“Name Calling” Consists of Unargued Conclusions on Facts and Values.

“____ is ____.”

“X is Y.”

“This (person, action, item, etc.) is (a) that.”

This kind of statement is name calling.

Essentially, it’s a conclusion, or an assertion.  It doesn’t include much, if any, support for the conclusion.

Using mere name calling will leave many of the most important questions unanswered:

Is X really Y?  Are you sure that X isn’t something else instead?  How sure?  What does it mean for something to be Y?  What is Y?  Is Y good or bad in this case?  Why?  Compared to what alternatives?  How sure are you?

Unlike Wikipedia, I don’t only regard something as name calling if it is an insult.  It could be praise (“he’s a straight talker”, “genius”, “saint”).  Nor do I limit it to targeting people.  It could target actions (“telling it like it is”, “pandering”, “virtue signaling”) or beliefs or policies or anything else.  Because the same concerns can arise for all of these kinds of name calling, and they share a lot of things in common, the same form, and because the name fits.

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Some Simple Things (That I Wish Everyone Already Knew)

     First, when a joke (or something else) is friendly and when it is unfriendly. That could be a big topic, but for now I’ll narrow it down to one situation: when someone asks you to stop.
     When someone tells you to stop something, you have a few options. Your can:
  1. accept their request
  2. not accept their request (by either continuing what they told you to stop, or complaining about their request)
     I’d argue that option 1 is friendly, and option 2 is unfriendly. When someone sincerely tells you to stop something and you continue to do it, it ceases to be friendly. Even if the action looks the same.
     Real friendliness includes wanting to avoid annoying or upsetting your friend. It means caring about their feelings, preferences, and how they want to be treated.
     In some situations that might be difficult, like when their preference conflict with yours. If the two of you really can’t come up with a solution that you both like, maybe you can’t be friends at all. But that’s unlikely to occur in the case of jokes, which you don’t really need to make. So in this example, I think it’s most reasonable to accept their request.

A second (and related) point: sometimes seemingly identical actions can be morally different.

     How can two actions which seem identical be morally different?
     If there is some other difference.
     For example, if a professional boxer starts boxing unsuspecting people in the street, that’s assault. Their actions alone might look identical to the ethical sport of boxing. But the random people on the street (in my example) did not consent to a boxing match. That’s the key difference.

More Plot Without Conflict

There’s an art blog called still eating oranges and they made a fairly popular post called The significance of plot without conflict.

While unfortunately that post seems to mix up plot and narrative structure (or even a revealing of information), maybe the idea they talked about can be applied to either.

Anyways, here’s another very basic plot that has no conflict:  someone has a desire, and so that person takes an action to satisfy that desire.

You may not realize it, but this simple plot is very popular.

Where, you ask?  The porn industry!  The desire is “to have sex” and this causes the characters to have sex.  This is a logical cause and effect, a plot.  Though, of course, plenty of porn films have plots that are different from this.

Rape Culture 101: What Is Rape Culture?

Here are my criteria for what the term “Rape Culture” refers to:

  1. memes and attitudes etc. (“culture“)
  2. that are incorrect/immoral
  3. that are related to rape, sexual assault, and consent
  4. and may contribute to problems related to rape, sexual assault, and consent

So the debate over whether Rape Culture “exists” are usually baffling to people who understand this.  Obviously we can see that attitudes and memes exist for any given subject.  Obviously some of them can be wrong.  Obviously errors can be harmful.

What people really should be arguing about is not whether it exists, but whether a particular meme or attitude is actually correct or incorrect.  That’s the part that matters.

And there’s plenty of well-informed writing on that matter.  I might gather a bunch to post later.

For other examples of the “_____ Culture” terminology format, see: “ownership culture”, “blame culture”, “ask culture”, “guess culture”, etc.

Dream Humanism Goals

Here’s some of the things I’d like to work on bringing to my local area.  Also, I might start a Facebook Group for that soon.  For now I guess this is a rough copy, perhaps I will edit it later with more detail etc.


Better People

Making people more reasonable:

  • Improving people’s thinking skills
  • Perhaps popularizing Carrier’s “think something through every day” method, could compare it to the much more popular practice of regular physical exercise
  • Spreading Humanistic ideology
  • thus preventing bad political parties from even standing a chance, among other things

Better Democracy, Organization, and Community


Better Living Conditions

Make lives more free from economic worries, bad jobs, etc.

Quickly Killing An Anti-Tolerance Meme

There’s that meme that says it’s hypocritical to be intolerant of intolerance.

I suspect that meme can be countered by a similar short and sweet meme:  no one says it’s hypocritical to shoot someone who is on a shooting spree.

(In fact I suspect a large percentage of people who repeat that anti-tolerance meme are highly in favor of being able to shoot such shooters.  Thus, they are the ones being hypocritical, because the situations are actually analogous)

Epic Humanism For Calgary

My mind is starting to frequently wander into dreamer territory again.  So I might as well write it all down!

Keep in mind these are daydreams that aren’t yet totally well informed (especially the more extravagant parts).  As such they are filed into a subset of my “Art” category.

So I’ve been thinking that I really want to focus on improving my local city.  There’s a lot of reasons for that.  It’s an important city in the world, it’s where I live and thus have the most access to and influence over, I suspect it would be easier and more effective than focusing on a wider area, and if my efforts are successful, people should be able to copy them into a different city, like a sort of movement.

I’m really annoyed that the people who should already be doing this are not doing it.  The University of Calgary Freethinkers and CFI Calgary don’t seem to care much about issues in Calgary or Alberta.  Why the hell isn’t the local Freethinkers club dedicated to thinking through local problems?  I scroll through their twitter and don’t see anything that identifies them as Albertan or Calgarian or Canadian except for the name.  It’s all a bunch of talk about Trump and ISIS and Gamergate, all this really far away stuff.  They are totally generic.  What is the point of their existence?  Everyone can follow Pharyngula and get all of that stuff already.

While trying to find more like-minded people, I recently found Resolve, which is a thing in Calgary that aims to eliminate homelessness completely.  It takes donations from rich people and makes affordable housing for poorer people, and I’m sure that helps a lot but I don’t think it’s complete enough.  I think completely eliminating homelessness would require an economically self-sustaining system (which means requiring basically no charity at all once it gets started.  This could involve worker owned businesses,  an organized community, and might require lots of other stuff).  Still, I’d like to learn more about them and get involved with them.

Also Calgary as a whole needs an infusion of critical thinking skills, Humanist values, and stuff like that (this is another bare-minimum thing you’d think the local Humanist groups should be doing.  The U of C freethinkers twitter could maybe be categorized as a small dose of this, but I don’t see any effort directed to change Calgarians, they’re lucky if any locals outside their bubble even know they exist).  Instead of just trying to be the “most affordable” city in the world or the “nicest place to live” in the world, how about we try to be the wisest place in the world?  And the most well organized, socially connected, and civically engaged?