Building Bridges

I have long believed people, no matter how great their disagreements, should be able to understand one another. One of my favorite fictional relationships is the one between Professor Xavier and Magneto of the X-Men franchise, where the two men (quite literally) violently disagreed with one another yet held each other in great esteem.

In high school, one day a teacher stopped me in the halls and was going to lecture me because he thought he had heard me curse. A classmate of mine was nearby and he immediately stopped and said, "I don't like Brandon at all, but he never curses." That moment has always stuck with me because this classmate didn't like me, yet he was willing to speak up in my defense because he understood me.

The reason I bring this up is I published a new (short) eBook just a day or so ago. The point of it is to show how "Skeptics" in the global warming movement don't exhibit actual skepticism. Amongst other things, I thought this eBook might help some people find common ground with one another. Today, I'd like to discuss a reason that might now work.

To show what I am talking about, here is an e-mail I sent to a couple people:

Hello,

I know we've had many disagreements, and I don't expect us to ever be friends. However, I believe no matter how great people's disagreements, they can find some common ground. In that spirit, I thought I would send you a free copy of a short eBook I just published. I believe you will find things you can agree with in it, particularly as it relates to Richard Tol.

You can receive the free copy by going to this link:

www.amazon.com/acceptgift

And inputting the code GXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. If you prefer, you can exchange the gift for credit on your Amazon account, though since the pricetag on the eBook is only $0.99, it won't be worth much.

Regards,
Brandon Shollenberger

I sent that e-mail to a couple people hoping that we could look past past disputes for a moment and focus on something upon which we could agree. The idea was I felt my new eBook said things certain people might agree with, and we could use that agreement to create some small amount of common ground.

Now, I won't say who all I sent this e-mail to. I do, however, want to highlight one exchange it led to. I don't like sharing people's e-mails with me openly as a rule, but there is no particular sense of privacy in what you send to another person, and in this case, I think it is quite useful to consider the response I got. Here is the first response:

Thanks, and I've had a look. Not quite sure what you hope to achieve by this (if anything). Given your extreme stance on most issues (or, maybe more correctly, your apparent inability to be measured and reasonable) I doubt that people are going to suddenly pay attention just because you're criticising people they mostly disagree with. Also, if you really were trying to build bridges, you could start by trying to not accuse people of nefarious intent whenever you criticise their work. YMMV, of course.

In the spirit of building bridges/finding common ground, I wanted to look past any past disputes and focus on something which might be productive. As such, I responded:

I don't see any value in re-hashing old topics (e.g. despite your perception, I rarely accuse the people I criticize of nefarious intent). I'll answer your uncertainty though. I have long thought it inexcusable for people to ignore/excuse things like what I describe in this book. I could easily provide dozens of examples that have also been handled the same way, and that's without even trying to keep track of them.

The point of this book is simple. I want to draw some amount of attention to the fact people are behaving in this way. Ideally, doing so will cause some people to reconsider their tacit approval of this sort of thing and/or let people who haven't previously seen it realize this sort of thing is going on.

I don't know hold much hope for that, but at least I can say I tried. And who knows? Maybe people on the other "side" (as if I had a side) will learn a bit from my book and conversations can advance that way. Goodness knows the response to Mark Steyn's book has been anemic, which amazes me given how bad it is.

That is the point of my latest eBook. I want people to realize the Skeptic movement has a problem with it not being skeptical of things it likes to hear so they can change that. My hope is by raising this issue in an eBook, I can get some people to discuss it. And for people on the "Warmist" side who have observed the same things I've observed, perhaps this could be the basis for some common ground.

This is the response I got:

By "nefarious intent" I simply mean any accusation that those you're criticising are intentionally presenting something that they know to be untrue, or intentionally misleading. You do this regularly. That you do not even seem to recognise that you do this is why trying to build any kind of bridge is clearly pointless. At best, your perception of acceptable behaviour is completely different to mine.

This showed a misguided perception of my behavior, which I sought to correct:

I'm afraid you've misunderstood. I knew what you meant by nefarious intent, and as I said, I generally do not accuse the people I criticize of it. I understand you may dislike that I have accused you and some people you know of dishonest behavior, but that is something I have always done reluctantly and with full knowledge of what I was saying.

The reality is I know fully well when I accuse people of dishonesty. I do so rarely and with regret. I suspect you don't realize this because you haven't been exposed to the fuller breadth of what i write. If you were exposed to more of my discussions, I suspect you would find in fewer than 2% of them do I suggest any sort of dishonesty. And in almost all of those cases, I am confident you would find I made those accusations only after trying to find an alternative explanation.

In any event, I had no desire to rehash old issues such as this. I merely wanted to offer you a copy of my eBook because I thought we might find some common ground within it. I've written the rest of this e-mail only because you seem to think I am unaware of accusing people of dishonesty when the reality is I will readily admit to each and every accusation of dishonesty I have ever made.

If you wish to verify this, I will happily acknowledge any examples as such. If desired, I will also explain why I see no other interpretation, forcing me to reluctantly conclude nefarious intent is present.

I do accuse some people of dishonesty. I have never shied from that. Michael Mann committed fraud. John Cook intentionally lied about the ethics approval he received from his university. He and Stephan Lewandowsky intentionally lied about where links to a survey created by Lewandowsky was posted on the Skeptical Science website (it was never posted there). Members of Cook's Skeptical Science team have since lied about what their "consensus" study showed.

I don't make these accusations lightly. I have repeatedly tried to find alternative explanations, being as generous as I can in why these people may have behaved the way they behaved. Unfortunately, sometimes people lie. Sometimes people commit fraud. Accurately identifying such cases maybe unpleasant, but it is not inappropriate. The response I got to explaining this:

Maybe you can stop trying to build bridges with me. There is no further point. If you could refrain from contacting me that would be great. There is nothing further for us to discuss, ever. If you could also refrain from saying things about me in public that are not true, that would also be good, but I suspect that that is somewhat beyond you.

Basically ignored the issue. The person apparently thought I am unaware of the fact I accuse people of dishonesty, but when I corrected him on this, his response was not to update his perceptions. Instead, he chose to simply ignore me. I responded:

That seems an unusual response to being told you've misunderstood/misrepresented a person, but if you wish to refuse to speak with me, that is your choice. I hadn't expected any response to the e-mail I sent you, and based upon your reaction here, perhaps it would have been better had there been none. I certainly did not wish for an exchange like this to happen (and specifically sought to avoid this).

I think it is appropriate to seek common ground with people who disagree with me so that progress in understanding one another can be made. In that regard, if there is anything I have said about you which is untrue, I would be happy to correct it if you would identify it. If you choose not to identify the supposed untruths in what I write, I will continue to have to write what I understand to be true without your feedback.

In any event, I have no desire to participate in pointless exchanges like what you have tried to force us to have, so if you wish to say nothing more, I would be more than willing to let the discussion end. I will not, however, promise that in the future I will refrain from trying to find common ground with everyone around me.

If people wish to reject any possibility of reasonable dialogue, that is their decision. My decision is to continue to offer the opportunity for one.

I don't expect people to like me. The truth is, I don't have many friends. What I do have is a steadfast desire to understand other people. No matter how much I may dislike you or what you have done, I am willing to talk to you. I am willing to try to understand you and the reasons that make you think what you think. I am willing to try to understand why you feel the way you feel.

I know I am not perfect. I will make mistakes. I will do things that are wrong. But if you're willing to try to work with me, I am willing to try to work with you. What I don't get is this, if you think global warming is a serious threat to humanity, why aren't you trying to work with me?

I'm not part of "us." I'm not part of "them." What I am is a person who is trying to understand the things around him. If you're not willing to try to speak with me, why should anyone be willing to listen to you?

80 comments

  1. Hmm. The style of response you received is highly reminiscent of ATTP/Ken Rice.

    The more I read in this area, the more I think the subject is psychology not climate science.

  2. It seems to me that with some people, there can only be 'my way or the highway'. I can be frustrating but ultimately self defeating trying to engage such people, particularly if you can't accept their 'way' for whatever reason.

  3. JonA, in many ways, debates like the global warming one are about psychology more than anything else. The reason I wrote this recent eBook is once things reach a certain level of polarization, the truth largely doesn't matter. It stops mattering who is "right" and who is "wrong" because people won't even look at that. In a lot of ways, the global warming debate is the same as the Donald Trump debate. Take a look at comments like this and ask yourself, would anyone on that user's side of the political debate call him out on saying something so completely untrue?

    Peter Green, that is certainly true. I can't say I expected anything else, but I honestly believe there is value in trying.

  4. In retrospect, I should explain why that user's comment isn't true. Not everybody will be familiar with the random talking point from the anti-Clinton crowd. TO make a long storoy short, the user said:

    After Bill Clinton collected a huge speaking fee from Russian interests, Hillary approved Russian purchase of US uranium assets. That seems far more blatant corruption than anything Flynn has done. But yes, Flynn had clear conflicts of interest. Unlike Hillary, he won’t get away with it.

    To draw a supposed parallel between Hillary Clinton's behavior and that of Trump and his staff. The problem is Clinton did not approve the deal in question. She wouldn't. It's not the job of the Secretary of State to approve deals like that. Her department's involvement would have been handled at a lower level, and her department is only one of many which was involved. There were nine total.

    There is absolutely no evidence Clinton had anything to do with that deal. She wouldn't have even had the power to do what this user claims as eight other groups had equal (if not greater) authority. This sort of talking point is a total fabrication. To many people who dislike Clinton, that doesn't matter.

  5. I suspect that there are not formal rules against posting email exchanges, but it would normally be polite to ask before doing so (that you didn't bother is probably an illustration of the basic issue).

    Okay, so you say in your post:

    In the spirit of building bridges/finding common ground, I wanted to look past any past disputes and focus on something which might be productive.

    1. You might want to look past any past disputes. Maybe others don't, especially if they regard you as the main protagonist in any disputes. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're not willing to build bridges or find common ground; it might just mean that they're looking for some sense that you're willing/able to behave in a more reasonable manner.

    2. I, for example, have a couple of basic groundrules, which I think are reasonable (and I would expect anyone I have dialogue with to have similar groundrules). If someone wants to engage in dialogue with me, then they should avoid calling me names and they should avoid suggesting that I'm behaving dishonestly. I don't care if they believe that the name calling is jusitified or that I am behaving dishonestly; those are the groundrules, and they're non-negotiable (and, to be clear, I certainly don't regard myself as behaving dishonestly or that I somehow deserve being called names). I don't even mind if they've done so in the past (my own conduct in discussions isn't perfect) but I do need some sense that they'll endeavour to avoid doing so in future.

    3. Since you seem incapable of following the above groundrules (as our exchange illustrated) I asked you not to contact me again. Previous discussions had never been productive, worthwhile, or pleasant. This one was clearly going in the same direction. There didn't seem much need to continue, especially as you seemed incapable of getting the basic point. Simple.

    4. A suggestion (which you can, and almost certainly will, ignore); if you really are interested in building bridges and finding common ground maybe you need to recognise that you don't get to set the groundrules (other than the groundrules that would allow you to terminate the discussion). Saying things you believe to be true, doesn't make them true. Justifying your conduct in some way, doesn't mean that your conduct was actually justified, or suitable. None of this means that you have to sacrifice any kind of integrity. It's perfectly possible to disagree with what others have said, and to criticise what they've done/said, without calling them names or suggesting that they're behaving dishonestly. If you are unable to do so, you might find your bridge building rather difficult.

    5. My expectation is that my posting this comment will lead this discussion to degenerate. You could always prove me wrong, by actually reading what I've written, giving it some thought, and trying to post a response (assuming you choose to do so) that is thoughtful and reasonable, and give me some sense that maybe my judgement is wrong. On the other hand.......

  6. Anders, there's a degree of humor in saying:

    I suspect that there are not formal rules against posting email exchanges, but it would normally be polite to ask before doing so (that you didn't bother is probably an illustration of the basic issue).

    When the last thing you said in our e-mail exchange to me was:

    I'm asking nicely now. Please don't contact me again.

    Had you not asked me to never contact you again, I would have contacted you about my plan to write this post and likely even asked your permission to publish the exchange (without disclosing your identity). However, it seems strange to expect a person you tell to never talk to you again to talk to you to get permission to tell people you told him never to talk to you again. Of course, it is also strange to tell a person to never talk to you again then go out and start a new discussion with him so...

