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Thread: opinions -- walk away?

  1. #1
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    Question opinions -- walk away?

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    Not too many years ago, I remember encountering online someone who declared that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was nothing more than a rip-off of Dungeons & Dragons.

    People pointed out his mistake.

    He told them their claim LOTR came before D&D was merely their opinion.

    They tried to respond with logic, reason, sense, evidence, and perspective, but he simply insisted these were merely their opinions and therefore no more valid than his opinion.

    When some people pointed out they were alive when LOTR came out and so had personal knowledge of this, or in one case someone pointed out he had published writings about Tolkien, the poster reiterated angrily it was all mere opinion regardless.

    He went so far as to declare that it was condescending of them to suggest their opinion might be more valid than his -- and therefore, he was going to stick to his opinion that Lord of the Rings was a rip-off of Dungeons & Dragons and label anyone who tried to correct him as patronizing. Even the recognized and published expert. He even managed to get a few in the crowd to back him up on his feeling that it was "patronizing" to bring in facts or point out expertise and that facts and expertise counted as efforts to "browbeat" him.

    My response to people like that poster is always outright shock. I have difficulty imagining that anyone would want to live life in this fashion. If he's not a hypocrite, then he must consider the medical opinion of a high school drop-out and the medical opinion of his physician to be equally valid as well, a scary thought.

    I think about this because, earlier, I was discussing with some people various online gaffes about Tolkien. I even heard about the poster who claimed Tolkien ripped off orcs from World of Warcraft! We laughed, but I realized I still respond with incredulity to those who can not imagine a physician's opinion or a scientist's opinion or a scholar's opinion might be more valid than their own amateur opinion.

    I know the ideal is to simply walk away and forget these people.

    But what about situations at game sessions or social events where a person can not simply walk away and may even have to "play nice" with such? During those times when a person can not walk away and can not ban them from the gaming group or event, what is the safest (and least socially volatile) thing to do without forsaking all respect for education, experience, and evidence and without letting them get away with using the "you're being condescending" tar brush to vilify any disputes with their claims?

    This always reminds me of
    http://www.shortpacked.com/2007/comi...cast/opinions/
    http://dilbert.com/dyn/str_strip/000...7165.strip.gif

    (I hope someone has a better suggestion than a variation of "roll over and bare your throat to them for the sake of peace" or a variation of "never correct anyone because accuracy doesn't matter online" or, worse, a variation of "surrender to the scare word 'condescending' whenever they wield it"! There must be a better way to respond than those.)
    Last edited by magic-rhyme; 05-04-2012 at 05:25 PM.

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    First off, you get two points for using the word, "incredulity." Secondly, you get extra points for the use of your cartoons, as they were spot on.

    This crap REALLY gets to me. Some people are just SO stuck on their opinions that they are unable AND unwilling (as opposed to being EITHER of them) to accept the possibility that ANY facts contradict their opinions.

    To these people, after you have given them the good fight and TRIED to use logic and fact (like a biography of Tolkien!!), you must - for the sake of sanity - just loudly label them as being RONG (that's when a person is SO wrong that they can't even spell it correctly) and ignore their very existence. To do anything else is pure folly on your part. It's like that old analogy of wrestling with a pig in mud - you will never win, and they LIKE it!!

    I have used a flame-out approach. Set up a word-processing document and craft your final reply to them - pointing out each and every detail that demonstrates their idiocy, and using GOOD internet linkies to provide them with good references (NO Wikipedia!!), and even include short quotes using hyper-tags to support your points. use the most mature tone you can (don't resort to flame-baiting or name calling!!), and then post your response. If the gods smile upon you, the person will be shamed into silence or will never again visit the board... and your response will garner the respect of other people that are willing to look at opposing viewpoints and opposing opinions dispassionately.

    If that doesn't work, get their e-mail address and sign them up for interwebs porn mailing lists.

    I feel your pain - been there, had to learn the hard way to survive that. Good luck. (some idot (too stupid to spell "idiot" correctly) thinks Tolkien stole WARCRAFT orcs?? OMFGWTFBBQ!!!)

    EDITED TO ADD:
    I'm sorry, but the Tolkien/Warcraft thing got me so bothered that I ignored half of your question...

    For in-your-face situations, the ONLY thing to do is to either seek support from the rest of the group in shutting the idot up - OR leave the group setting, which can be impossible if it's the only game in town. Outside of this, just look at them straight in the eye and tell them that this topic is something that you will NEVER see eye to eye on - and for the sake of gaming, it is time for BOTH of you to bury the hatchet and never speak of it again. If they are mature, they will agree. If they aren't, then you MUST resort to either getting the rest of the group involved or leave the game.

    Be mindful of little jabs from this person afterward - like mentioning Tolkien or Warcraft stuff during the game. Most folks that do this are also passive aggressive, and will try to get a rise out of you until they get their way. If this happens, look at them so they KNOW you heard it, and the second time you hear it, ask them why they aren't mature enough to bury that hatchet. This will almost always get them so upset that they will lose their cool - and it's a LOT easier to get them kicked out of the group after that.

