Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
I'm a snob, I admit it.
Published on March 16, 2004 By Draginol In Blogging

I'm a snob. I admit it. I've always been a snob to a certain level. My snobbery, however, is specific. I enjoy debating with people. To debate with people, you have to have people who don't agree with your positions. So I definitely like people who disagree with me feeling free to disagree with me. But like I said, I'm also a snob. And that means I don't have much toleration for noise.

Being a snob means I tend to be rude when confronted with people who waste my time. If, having written a lengthy article I'm confronted with a response from someone nit-picking some grammar issue or some other triviality or someone hijacking the conversation to go over to their pet cause I will tend to either tell them to knock it off or just black list them from my blog depending on how much respect I have for the original poster.

For instance, today, one guy responded to a couple page blog I wrote about Europe with an insulting 1 line response. In my blog, I had written "France hasn't actively helped the United States in nearly 300 years."  Technically it's only been around 225 years.  But this person responded to my article trying to insult my intelligence because I chose to round to 300 years instead of say 200 years. As if we have to round to the nearest century. Or maybe I should have said "going on 300 years" instead of "nearly". In either case, it wasn't germane to the discussion. It was one of those things that gets on my nerves.

I don't have that much free time. I do write a lot because I write at around 120wpm. So I'm particularly impatient with people who split hairs about irrelevant issues. I don't want my time wasted reading their stuff and I don't want my readers time wasted. 

The reason I don't just make it impossible for anyone to respond to my articles is because there are plenty of intelligent people out there who not only disagree with my views but are able and willing to put together a coherent argument. Those people may not always convince me of their perspective (though sometimes they do) but they add value to the overall discussion and make us all think. But I don't want the discussion watered down with mindless trolling so I tend to try to weed out the trolls. If someone I've black listed shows themselves to have grown beyond trolling, I can always let them post on my articles again after all.

Someone asked me if people's articles who I initially disagree with ever change my views. I said they have. Let me give you a few examples where convincingly written articles have changed my views:

  • Social Justice.  When I was younger, I believed that the free market could solve every problem. But over time, I cam realize that this was not the case. I came to realize that from reading well argued left wing articles on the net. They made a strong case that a free market, left alone, results in a concentration of power just as perilous as any communist dictatorship.
  • Government intervention. Similarly, I have been convinced over the years by well presented arguments that some jobs are just better left to the government to handle. That while the government may be somewhat incompetent at times, some things are better done when there is not a profit motive involved. Determining what those projects are is difficult but I concede there are cases where the government is the best agent for the project.
  • Gay civil unions. From some of the articles here on JoeUser I have slowly moved from believing that gays should not receive any special rights to believing they should get civil unions to believing that civil unions should be beefed up to have all the federal rights that marriage has. I still don't believe that the term marriage should be re-defined into including same sex couples but now it's purely a semantical argument.
  • Understanding pro-life people. I've been so pro-choice for so long that I tended to have contempt for people who held the pro-life position in my younger years. But over time I have come to see where they are coming from. I'm still pro-choice but I see the consistency in their position - if you believe a fetus is a living thing with all the same rights as any child, then their actions make sense. For me though I still don't recognize a fetus as being a human life and draw the line much later. But that's just my personal opinion (I rarely debate abortion because it's so tired).
  • For awhile, I favored the US getting out of the UN entirely. While I still consider the UN quite corrupt, I believe now that it is, overall, a force for good in the world. I have come to that conclusion after reading persuasive articles, from the left, of the merits of the UN in humanitarian ways and as a forum for other people.
  • I believe in progressive taxation. I used to believe in a flat tax (which is still progressive in its own way). But I have read pieces that were compelling in their reasoning that as you move away from the middle class in financial ability, you get into diminishing returns. A billionaire doesn't live 1000X better than a millionaire. But a millionaire certainly lives 1000X better than someone who makes $1,000 per year. That's diminishing returns in action and a result, I believe that at a certain level of income that it being distributed, even forcibly does more good for society than it does for the income earner. I don't believe taxes should be as high as they currently are, I simply believe that it is good for the richest to bear most of the burden.

My point is that I can be convinced of the merit of an opposing argument. But everyone who's debated enough knows that the mind tends to shut itself closed when attacked by zealots. And that's bad because the post right after the zealot may be coming from someone whose reasonable and persuasive. But if you're still irritated after having read some zealot's half-witted regurgitation of some partisan's talking point sheet, you may not be open to listening to the well reasoned points of the next person. And when that happens we all lose.

So I tend to have a short list of things that irritate me. Those who do it enough end up not being able to respond on my blog. My blog as in Not the whole website. I don't ban people because they irritate me. Only two people have ever been banned from which I think says a lot for our tolerance.

