows of what I speak. I told her by way of a friend just last night.

Posted by Rob Robertson at Thursday, January 17, 2008 07:41 PM

> ....as a means of sorting the other participants
> into those who can understand the substance
> and those who only see the tone and the form.
It's also a means of sorting out exactly what kind of forum you're in. I.e., the sort of place that does not discipline idiots, while punishing oneself for being "mean".

Posted by Mike Schneider at Friday, January 18, 2008 12:07 PM

Or it could mean that Beck is a jerk.

Posted by Cargosquid at Friday, January 18, 2008 04:27 PM

"It could". Does that mean that you think it does, or that you think it doesn't, or that you just thought that I was hoping to assemble a laundry list of all the implications that can be considered possible?

Posted by kylben at Friday, January 18, 2008 04:32 PM

<i>"I don't know the whole of why Billy argues what he argues, nor the reasons behind manner he does it in."</i>

Sometimes, though he tels me he tries t keep away from it, it's simply to play fools for the fools they are.

There was some of that in the "Reason" thread. He gave it to them just how they wanted it.

Posted by Richard Nikoley at Saturday, January 19, 2008 08:29 AM

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