    As for the rest of what you say, I will point out the entire exchange between us (save that last e-mail you sent me which I quote just above) has been posted for anyone to see. I believe anyone who reads it will find this:

    2. I, for example, have a couple of basic groundrules, which I think are reasonable (and I would expect anyone I have dialogue with to have similar groundrules). If someone wants to engage in dialogue with me, then they should avoid calling me names and they should avoid suggesting that I'm behaving dishonestly.... I don't even mind if they've done so in the past (my own conduct in discussions isn't perfect) but I do need some sense that they'll endeavour to avoid doing so in future.

    3. Since you seem incapable of following the above groundrules (as our exchange illustrated) I asked you not to contact me again. Previous discussions had never been productive, worthwhile, or pleasant. This one was clearly going in the same direction. There didn't seem much need to continue, especially as you seemed incapable of getting the basic point. Simple.

    Is not a remotely accurate description. During our exchange, I did not call you any names or say you were behaving dishonestly. You claim "our exchange illustrate[s]" I am not able to follow the rules you describe, but the reality is I didn't break any of those rules. You seem to be getting offended by things that didn't happen and using that offense to justify not having a discussion.

    If you wish to discuss something I have actually said or simply move beyond your petty gripes, you are free to post here. However, all I have to say is you should try re-reading what I've written as you've clearly misinterpreted it.

  7. Brandon -

    Have you had past experiences where you built bridges with people along with calling them dishonest and then implying that calling them dishonest was justified and in fact all that much more justified because you only call people dishonest after being as "generous" as you can?

    If so, , have you had many such experiences? FWIW, such an approach isn't remotely consistent with behavior that seems to me would result in bridges being built. I would also suggest that it is pretty much diametrically opposed to the theoretical material I've seen about recommended methodology for building bridges

  8. Brandon,
    What an utterly bizarre response. I really cannot tell if you just don't get it, don't want to get, or are incapable of getting it. I also do not know how to explain it any more clearly.

    For example, I did not claim that you had accused me of dishonest behaviour during our exchange. However, during our exchange you acknowledged having done so. My point (which I really did think was patently obvious) is that maybe you shouldn't do this. Your response to this was to suggest that it was justified. So, I will explain this again. If you want to build bridges with some people you have to not only stop doing this, you have to make it clear that you intend to stop doing this. Since it seems clear that you have no intention of not doing this, you are going to find it hard to build bridges. This, to me, seems completely obvious. Why do you think that you can build bridges with some people while completely ignoring all the past occasions when your behaviour towards them has been so utterly awful?

    So, I will repeat my point. Unless you decide that you are willing to behave in a more reasonable manner, you will probably not be able to build bridges, even if you claim to want to do so.

    So, one more time, can I suggest that you read what I wrote, actually think about it, and post a reasoned and thoughtful response. My guess, again, is that you won't. What I really can't tell is if this is because you simply do not know how to do this, or because you do not wish to do this. FWIW, I do actually think that you are interested in building bridges. What I don't get is why you seem so unwilling to put the necessary effort into doing so.

  9. Joshua:

    Have you had past experiences where you built bridges with people along with calling them dishonest and then implying that calling them dishonest was justified and in fact all that much more justified because you only call people dishonest after being as "generous" as you can?

    No. I don't know how well that approach might work, but when I try to build bridges with people, I intentionally refrain from insulting them or calling them dishonest. I refrain from doing so because I believe insulting a person and/or calling them dishonest while trying to find common ground with them will be ineffective.

  10. Anders, your first comment here said:

    If someone wants to engage in dialogue with me, then they should avoid calling me names and they should avoid suggesting that I'm behaving dishonestly.... I don't even mind if they've done so in the past...

    3. Since you seem incapable of following the above groundrules (as our exchange illustrated)

    Our e-mail exchange showed I was perfectly capable of talking to you without insulting you or accusing you of dishonesty, even if I had done so in the past. That is, I did exactly what you came here to claim you require of people. You now say:

    For example, I did not claim that you had accused me of dishonest behaviour during our exchange. However, during our exchange you acknowledged having done so. My point (which I really did think was patently obvious) is that maybe you shouldn't do this.

    During our exchange, you alluded to past instances of me accusing people of dishonest behavior. I responded by acknowledging that had happened and explaining why it had happened. I wouldn't have said a word about the topic except you brought it up. In fact, I explicitly sought to avoid discussing the subject.

    I have expressed no interest in re-visiting past issues, insulting people or accusing anyone of dishonesty. However, if you bring up past behavior, I will acknowledge what I have done in the past. This is particularly true if you bring up that behavior while saying I seem unaware of what that behavior is.

    Why do you think that you can build bridges with some people while completely ignoring all the past occasions when your behaviour towards them has been so utterly awful?

    I don't agree my behavior toward anyone "has been so utterly awful," but I expect people who wish to make progress to be able to set aside past disputes while addressing other issues. That's pretty much the only way progress ever happens. If you don't want to do it, that's fine, but it means you are rejecting a simple and common step used to resolve conflict.

    FWIW, I do actually think that you are interested in building bridges. What I don't get is why you seem so unwilling to put the necessary effort into doing so.

    Since you wish to impose requirements upon me, here is a question for you. What would it take for you to be willing to try to have an actual discussion with me? Can you write a comment that I could theoretically write to make you change your view? I don't know what such a comment would include. Honestly, I don't. Why don't you show me? If you do, maybe you'll find it is something I can endorse.

  11. Since i still haven't found a plugin I like that gives everyone access to the Edit feature, I should note I slightly edited the comment above after the fact. I'm not trying to be unfair, but a couple typos were annoying me. In the future, if anyone would like me to use administrative rights to fix typos in their comments, I'm happy to do the same for them.

    I'd really like to find a plugin for that feature which I like. Maybe the one lucia uses would work. I'll have to ask her which one it is.

  12. Brandon -

    I would suggest that if you're trying to build bridges with people you can't also call them dishonest, particularly if you're going to tell them you were being as "generous" as possible before calling them dishonest. You might just try telling them that you can't agree with their reasoning and give them your reasons as for why. Telling them that they are liars doesn't ever come across as generous in any form, IMO, and it would be a waste if your time to try to convince them of your generosity in doing so. If you don't want to hold back from calling them dishonest, you probably my shouldn't try to build bridges with them. Try considering which is more important to you and which will likely advance your more important goal: building bridges or telling them that you think they are a liar. What is your goal that you hope to achieve by calling them a liar? Are they likely to gain some insight or understanding from you having done so? Is your goal to embarrass them in the eyes of others, or to convince someone else that your interlocutor is a liar?

  13. Joshua:

    I would suggest that if you're trying to build bridges with people you can't also call them dishonest, particularly if you're going to tell them you were being as "generous" as possible before calling them dishonest.

    That's nice, but again, I didn't do that. I don't know why you are focusing on saying an approach to building bridges nobody used is a bad one. If you are doing so because you think I insulted anyone or called anyone a liar while attempting to build bridges, then you are just wrong.

    To make this perfectly clear, when I attempt to find common ground with people and build bridges, I refrain from insulting them and/or questioning their integrity. That is why I did not insult and/or accuse Anders of dishonesty during our e-mail exchange or in my post or comments here.

  14. Brandon,

    Our e-mail exchange showed I was perfectly capable of talking to you without insulting you or accusing you of dishonesty, even if I had done so in the past.

    I guess it showed that it was possible, but then you went and posted the emails publicly without even trying to ask, so it didn't exactly end in a way that made me regard you as someone I could trust. You also made it clear that you thought you were justified in your previous accusations and gave no indication that you would attempt to avoid continuing to make them in future (which is what I had suggested you consider). I, of course, regard your previous accusations as completely untrue. That you seem to regard them as true does not make them so. This is obvious, right?

    I don't agree my behavior toward anyone "has been so utterly awful," but I expect people who wish to make progress to be able to set aside past disputes while addressing other issues. That's pretty much the only way progress ever happens. If you don't want to do it, that's fine, but it means you are rejecting a simple and common step used to resolve conflict.

    Of course you think it wasn't awful, but if you're trying to build bridges with people who think that it was, maybe you need to consider that it might have been. There also isn't any conflict, at least not one that needs to be resolved; there isn't some need for people to build bridges with you. They can carry on doing what they've been doing while happily ignoring you. Since you seem to be the one who wants to build the bridges, maybe you need to recognise that you need to do something more than say "let bygones be bygones".

    What would it take for you to be willing to try to have an actual discussion with me?

    I thought this was obvious, since I've pointed it out on a number of occasions. What I would require is a real sense that you are capable, and willing, to have a discussion that does not degenerate into name calling and accusation (of dishonest behaviour, for example). I do not have that sense, and this discussion has actually lead me to think that you do not even know how to do this; that the concept is so foreign to you that you do not even recognise it as a possibility.

  15. Anders:

    I guess it showed that it was possible, but then you went and posted the emails publicly without even trying to ask, so it didn't exactly end in a way that made me regard you as someone I could trust.

    Again, I didn't ask permission because you told me to never talk to you again. If you tell somebody to never talk to you again, you can't expect them to talk to you again in order to ask your permission to do something. You now acknowledge our exchange showed I was capable of following your rules (without acknowledging this explicitly contradicts what you said in a previous comment here) so there was no apparent reason for you to have told me to never talk to you again. But you told me not to, and I chose to honor the request.

    You also made it clear that you thought you were justified in your previous accusations and gave no indication that you would attempt to avoid continuing to make them in future (which is what I had suggested you consider). I, of course, regard your previous accusations as completely untrue. That you seem to regard them as true does not make them so. This is obvious, right?

    Obviously I believe those things I've said in the past are true. If I no longer believed something I said and it came up again, I would note the change in my view. This is irrelevant though. I explicitly sought to avoid discussing past disputes. You are the one who forced us to revisit what I had said, prompting me to confirm I still believe it. To me, it was always unimportant. All I wanted was to send you a free copy of my eBook because I thought you might find a few points you could agree with me in it.

    Of course you think it wasn't awful, but if you're trying to build bridges with people who think that it was, maybe you need to consider that it might have been. There also isn't any conflict, at least not one that needs to be resolved; there isn't some need for people to build bridges with you. They can carry on doing what they've been doing while happily ignoring you. Since you seem to be the one who wants to build the bridges, maybe you need to recognise that you need to do something more than say "let bygones be bygones".

    Of the two of us, you are the one who advocates for action regarding global warming. The best way to do that is to build bridges. My personal view is I don't care if people do nothing about global warming. If nobody tries to reach across the divide, that's pretty much what will happen. You don't have to attempt to build bridges, but if you don't, you have only yourself to blame when people don't take meaningful action to address global warming.

    I thought this was obvious, since I've pointed it out on a number of occasions. What I would require is a real sense that you are capable, and willing, to have a discussion that does not degenerate into name calling and accusation (of dishonest behaviour, for example). I do not have that sense, and this discussion has actually lead me to think that you do not even know how to do this; that the concept is so foreign to you that you do not even recognise it as a possibility.

    I asked for something tangible because I have no way to know what will give you a "real sense" of anything. I don't know what it would take to convince you I don't intend to insult anyone or question their integrity. Given we've had this lengthy exchange (both in e-mails and now here) where I have refrained from any personal remarks despite you having misinterpreted/misrepresented me several times while making negative remarks about me, I would think I've taken a good first step.

    Maybe I haven't. I don't know. I have no idea what it would take to convince you of anything. That's why I asked. You don't have to answer my question in any substantive way, but if you're not willing or able to tell people what it would take to get you to have a meaningful discussion with them, you can't reasonably expect them to do it.

  16. As an aside, I pretty much never call anyone names. I don't make personal remarks that often, but when I do, they almost never involve name calling. Given that, I find it interesting how often people refer to me supposedly calling people names. Just a random thought.

  17. Brandon,

    You now acknowledge our exchange showed I was capable of following your rules.

    No, I didn't acknowledge this (maybe avoid putting words into other people's mouths). That you avoided it for a few emails does not mean you're capable, in general, of holding a discussion in which you avoid this. In my view, what that exchange illustrated is that you don't see the problem. When I suggested that you avoid making accusations against other people, you could have said something that indicated that you recognised this and would aim to not do so. Instead, you acknowledged having done so and then went on to justify it. Finding some way to justify your conduct doesn't really mean that it was acceptable; it just means that you think it was acceptable. Hence, I conclude that you really don't get the problem and don't really have any intention of avoiding it.

    Obviously I believe those things I've said in the past are true.

    So what? That you believe them to be true, does not make them true. This is a key point and one that you really do seem to not get. There are many things that I might believe to be true, but that I would not actually say.

    I don't know what it would take to convince you I don't intend to insult anyone or question their integrity.

