Come at me, bro — what’s fair game on this blog
This is not a politics blog, but politics is part of my subject matter. So here’s what I hope is a very clear statement of my principles.
I write about anything associated with writing quality, analytical thinking, truth, and influence. These are “meta-analyses.” I’m generally writing about how people think and communicate, not whether those positions are correct.
My objective is to get you to learn something or have an insight you didn’t have before. I intend my posts to be either a new way of thinking about the writing, analysis, and communications process, or a new perspective on something happening in the news. “New” is the key. I see no value in repeating arguments made by others.
Here’s why I don’t take positions:
- Things are so polarized that if I write anything about the positions of Trump or Democrats, then half of you will cheer and the other half will boo. No one will learn anything.
- Those fights are already happening all over the Internet. I have nothing useful to add to this debate; while I vote, my perspective isn’t relevant to this blog.
For example, like many of you, I’m upset that families are being separated at the border. But my upset doesn’t reveal anything new, I’m far from the only person who is upset. If you want partisan viewpoints on this or any other issue, there are thousands of places to get them.
So why write about politics at all? Because it’s so rich with bullshit.
The public statements of politicians use all manner of rhetorical dodges of the types I analyze. Fair game.
In articles, media bias and error is subtle but important to identify. Fair game.
Photos are not what they appear to be. Statements are not what they appear to be. How these false narratives spread is crucial to understanding modern communication. Fair game.
Because I want people to think a bit harder about who they are and how they communicate, I focus on things that contradict rather than reinforce your existing biases. This is not a liberal or conservative activity. All sorts of politicians and analysts are hypocritical, self-contradictory, misleading, or disingenuous in their statements. I want you to see what’s wrong, why it is happening, and how it affects the discourse.
If I criticize someone you agree with, that’s great. You should appreciate the opportunity to make their arguments stronger by purging it of bullshit.
If I criticize someone you disagree with, that’s great, too. You have a rhetorical tool to appreciate how they are deceiving people.
I am not a member of the media, but I am trying to behave as I think they should — showing all sides of the truth.
Politically, I am a member of a vanishing breed — a moderate. We exist, but we are hard to see. By not picking a camp to cheer for, we get hammered from both sides. This is why you don’t see much comment from moderates.
I have indeed been hammered from both sides. That’s no fun, but at least it tells me that I’m not in the bag for one side or the other.
Your comments must obey these rules
I maintain an intellectual space here and on my Facebook page. To keep that space consistent with these principles, I delete comments that don’t follow my rules.
I have no patience whatsoever for ad-hominem attacks on myself or any other commenters. If you want to argue, argue about facts and principles. Name-calling illuminates nothing, so it’s gone.
Obviously, if you come here hoping to promote yourself or your business, I’ll delete your comment.
I have very little interest in people re-litigating the issue themselves. This blog is about all aspects of modern communication and analytical thinking. If you have a point to make about how people communicate, great. If you want to tell me that Trump is right or wrong in his policies, good for you, but that’s not really what this space is about. That’s off-topic. (And it’s usually just repeating talking points from the left or right, which you can already read anywhere else.)
If you want to tell me about your personal experience and how that bears on the things I’m discussing, I welcome that. Those personal experience are generally new perspectives, and I love new perspectives.
If you want to ask a respectful question, that’s another way to generate more insights. Bring it on.
None of this will change
While the topics of this blog may evolve, the rules will not. These are the rules of discourse. They’ve gotten me to two-million-plus views, so there’s clearly and audience for what I write. Feel free to adopt them for your own blog, Facebook page, Instagram feed, Linked In page, YouTube channel, or wherever you share your views.
I hope you continue to enjoy what I write. And I look forward to your comments.
I value your take, Josh. You make me think. You make me look at my assumptions. You call out the BS of all sides, and you’re willing to expose your thought process – whether I agree or not, I know where you are coming from. While I found stories of your family’s travels through Europe more entertaining than thought provoking, most of what you write is timely, relevant, and NEW. I appreciate this blog – keep it up!
Amen, Liz! I also loved the articles about AirBnB and the houseboat. It made me dream a bit about our next vacation….
Perfectly reasonable and I appreciate your sharing your outlook. I’m certainly one of those who cheers sometimes, and boos other times. But I do notice that you focus on the craft of communication and how one technique works, or doesn’t work, and your advice on how it might be better able to inform or convince the reader or viewer.
I think one of the things I really have grown to dislike is reading comments (on any article these days). There are going to be people who pick fights and try to ‘win’ the argument, but it can be done in a way that doesn’t denigrate people or assign motives to a random person making a comment. It is the same way people say things from the comfort of their keyboards or when they are behind the wheel of their cars that they would never say face to face. Unfortunately, the mutual respect does not extend to the comments section. Just because someone disagrees does not make him or her stupid or evil.
As my mother used to say, you can disagree without being disagreeable. Thanks for your great blog!
I can’t count how many times I’ve given out a link to specific posts from your blog. Your writing is clear and impartial. Even more, your writing helps people, if they choose to hear the message, at least, remember how to think – not what to think, in terms of politics, in particular, but *how.*
Emotionalism might win the battle. and even the war, but we all lose if that’s the case.
Oh, and moderates are only “vanishing,” I believe, in the sense that we don’t stand out like those on the ends of the spectrum. At least I hope that’s the truth.
I wish I could buy you dinner someday just to pick your brain…
Next time you get to Boston let me know.