A most spectacular blog comment

From “plum greenville” on Pharyngula:
[R]idicule and anger have a time-honoured role in social change. You’re confusing what is effective (sometimes) in dealing with people one on one with what is effective in changing the social climate en masse.
In many cases people’s idiotic beliefs are too entrenched to be amenable to reason, evidence, or polite discussion. The only way to prod such a person into reconsidering their views is to convey to them that those views have made them a laughingstock and/or object of contempt.
Attitude change is not fundamentally a rational process.
You want to be a “good ambassador” – a nice guy in other words. That’s a valid and useful role and it obviously suits your personality better than snarkiness. But the snark brigade is not working at cross purposes to you. History strongly suggests that their role is essential in softening people up for your more polite form of persuasion. The good cop needs the bad cop for the routine to work.
Name one social change movement that succeeded through polite persuasion alone. What you’re comfortable with is not the measure of what works.

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  1. #1 by D. C. Sessions on March 9, 2009 - 9:00 am

    In a partially-related context,

    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act on them

    — Thomas Jefferson
    Let’s bear in mind that the really indefensible positions are not reasoned, but rationalized — thus the reliance on code phrases, slogans, etc.

  2. #2 by D. C. Sessions on March 9, 2009 - 9:00 am

    In a partially-related context,

    Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act on them

    — Thomas Jefferson
    Let’s bear in mind that the really indefensible positions are not reasoned, but rationalized — thus the reliance on code phrases, slogans, etc.

  3. #3 by Sam C on March 9, 2009 - 9:11 am

    The Nark of Nesbit will fall upon you!

  4. #4 by Kevin Beck on March 9, 2009 - 9:50 am

    Nark of Nesbit

    If there’s a single fucking thing that guy has ever written that I agree with, I haven’t been able to find it, not that I look hard. I hope I said that nicely enough.

  5. #5 by T. Bruce McNeely on March 9, 2009 - 10:51 am

    Another relevant quote:
    One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent. Mencken, H. L.

  6. #6 by Dervin on March 14, 2009 - 10:55 am

    Snark doesn’t work. It might make you and your compatriots feel better, but it won’t change anybody’s mind. If you want to change the world, you’ve got to blow up some cars.
    As Al Capone said “You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”
    Or
    Chairman Mao said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

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