Friday, January 27, 2006


"Being tiresomely predictable or banal doesn't help."

Emotional intelligence is an art. It allows you to maneuver, to influence, and to NOT be manipulated. Creativity and flexiblity are always advantageous. The person with the most possible responses in any conversation/argument will win, and 80% of our interchanges have a "winner" or a "loser". We are often trying to make a point, influence someone, instruct them, or direct their behavior or feelings. EQ helps your expand your repertoire. Being unpredictable helps. Being tiresomely predictable, even banal, does not.


BENFORD'S LAW OF CONTROVERSY: Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available. (Science fiction author Gregory Benford, 1980)

REDUCTIO AD HITLERUM: Modeled on reductio ad absurdum, of course. i.e., "Adolf Hitler supported X, therefore X must be evil." A variety of “association fallacy.” (U. of Chicago Classics professor and ethicist, Leo Strauss.)

THE WILCOX-MC CANDLISH LAW OF ONLINE DISCOURSE EVOLUTION: (Bryce Wilcox and Stanton McCandlish on Usenet, ca. 1996): The chance of success of any attempt to change the topic or direction of a thread of discussion in a networked forum is directly proportional to the quality of the current content.

MC CANDLISH'S FIRST COROLLARY: The chance of any change to the topic or direction of a thread being a change for the better is inversely proportional to the quality of the content before the change.

EXCEPTION TO FIRST COROLLARY: When a thread reaches the flame war stage, all changes in thread topic or direction will be changes for the worse.

MC CANDLISH'S SECOND COROLLARY: Thread bandwidth consumption increases in inverse proportion to thread content quality.

WILCOX'S COROLLARY: The more involved one is in a flame war, the less likely one is to recognize it as such.

MC CANDLISH'S THIRD COROLLARY: Any attempt at recourse to formal logic or identification of classic fallacies will simply increase the irrationality of the discussion.

SUB-COROLLARY: It is likely that this is so because the use of formal logic immediately raises the quality of the discussion to unity, thus guaranteeing the next followup will be a non sequitur.

WILCOX-MC CANDLISH PARADOX: Thread degeneration can (theoretically) be forestalled or even reversed by citation to the Wilcox-McCandlish Law.

GODWIN'S LAW: as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made, the thread is over and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.

It is considered poor form to arbitrarily raise such a comparison with the motive of ending the thread. There is a widely recognized codicil that any such deliberate invocation of Godwin's Law will be unsuccessful.

See an example of Godwin's Law here, on the Introvertz blog, by national expert on introverts, Nancy Fenn.

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