Verisimilitude in Non-Conversant-style Screeds

Verisimilitude in Non-Conversant-style Screeds

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.” – Carl Sagan

Just as our concepts of what is accurate and what lacks validity can remain constant without further nurturing of inwardly-designed development processes, it is vitally important that we accept that these points cannot be overlooked in terms of communication and perception.

A wise person will know that his thoughts, developed as they may be along their own system of parallel checking (or research based mergers), may not seem palatable to the “outside mob”.

**The truth may be itself unflawed or with understood meaning, but without the veneer of verisimilitude, unprovided by the concept itself, the endeavour will likely be heard only be deaf ears.

A wise person presents their thoughts not only as they are, but as acceptable “nodes” along the idea process. The audience may be incorrect, but this does not mean that alternate solutions will be accepted; if your audience is blind, you would not provide pictures to teach them.**

It is also worth acknowledging the potential possibility of hypocrisy in your words. I think if people profess to follow a stringent path of pro-cranial activity and a skeptical basis for the status quo of our spoon-mouth society, it is an excellent idea to treat their own ideas in a similar fashion. It is a good idea to register that if one person may develop seperate yet equally (if not more) fulsome values, it is possible that other people may likewise find themselves in a similar situation.

**A conflict with one’s valued-statements and those of others does not mean they hold different values; rather, they may simply have started from the same intellectual premise but diverged into potentially more accurate advanced concepts or methods of arriving at same. **

How would a person make sure they put across their ideas well?

How should they behave towards others who disagree?

Should they assume others conform to the standards that you do not?

Does a epiphany of thought entail singularhood?

tl;dr: If coberst has good points to make, it’s pretty well hidden by long words for the sake of long words and a refusal to actually debate them in GD.

With all your big words and fancy quotes, I’m having a real hard time trying to figure out what you’re pitting here.


An intellectual! Shun him!


Referring back to the anti-intellectualism thread over in GD, this is why some poeple find “intellectuals” infuriating. This kind f thing is sheer mental masturbation. It accomplishes nothing and commnicates nothing except “I, the writer, am a pompous ass who probably doesn’t himself know what he’s saying.”

This is satire, right?



Well, then … :smiley:

I’m gald you put the word intellectuals in ironic quotation marks, because I doubt that either the poster being pitted or your caricature would fit my definition of an intellectual. (Not that there are no snobs and poseurs among intellectuals, only that the caricature of their worst examples and hangers-on does not match my concept of the real persons.)

This reads like one of those gibberish spam emails that is so gibberishy it gets past the spam filters.

I know, right? Makes me want to order some C1AL15. :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess i understand that the OP doesn’t like the jargon in coberst’s posts, but i’m not really sure why it necessitates a pitting. For the most part, i thought that most of coberst’s posts in the other threads, while not especially new or amazingly insightful, were no more specialized or obscure than quite a few other intellectual exercises i’ve seen in GD.

In the Leap of Faith thread, for example, post #10 is really little more than a fairly simple restating of a few of the key ideas advanced by Thomas Kuhn in his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. While many people have taken issue issue with Kuhn’s analysis of the way science works in the 40-odd years since the book came out, i don’t think anyone has ever accused Kuhn of intellectual obscurantism.

In fact, i think his book is a remarkably lucid and well-written history of science that happens to advance what were, at the time, some pretty new ideas about how scientific revolutions come about. Kuhn’s disciplinary analysis is not outrageously difficult to understand, and while it’s probably a bit naive to assume that everyone here at the SDMB is aware of how Kuhn uses terms like “paradigm” and “normal science,” the fact is that those terms are explained very clearly in the book, and can be quite easily understood by any intelligent person.

I’m not a big fan of intellectual obscurantism myself. I happen to think that some of the French post-structuralists like Derrida and Lacan often went out of their way to make their work inaccessible, and there are, indeed, intellectuals who seem to take great delight in writing in ways that very few people will understand. On the other hand, though, we should not assume that something has no value just because it uses terminology and modes of argumentation that are unfamiliar to us. The first thing that comes to mind from this Board is Liberal’s discussions of logic. He uses terms with which many people are not familiar, or which have a different technical meaning within the study of logic than they do in general conversation, but that doesn’t mean that his argument is mere “mental masturbation” or obscurantism, only that it is generally directed at someone who shares his knowledge of the terminology.