    What it would take is you spending a good deal of time not doing so, because currently I don't believe that this is your intent. When you write posts in the future try to avoid insulting people or questioning their integrity.

    Of the two of us, you are the one who advocates for action regarding global warming. The best way to do that is to build bridges.

    Actually what I do is write post on my blog, respond to comments, and sometimes comment elsewhere. I'm not really advocating for anything, at least not specifically. Even if I was, I don't need to build bridges with every person on the planet. There are some people with whom it is pointless to try and build bridges. I'm not entirely convinced that you are one of those people (otherwise I wouldn't even be commenting) but I'm not convinced you aren't either. Also, you've now managed to shift this. You were the one who sent an email implying an interest in building bridges and now you're suggesting that I should be the one who wants to do so.

    you having misinterpreted/misrepresented me several times while making negative remarks about me

    I might have made some negative remarks about you (which I was doing because you seemed to want to build bridges, but don't seem to get why others might not be willing to do so. I was hoping that maybe you would actually think about things a little more than you have), but I certainly haven't misrepresented you (this would require representing you in some way).

    As an aside, I pretty much never call anyone names.

    Apart from the time you called me a "dick". It's not that I necessarily care, but it does suggest that either you don't understand what name calling is, or have a very poor sense of recognising what it is that you're doing.

    I'm probably going to stop now because I can't see much point in carrying on. Whether you like it or not, my impression is that you aren't really, in general, capable of having a serious discussion in which you avoid making accusations/insulting the other party when you disagree with what they've said or done. However, I do think that you can be quite insightful and it is somewhat disappointing that this is the case. If you really are serious about building bridges, then I really do think that you need to try much harded to avoid this. YMMV, of course.

  18. Brandon -

    What techniques have you used to good effect in the past to bridge gaps between you and those who have disagreed with you strongly when discussing climate science, in particular when your disagreements have come about in discussions in Internet fora?

    Or how about with other topics where you've had strong disagreement?

    Considering your rate of success...
    Have you a sense of whether you've had a high, moderate, or low % of success in an absolute sense (i.e., lots of successful in bridge building, some but not a lot, very little, etc.)?

    Do you think your approach is effective or ineffective, relatively speaking, or perhaps pretty much in line of what you've seen elsewhere in the Internets?

    Have you ever tried to build bridges in such circumstances and failed and then modified your approach, to good effect (either with that person or, building on that failed experience, in subsequent efforts)? If so, how did you modify your approach?

  19. Just a comment on the edit feature....

    Imo, it would be nice to have more time than 15 minutes to make changes.

    If I were to write a long and/or complex comment, I would likely need more than 15 minutes to utilize the editing feature to correct for my errors. Keep in mind, however, that my blog comments tend to be quite convoluted and full of any variety of syntax, grammatical, and spelling errors - so the extended amount of time I might need to make changes could be an outlier. Also, keeping in mind that for some odd reason, I have this weird habit of not remembering/keeping it in my consciousness to make editing changes when I comment until after I have hit the "post" button. I almost always find it much easier to see needed corrections when I re-read in full after I have posted a comment. Some of that makes sense to me, as when I take some time away from what I've written I gain a kind of distance that makes mistakes pop out more easily. When I'm writing and I "know" what I'm trying to say I can gloss over errors and substitute what in my head I'm really intending to write. for what I've actually written. There is a kind of proportional aspect to that phenomenon where, to some extent at least, the more time I have away from what I've written, the easier is for me to see the misalignment that sometimes can arise between what I intended to say and what I actually wrote. I think that is a natural phenomenon for many people to some extent, although there too I think I am a pretty extreme outlier.

  20. ATTP

    You should have answered Brandon as It did.

    The response I gave insured he would never post it or discuss it. unless he were truly interested in bridge building.

    My response:

    "Oh thanks that is really kind of you.
    I appreciate it ."

    After that crickets.

  21. Joshua, I hope you'll forgive me if I pass on your attempt an an interrogation/interview/whatever. I find answering a long series of questions without any input from the other party rarely leads to a productive exchange, and more importantly, I don't find it enjoyable. Thanks for the feedback on the Edit feature. I'll definitely consider changing the amount of time people have.

    Steven Mosher, I didn't expect Anders to respond at all. I figured he'd either ignore the e-mail entirely or read it and say nothing. Interestingly, Anders is the only person of the handful of people I sent free copies to whom I sent any follow-up e-mails. The reason is he was the only one who tried to start a discussion.

    It's pretty easy to ignore an e-mail or say something like, "Thanks, I'll read it with interest" or even say, "I'm not interested, sorry" (these aren't actual quotes).

  22. Anders:

    No, I didn't acknowledge this (maybe avoid putting words into other people's mouths). That you avoided it for a few emails does not mean you're capable, in general, of holding a discussion in which you avoid this.

    You said the e-mail exchange "showed that it was possible" I could follow your rules. That means you acknowledge I was capable of following the rules. Being capable of following rules does not mean you must be capable of following them at all times. You are simply over-interpreting what I said in order to claim I've misreprsented you. I have not.

    So what? That you believe them to be true, does not make them true. This is a key point and one that you really do seem to not get. There are many things that I might believe to be true, but that I would not actually say.

    I am perfectly aware me believing something to be true doesn't make it true. You have no reasonable basis to think otherwise. All that happened here is you said I made certain accusations, so I explained I felt it was appropriate to make those accusations because I believed they were true.

    If the accusations were true, there is nothing wrong with me making them. People are allowed to say truthful things even if those things are unpleasant. The only reason it would have been inappropriate for me to make those accusations is if they had been untrue.

    Also, you've now managed to shift this. You were the one who sent an email implying an interest in building bridges and now you're suggesting that I should be the one who wants to do so.

    There is no "shift." I maintain my interest in building bridges with people on all sides. I recognize people may not care to build bridges with me. The "shift" you note here is simply I pointed out building bridges benefits people who think global warming is a serious threat more than people like me who are apathetic toward it. That's not a "shift." That bringing up an additional point.

    I might have made some negative remarks about you (which I was doing because you seemed to want to build bridges, but don't seem to get why others might not be willing to do so. I was hoping that maybe you would actually think about things a little more than you have), but I certainly haven't misrepresented you (this would require representing you in some way).

    I said "misinterpreted/misrepresented" after having told you several times you've misunderstood or misrepresented what I had said several times. I thought this was clear, but since it was apparently not, I'll be more explicit.

    You have managed to misunderstand/misinterpret/misrepresent what I've said on a nigh-constant basis during this discussion. That is the sort of thing which could irritate a person. Irritations can lead to insults or othere deorgatory remarks. That I feel you've repeatedly misunderstood/misinterpreted what I've said yet haven't treated you any worse for it is some small sign of me being capable of avoiding insults (and accusations of dishonesty).

    I'm probably going to stop now because I can't see much point in carrying on. Whether you like it or not, my impression is that you aren't really, in general, capable of having a serious discussion in which you avoid making accusations/insulting the other party when you disagree with what they've said or done. However, I do think that you can be quite insightful and it is somewhat disappointing that this is the case. If you really are serious about building bridges, then I really do think that you need to try much harded to avoid this. YMMV, of course.

    You are welcome to stop responding whenever you want. I've made no effort to cause this discussion, and I think it has largely been a waste of our time. I think this has been the absolute worse way this discussion could have gone, and I think that is largely because you have been intent upon discussing how you dislike me..

    You haven't made any attempt to show your view of me is justified. An examination of my discussions in general would show they're wrong. You haven't made any attempt to show me how I could change your views. When I ask for something specific to work with, you refused to provide a useful answer.

    You don't like me. That's fine. However, I don't understand why you would say you think it is impossible to have a meaningful discussion with me while behaving in a manner which ensures no such discussion could be had. Especially not if you're going to write at such length.

  23. Brandon,
    Blast, I did write a response, but lost it. Not going to write it again. Steven Mosher is correct. Also, I don't not like you, I just find our discussions mostly unpleasant, and generally not worth the effort. That you assert that my views are wrong, rather than thinking about why you might have broken bridges in the first place, is probably a sufficient illustration that you're not going to give this much thought (oh, and I did give you something specific to work with, but you seem to have just decided to ignore it). My views, FWIW, are neither right nor wrong, they simply are what they are. They're not about to change simply because you assert them to be wrong. Anyway, my bad.

  24. Actually, I'll respond to this because this does seem to be a key point.

    If the accusations were true, there is nothing wrong with me making them. People are allowed to say truthful things even if those things are unpleasant. The only reason it would have been inappropriate for me to make those accusations is if they had been untrue.

    Yes, people are allowed to say truthful things even if they're unpleasant. However, they're not allowed to do so and then expect the other party to agree, or to continue the discussion. This is a key point. If you want to build bridges, maybe you need to find a way to interact that is both truthful and pleasant (or, maybe, not unpleasant). Also, your last sentence is patently untrue. There are many circumstances where it would be regarded as inappropriate to make accusations that are true. If you can't think of any, then maybe you need to try harder.

  25. Brandon -

    =={I hope you'll forgive me. }==

    Forgive you? I don't know why you'd be hoping that I forgive you. I don't think there is anything to "forgive." Of course I wouldn't be angry or resentful in response to you not answering my questions. I merely wonder why you wouldn't do so. (And, btw, I find your explanation to be rather dubious).

    =={ if I pass on your attempt an an interrogation/interview/whatever. }==

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I am neither interrogating nor interviewing you. I am asking you questions to find out your logic behind behavior that seems obviously illogical to me... Because maybe there is an actual logic that I can't perceive and then I'll learn something, or maybe there is even the slightest of chances that in trying to answer those questions you might see that your behavior IS illogical (and an even smaller, much smaller chance, that you'll admit it if you have done so)..

    =={ I find answering a long series of questions without any input from the other party rarely leads to a productive exchange. }==

    There is nothing that compels you, of course, to answer ALL of the questions rather than just pick and choose. Feel free to answer ANY of them...and I'll add another... I am curious as to which of your behaviors you think DOES lead
    to a productive exchange with those who disagree strongly with you, as in my observations you are rather bad at having, what I consider to be productive, exchanges with people who you disagree with strongly. So maybe I am not aware of some effective strategies that you have but I haven't seen. Or maybe you have a different view on what sorts of exchanges are productive. That is why I was asking about your strategies for building bridges with people that you disagree with strongly. It seems to me you regularly employ counterproductive strategies toward such a goal, of the sort that pretty much contradict what many people suggest for bridge - building strategies. But maybe there is some information you could supply that would enable me to see that I'm wrong about that.

    And of course, regarding input. If you were to change you mind and answer some of those questions, I would be happy to provide input.

    =={ and more importantly, I don't find it enjoyable. }==

    Well, I certainly wouldn't want you to do something that you don't enjoy.

  26. "The reason is he was the only one who tried to start a discussion."

    Weird. I thought my thank you was a perfect way to begin a discussion. A bad way to begin would be to pick a fight or get butt hurt.
    A good way to start a discussion is to say thank you as I did.

    Oh well.

  27. Anders:

    That you assert that my views are wrong, rather than thinking about why you might have broken bridges in the first place, is probably a sufficient illustration that you're not going to give this much thought

    At some point in your life you might consider the possibility you do not possess ESP. You don't know what I have and have not thought about. That I disagree with things you say need not mean I have never thought about the merits of your views. But if you really are a mind-reader, perhaps you're right in what you say about me. Then again, perhaps you can't be right or wrong:

    My views, FWIW, are neither right nor wrong, they simply are what they are.

    Though I'm not sure how views can be neither right nor wrong. I suppose it makes discussions easier. After all, if you can't be right or wrong, then any challenge to what you say is meaningless.

    (oh, and I did give you something specific to work with, but you seem to have just decided to ignore it).

    No you did not. If you had, you would be able to quote it. I challenge you to as I ignored nothing.

    Yes, people are allowed to say truthful things even if they're unpleasant. However, they're not allowed to do so and then expect the other party to agree, or to continue the discussion. This is a key point. If you want to build bridges, maybe you need to find a way to interact that is both truthful and pleasant (or, maybe, not unpleasant).

    If a person lies and gets caught, their response should not be, "I'll never talk to you again because you correctly pointed out my dishonesty." They can go with that response if they wish, but it's a bad one. In the same way, complaining I point out mistakes/misdeeds without doing anything to call what I say into question is a bad response. I don't expect people like you to have any sort of meaningful discussion with me, but I wish you guys would put on your big boy pants, get over yourselves and realize your current approach to disagreement/criticism is a bad one.

    The global warming debate has devolved into what is little more than a food fight because people on both sides all but refuse to have any sort of discussion with one another. Your behavior is a microcosm of this.