    I saw a guy vault a gaming table and start beating on another guy for suggesting that green dragons were puny and easy to kill. The big problem for him was that the suggester was into judo, and subdued him - then we ALL threw him out of the gaming store.
    Last edited by Malruhn; 05-05-2012 at 12:35 PM.

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    I guess the defining element of such disagreements depend on whether or not you are dealing with hard facts like the factual copyrighted date of the Lord of the Rings and that of Dungeons and Dragons or a pure opinion like 3.5e is better than 4e. In the first situation you are dealing actual facts and if they refuse to accept facts, you can dismiss them completely, even if you just can't walk away. However, in the second situation you are dealing with an opinion and in that case, regardless of education or any other form of measurement, everyone's opinion is equal as there are no facts to dispute. I believe that even in the case of research into a mythology, you can have facts like according to Norse mythology, Thor's hammer was named Mjolnir. However, if you base a game on Norse Mythology and say something like Thor was stronger than Hercules, then that is not a fact, but an opinion and regardless of how much research you find to support your opinion, it remains an opinion as there is no possible way to create "facts" out of such research. You can walk away from someone that disagrees with your "facts", but you then are the one being unreasonable, especially if you then proceed to try and state that your opinion has more merit because of your education. At that point you ARE being condescending because regardless of your qualifications, your opinion remains just that, your opinion. The only way to remained dignified is to accept that others will, not may, will disagree with you and suck it up.

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    "Some men you just can't reach." I have a saying in my industry - software development - and it applies to all really. "You can only idiot proof things so much." People are just going to do what they want and believe what they want because they need to to preserve their tenuous world view. Point out the flawed reasoning or information; if they are intractable, you can engage and waste time, or simply keep your energy and walk away. The later is better.

    Incarna; Role-Playing Game System
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
    OR leave the group setting
    That's what it looks like to me as well.

    I ask this in part because I've had this happen to me several times on the Pen&PaperGames chatroom over the past few years, and each time I've responded by avoiding the chatroom for about six months (most chatroom guests disappear after a few months) since I've noticed that many chatroom regulars would rather accommodate defensive self-ignorance than risk the "drama" that accompanies any concerted efforts to call out said defensive self-ignorance. I had been hoping to find a solution other than turning away from the chatroom since there are folk there whom I genuinely enjoy visiting. However, I think this confirms for me what I already knew: walking away is the only real option whenever the group fears "drama" so much that it avoids calling out those people who persist in "fighting to the ends of the earth" to protect their own misconceptions.

    After all, I simply walk away when I encounter such people at the gaming conventions or while engaging in discussion at a party.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
    I saw a guy vault a gaming table and start beating on another guy for suggesting that green dragons were puny and easy to kill. The big problem for him was that the suggester was into judo, and subdued him - then we ALL threw him out of the gaming store.
    Reading this anecdote made my day!

    ---------- Post added at 02:59 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:42 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by templeorder View Post
    "Some men you just can't reach." I have a saying in my industry - software development - and it applies to all really. "You can only idiot proof things so much." People are just going to do what they want and believe what they want because they need to to preserve their tenuous world view. Point out the flawed reasoning or information; if they are intractable, you can engage and waste time, or simply keep your energy and walk away. The later is better.
    We have a similar idea among university & college teachers who genuinely want to teach (as opposed to those who care only about the paycheck they get for standing in front of a classroom) although it has been worded many different ways. I like the way one dean put it: "Don't let your idealism make you forget that every adult has a Constitutional right to choose to remain ignorant if he or she is determined to do so."
    Last edited by magic-rhyme; 05-12-2012 at 02:52 PM.

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    i find that the most satisfying is to listen carefully to their side. i ask questions. i enquire about details. i ask for their sources. i look up their sources if time permits. i offer my side with facts and opinions labelled, with sources if possible, and if they are willing. i indicate that i have good reasons for disagreeing, and indicate willingness to provide references and facts if possible to back up my side. i agree to disagree if necessary.

    it seems that when i take people seriously and treat their opinion in a serious manner, that they tend to take me more seriously and less antagonistically. or crack under my straight laced treatment of their story and reveal it is a fake. it also allows me to get in some understated ironic humor from time to time, if needed.

    reminds me of the time i made the mistake of letting someone look at my palm and was told in all seriousness that i was either an alien in human disguise, or an alien-human hybrid offspring. that was an interesting conversation.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
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    And to play devil's advocate, if an individual enters a group and always finds drama, perhaps the drama is not caused by the group, but by the individual that finds the drama. It has always been my experience that before I cast stones, I make sure I'm not in a glass house.

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    The internet brings this up all the time. To quote Abe Lincoln "Never try and teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig."

