Editorial rules for participating in discussions at The Society of Honor

A sign of the times. [Photo source: ASEANEWS]

By JoeAm

We have observed a worldwide deterioration in the quality of information and debate as fake news, lies, manipulations, fallacious argument, trolling, and ignorance have been injected into information streams. Going along with that is a general dumbing down of people’s intellectual capacities, shoddy journalistic practices (biased, shallow, and sensationalized reporting), and a shortening of people’s attention spans that makes in-depth reading rare and quick descent into emotional argument common.

With that as the backdrop, does The Society of Honor go along with the demise of civil discussion, or resist?

Hahaha, we resist! Or the editor does, and the readers can choose to contribute here or enjoy the modern way elsewhere.

Here’s the deal:

The Society of Honor strives to undertake open discussion that is civil, knowledgeable, and free from personal attacks. Earnest discovery, earnest teaching. Those are the goals.

This is not the place for show-offs seeking to demonstrate they can win arguments, no matter the price in terms of accuracy of information shared. It is not the place for trolls or flame-throwers who jump in, fire off a hostile remark, and then leave.

Here are a few editorial guidelines that will help generate the kind of open, civil discourse envisioned:

  • Keep remarks generally directed to the issue raised in the article. Occasional off topic comments are fine, for that is a part of the exploration we do. Rather like word association. Guest articles taking up these new areas of interest are welcomed.
  • Avoid judging or questioning the person making the comment.
    • It is okay to inquire as to sources or seek elaboration.
    • It is not okay to impugn the writer’s integrity or question his motives.
  • Commenters are advised to refrain from claiming perfect knowledge or a perfect moral foundation.
    • Leave room for information from others that enlightens or opposes your point.
    • Don’t take questions or new information personally; counter them or accept them graciously.
    • Avoid making it a win-lose argument where the topic fades from view as commenters try to sort out who is the A-dog debater.
  • Use photographs and videos with some discretion. The blog is not a picture book. It is a discussion forum.
  • Have fun now and then. There is too little of it around.
  • If you are selling product or peddling a politician, take it to a different forum. The blog does not thrust advertising on readers and readers should not thrust advertising onto the blog.
  • Follow the editor’s advice. He is responsible for making sure the blog is a place of earnest debate and civil engagement. He also is running out of patience for modern gameplaying and would rather talk to himself than host fly-by-night manipulators or people out to prove themselves whole at someone else’s expense.

Thanks in huge helpings to those who “get it” and contribute the wonderful insights that have been generated here over the years.



15 Responses to “Editorial rules for participating in discussions at The Society of Honor”
  1. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    Thanks, Joe, for the exemplary work that you do for The Society of Honor. Keep on being and the alpha dog in our journey to and around critical thinking. Rules-based it must be. Regards.

    • NHerrera says:

      I agree 100 percent Will!

      And to amplify and relate to what sonny posted in the previous blog about entropy in Thermodynamics: entropy tends to increase in nature — that is, towards increase in chaos. In a closed system entropy [chaos] increases. It needs an energy or force [preferrably] outside of the system to preserve order. The TSH Editor performs a dual role here: being part of the TSH system and thus initiates and contribute to the discussion; and equally, and importantly, as a policeman [a force] to preserve order. The Editor in TSH has thus an importantl role indicated by the Science of Thermodynamics!

      • Haha, yes, I get hot sometimes.

      • sonny says:

        “… sonny posted in the previous blog about entropy in Thermodynamics: entropy tends to increase in nature — that is, towards increase in chaos.”

        🙂 NH, edgar, Joe, thanks for “making pansin” to my point, as Popoy would say. I would elaborate about “laws of nature and Nature’s God” but I know I would trip, ha ha.

        • edgar lores says:

          Why do we think entropy is increasing?

          Some thoughts:

          1. Increasing complexity. E.g. not only computers but also newfangled gadgets and ideas.
          2. The speed of change. E.g. Moore’s Law.
          3. The increased dimensions of our world. E.g. 24/7 news cycle. Our world is more than half virtual.
          4. The decline of religion. E.g. moral rules do not hold.
          5. The loss of certainty. E.g. not only in religion but in philosophy; relativism; postmodernism.
          6. The non-observance of the rule of law. E.g. Duterte and Trump.
          7. Our age. We see the past as idyllic and are hardpressed to keep up with 1 – 3.

          • Thank you for this, edgar. I am knocking around in my head some new disciplines we may need to take up to cope with these kinds of changes. I suspect it will emerge as a blog article. You establish the framework of the new environment we must adapt to.

          • sonny says:

            Spot-on all points, edgar. Also, because I’m coming from a Science, Scholastic Philosophy, IT background, it’s second nature that I apply the Laws of Entropy to the principles both abstract and technical, to understand the zeitgeist, viz reality of the world around. Thus I see the Laws of Entropy operative in parallel in the material world and the spiritual plane:

            1. Material entropy —> … energy findings of physical sciences —> … laws of nature —> science & technology constructs … —> logical peace & order states
            2. Spiritual entropy —> … energy findings of social sciences —> … laws of morality —> community constructs … —> behavioral peace & order states

            As NH pointed out energy coming from EXTERNAL sources outside of the closed system must be postulated to counteract the degradations due to complexity requirements (as edgar aptly points out too). The disciplines that Joe is alluding to aligns with the changes that progress through time.