  28. Joshua:

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I am neither interrogating nor interviewing you. I am asking you questions to find out your logic behind behavior that seems obviously illogical to me... Because maybe there is an actual logic that I can't perceive and then I'll learn something, or maybe there is even the slightest of chances that in trying to answer those questions you might see that your behavior IS illogical (and an even smaller, much smaller chance, that you'll admit it if you have done so)..

    You seem to be way over-interpreting what I said (like how you spent a paragraph on an idiom like "hope you'll forgive"). I said interrogation/interview/whatever because I couldn't think of a word to describe a comment consisting only of a series of questions. But when you say things like:

    There is nothing that compels you, of course, to answer ALL of the questions rather than just pick and choose. Feel free to answer ANY of them...and I'll add another... I am curious as to which of your behaviors you think DOES lead

    You're making me believe answering your questions would involve a great deal more work from me than you would be putting into the exchange. This is particularly true given

    That is why I was asking about your strategies for building bridges with people that you disagree with strongly. It seems to me you regularly employ counterproductive strategies toward such a goal, of the sort that pretty much contradict what many people suggest for bridge - building strategies. But maybe there is some information you could supply that would enable me to see that I'm wrong about that.

    You have repeatedly misrepresented what my behavior is in the past (to be clear, I presume this is unintentional). I have no doubt your misconceptions of what my behavior is might make my statement seem irrational/contradictory. If we can't move past/address those misconceptions, the rest of your questions are likely to remain conundrums. You might recall our last discussion ended with you leaving and me noting:

    Okay. If you wish to ignore that you've misrepresented what I've said on multiple occasions and leave this comment as your final word, that's your call. I'll just suggest a person who cannot be bothered to even attempt to resolve his misconceptions when they are pointed out isn't likely to convince people they are wrong about how to interpret things.

    And:

    That's nice and all, but you've demonstrated you are either unable or unwilling to understand why I think what I think. You misread things multiple times then chose not to attempt to reconcile your understanding with the intended meaning. I am naturally skeptical of any conclusions a person who does such might reach.

    Those remarks are still relevant now.

  29. Steven Mosher:

    Weird. I thought my thank you was a perfect way to begin a discussion. A bad way to begin would be to pick a fight or get butt hurt.
    A good way to start a discussion is to say thank you as I did.

    Oh well.

    I'm not sure why you would think saying, "Thank you" is a good way to prompt a discussion. There is no topic or content in such an expression of gratitude to which a person can respond. There is no subject matter to it. When I say, "Thank you" after my waitress brings me my orange juice, it is not an invitation for a discussion.

    Brandon have you seen how Joshua and I don't fight anymore?
    How did that happen?

    I don't know. Maybe you guys got together and decided it is okay to routinely misrepresent what people say. Maybe you guys got together and decided comparing people to Holocaust deniers is good. Maybe you just painted one another's nails and watched chick flicks. Maybe it was any of a hundred other things.

    What I do know is you both routinely behave in ways that make productive discussions with you impossible, primarily by misrepresenting what people say and refusing to address it when people speak out. That you two happen to get along with one another doesn't make that become okay.

  30. Brandon,
    FWIW, I think you should probably not bother trying to build bridges - well, you should probably not bother trying to fix broken ones.

  31. Anders, so long as people like you continue to misinterpret/misrepresent what people say then refuse to attempt to address their concerns when they correct you, you may be right. The simple reality is you believe you know certain things and are unwilling to look at things which contradict your beliefs.

    I don't think most people will do the same though. My experience is the blogosphere attracts a certain type of individual, or at least a certain type of behavior from individuals, which is not present to anywhere near as large an extent elsewhere (except maybe punditry). When making the same efforts with people who are not active commenters on blogs (including lurkers), things tend to go much better.

    For the record, my efforts to find common ground with people are why I have had an article published at DeSmogBlog. Not many people can say they've been published there and at WUWT (though half of my posts at WUWT weren't actually posts I submitted, but were just things Anthony Watts chose to label guest posts without my input). I was even invited to do a bit of peer-review based off these efforts. I think I'll stick with it.

  32. Brandon,
    This has turned into quite a remarkable discussion. You seem completely unwilling to consider your own conduct and are now largely blaming others and suggesting that they have some responsibilty for building bridges. I am really unable to tell if you are actually interested in engaging reasonably, but just do not know how to do so, or able to recognise when you don't, or if you just have an amazing ability to appear to want to do so, while really not wanting to and are just enjoying winding other people up. I'm rather rapidly heading towards the latter, but have no great interest in finding out for sure. I'm actually quite content with the engagements I do have and don't really see much point in putting effort into building bridges with someone who can't bother putting any effort in themselves.

  33. Anders:

    This has turned into quite a remarkable discussion. You seem completely unwilling to consider your own conduct and are now largely blaming others and suggesting that they have some responsibilty for building bridges.

    Leaving aside your continued false belief I simply don't think about certain things hence why I act the way I act, I have never suggested anyone has any responsibility for building bridges. All I have said is people bear the responsibility of their decision not to. If choosing to refuse to try to find common ground leads to some outcome, the person who chose that path bears some responsibility for that outcome. That's all.

    I'm rather rapidly heading towards the latter, but have no great interest in finding out for sure. I'm actually quite content with the engagements I do have and don't really see much point in putting effort into building bridges with someone who can't bother putting any effort in themselves.

    You can believe whatever you want, but I think most disinterested onlookers would judge my behavior in our exchanges these last few days as being more likely to lead to a productive discussion than yours. I think any fairminded examination of the disagreements I have in general (online or otherwise) would show your judgement of me is misguided. I also think all of this has been stupid.

    In the time you've chosen to spend on petty gripes like this, we could have had a substantive discussion of any number of issues without any hostility. You could have chosen that route. You could have chosen the route in which neither of spent much time talking to one another. Instead, you chose this route. I don't think anyone would say that was a good choice. If you want to stay on this path, I am willing to keep trying to have a real discussion. I don't think it will happen though.

    I said from the start I don't see any value in re-hashing old complaints. You can have us keep testing that belief to see if I was right. You can also choose to do as I've tried to get us to do this entire time - move onto a discussion that could have some value.

  34. "'m not sure why you would think saying, "Thank you" is a good way to prompt a discussion. There is no topic or content in such an expression of gratitude to which a person can respond. There is no subject matter to it. When I say, "Thank you" after my waitress brings me my orange juice, it is not an invitation for a discussion."

    I said more than thank you. I said it was kind and I appreciate it.
    You were not a waitress bringing me something I ordered. Bad analogy. Further, what you miss, and what my sentences were intended to test was your ability to see beyond the literal surface.

    I think you got the kind of response you wanted from attp. A response you could publish and goad him into more argument.

    Last. A discussion need not have a topic to start. This is known as small talk. We test the waters. We check for civility. These are paralinguistic acts
    If you had said. "You're welcome" my next response would have been. "I will read it and tell you what I think". I was testing your social awareness of the function of language.

    Para linguistic acts are basically designed to test a channel.

    When you focus on literal surface you miss them.

    Mosher: nice weather we are having
    Brandon: yes.

    See? Nice weather is not about the weather. It's an invitation.

    In korean. ..did you eat? Is similar it's not an invitation to talk about your food. It really means how are you doing.

    Language is not the words on the page.

  35. "I don't know. Maybe you guys got together and decided it is okay to routinely misrepresent what people say. Maybe you guys got together and decided comparing people to Holocaust deniers is good."

    The right answer to the question was. "I don't know perhaps you could explain?:?"

    Last I looked neither of us believe what you ascribe to us.
    The way to really test your understanding of what we believe is to ask. That's the normal human thing to do.

    Let's take denier. I've probably slipped up in anger more than a few times in calling people deniers. I've spent a bunch of time specifically arguing that it is a bad rhetorical tactic. Yes you can tell people its a bad idea to run red lights and be guilty of running them. In fact the experience is a great teacher.

    So how did I stop fighting with everything Joshua said?
    1. I stopped nit picking. Mispeaking..miswriting..happen to everyone.
    I let the little things go.
    2. I looked for agreement points before I looked for disagreement.
    3. I realized that therected were big subjects we would never settle.

    It wasn't hard.

    I did the same thing with willard and attp. Now there are issues we can discuss in a somewhat civilized manner. Since they are attuned to these social cues we of course get along despite our disagreement.

    Try it sometime. Go to a blog. Allow yourself to only agree with people. You don't have to do it forever. I didnt. But you ought to try it just as an empirical test.

  36. >Try it sometime. Go to a blog. Allow yourself to only agree with people. You don't have to do it forever. I didnt. But you ought to try it just as >an empirical test.

    too funny.

    😉

  37. Brandon -

    =={ You're making me believe answering your questions would involve a great deal more work from me than you would be putting into the exchange. }==

    I'm not making you believe anything... I'm not asking for you to put in a lot of work '..just to answer some relatively simple questions. You've probably spent more energy in following-up with non-responses than would have been expended with simple responses, especially if you had picked and chosen. And if I find your responses interesting, who knows how much effort I"ll put into responding.

    =={ You have repeatedly misrepresented what my behavior is in the past (to be clear, I presume this is unintentional). I have no doubt your misconceptions of what my behavior is might make my statement seem irrational/contradictory. }==

    I don't think that I have misinterpreted your past behaviors. So there we are. It strikes me as a situation very much analogous to yours with Anders. So then perhaps, he might very much identify with this next comment of yours.

    =={ If we can't move past/address those misconceptions, the rest of your questions are likely to remain conundrums. }==

    =={ Okay. If you wish to ignore that you've misrepresented what I've said on multiple occasions ...}==

    I doubt I "ignored" a misrepresentation. I most likely didn't agree with you about whether or not I misrepresented you. And as such...

    =={ and leave this comment as your final word, that's your call. }==

    My guess is that there didn't seem to be much point in responding to your perceived misrepresentation because you were insisting that I was misrepresenting you and absolutely certain that I was wrong on the topic. Not much more to say, really, in such a situation.

    =={ I'll just suggest a person who cannot be bothered to even attempt to resolve his misconceptions when they are pointed out }==

    I probably didn't think there was a "misconception" to resolve, merely a disagreement where there was not going to be any agreement.

    =={ isn't likely to convince people they are wrong about how to interpret things. }==

    I have little confidence that there will ever come a time when I will convince you that you were wrong about something. Which is why I specified that I thought there was little chance of that happening. But, again, my main point was to find out whether there was something about your efforts to build bridges with people who strongly disagree with you that perhaps I hadn't been able to perceive. Because from my observations, over a fairly long time in a lot of Internet fora, you seem to me to employ rather ineffective strategies.

    =={ That's nice and all, but you've demonstrated you are either unable or unwilling to understand why I think what I think. }==

    Well; I don't think that I was opining on "why" you think what you think (I don't remember the specifics but I generally know that I can't formulate a confident opinion as to "why" someone thinks what they think).

    =={ You misread things multiple times then chose not to attempt to reconcile your understanding with the intended meaning. }==

    I doubt it. My guess is that I simply didn't agree with whatever point it was that you were making. Perhaps I failed to understand something, but it wasn't from a lack of trying. It is most likely that I tried, and simply didn't agree with something that you stated as a fact.

    =={ Those remarks are still relevant now. }==

    Perhaps. But maybe you could give it a shot. Answer one or a couple of my questions.

    What strategies have you found successful in building bridges with people who disagree with you strongly in Internet fora? I've seen you disagree strongly quite a bit in that setting, and can't recall seeing you having had much success in building bridges and reaching common ground. Perhaps I am mistaken in my recollection. Perhaps we have a different definition of success. Perhaps you've had successes that I haven't seen. Perhaps I just haven't well-understood the strategies that you've employed. There can be any number of ways that reality might not fit with my perception.

  38. Brandon,
    You keep claiming that I'm rehashing old complaints, but I'm not really. I telling you something and for some reason you seem to not be willing to acknowledge it. I'll try one more time. It's actually quite simple. I don't trust you. Got it? That's really all it is. Can you at least acknowledge that you do get this?

    I don't trust that you're capable/willing to have a discussion in which you don't end up maligning the character of the person you disagree with. I might be wrong to hold this view, but it is what it is. Simply telling me that I am wrong is not going to suddenly change it. What is more, you seem to acknowledge that you do this, but seem to think it's okay because when you do it it's true. You also (somewhat bizarrely) seem to think that when you do malign people's characters that they should respond positively. Of course, I should be clear that I'm discussing this in the context of trying to build bridges. I don't have a specific issue with people maligning the character of others, but it seems completely counterproductive if the intent is to have a meaningful discussion.