Here's that list of "Craptastic" argument styles:

  1. Truth by proclamation. I have seen people simply come on and say "If you weren't so ignorant you would know why you're wrong." That's a potent one-two of irritatingness right there. People who decide what the truth is without feeling the need to even say what it is combined with asserting their opponent's ignorance without proving it.
  2. Knowing how to argue in the first place. It's very simple: <assertion> <evidence>.  If you make an assertion you need to back it up by evidence. Sometimes you don't need to use evidence if both parties agree that you are an authority on the topic or if there is a general consensus on the assertion.  If I say the moon is not made of cheese I don't feel the need to prove the moon isn't made of cheese. But if I say Bush was behind the 9/11 attack I think the onus would be on me to back up that statement with evidence.
  3. Crazy right-wing/left wing sites are not evidence. You really run into this when debating with religious people (sorry but it's true). They're very well organized and will pump out zillions of fringe websites where "Scientists" will show the "Truth" of their position. Doubt this? Get into an evolution debate and the websites explaining how evolution violates the law of thermal dynamics or whatever comes up with "Scientists" explaining this patiently.
  4. I don't care about your experience unless its demonstrating the truism of a general reality. If you're some guy who "hates jews" I'm not going to think you're not a bigoted fool simply because you can "prove they're evil" because the one Jewish person you met was "into money". Or on the other extreme, I don't have patience for boo-hoo arguments about some poor lady whose was shot leaving her with 4 starving children as an argument of why we need to spend more money on welfare -- unless the typical case of people on welfare are mothers of 4 children whose husbands were murdered.
  5. Quips in general. Lots of people who can't argue confuse wittiness with intelligence. Left-wingers tend to do this a lot for some reason. Here's a typical one: User A: Saddam wasn't the legitimate government of Iraq, he wasn't elected by the people." Loser A: "Kind of like Bush."  That kind of noise I have no use for. If you want to go and try to make the case that Bush wasn't elected, go to your own damn blog and write it there. Don't leech off my blog's popularity to try to get your personal fixation with Bush unearned coverage. But that's just one case. Off-topic one line quips really get on my nerves. Of course, I tend to do them too.

Those are 5 things that I know annoy the heck out of me when people do. And I suspect if you talk to other seasoned bloggers they'll have a similar list. Those of us who don't have a ton of free time on our hands tend to want a good signal to noise ratio. Steven Den Beste's website used to have commenting/forums. But he eventually tired of the idiocy that ended up coming up as topics slowly morphed into crap. So he took down his forums. Luckily for us, we have lots of tools to eliminate the wasters (black listing works not just by account but by IP as well so they can't just log off and respond anonymously).

So there you have it, I'm a snob. I admit it. I'm not just a snob. I'm an arrogant snob. The difference though is that I admit it. As you read the blogs, you'll find that there are lots of arrogant snobs out there. But they don't tend to admit it. We all have foibles. I'm not perfect by any means -- arrogance and snobbery are not things I'm bragging about, they're admissions of guilt. All I can do is do the best I can and write what I can with the limited time at my disposal.


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 16, 2004
Brad, what is your view on abortion? I thoroughly enjoy debating the issue. Also, I would prefer if you do not use US grammar and spelling. It is most annoying to see words spelt incorrectly, for example, humour spelt "humor" and also I find Americanisms such as 'Netiquette' offensive to my dear English language.
on Mar 16, 2004
Yes, it is unfortunate that you must deal with these things but adaption is a form of intelligence. And I am sure that you consider yourself intelligent enough to adapt to it.
on Mar 16, 2004
let me add to the craptastic list.

posting stuff that's just plain wrong. i'm not even talking points of view, or morals, or complex, difficult to understand issues. just plain facts.

"truman was a conservative"
"the berlin airlift was done singlehanded by gi joe"
"marshall plan and berlin airlift: that's conservative diplomacy!"

arghghghggh! those were particularly annoying because the guy was moaning about the modern us education system in the same damn thread.

another thing i hate are insults for no particular reason.

ex) first sentence of a comment i had on an article:

"This article is utter crap."

yeah, thanks for the input. the thing that gets me is that the rest of his article made a long but fairly decent argument. but the fact he had to start off with that got me po'ed.
on Mar 16, 2004

Russell, indeed you hit the nail on the head. Probably the most annoying thing of all are people who just parrot things they've heard without looking it up themselves.

You see that both on the left and right almost equally. There is also the statements that have no historical perspective such as people who said Clinton was the worst president in US history (or the people who now say Bush is).

on Mar 16, 2004
Your honesty is appreciated. As one of those #4 fanatical religious types I usually try to avoid arguing against evolutionists by attempting to replace one flight of fancy with another. But just as irritating and somewhat of a variation of #5 is those that troll the religion forum to dispute the validity of religion, particular christian. One would think that in a religion forum various religious issues and topics would be discussed as opposed to the validity of religion or god as a whole. Talk about a tired subject.

