After a lot of talking with the editors over on Space Cynic, and a bit of thinking, I think I’ll leave them up on my blog roll. They make good points, even if I don’t like the delivery. After all, I leave Rand’s site up on the blogroll even though I disagree quite strongly with his foreign policy views.
I think there’s a valuable lesson here for all you out there who have advanced academic degrees, lots of experience, or who generally think you’re smarter than the rest of us (especially if you really are smarter than the rest of us). Pride is one of the biggest obstacles to learning that exists, and delivering a point in such a way that doesn’t get people’s prideful hackles up is a lot more likely to actually help people to learn.
On my mission we had a term we used for when you were trying to brow-beat someone with your superior knowledge on the topic: “Bible Bashing”. Let me just say, Bullwinkle, that trick never works. Once both sides are pridefully ignoring each others points, offended, and angry at each other, almost all potential for learning is gone. I have actually met a few people who were humble and teachable enough that they could take a condescending, arrogant harangue, and actually internalize it and see if there was any truth in the argument, and then act on it. But they are rare individuals indeed.
There’s a reason why ideas like this get coved in books like “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Human nature hasn’t changed in however many millenia you believe we’ve been around for. People still don’t like being brow beaten, condescended, insulted, or picked on. People’s logical functions still tend to shut down when they get angry, overly emotional, frustrated, or desparate.
So, if your actual goal is to get a point across, to help someone learn, using a bit of humility, persuasion, tact, politeness, and friendliness is the way to do it. You may even find out in the process that the other side actually has a point too, and that you really didn’t know everything.
Just a thought. I feel better now.