    Let's even consider this comment where you say about me:

    The simple reality is you believe you know certain things and are unwilling to look at things which contradict your beliefs.

    Really? Not even expressed as an opinion? Not even a smidgen of doubt? Absolute certainty thet you know what I believe and what I'm unwilling to look at? It seems that you can't even help yourself. Either that, or you know precisely what you're doing and are just being a wind up merchant.

  39. Steven Mosher:

    I think you got the kind of response you wanted from attp. A response you could publish and goad him into more argument.

    You're wrong. That is not what i wanted.

    Last. A discussion need not have a topic to start. This is known as small talk. We test the waters. We check for civility. These are paralinguistic acts

    I make small talk in social settings. I don't e-mail people I have no friendly relationship with out of the blue to engage in it. I wouldn't expect anyone to do the so with me. That'd be weird. For instance:

    Mosher: nice weather we are having
    Brandon: yes.

    See? Nice weather is not about the weather. It's an invitation.

    If you sent me an e-mail out of the blue saying the weather was nice, I'd find that disturbing. If you happened to be at the bar this Thursday while I was at dart league and said the same thing, I'd think it normal and respond in kind. I have no problem making small talk. I simply recognize there is a time and place for it.

    Last I looked neither of us believe what you ascribe to us.
    The way to really test your understanding of what we believe is to ask. That's the normal human thing to do.

    I'm not sure what belief you think I incorrectly ascribe to you. I said the two of you routinely misrepresent what people say (not just me). That's not a statement about your beliefs. It's a description of a pattern of behavior. I don't care what either of you believe. if you would stop misrepresenting what people say (in your case, often in extremely obvious ways) or at least try to reconcile your understanding when those misrepresentations are pointed out, things would be fine.

  40. =={ I think you got the kind of response you wanted from attp. A response you could publish and goad him into more argument. }==

    That was my impression. I certainly would have suggested a different approach for Brandon to use to build a bridge with Anders. The approach that that it seemed to me he did take stuck me as illogical from a bridge-building perspective - and one that could have easily been anticipated to fail. Especially for someone as smart as Brandon. But maybe Brandon was employing some bridge building strategy that isn't readily apparent to me?

    One that he doesn't want to tell me about because it wouldnt be fun or too much work to do so?

    At any rate, it is clear that his strategy for bridge-building failed in this instance... So maybe Brandon can describe other situations where it did work so we can figure what's different about Anders that made it not work in this situation?

  41. Joshua:

    I'm not making you believe anything...

    If I say, "The sky getting darker makes me think we'll have rain," that does not mean I believe my mental processes are being controlled by the amount of light in the sky. I understand sometimes people will take things others say as being more literal than was intended (I am certainly guilty of this myself), but...

    I don't think that I have misinterpreted your past behaviors. So there we are. It strikes me as a situation very much analogous to yours with Anders. So then perhaps, he might very much identify with this next comment of yours.

    That would be why I have suggested on a number of occasions we discuss why you have reached the conclusions you have reached. Doing so would let us see why one another thinks what they think. Thus far, you have chosen not to take me up on this suggestion.

    I doubt I "ignored" a misrepresentation. I most likely didn't agree with you about whether or not I misrepresented you.

    I have told you you misinterpreted/misrepresented something I've said many times. In many cases, you said nothing about my claim. I think it is reasonable to say that means you "ignored" the issue. It's certainly possible you thought about it and decided I was wrong, but if you say nothing, I have no way to know.

    My guess is that there didn't seem to be much point in responding to your perceived misrepresentation because you were insisting that I was misrepresenting you and absolutely certain that I was wrong on the topic. Not much more to say, really, in such a situation.
    ...
    I doubt it. My guess is that I simply didn't agree with whatever point it was that you were making.

    When somebody claims I said something I didn't mean, I tend to be "absolutely certain" they've misinterpreted/misrepresented what I said. That's normal. You can choose to believe I meant what you claimed, but as the person who wrote it, I will know if you are right or wrong.

    I have little confidence that there will ever come a time when I will convince you that you were wrong about something.

    I can't speak to your ability to do so, but plenty of people have convinced me I was wrong about something. That includes people like Anders, who has convinced me I was wrong on a number of topics. Granted, his successes may have arisen from discussing scientific matters, something I think you've said you are not well suited for.

    Perhaps. But maybe you could give it a shot. Answer one or a couple of my questions.

    If you had asked one or two questions, I would have answered. After three paragraphs of questions though, I tend to view a comment as not interesting. When I see questions are all that exist in that comment, I tend not to answer. If you want me to answer questions, it's not difficult. Ask me one or two questions at a time and try to focus on specific points. Do that, and I'll always answer what I'm asked.

  42. Brandon,
    I do think maybe you should try reading what people say a bit more carefully. Steven said

    I think you got the kind of response you wanted from attp.

    How is you're wrong a response to this? The only way this can be wrong is if it isn't what he was thinking. It may be the case that it isn't what you wanted, but Steven didn't claim this, he simply said it was what he thought you wanted.

  43. What strategies have you found successful in building bridges with people who disagree with you strongly in Internet fora?

  44. Anders:

    You keep claiming that I'm rehashing old complaints, but I'm not really. I telling you something and for some reason you seem to not be willing to acknowledge it. I'll try one more time. It's actually quite simple. I don't trust you. Got it? That's really all it is. Can you at least acknowledge that you do get this?

    I think everyone looking at this page has always understood you don't trust me. I'd like to think it was obvious from any number of my statements that I get that you were expressing a distrust for me. Since you ask though, yes, I get that you have been telling me you don't trust me.

    I don't trust that you're capable/willing to have a discussion in which you don't end up maligning the character of the person you disagree with. I might be wrong to hold this view, but it is what it is. Simply telling me that I am wrong is not going to suddenly change it.

    Indeed. However, I am not going to say you are right to distrust me. Instead, I am going to ask you to provide specificc information that would tell me what I could do which might change your view.

    What is more, you seem to acknowledge that you do this, but seem to think it's okay because when you do it it's true. You also (somewhat bizarrely) seem to think that when you do malign people's characters that they should respond positively. Of course, I should be clear that I'm discussing this in the context of trying to build bridges. I don't have a specific issue with people maligning the character of others, but it seems completely counterproductive if the intent is to have a meaningful discussion.

    I have never suggested a person should respond positively to their character being maligned. In fact, I have said I expect the opposite. What I have said is people whose character has been maligned should be able to respond positively in discussion long after the malignment that have nothing to do with said malignment.

    In other words, somebody being mean to you justifies a negative response. It does not justify choosing to respond to that person negatively at every point in the future.

    Really? Not even expressed as an opinion? Not even a smidgen of doubt? Absolute certainty thet you know what I believe and what I'm unwilling to look at? It seems that you can't even help yourself. Either that, or you know precisely what you're doing and are just being a wind up merchant.

    You stated you believe certain things. I think it is reasonable for me to respond by saying you believe those certain things. I don't know that you do, but I am willing to trust you when you say you do. I don't know why you would take issue with this.

    As for your unwillingess to consider things which might contradict those beliefs, perhaps I am wrong. However, each time I have told you you misinterpreted something I said during this discussion, your response was to say nothing on the matter. If a person misinterprets/misrepresents someone else and ignores Anders:

    You keep claiming that I'm rehashing old complaints, but I'm not really. I telling you something and for some reason you seem to not be willing to acknowledge it. I'll try one more time. It's actually quite simple. I don't trust you. Got it? That's really all it is. Can you at least acknowledge that you do get this?

    I think everyone looking at this page has always understood you don't trust me. I'd like to think it was obvious from any number of my statements that I get that you were expressing a distrust for me. Since you ask though, yes, I get that you have been telling me you don't trust me.

    I don't trust that you're capable/willing to have a discussion in which you don't end up maligning the character of the person you disagree with. I might be wrong to hold this view, but it is what it is. Simply telling me that I am wrong is not going to suddenly change it.

    Indeed. However, I am not going to say you are right to distrust me. Instead, I am going to ask you to provide specificc information that would tell me what I could do which might change your view.

    What is more, you seem to acknowledge that you do this, but seem to think it's okay because when you do it it's true. You also (somewhat bizarrely) seem to think that when you do malign people's characters that they should respond positively. Of course, I should be clear that I'm discussing this in the context of trying to build bridges. I don't have a specific issue with people maligning the character of others, but it seems completely counterproductive if the intent is to have a meaningful discussion.

    I have never suggested a person should respond positively to their character being maligned. In fact, I have said I expect the opposite. What I have said is people whose character has been maligned should be able to respond positively in discussion long after the malignment that have nothing to do with said malignment.

    In other words, somebody being mean to you justifies a negative response. It does not justify choosing to respond to that person negatively at every point in the future.

    Really? Not even expressed as an opinion? Not even a smidgen of doubt? Absolute certainty thet you know what I believe and what I'm unwilling to look at? It seems that you can't even help yourself. Either that, or you know precisely what you're doing and are just being a wind up merchant.

    You stated you believe certain things. I think it is reasonable for me to respond by saying you believe those certain things. I don't know that you do, but I am willing to trust you when you say you do. I don't know why you would take issue with this.

    As for your unwillingess to consider things which might contradict those beliefs, perhaps I am wrong. However, each time I have told you you misinterpreted something I said during this discussion, your response was to say nothing on the matter. A person who refuses to make even the slightest effort to reconcile misunderstandings when they are pointed out is someone who appears to be unwilling to look at things. You may prefer to couch everything you say as an opinion, but it is perfectly normal for people to state what they believe to be true with the intent being if they are wrong, they will correct themselves.

  45. Brandon. -

    =={ I think it is reasonable to say that means you "ignored" the issue. }==

    Perhaps reasonable (or at least understandable), but not likely accurate - which is what I said (I didn't say it was unreasonable...you remind me of Trump saying that he didn't mention Israel, or McMaster .saying that Trump didn't divulge sources and methods) There are a number of times I have read and considered such assertions you have made and simply concluded that it would be a waste of time to discuss them with you... Because of what I perceive to be a habit you have of confusing your opinions with objective facts - something I've mentioned to you a number of times.

  46. Anders:

    I do think maybe you should try reading what people say a bit more carefully. Steven said

    I think you got the kind of response you wanted from attp.

    How is you're wrong a response to this? The only way this can be wrong is if it isn't what he was thinking. It may be the case that it isn't what you wanted, but Steven didn't claim this, he simply said it was what he thought you wanted.

    I don't know how to respond to this. Steven Mosher said he thought I wanted something. I didn't want it. He was wrong about what I wanted. I said he was wrong. That seems unremarkable.

    For Mosher, Anders and Joshua, is this the sort of thing you think a person shouldn't say? What would be the "right" way for me to point out Mosher was wrong about what you wanted (for the purpose of this question, please operate under the assumption he was)?

  47. Brandon,

    You stated you believe certain things. I think it is reasonable for me to respond by saying you believe those certain things. I don't know that you do, but I am willing to trust you when you say you do. I don't know why you would take issue with this.

    Why don't you try this again? You've even largely ignored what was the key thing. You said (I'll even bold it to give you some clues as to the potential issue).

    The simple reality is you believe you know certain things and are unwilling to look at things which contradict your beliefs.

    Still see no issue with this?

    Okay, I'll explain it, because I suspect you still won't get it. If you want to have dialogue with someone, try not to make absolute claims about their character. Why? Well two reasons. One is that it's not really conducive to reasonable discourse. Two, it makes you appear to think that you're an infallible mind reader. If you think that I'm unwilling to look at things that contradict my belief, you could have said "I think". Also, you might want to particularly avoid it in a discussion about building bridges in which someone suggests that the reason you struggle to build bridges is that you appear incapable of having a discussion in which you don't end up insulting the person you disagree with.

    Instead, I am going to ask you to provide specificc information that would tell me what I could do which might change your view.

    Easy. From now on, when you comment on what other people have said/done, try to avoid saying things that either directly, or indirectly, infer something about their character. Try to simply highlight what it is you disagree with and why. You could actually take Steven's advice and try to actively agree with some of what other people say, but maybe start slowly and build up to that.

  48. Brandon,

    For Mosher, Anders and Joshua, is this the sort of thing you think a person shouldn't say? What would be the "right" way for me to point out Mosher was wrong about what you wanted (for the purpose of this question, please operate under the assumption he was)?

    Easy: "No, that isn't what I wanted".

  49. Oh, and there was another reason why I highlighted that. If someone does think that you were aiming to do something that you were not, then even if it isn't what you wanted, it can be worth considering why it is that they thought that.

