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I followed that link to your old blog and saw the comment left on that poor father's website. How can someone say something so mean with so much glee? I just don't understand it.

I understand people who take a cautious view to anything. It's those who take such delight in 'informing' others that they're going to cease to exist at some point that strikes me as odd.

I agree with what you said about replying to people who converse in such a way. As long as you remain clear headed and never stoop to their level, well, you might not 'win' but at least you won't 'lose'.

Michael, you don't really mean that.

Kidding! My favorite tactic is to just agree with them. They get completely disarmed and you can then actually sneak in a point into the conversation.

But the best advice is what I tell my kids when they are upset by something some one said. Typically it goes like this:

Daughter: She called me an idiot!

Me: Are you an idiot?

Daughter: No!

Me: Can her calling you an idiot make you an idiot?

Daughter: No.

Me: So if you're not an idiot, and she can't make you an idiot, do you think her calling you one tells you something about yourself, or something about her.

Daughter: {pause} About her.

There is no need to respond to invalidators. Except as sport.

I've been guilty of being a small time invalidator but I never really meant to make someone feel bad. I was just trying to make myself feel better. Thats probably true for a lot of ultra-skeptics. They just want their world-view re-affirmed. Thats why you shouldn't identify yourself with your views.

Great post, thanks Michael!

Is this a takeoff on the Sam Harris speech about the label "atheism" or something?

Your blog has helped me very much, thanks for saving me from some very bad things!

Nasty behavior like this seems more rampant on the Web, where people aren't face to face. A lot of it does seem to involve using labels and categorizations, combined with judgments about them. It's the reason I don't like labels, when debating anything, although when used passively they can be convenient ways to define us and help us find those who share our interests. The trouble there is when we have different definitions.

But those kinds of attacks really don't warrant a response. After all, if that's someone's only argument, then they have no argument.

Michael excellent post. I was wondering what are your thoughts on brain split patients some scientists says it creates two separate minds like splitting the soul in two in order to debunk substance dualism. I heard though that this maybe what is not happening that perhaps the right brain and left brain still has to be in unison.

Invalidators: what a wonderful new word I have learned. This one hit the nail on the head. The atheists and the ultra skeptics have this one down pat.

As far as being on blogs where no one agrees with you I find I get a chance to express myself to a hostile audience and they often call my attention to a contradiction I have stated. More often than not they invalidate me as one stated recently that I have a puny brain. It appears to me at least that Atheists as a whole feel intellectually superior to the general population.

If we only blog with those that agree with us and never challenge our cherished beliefs do we stifle ourselves. I have noticed that like attracts like here on earth. We love being around people that think like us and agree with us. This may validate our beliefs and us, maybe we are just a walking bundle of beliefs, and those beliefs give us a persona.

Titus Rivas a couple of years ago made a remark on Split brain experiments

I have known some people who's only pleasure is the pain of others. See . I sometimes wonder if they get some kind of psychic "nourishment" from the anger and pain they cause.

This is one reason I absolutely loath debating people on forums. Over ninety percent of it consists of ad hominems and generalized attacks, as well as assumptions by naive individuals who clearly haven't spent the time to research one's position.

>Is this a takeoff on the Sam Harris speech about the label "atheism" or something?

I haven't read anything by Sam Harris, although I do know that he is somewhat open to psi and has drawn some heat for it.

"I haven't read anything by Sam Harris, although I do know that he is somewhat open to psi and has drawn some heat for it."

Basically, he wrote the same thing:

This is a great post Michael. Along similar lines, something has been bothering me for a while. Where is the line between being a deeply self-secure person who tries to rise above pettiness, spoiltness and triviality – and being an egotistical solipsistic Invalidator? Where is the line between being a SLAP and an outraged bastion values, in a crazy world?

I have tried all my life not to get caught up in the BS, and plough my own path. But I can be very dismissive of others views, and only accept criticism from people I respect and feel are on my wavelength. If someone tries to force their opinions on me, I do tend to Invalidate their whole existence, in my own head if not to their face. It is such a difficult thing to get right.

PS - I know this is really pedantic but can somebody put me right on my grammar; |others views| should be |others' views|, right? (Wikipedia says so). I know that certain possessive pronouns don't require an apostrophe.

Ryan, "others' views" is correct.

Thanks Piers. I do feel silly about that. ;)

>They're what the self-help writer Jay Carter calls Invalidators<
Hat Tip: Me
(tooting my own horn because I've never been given a hat tip and always wanted one heh)


That's true. I should have given you a HT, since you recommended Jay Carter's book to me!

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