While I would like to think that people should be able to intelligently discuss many topics I find that public forums typically boil down to a lot of #5. I must admit that your articles and their replies see to stay above board the most.

on Mar 16, 2004

sgsmitty64: Good points. Indeed just as obnoxious are the atheists who insist on trying to put down the belief of those who are religious.

In my case, I'm rude, arrogant and snobby. I make no bones about it. I'm not rude, arrogant, or snobby in "real life" or in non-debate on-line discussions. But when I'm in "debate mode" I don't suffer fools well.

To use an analogy, people who play on-line chess don't tend to have too much patience for "newbies" who enter into the "expert" channels.  Good debating is not a form of intelligence. It is purely a matter of experience (intelligence leads to experience faster of course but I don't consider myself exceptionally intelligent, just exceptionally experienced).  So I don't tend to encourage "newbies" to respond on my articles. They should know what they're talking about before they choose to participate. There are plenty of content free rhetoric posts around here to trade quips on. But some blogs should be, IMAO, reserved for more experienced debaters.

on Mar 17, 2004
Brad: I understand the analogy very well, although blogs usually do not have a rating system that lets the reader know what is expected.

As for the arrogance, I think that is a trait that most software developers have although I am not sure why. I am a software developer as well and my wife has maintained for years that I can be one of the most arrogant people around, in certain circles. This was especially true when I was younger, but as I get older I have become better at keeping it in check.
on Mar 17, 2004
Now if we can just get him out of his Republicrat paradigm...

I don't bother with blather myself. If it does not further the conversation, then it is not worth responding to. To respond allows one to be led away from the subject matter. By this practice, I find the replies are more thoughtful than for those who engage in the tit-for-tat. It removes the bullseye from your blogs for those who rant and have become too subjective. Raising the bar does wonders for filtering. Don't know what a 'newbie' is, but consider member number 2,500's opinion as valid as mine. Professor Jones should not be dismissed for being new here.

I do admit you are the only person I still do tit-for-tat with, but it is so fun I can't help it.
on Mar 17, 2004
So there you have it, I'm a snob. I admit it. I'm not just a snob. I'm an arrogant snob. The difference though is that I admit it.

How can there be a difference when there's no alernate proposition? just thought I'd bring that out..

Arrogance is not a bad thing, and in all your snobbery you're still locked in the hypocritical whirlpool of "exulting in your faults" because they are "part of you." Worse, you further try to vindicate yourself by admitting your fault. Who does this sound like? A terrorist organization is what comes to mind first. They, too, exult and admit their faults, and feel somewhat self-righteous in the process.

If you're exulting in a fault, you may as well go all the way and realize that arrogance is not the fault that people claim. It is only a fault when viewed as such; one might say that humans have created more faults than they've discovered. Arrogance with a healthy side-order of the love of learning can fuel competition and innovation at tremendous rates, and can make the impossible happen.

consider member number 2,500's opinion as valid as mine

Agreed, Wahkonta.


on Mar 17, 2004
Dan, he is talking about his online persona, not the person that you would know if you knew "him".  There is a difference,especially since he is referring to "debating".
on Mar 17, 2004
I don't know if I should comment or not
I agree that the trolling tends to get obnoxious, and I will monitor these comments in
anticipation of Bulb's retort.

That being said, I try to read all of your post, and for the most part i tend to be in agreement, it is one of the reasons I
returned to this site.
I try to comment when I feel qualified to do so, and from time to time I may trivialize my response ( particularly when
the discussions are getting either a) way off topic, nasty and personal, or c) I am in a lite hearted mood )

As to snobbery and arrogance, it's your playground, it's your ball, it's your rules...............
on Mar 17, 2004
Excellent blog and honest. However, you should tone down the arrogant snob trait when responding to the newbies of JoeUser and also those who are sincere in their thoughts but lack the power of true argument and debate. After all, bloggers are not supposed to be professionals. You once said yourself that one of the reasond for this blog site was that you tired of the professional pundits not backing up their sometimes outrageous assertions. So have a little patience.
on Mar 17, 2004
When I argue, I try to avoid all personal attacks (and I'm the type that don't consider attacking groups to be personal). After all, sometimes I'm sure that somebody's trolling or that they're lying about their credentials, but I might be wrong, and I don't want to be judged by my credentials.
on Mar 17, 2004
*sigh* KarmaGirl, what I said had no meaning taken literally, I was just being ironic. Apparently it was a little too elaborate and perhaps too well planned as well...

on Mar 17, 2004
I don't see Brad making any personal attacks. I have seen claims by certain people here that he has personally attacked them but they never specify a quote. Telling someone that they are ignorant on some issue is not a personal attack. What I see is someone who just doesn't want to encourage neophytes to participate in debates he sets up unless they are willing to do the work necessary to keep up. If you want to play in the big leagues you better be sure you're up to it. Some people are definitely not ready to play in the big leagues and they should stay in the minors until they're ready.