  50. Joshua:

    Because of what I perceive to be a habit you have of confusing your opinions with objective facts - something I've mentioned to you a number of times.

    You've mentioned this many times, and on many occasions, I've explained to you why your perceptions are wrong. I am human. I know I make mistakes. I know perfectly well I misunderstand things and misinterpret what people say. My process for handling this is simple:

    1) State what I believe.
    2) Explain why I believe it.
    3) Hope if I am wrong, someone will explain what I got wrong in 2).

    In my experience, that's how most people operate.

    What strategies have you found successful in building bridges with people who disagree with you strongly in Internet fora?

    That depends on what you mean by "Internet fora." If you include things like e-mail, the most effective strategy I have found is contacting people who have discussed specific issues when I discuss them to draw their attention to what I've said (often while providing a short summary of it). The idea of that is to show them right from the start we have common ground and that considering my input my let them gain some additional insight.

    If we don't include e-mails, I've found the most effective approach has been to arrange a discussion of a specific topic which we agree not to move off of. By keeping discussions narrowly constrained, I find this lets us focus on finding common ground/fleshing out what that common ground is. Additionally, by "resetting" the nature of the exchanges between us, we get a new opportunity for a "first impression."

    You may notice these are not things I do on in each comment I post. That is because I don't try to build bridges on a constant basis. Building bridges takes time and effort. I go out of my way to try to do it when I see an opportunity, but most of the time it is not what I am attempting to do.

    Also, in some communities it is easier to do because of a "hands on" aspect. There are people in technical communities I have been able to build bridges with by contributing to the work they were doing. One time, the person in charge of a software project didn't like me because of disagreements we had had. After I couldn't get him to pay attention to a serious bug I had discovered in the software, I disassembled the code and rewrote (a tiny) part of it to fix the problem. That got him to listen to me. We've been casual acquaintances for years since.

  51. =={ Steven Mosher said he thought I wanted something. I didn't want it. He was wrong about what I wanted. I said he was wrong. That seems unremarkable....For Mosher, Anders and Joshua, is this the sort of thing you think a person shouldn't say? What would be the "right" way for me to point out Mosher was wrong about what you wanted (for the purpose of this question, please operate under the assumption he was)? }==

    As Anders notes, in the context of building bridges there is an important difference (IMO) between saying "That isn't what I wanted/meant/etc." and "You're wrong."

    I will also note that I had a similar impression as Steven, in the sense that I too, doubted that your actions fit logically with an attempt to build bridges. Now I could be wrong ( we both could be wrong), and the reason that I had that impression could be entirely self-generated. Or maybe there is some other reason that your actions elicited a mistaken impression for me - perhaps rooted in a history disagreements which eroded trust, perhaps rooted in something about my approach to these exchanges, or perhaps rooted in something more specific to your general approach to finding common ground/building bridges. Or perhaps some combination thereof.

    I would suggest that it is a combination - and part of the reason I say that is in watching your exchanges at places with people that I also strongly disagree with - like the Blackboard, The AirVent, and WUWT.

  52. Anders:

    Okay, I'll explain it, because I suspect you still won't get it. If you want to have dialogue with someone, try not to make absolute claims about their character.

    Had this still be closer to the start of the discussion, I would not have said that. However, the fatigue of dealing with a discussion I have repeatedly said I believe to be pointless with nothing happening to challenge that belief does affect my writing somewhat.

    You might take this as proof I cannot abide by the rules you laid out for long. That's not the case. If I were attempting to build bridges with people in this post/discussion, I wouldn't have said anything like that. However, when things devolve to the point of petty squabbling, I don't think there is a need to put as much effort into being positive in what one says. Had there ever been an attempt at a real discussion during these exchanges, I would have stopped it long before things reached this point so we could preserve the effort we had made.

    Easy: "No, that isn't what I wanted".

    I fail to see how that is not telling the person they were wrong.

    Oh, and there was another reason why I highlighted that. If someone does think that you were aiming to do something that you were not, then even if it isn't what you wanted, it can be worth considering why it is that they thought that

    Certainly. As much as you might believe otherwise, I do consider why people reach various conclusions about me.

  53. Joshua:

    As Anders notes, in the context of building bridges there is an important difference (IMO) between saying "That isn't what I wanted" and "You're wrong."

    I don't think the difference is important in terms of meaning, but I can certainly see why it would be important in terms of tone. However, you seem to be operating under the incorrect belief this is "in the context of building bridges." This isn't. My attempt at building a bridge was the e-mail exchange I had.

    As soon I posted that exchange for the public to see, I considered the effort to be over. I'd be willing to try to resume/restart it, but it is not something I am doing right now.

    I will also note that I had a similar impression as Steven, in the sense that I too, doubted that your actions fit logically with an attempt to build bridges.

    Since I responded to your question, could to this one of mine: What part(s) of my e-mails made you think it was an effort to get a response i could post on this site and/or goad Anders into more arguments?

  54. Brandon,

    However, the fatigue of dealing with a discussion I have repeatedly said I believe to be pointless with nothing happening to challenge that belief does affect my writing somewhat.

    Indeed, but this doesn't change that it largely illustrate what I've been suggesting; you seem incapable of having a discussion in which you don't end up insulting the person you disagree with. You even did it in a discussion in which this was one of the key issues being discussed. Hence my suggestion that maybe you shouldn't really bother trying to build/rebuild bridges. Each to their own, of course.

    You might take this as proof I cannot abide by the rules you laid out for long. That's not the case.

    Of course, but that's because you appear to always have a justification for you what you do or say. You're right, according to you, and the other party is wrong, according to you. That you don't see this as the issue, is - in my view - essentially the issue.

    Had there ever been an attempt at a real discussion during these exchanges

    This has been a real discussion. It's been a discussion about building bridges. Something that I suspect you will regularly having trouble doing.

    I fail to see how that is not telling the person they were wrong.

    Because there is a difference between pointing out that what they thought you wanted, isn't what you wanted, and you claiming that they're wrong. Again, that you don't seem to see the distinction probably illustrate the basic issue.

  55. =={ I fail to see how that is not telling the person they were wrong. }==

    Interesting. In effect it is telling them that they are wrong, but it certainly isn't "saying" the same thing. As such, it is likely to elicit a different (less defensive) response. In the one situation you are focusing on what you wanted (with an implied message that maybe you weren't clear as an explanation). In the other, you are focusing on someone else's error (with no such implication). This is basic conflict resolution stuff. You might try reading something on the topic if you haven't previously.

  56. Anders:

    Indeed, but this doesn't change that it largely illustrate what I've been suggesting; you seem incapable of having a discussion in which you don't end up insulting the person you disagree with. You even did it in a discussion in which this was one of the key issues being discussed. Hence my suggestion that maybe you shouldn't really bother trying to build/rebuild bridges. Each to their own, of course.

    I'll make this simple. When I attempt to have a productive exchange with a particular individual/group, I follow the rules you laid out as a matter of policy. I don't follow those rules when I have reached the conclusion the exchange I am having will not be productive. That is, I behave in an unproductive manner when I've decided it is impossible to be produtive.

    Mind you, that discucssion of productivity is in terms of the discussion with that specific individual/group. My "unproductive" behavior can still be productive due to how it interacts with different individuals/groups.

    Of course, but that's because you appear to always have a justification for you what you do or say. You're right, according to you, and the other party is wrong, according to you. That you don't see this as the issue, is - in my view - essentially the issue.

    I will usually have a justification for what I do or say because I generally won't say or do things without some sort of justification guiding my decisions. I don't see that as a bad thing. Could you elaborate on why you think this is an issue?

    This has been a real discussion. It's been a discussion about building bridges. Something that I suspect you will regularly having trouble doing.

    I do not consider what we've had on this page to be a real discussion. If you think it is, then it would seem we have very different ideas of what constitutes one.

    Because there is a difference between pointing out that what they thought you wanted, isn't what you wanted, and you claiming that they're wrong. Again, that you don't seem to see the distinction probably illustrate the basic issue.

    As I said to Joshua, the tone of the remarks is different, but I don't see any way in which the underlying statement is changed. If somebody says something is true and you respond, "No," you are telling them they are wrong.

  57. Joshua:

    Interesting. In effect it is telling them that they are wrong, but it certainly isn't "saying" the same thing. As such, it is likely to elicit a different (less defensive) response. In the one situation you are focusing on what you wanted (with an implied message that maybe you weren't clear as an explanation). In the other, you are focusing on someone else's error (with no such implication). This is basic conflict resolution stuff. You might try reading something on the topic if you haven't previously.

    It might surprise you, but I agree completely. This is exactly what I thought about when I chose how to respond. If you compare the tone of my response to the tone of my responses to Anders in the e-mails, you should be able to see they are quite different. That is intentional.

    Steven Mosher has a long history of misrepresenting what I say, often in blatant ways. He's made numerous technical claims which were wrong, claims he never corrected despite knowing them to be misleading. He has also done things like directly compare me to a Holocaust denier. Things like that made me put him in my killfile for some time (basically, a file listing users whose comments you won't be shown).

    I'm not trying to build any bridges with him. Quite frankly, I wish he would never talk to or about me. I think that makes my choice of tone appropriate.

  58. Brandon,

    I don't follow those rules when I have reached the conclusion the exchange I am having will not be productive. That is, I behave in an unproductive manner when I've decided it is impossible to be produtive.

    Okay, but this is a key point, in my view. If you regard there as someone who it's not worth building bridges with, then feel free to be productive, or unproductive as you wish. However, if you do wish to build bridges with some people, you can't simply switch from productive, to unproductive, back to productive again. It's not something that you can decide from one discussion to the next. I still find it quite remarkable that this discussion has ended this way. You couldn't even avoid doing it in a discussion in which I suggested that you couldn't avoid doing it.

    I will usually have a justification for what I do or say because I generally won't say or do things without some sort of justification guiding my decisions. I don't see that as a bad thing. Could you elaborate on why you think this is an issue?

    The issue is that you seem to regard your justifications as objectively true. In having interacted with you a number of times now, you always seem to have a justification. You can always find a way to justify your conduct, however it might be. Even when you end up insulting someone, you find some reason why it was okay for you to do so. You don't seem to be able to say "okay, sorry about that, I was getting a bit frustrated". You also always seem to be able to find a reason why you were right and the other party wrong (as I said above, discussions with you seem to largely involve you expaining why you're right - according to you - and the other party is wrong - again, according to you).

    I don't think I've ever (or, if I have, it's very rare) seen you acknowledge a point made by another party. Just look at this comment thread. I think (although maybe I've missed something) your responses are almost entirely either you justifying what you've done, claiming that you're right, or claiming that other people are wrong. It's almost as if you see a discussion as a continual process of contradicting other people, or justifying what you've done, or pointing out why you were right in the first place.

    I do not consider what we've had on this page to be a real discussion. If you think it is, then it would seem we have very different ideas of what constitutes one.

    The context was building bridges. That's what we've been discussing. It might not have been a particularly good discussion, but it's hard to see how you can claim that it wasn't one. But, I fully imagine that you will find some way to do so.

  59. Brandon,

    Quite frankly, I wish he would never talk to or about me.

    Interesting, I felt the very same way about you for a long time. It's only because I've grown a thicker skin and care a bit less about these kind of squabbles now, that I don't really care that much anymore.

  60. Brandon -

    I gotta run soon.

    =={ What part(s) of my e-mails made you think it was an effort to get a response i could post on this site and/or goad Anders into more arguments? }==

    I know we've had many disagreements, and I don't expect us to ever be friends.

    You offer nothing concrete with respect to how your "past disagreements" came about or they might be resolved, and how you might acknowledge at least some accountability for how they came about.

    Given the context of the disagreements you've had with Anders previously, that is an conspicuous omission, of the sort that it could easily be anticipated to work counter to bridges being built.

    If you had asked me prior to sending that first email, I would certainly have been able to suggest to you many ways that you might have laid a better foundation for building bridges, but showing accountability in some measure for the previous disagreements would be a good start. If you don't think that you have any accountability, then you aren't likely to be able to build bridges. In which case your attempt comes across as illogical or even disingenuous. What is the purpose of your email? It isn't clear. Why would Anders interpret that someone who he feels he has reason to distrust offering him a free book as showing good faith in an attempt to find common ground and build bridges? Given that there is an established lack of trust in the relationship, if you don't state a purpose and then make it clear in some concrete way that you are engaged towards that purpose, then there is no particular reason to see this effort on your part to differ in any way from previous experiences, where you know that you have been judged as engaging in poor faith.

