Rules to Live By

Reading through my friends list this morning, I saw the following posted in theferrett‘s journal. I found them amusing, and many of them, indeed, are rules to live by. Of course, he does omit my favorite rule: “Never ascribe to malice what you can to stupidity (or unthinking action).”. Serves me quite well.

theferrett‘s rules:

The media is not against your side. It buries stories that are equally important to either side, and it inflates non-stories into juggernauts that hurt either side. The media is simply frickin’ insane.

Just because the opposition did something equally crappy in the past doesn’t mean that it’s okay that your guy did something crappy today.

You will not provide sets of links as a substitute for a real argument. Nobody clicks through to read links. Ever. Link to support or refute an argument if you must, but if you have more characters in the hypertext link than in your actual statement, you’re wasting your time.

If you provide a link, it shall not be to a blatantly partisan site that has advertisements about how the other side is full of crap right on the main page. If what you say is true, it should be easy to find a link discussing this topic in a reputable, reasonably-centered news source. Source documents are even better.

Attack the argument, not the man.

Just because someone expresses a single opinion that matches up with the opposition’s view of things does not mean that they are a loyal member of the opposition.

If you get snippy with someone in a response, don’t be surprised when they get snippy right back at you. Getting offended when someone matches your insulting tone is forbidden.

People who have arguments that oppose yours must be assumed to have valid reasons for those arguments until you are presented with clear evidence that they do not. Such valid reasons may include ignoring blatant facts, stating things that have been proven to be false in past arguments, or blatant ad hominem insults. Should that happen, they are full of crap and can be ignored.

“He looked at the same facts that I did, and came to a different conclusion” is not a valid reason to consider someone full of crap. Neither is “he doesn’t think that this issue is as important as I do.”

Criticisms of a particular race, sex, or religion are not to be assumed as an indication of a deep-seated hatred for that race, sex, or religion. Rational debate ends when the term “racist” comes into play, so make sure there’s absolutely no rationality to be had before you prematurely pull that trigger.

There is no iconic race, sex, or religion. Every group of people contains perfect saints and utter scum, and you can pull examples of either as proof that the group is comprised entirely of saints or scum. The question has to be, “What elements of the group have the most impact on society?” which will rarely be answered to anyone’s satisfaction.

Your side also has its share of nuts, and they don’t necessarily speak for you, either.

Your side is not as tolerant as you think it is.

Your side is not always right.

Your goal is not to prove your side right. It is to find out what the truth is. When you stop looking at the evidence, you have become what you hated. That involves sometimes admitting when you’re wrong.

If you can’t admit when you’re wrong, withdraw gracefully. We won’t mind.

If someone withdraws gracefully, that’s not necessarily an admission that you’re right, either. Remember: “He who has the most time to kill on the Internet wins the debate.”

If you can’t admit you’re wrong and won’t shut up, stay the fuck away from my journal.

Yes, I did give thought to making these operating principles for mail.liberal-judaism :-).