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On Deniers, Warmistas, and Watermelons

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 25, 2011 1:14 AM


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Nothing seems to shake the climate rafters like a fierce debate over the labels that combatants use to smack each other around. Although this thread from yesterday is still going strong, I thought I would break out a comment that rises above the scrum:

My belief is that those who are affected most negatively by the use of name-calling (denier, denialist, warmista, watermelon etc) are in fact those that spout them. Presumably, a major reason we come to these message boards is to debate others and try to persuade them to see our particular side of an issue. Lacing an argument with language that is perceived by others as antagonistic immediately weakens your argument and guarantees escalation rather than meaningful back and forth because people become defensive and less receptive to your perspective. Imagine an attorney: "Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I am going to present you evidence that confirms my case and if you don't believe it 100% you're probably stupid or willfully ignorant." Now if all you want to do is score high fives from the people who already believe what you believe then by all means, keep it up but it's my opinion that there are plenty of people out there who are malleable to a good argument and it isn't productive to start lumping everyone in with the most partisan members of a particular side.

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