The fact is that some disciplines and intellectual communities, and not just those in technical and scientific areas, develop their own specialized language and terminology to describe things that are very real, but that are also outside the everyday experience and purview of the general public. The notion of a Kuhnian “paradigm” is a perfect example. Someone familiar with the history of science, and with a variety of other disciplines (history, sociology, etc.) will probably be familiar with the term, and will find it very useful for describing certain situations. Their use of the term might be new and strange and even unintelligible to someone unfamiliar with Kuhn or with the study of disciplinary communities, but that doesn’t mean that the people using the term are being intentionally obscurantist or pompous.

I do agree that when people attempt to make arguments to those outside their disciplinary or professional community, they should make every effort to couch their arguments in terms that non-specialists can understand. If a doctor can explain to me in plain English how iron is absorbed into the blood, and a physicist can explain to me in understandable terms how nuclear fusion works, a social scientist or humanities professor should be able to explain his or her theories about the human condition in terms that can be grasped, at least in a general sense, by the non-specialist.

Also, as tomndebb suggests in his response to smiling bandit, pointing to a caricature and claiming that it’s a typical or common occurrence is a rather pointless exercise in strawmannification. But, unfortunately, it’s also a fairly common symptom of the anti-intellectualism that pervades certain sections of society.

My problems with coberst basically boil down to this;

  • He uses unclear language. If I talked to a rocket scientist, likely i’d have no clue what they were on about. But if that rocket scientist felt it was very important to get across some point of his work, he should be prepared to dumb it down for me. Not make it too simple, but at least make it clear what his point actually was.

  • I think he’s a hypocrite. He posts about learning and thinking about things in GD, but then doesn’t debate. He lectures.

I don’t often have that many problems with what his actual points are (when I understand them). If he posted them in a way that was a bit more accessible, and if he was more willing to practice what he preaches, i’d simply consider him the same as any other poster I disagree with.

Since I qualify, if anything, as an intellectual myself, I’m no stranger to jargon. The use of jargon does not obscure is used properly. However, far too many academics use as much jargon in the worst possible way, as a means of appearing smarter than they are. I know this from personal experience; the real intellectuals communicate clearly. The second-rate cover their mediocrity through poor writing style. It’s true that a handull of first-rate thinkers can’t write, but that’s pretty rare. If they weren’t capable of thinking and communicating clearly, they proably wouldn’t become good thinkers in the first place.

::There he goes with that word again. Evidently it really is part of his working vocabulary.::

Ahem. Regarding the OP…::has verbosity induced apoplexy.::

BTW, what was that thought exercise that allegedly drove some philosopher to madness? Cause that’s what this OP is reminding me of. I hope you’re happy Revenant–I’d always planned for my descent into lunacy to be slow and mostly overlooked. But no, you had to give the guy walking down the slippery slope a swift kick in the ass. I’ll probably be licking door knobs tomorrow.
‘acceptable “nodes” along the idea process’–what the sterling silver Christ?

I think it was the God/burrito thing, but I may be thinking of a different philosopher. Also alleged to be fatally vexing : “why does the sign say ‘Speed Zone Ahead’ if I’m supposed to slow down?” and “if she didn’t really want to know how many women I’d slept with before her, why the hell did she ask?”

So many pitfalls, and so many brilliant minds ensnared.

Best. Parody. Post. Ever.



Someone here posted a link to a random postmodern argument generator. I think it’s actually a link to coberst’s mind. I wonder if he gets royalties…

…huh. I came in here all set to defend the Pittee, thinking that Revenant had something against philosohpical writing styles in general and that the OP was intended as over the top.

Then I clicked his links. Ye gods, that is some high-quality pretentious twaddle, in all its bolded and obfuscatory wonder. I’m well aware that I can be long-winded – though I personally prefer “thorough” :wink: – in my posting style, but I’m never deliberately obtuse. This guy is something else again.

Coberst, dude, from a fellow Guy Who Overthinks Abstract Shit, when it comes to flowery language, use it, don’t abuse it. If you’re going to use that much screen real estate in your posts, use the extra space to clarify your point and add explanations from different points of view to help further understanding; don’t write piles of semi-related prose to impede it. And, for the love of all that’s holy, drop the fucking bolding.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled Pitting. Flame on.