    Perhaps you could have said something like:

    I know we've had many disagreements, and I'm not proud of the role that I have played in the development of a poor-faith dialogue. I hope to reconcile that situation, and to turn over a new leaf, and because I believe no matter how great people's disagreements and despite past unpleasant experiences they can find some common ground. In that spirit, in a first effort at building some bridges over our past disagreements, I am sending you a link so you could read a free copy of my new ebook. I would very much appreciate your feedback and insights as to the arguments I've made.

    Note that I took out the comment about you ever expecting to be friends. First, that statement is irrelevant to building bridges. You don't have to be friends to build bridges. Also, it gives an impression that Anders is concerned about being your "friend," or suggests he would consider "friendship" as something of a prerequisite for finding common ground. Quite frankly, it comes across as somewhat childish. Why are you saying it? What message did you intend to give with that statement?

  61. Brandon -

    Last comment, then I gotta go..

    =={ Steven Mosher has a long history of misrepresenting what I say, often in blatant ways. He's made numerous technical claims which were wrong, claims he never corrected despite knowing them to be misleading. He has also done things like directly compare me to a Holocaust denier. }==

    I am quite sympathetic to all of that. I have had similar interactions with him where I felt treated similarly as you have described. He strongly implied that I am misogynistic and antisemitic. He has called me an idiot. He has called for me to be banned from Judith's site. He has a long history of putting words in my mouth. He even researched and posted my last name in a blog comment without asking whether such an action might impact me negatively. I have commented at this site on at least one occasion (regarding something Muller said as I recall) where I criticized him for how he was engaging with you. All that said, I can certainly understand why you would not be putting any trust in creating good faith dialogue with him. But, even with that, every time I engage with Steven I try to edit my comments in such a way as to allow for the possibility of good faith dialogue to develop - the kinds of approaches that I suggested in my last comment. Of course, I often (almost always?) fail in those attempts. But when I do fail, I don't blame him for that failure - as I know that I could/should do better, and to the extent that I don't, it is illogical as ultimately my goal is to get something beneficial out of an exchange with him. The way that people (not just myself) act in these discussions that are illogical w/r/t their ultimate goal is a point of interest for me.

    =={ I think that makes my choice of tone appropriate. }==

    I don't think that "appropriate" is the point here. The point was whether there is a meaningful difference.

  62. Joshua:

    You offer nothing concrete with respect to how your "past disagreements" came about or they might be resolved, and how you might acknowledge at least some accountability for how they came about.

    Given the context of the disagreements you've had with Anders previously, that is an conspicuous omission, of the sort that it could easily be anticipated to work counter to bridges being built.

    Any discussion of responsibility for past disagreements would involve discussing aspects of those disagreements. That would necessarily invite discussion of what I said about those disagreements. It seems to me focusing at all on details of past disagreements is counter-productive if one wishes to have a discussion in which past disagreements are ignored. There is certainly nothing about attempting to avoid discussing past disagreements which is goading someone into arguing about them.

    Quite frankly, it comes across as somewhat childish. Why are you saying it? What message did you intend to give with that statement?

    Saying you don't expect to be friends with someone is a normal recognition of things. Saying, "I don't think we can be friends, but we can work together on X" is a normal way to try to reach across a divide.

    All that said, I can certainly understand why you would not be putting any trust in creating good faith dialogue with him. But, even with that, every time I engage with Steven I try to edit my comments in such a way as to allow for the possibility of good faith dialogue to develop - the kinds of approaches that I suggested in my last comment. Of course, I often (almost always?) fail in those attempts.

    Assuming you make the same effort with other people, I'd say there's nothing to indicate your apporach is better than mine. From what I've seen, I'd say your approach to discussions on climate blogs doesn't work out any better than mine.

    As for Steven Mosher, my experience is the more technical/verifiable the discussion with Mosher becomes, the worse his participation gets. The thing that bothers me the most about Mosher is simply how many factually and verifiably untrue things he says then refuses to correct. I suspect if you tried having a discussion of analytical issues with him, you'd find your approach is completely ineffectual.

    But when I do fail, I don't blame him for that failure - as I know that I could/should do better, and to the extent that I don't, it is illogical as ultimately my goal is to get something beneficial out of an exchange with him. The way that people (not just myself) act in these discussions that are illogical w/r/t their ultimate goal is a point of interest for me.

    I have had plenty of exchanges with Mosher where I said nothing derogatory and maintained a respectful tone. It didn't help. In fact, it made things worse. If Mosher wanted to try to reconcile, build bridges or try to find common ground, I would be willing to attempt such. However, unless he indicates that is his specific intent, I am going to treat him with the contempt he has earned when he talks to me.

    I don't think that "appropriate" is the point here. The point was whether there is a meaningful difference.

    Anders complained about something I said. What I said was perfectly normal in content. The only issue is in matters of tone. We've already established we agree about what effect the choice of tone had though. Since we agreed on what effect my choice had, I think it is reasonable to note that effect was one I was intentionally going for. Given the tone fit the situation, it was the appropriate one.

    Notice, I did not start that paragraph by pointing out what you claim is "the point here" is only one point, a secondary point at that. Had I wished to take a more hostile tone, I'd have begun by pointing out the original topic of the fork was Anders's claim/implication my remark was somehow inappropriate. I chose not to focus on that point in the first paragraph here because I am maintaining a more neutral tone with you than with Mosher. I am bringing it up here so I can show how choosing the way you write your responses can indicate what tone you wish to convey.

    Despite what some of you guys seem to think, I am fully aware of the tones I use. I use the ones I feel are most appropriate for the given situation. I've spent quite a bit of time testing the effect my choice of tones has by varying the tone I use while discussing topics/making criticisms. In my experience, my choice of tone has little to no effect on the targets of my criticism. Complaints about my tone almost inevitably come along with people's unhappiness with points/criticisms I make.

    My experience is people looking for productive discussions will try to look past matters of tone and focus on substantive issues. Personally, I don't care what tone people take with me. You can hate me. You can insult me. As long as you're also providing useful content for the discussion, I'm not going to mind. More people should try it.

  63. Anders -

    Just curious...how do you suppose you might have felt about the following email being sent to you instead of the one that Brandon sent?:

    I know we've had many disagreements, and I'm not proud of the role that I have played in the development of a poor-faith dialogue. I hope to reconcile that situation, and to turn over a new leaf, and because I believe no matter how great people's disagreements and despite past unpleasant experiences they can find some common ground. In that spirit, in a first effort at building some bridges over our past disagreements, I am sending you a link so you could read a free copy of my new ebook. I would very much appreciate your feedback and insights as to the arguments I've made.

    About the same? Perhaps somewhat more positively w/r/t bridge-building, but not enough to engage in bridge-building with Brandon? Even more convinced that Brandon isn't interested in engaging in good faith/building bridges? Convinced that a sock-puppet had written an email in Brandon's name? Inclined to dip your toe into a process of bridge-building with Brandon?

  64. Brandon -

    My first inclination was to simply not bother responding to your last comment - but given some of the comments you've made earlier in this thread, I figured I'd make one more comment before just letting it all go.

    Any discussion of responsibility for past disagreements would involve discussing aspects of those disagreements. That would necessarily invite discussion of what I said about those disagreements. It seems to me focusing at all on details of past disagreements is counter-productive if one wishes to have a discussion in which past disagreements are ignored. There is certainly nothing about attempting to avoid discussing past disagreements which is goading someone into arguing about them.

    I wasn't suggesting that you engage in "discussion" about past disagreements. I was suggesting, as I said, that you display some accountability w/r/t past disagreements and show some concrete signs that you would take steps to forge a different path going forward. I wasn't suggesting that you focus "at all on details of past agreements." I wasn't suggesting that you not avoid discussing past agreements, and certainly wasn't suggesting that you "goad" someone into arguing about them. It is entirely possible to display some concrete signs of accountability for past agreements, and to display concrete signs that you see a potential pathway for avoiding the same patterns of disagreement, while "avoiding" discussing past agreements (meaning engaging in a dialogue about them), and certainly about the details of them. Here, let me illustrate:

    I know we've had many disagreements, and I have no interest in discussing our past agreements, and certainly not in discussing the details of our past agreements or goading you into arguing about them. In fact, that is about the last thing I want to do here.
    But I wanted to say that I'm not proud of the role that I have played in the development of a poor-faith dialogue. I hope to reconcile that situation, and to turn over a new leaf, and because I believe no matter how great people's disagreements and despite past unpleasant experiences they can find some common ground. In that spirit, in a first effort at building some bridges over our past disagreements, I am sending you a link so you could read a free copy of my new ebook. I would very much appreciate your feedback and insights as to the arguments I've made.

    Saying you don't expect to be friends with someone is a normal recognition of things. Saying, "I don't think we can be friends, but we can work together on X" is a normal way to try to reach across a divide.

    I guess you and I just have different definitions of what's normal. And even if it were "normal" that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be counterproductive generally, and certainly in specific circumstances. I note that you didn't directly address why I said I would not include that comment as a part of building bridges and instead moved to a discussion of whether it is "normal." Not sure where else to go with that.

    Assuming you make the same effort with other people, I'd say there's nothing to indicate your apporach is better than mine.

    Perhaps not. I do happen to think that my suggestion is far more congruent with common principles of "conflict resolution," but of course, I could be wrong about that and there is no reason to think that my perspective isn't biased.

    From what I've seen, I'd say your approach to discussions on climate blogs doesn't work out any better than mine.

    Perhaps so. But I wasn't particularly interested in putting forth my approach as an example (I did upon your request), but to try to understand why you employ an approach that seems to me to be counterproductive. My thinking was that perhaps there was something about your approach that made it more effective for bridge-building than what I had observed. Thus far, I can't say that I've seen you provide any insight in that regard.

    I have had plenty of exchanges with Mosher where I said nothing derogatory and maintained a respectful tone. It didn't help. In fact, it made things worse. If Mosher wanted to try to reconcile, build bridges or try to find common ground, I would be willing to attempt such. However, unless he indicates that is his specific intent, I am going to treat him with the contempt he has earned when he talks to me.

    I don't think that "tone" is singularly important. I think that there are a whole set of underlying socio-pragmatics of which tone is only one factor. It isn't so much "tone" as it is how your use of language elicits various responses. There is overlap, of course, but there is a lot of signalling that takes place in exchanges that doesn't boil down to tone, specifically.

    Anders complained about something I said. What I said was perfectly normal in content. The only issue is in matters of tone.

    So, I don't agree with that: I don't think that the "only" issue is in matters of tone. For example, a particular "tone" can have one effect in one context and another effect in another context. And the difference between saying "you're wrong" and saying "that isn't what I mean" is far more complex than simply a matter of tonal difference, IMO.

    We've already established we agree about what effect the choice of tone had though.

    Except, apparently, we don't agree on that. And below you seem to suggest that matters of tone are irrelevant to those focused on substance, and I disagree with that - so we wouldn't agree even on the effect that the choice of "tone" had.

    Since we agreed on what effect my choice had, I think it is reasonable to note that effect was one I was intentionally going for. Given the tone fit the situation, it was the appropriate one.

    Perhaps it was. Once again, I'm not in a position to judge "appropriateness."

    Notice, I did not start that paragraph by pointing out what you claim is "the point here" is only one point, a secondary point at that. Had I wished to take a more hostile tone, I'd have begun by pointing out the original topic of the fork was Anders's claim/implication my remark was somehow inappropriate. I chose not to focus on that point in the first paragraph here because I am maintaining a more neutral tone with you than with Mosher. I am bringing it up here so I can show how choosing the way you write your responses can indicate what tone you wish to convey.

    That's good, Brandon, and part of what I'm talking about. But there is far more in your response that, IMO, is not "neutral," but more along the lines of passive-aggressive. So the question for me is why you didn't go further? Perhaps it is because you didn't think that going further (towards neutrality) would be "appropriate." Again, that is for you to judge, not me.

    Despite what some of you guys seem to think, I am fully aware of the tones I use.

    I don't believe that I've said that I think you're not aware of the "tone" that you use - or unaware of the many other ways that your style of communication is, IMO, often counterproductive to the goal of building bridges and finding common ground. For all I know, you actually intend to structure your engagement in such a way that works in conflict with the goals of building bridges and finding common ground. But I tend to trust that your intent is as you say, and thus I'm trying to figure out why you employ strategies, over and over, that have a proven track record of not realizing success in that endeavor (at least in my observations), and which, IMO, stand in sharp contrast to what people who specialize in conflict resolution suggest for bridge-building and common ground finding. That is why I was asking you whether there was something about your strategies that ran counter to my observations.

