I randomly came across this article and immediately felt the experience of synchronicity. I've been thinking about how people usually resort to logical fallacies like ad hominem and appeal to authority in their essays and conversations online.

Character assassination and blatant misrepresentation of positions and statements through de-contextualizing and straw manning seems to be incredibly popular endeavors (perhaps it was always this way), and I find that it is incredibly helpful for people to be trained to recognize these fallacies because it will allow them to understand the true character of those who utilize these tactics.

Where I would disagree with you is in your statement of calling someone dumb as shit because they have said something dumb as shit. There could be many reasons why someone says dumb shit - I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they said/believed certain things out of ignorance, and I allow them the space to redeem themselves. By communicating to them that they are safe to explore intellectually and emotionally, they may be able to admit ignorance without feeling embarrassed or looked down upon. No one wants to feel ignorant or stupid, and no one wants to continue to talk with someone who made them feel that way. I would like to believe that with this approach, they'll be less likely to dig their heels into the sand and more likely to pull themselves out to walk with you. They'll be more likely to listen to what you have to say without having their guard up.

I'm a big proponent of free speech (and from what I can tell from your writings, you are too!), which means you have to allow people to practice articulating their thoughts without admonishment. Articulating your thoughts is the act of stumbling toward truth, with "stumbling" being the most important word here. People have to be able to fail in their articulation of ideas, partly so that other people can point out those failures, and partly so that they themselves can catch their own failures. Their courage to risk stumbling and embarrassing themselves along the way must be commended, not denigrated. Insulting them for trying means you diminish their attempt to try, and they may feel discouraged and never actualize into a better thinker and speaker. I know punishment has its merits in changing human behavior and psychology, but my life experiences have led me to believe that it is less conducive for personal growth and behavioral change than encouragement.

Thanks again for another great essay. I'm really happy that I got to find your writing. Looking forward to reading more!

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If you want to ask me a question or simply want to talk: @ohc.william@gmail.com. I also write about a variety of other topics on greaterwillproject.com!

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William Cho

William Cho

7.6K Followers

If you want to ask me a question or simply want to talk: @ohc.william@gmail.com. I also write about a variety of other topics on greaterwillproject.com!