  2. edgar lores says:

    1. I think the two hardest guidelines to observe are:

    1.1. “Avoid judging or questioning the person making the comment.”
    1.2. “Avoid making it a win-lose argument where the topic fades from view…”

    2. On the first guideline, I am sensitive to the use of ad hominem arguments. Still, I note that I am ambivalent in my reactions.

    2.1. I bristle when Teddyboy Locsin calls out “you morons.”
    2.2. I am amused when Alan Robles releases one of his zings: “Nobody cares what you wish, you pathetic prootwaddle.”

    3. On the second guideline, I am also sensitive to it. I usually use the term “deflect” to describe what are generally classified as “relevance fallacies.”

    3.1. Actually, ad hominems are subspecies of this type of argument. There are many others: appeal to authority, appeal to emotion, appeal to consequences, straw man fallacy, etc.

    4. I believe what is most important is the attitude characterized in these 4 words: “Earnest discovery, earnest teaching.”

    4.1. Many who post a comment or dispute a comment do so with ego. Mea culpa.

    4.2. The core of the right attitude is in the adjective “earnest.” It is defined as “resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction.”

    4.3. “Sincere” means “free from pretense or deceit.”

    5. So if we come to this forum in earnestness, with humility, without any pretension (a) to impress – well, perhaps, a whit is acceptable – or (b) to win an argument for its sake or (c) to deceive, then we should get along fine. If not, I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to pass judgment.


    6. To judge is to discern. And in my book, there are two kinds of judgments – relative and absolute. And in both kinds, there are two categories — the good and the bad.

    6.1. I guess all of us maintain these two kinds of judgments and these two categories. There is, to be sure, a third kind and a third category: non-classifiable.

    6.2. Generally, it is easier to populate the bad category than the good category. For the good, we tentatively sort them into the “relatively good” category and finally into the “absolutely good” category when they die.

    6.3. For me, right now, some of the people in the “absolutely bad” category – and who are living — are Duterte, Trump, Arroyo, Calida, Enrile, the three Bongs, Jinggoy, Bato, Imee, and the Retrogressives. The list is not exhaustive and final.

    • Nice explanation of what goes on inside each of us, and I agree passing judgment is wholly natural and not always a bad thing to do. But when it comes to the arena of public discourse, we need to demonstrate a bit of discipline, I think, to keep some judgments to ourselves while doubling down on what the issue really is, and centering on that. It is rather like the study of fallacies. Many we use without thinking about it. But if we think about them a little, we would use them less. The same with personal aspersion (a form of fallacious argument).

      I have to chuckle because an editor’s job involves judging the material and the writer, so I’m more inclined to do it than most. I would also observe that violations here at the blog are very, very rare. But we have had a couple of incidents recently that crossed the line, and so I want the line to be clear.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    I won’t pretend to have a poker face. I have had bad exchanges with 17sharp,LCX,RHiro,etc One commenter even told me that I insulted him, I forgot ho he was.

    Moving on, we will continue to be guided by the guiding principles.

  4. chemrock says:

    Majority enter the arena with a debater’s mindset — adversarial and out to win. This is a discussion killer #1.

    It should be approached more like a negotiation and comes with it all skills of negotiators. Keep negotiation killers away from the keyboard. Negotiators must have a win-win mindset.

    A discourse on the internet is enjoyable if we appreciate what we are actually getting into. It’s just a philosophical exercise. Of course we sit at the feet of great thinkers. But in simple basic questions in everyday life — why I go Mcdonald because it is better than Chowking – are all philosophical questions. Most people just are’nt aware of it.

    So when we comment or respond to a comment, we are making philosophical arguments. Problem is most people take it as if it’s a vile verbal street exchange. If we consider ourselves a bit better educated, we should approach a discourse in the philosophical tradition.

    An argument is simply a statement or proposition with premises and a conclusion. The premises are the facts, assumptions of truth, evidence for the conclusion. The conclusion is the logical consequence from the reasoning provided by the premises. We agree if the argument is valid, and disagree if its invalid. If we think its invalid, we show why it is so — such as failure in the reasoning, incoherence of premises, premises are incorrect, etc. The whole purpose of why we expend time over this is sharing understanding.

    Whilst we want the privacy afforded by the internet, to partake in an argument requires a certain degree of acceptance of Socrates’ examined life. A certain transparency is required. One is open to examination, or the scrutiny of others. Of course we need to balance this given our current worldly problem of mis-use of personal info. Joe has wisely chosen to police this.

    • Nice assessment and statement of the kind of discourse this blog seeks. “An argument is simply a statement . . . etc etc”

      It is not natural in today’s argumentative world where even negotiation is not tried, but demolition of anyone with the audacity to oppose. But, hey, if it were easy, what’s the point?

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