    =={ use the ones I feel are most appropriate for the given situation. }==

    Once again, I am not in a position to judge the "appropriateness" of what you choose to do. If you think what you do is appropriate, that is just fine. I'm trying to figure out why you think that strategies that have proven ineffective towards achieving your stated intent and which run in contrast to my understanding of recommended practices are "appropriate."

    =={ I've spent quite a bit of time testing the effect my choice of tones has by varying the tone I use while discussing topics/making criticisms. In my experience, my choice of tone has little to no effect on the targets of my criticism. }==

    Now I have said that I consider tone to be only one component of how make communication effective, but I have to say that is a rather remarkable comment. I am curious whether you might be able to point to any academic research that confirms that a person's tone is completely irrelevant on the targets of criticism? Or, perhaps, you think that your situation is so unique that it would stand outside the relevance of any such research?

    =={ Complaints about my tone almost inevitably come along with people's unhappiness with points/criticisms I make. }==

    Well, yes, that would correspond with your view on the "justifications" for what you do.

    =={ My experience is people looking for productive discussions will try to look past matters of tone and focus on substantive issues. }==

    Once again, tone is only one factor - but I do agree that people can get past tone and that there is something of an inverse relationship between a focus on substance and a focus on tone, but in my experience that is a far cry from saying that people focused on substance disregard tone altogether. As such, to the extent that you can control for the undesired effects of your tone, so much the better.

    =={ Personally, I don't care what tone people take with me. You can hate me. You can insult me. As long as you're also providing useful content for the discussion, I'm not going to mind. More people should try it. }==

    Perhaps so. My sense is that you display a greater sensitivity to "tone" (and other aspects of sociopragmatics) than that which you just described. But sure, ultimately you are in a much better position to judge what's really going on that I.

  65. Anyway, Brandon -

    If you think that the strategies you employ for bridge-building and common ground reaching are effective, or at least effective enough that none of the criticisms you've received here have any value for helping you make improvements - more power to you, bro.

    I remain unconvinced, and I have yet to see anything that you've described that looks to me to be effective in ways that I hadn't been able to perceive previously. In fact, from what you're offered so far, I have become just that much more convinced that your approach is illogical - in a way that seems to fit with my observations of your degree of success.

    It would be great if you could point to some examples of your success in ways that shows that my criticisms wouldn't apply - for example success where you were effective in building bridges with people who disagree with you strongly even though you haven't made an explicit effort to show accountability for previous, vituperative disagreements. But, of course, even if you can't or just choose not to do so, that doesn't prove that you aren't correct, and that your level of control over the outcomes of your discourse style is pretty much exactly as you have intended.

    Outside of that, I'm quite ready to drop this now.

  66. Joshua:

    It is entirely possible to display some concrete signs of accountability for past agreements, and to display concrete signs that you see a potential pathway for avoiding the same patterns of disagreement, while "avoiding" discussing past agreements (meaning engaging in a dialogue about them), and certainly about the details of them. Here, let me illustrate:

    I don't agree this is true. I think your version does far more to invite discussion of past disagreements than mine as it actually discusses aspects of those past disagreements. I don't believe talking about something does less to encourage a discussion of it than simply saying let's not talk about it. It is possible I am wrong, but I don't have anything which makes me think so.

    I guess you and I just have different definitions of what's normal. And even if it were "normal" that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be counterproductive generally, and certainly in specific circumstances. I note that you didn't directly address why I said I would not include that comment as a part of building bridges and instead moved to a discussion of whether it is "normal." Not sure where else to go with that.

    I said it is "normal" because in my experience, most people use that as the "go-to" method of reaching across divides. In my experience, it also works more than any other approach. You can view it as "childish" if you wish, but I have never seen anything which suggests it is counterproductive.

    As for not responding, you are longwinded and have often responded to the most bizarre of things (disputing that you made me think anything because you can't control me when it was clearly not meant in that way). Nobody will respond to everything you say because it would never be worth the time or trouble. If you say I have misrepresented you though, I will always respond to that because it is one of the most serious type claim.

    That's good, Brandon, and part of what I'm talking about. But there is far more in your response that, IMO, is not "neutral," but more along the lines of passive-aggressive. So the question for me is why you didn't go further? Perhaps it is because you didn't think that going further (towards neutrality) would be "appropriate." Again, that is for you to judge, not me.

    Saying, "You're wrong" is not passive-aggressive. I'm sorry, but it just isn't. The h

    Now I have said that I consider tone to be only one component of how make communication effective, but I have to say that is a rather remarkable comment. I am curious whether you might be able to point to any academic research that confirms that a person's tone is completely irrelevant on the targets of criticism? Or, perhaps, you think that your situation is so unique that it would stand outside the relevance of any such research?

    I'm sorry Joshua, but creating obvious strawmen is not a good way to get a meaningful response to me. I said my experience is the tone I use has had "little to no" effect on how the people I criticize react. You respond by asking for research showing "tone is completely irrelevant on the targets of criticism?." If you can't be bothered to at least put effort into your misrepresentations, it hardly seems worth my trouble to explain what's wrong with them.

  67. Joshua, it is at this point I am going to say you are behaving like an idiot. Yes, say what you want about my tone. However, it's true. What you're saying is simply stupid.

    If you think that the strategies you employ for bridge-building and common ground reaching are effective, or at least effective enough that none of the criticisms you've received here have any value for helping you make improvements - more power to you, bro.

    This quotation doesn't make things clear enough on its own, so here is another:

    Perhaps so. But I wasn't particularly interested in putting forth my approach as an example (I did upon your request), but to try to understand why you employ an approach that seems to me to be counterproductive. My thinking was that perhaps there was something about your approach that made it more effective for bridge-building than what I had observed. Thus far, I can't say that I've seen you provide any insight in that regard.

    And another:

    I don't believe that I've said that I think you're not aware of the "tone" that you use - or unaware of the many other ways that your style of communication is, IMO, often counterproductive to the goal of building bridges and finding common ground. For all I know, you actually intend to structure your engagement in such a way that works in conflict with the goals of building bridges and finding common ground. But I tend to trust that your intent is as you say, and thus I'm trying to figure out why you employ strategies, over and over, that have a proven track record of not realizing success in that endeavor (at least in my observations), and which,

    And another:

    Once again, I am not in a position to judge the "appropriateness" of what you choose to do. If you think what you do is appropriate, that is just fine. I'm trying to figure out why you think that strategies that have proven ineffective towards achieving your stated intent and which run in contrast to my understanding of recommended practices are "appropriate."

    You appear to be operating under the false assumption I have been attempting to build bridges in some vast number of comments, like that I wrote in response to Steven Mosher. This is stupid as I have repeatedly, and sometimes specifically, said that is not the case. I have made it abundantly clear I am not trying to build bridges with these comments. I have explicitly said most of my discussions are not aimed at building bridges.

    You keep talking about how my behavior in many discussions seems illogical because it is bad at accomplishing something it's not trying to accomplish:

    I remain unconvinced, and I have yet to see anything that you've described that looks to me to be effective in ways that I hadn't been able to perceive previously. In fact, from what you're offered so far, I have become just that much more convinced that your approach is illogical - in a way that seems to fit with my observations of your degree of success.

    But anyone who reads my response to your statement, "Because of what I perceive to be a habit you have of confusing your opinions with objective facts - something I've mentioned to you a number of times," in which I discuss specifics of how I attempt to build bridges, would see this is complete nonsense. They would also see your statement:

    It would be great if you could point to some examples of your success in ways that shows that my criticisms wouldn't apply - for example success where you were effective in building bridges with people who disagree with you strongly even though you haven't made an explicit effort to show accountability for previous, vituperative disagreements. But, of course, even if you can't or just choose not to do so, that doesn't prove that you aren't correct, and that your level of control over the outcomes of your discourse style is pretty much exactly as you have intended.

    Is strange as I have already done exactly what you say it "would be great if" I did. Your stated confusion stems largely, if not solely, from the fact you haven't read things I've written. For instance, it is difficult to see how you could read:

    You may notice these are not things I do on in each comment I post. That is because I don't try to build bridges on a constant basis. Building bridges takes time and effort. I go out of my way to try to do it when I see an opportunity, but most of the time it is not what I am attempting to do.

    And not understand why me saying you're behaving idiotically right is perfectly in line with my stated intentions. Namely, I am not trying to build bridges with you in this discussion, so it is okay for me to behave in a manner not designed to build bridges with you. I have explained this to you multiple times.

    To be clear, when I try to build bridges with people, I act in a particular way. When I am not trying to build bridges with people, I often act in other ways, ways which are not designed to build bridges. That you find behavior not designed to build bridges to be incongruent with attempting to build bridges is like saying, "Pouring water into the sink is a bad way to drain the sink" to a person who is trying to fill the sink to wash dishes in.

    For the record, I wasn't going to call your behavior idiotic, but I wanted an eye-catching way to make clear the difference between comments intended to build bridge and comments not intended to build bridges. Leading off with a somewhat derogatory remark seemed like a good way to show that difference.

  68. Joshua,
    As to how I would have responded to the form of the email you suggest, I'm not sure. However, I think that if I were to send an email to someone implying an interest in building bridges, I would probably acknowledge some responsibility for having broken them in the first place. I think it is rare that is dispute is entirely the fault of one party.

    It's possible that I could/should have responded differently to Brandon, but I was interested to see if Brandon would take some responsibility for his previous conduct. He does in the sense that he doesn't deny it, but seems to regard it as justified, which is not quite what I was going for. It seems clear that not only does Brandon regard his conduct as justifiable, he also seems incapable/unwilling to have a discussion in which he doesn't eventually insult the party with whom he disagrees, even in a discussion about his inability to not do this. This has been, and continues to be, my general impression and, as a consequence, I don't believe this

    But if you're willing to try to work with me, I am willing to try to work with you.

    because it seems clear that Brandon is not.

  69. JonA:

    I think Q.E.D just about covers it...

    Unfortunately, I am not known for my brevity.

  70. "That was my impression. I certainly would have suggested a different approach for Brandon to use to build a bridge with Anders. The approach that that it seemed to me he did take stuck me as illogical from a bridge-building perspective - and one that could have easily been anticipated to fail. Especially for someone as smart as Brandon. But maybe Brandon was employing some bridge building strategy that isn't readily apparent to me?"

    Yes when I first read this post I thought "Wow, he posted Anders email, putting in just enough text so those of us could figure it out,
    Not that hard for the Glieck Spotter. And then he leaves the name off.. And then he argues with the email.. Just trapping ATTP into
    responding" I wrote a comment arguing that. and then I thought. No, I'll wait and see if anyone bothers to respond to this post.

    But Hey Joshua, lets go call everyone deniers cause thats why we get along according to Brandon

  71. "I'm not sure what belief you think I incorrectly ascribe to you. "

    "Maybe you guys got together and decided it is okay to routinely misrepresent what people say. Maybe you guys got together and decided comparing people to Holocaust deniers is good."

    I dunno maybe it was that misrepresentation. maybe you think killing small animals is ok.

  72. =={ And then he leaves the name off.. And then he argues with the email.. }==

    All just a reflection of Brandon's dedication to building bridges, and evidence of the effectiveness of his strategies for doing so. The man just never gives up.

  73. Joshua, did you even look at my last several response to you? They explain the (a?) source of your confusion quite clearly, yet you continue to repeat the same mistake despite them.

    I think most people can understand when a person says only some actions are taken to try to build bridges with people, that means other actions are not intended to build bridges. You seem to keep failing to grasp that though.

  74. Brandon -

    =={ I think most people can understand when a person says only some actions are taken to try to build bridges with people, that means other actions are not intended to build bridges. }==

    Oh, sorry. I hope you can understand why I was confused. Your actions led me to believe that you were unconditionally committed to building bridges. I mean sending that email and all (and then baiting Anders when you didn't get a response that it could easily be predicted that you wouldn't get). I guess I was operating under the assumption that actions speak louder than words.

  75. Joshua:

    Oh, sorry. I hope you can understand why I was confused. Your actions led me to believe that you were unconditionally committed to building bridges.

    I'm not sure what you mean by this. I an unconditionally committed to the idea of building bridges, in that, if given the opportunity, I will try without condition. On the other hand, I am not unconditionally committed to the idea in the sense that every action I take is aimed at building bridges.

    I guess I was operating under the assumption that actions speak louder than words.

    My actions and words have been consistent. I have never claimed to try to build bridges with everything I say or do, and I have never sought to behave in such a manner. Sometimes I see an opportunity where I think it might be possible to build a bridge and take it. That's all I've said; that's all I've done.

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