    I need to make a macro for that.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Quote Originally Posted by nijineko View Post
    i find that the most satisfying is to listen carefully to their side. i ask questions. i enquire about details. i ask for their sources. i look up their sources if time permits. i offer my side with facts and opinions labelled, with sources if possible, and if they are willing. i indicate that i have good reasons for disagreeing, and indicate willingness to provide references and facts if possible to back up my side.
    I envy you if you live in a place where that kind of thing still works.

    I used to do the same thing. However, about ten years ago I noticed that some people responded to any question or enquiry with the same closed response: "You might have a point, but that's what I *believe*". Over the years, I have run into more and more people in real life and online who seem convinced that any statement -- no matter how absurd -- is immune to questioning if they label it a 'belief'.

    "Why do you say escargo is poisonous?" "Because that's what I believe." "All right, but WHY do you believe that?" "Because that's what I believe." "I understand that, but could I see some evidence for it?" "I don't need evidence or proof -- it's something I believe!"
    "Star Wars was a movie before it was an MMORPG." "No, I *believe* it was an MMORPG first." "But it wasn't -- here are the facts . . . " "Who are you to attack my beliefs? Now, everyone here better stop saying anything which implies it was a movie first!"
    "The word 'car' refers to anything with wheels, including kid's tricycles, so I'm mad about the current car laws." "Uh, actually, the word 'car' doesn't have that meaning among most people." "Yes, it does." "Look, here is a dictionary, and here is an English professor and a lawyer, and they will all agree that the word 'car' does not normally include children's tricycles." "Well, I believe it does, so anyone here who uses the word 'car' better use it with that meaning!"
    "Ten minus four equals nine in base-10 mathematics, so you owe me nine dollars in change from that ten dollar bill I gave you." "Actually, this math book will show you it doesn't." "I *believe* it does, so that math book must be wrong! Now hand over the nine dollars." "You're nuts." "Hey, dude, hand him the nine dollars to keep him quiet 'cause we don't need no drama around here."

    While the above examples are a bit exaggerated, they are all based on actual encounters I have had in real life and online, changed only to avoid distracting people with potentially controversial topics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lazarus View Post
    And to play devil's advocate, if an individual enters a group and always finds drama, perhaps the drama is not caused by the group, but by the individual that finds the drama. It has always been my experience that before I cast stones, I make sure I'm not in a glass house.
    I have found drama occurs more often around people who are terrified of drama and its potential for conflict than it does around people who just shrug at momentary drama as a harmless price to pay for the sake of thoughtful discussion.

    I remember one gaming group I visited a couple of times. There was this one person who kept pronouncing the most inane opinions, many of them aggressively racist or anti-Semitic, often pounding his fist on the gaming table. Not only did the other people there avoid calling him on it, they allowed him to censor what they could talk about. My visits seemed to consist of one long disruption of any enjoyable discussion because he already had his opinion on the subject so he didn't see any reason for any of us to want to talk about it further or hold any opinion different from his own. My last visit, I finally lost my temper and told him to shut up even though he could probably knock me out with one punch, but all he did was give a deer-in-the-headlights stare and then stalk out of the apartment. The rest of us had a great night with him gone.

    The other people later told me how much they loved that night and how it was the first time there had been any worthwhile discussion in years instead of their usual comfortable boredom. Then they asked me not visit again. As their game master said: "Sure, M___ lies and says stupid things all the time, but as long as no one calls him on it, there's no drama, and we don't want any drama. You care about accuracy and want to discuss things that matter; all we care about is having peace. I know everyone'd love to see you again to talk like last night, but not at the group events with M____, and not where M____ could find out about it or it'll stir up more drama with him."

    I have found an increasing number of groups like that these days. I've even seen it in the chatroom here once in a while, when A says something ridiculous that completely disrupts an interesting conversation, B calls him on it, A tries to circumvent reason and evidence by labeling what he had said a "belief", B corrects him again anyway using reason and evidence, and then C and D call B an asshat or snob or jerk for disagreeing with A (since disagreeing with A could "cause problems").
    Last edited by magic-rhyme; 06-11-2012 at 05:16 PM.

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    The formal term is "bully". And you demonstrated the kind of backbone they really have. The rest of the group are co-dependents in they are unwilling to change the situation.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
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    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    start your own group and bleed off the worthwhile ones?
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Tesral's point about the pig is spot on. I liken it to trying to argue logic with an alligator. It serves no purpose because his only interest is to bite you. No matter what you do, he wants to bite you. Picking an inane point of view is his method. These are the same people who need a ribbon for participating.

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    Deserve a medal for coherent thought. Yea. Label not withstanding, they are people that never seem to be happy unless they are spoiling someone time. "Purple shirts", passive aggressive or just aggressive.


    "Purple shirts"? A friend described it as if you have 25 people, a baseball team, and you tell everyone to come to practice, wear anything except purple. Two will show up in purple with some excuse about how they are special or need their freedom or some such nonsense. People who actively ignore instruction or standards. You will not change them, clearing them out is your only hope.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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