ANST - Instruction was: To Dennis O' Connor

Dennis O'Connor dmoc at
Wed Aug 6 18:57:26 PDT 1997

 From: Michael F. Gunter <mfgunter at>
Subject: Re: ANST - Instruction was: To Dennis O' Connor
>Dear Dennis O'Connor
>> Teaching the whole net one-at-a-time is impossible.
>This is true, especially when the persons you wish to instruct have been
>turned off to the instructor.  If you do not respect your teacher, or if that
>teacher starts off by insulting you I doubt that you will pay close attention
>to his lesson.

I  am not sure how common such an effect is.  People often
seem to have an obsession with seeing what someone that
they perceive as being hostile is saying.  Now, sometimes
people have a hard time getting past their emotional reaction
and seeing the truth, but in my experience many people, with
a little reflection, get over it and learn.  Then, weeks or months
later, they chance to look at what they had posted, and with
the wisdom newly games, they can't believe they posted it.
Been there, done that.

>> Being gracious is not the most important principle
>> in my belief system.

Yep.  And I can (no surprise) make a strong case for that,
and would enjoy doing so.

>> It may be illuminating for you to know that as far as I can tell,
>> you *can't* humiliate someone on the net: only they can do that.
>> What you *can* do is point out to them that they have done so.
>> This usually pisses people of at first, but in my experience, people
>> eventually realize that it  they are mainly pissed off at themselves.
>The surface of this statement is correct.  However the net can be one of the
>most inflammatory intruments ever created. By not seeing you be sincere or
>having a small smile of tease the readers can only fill in their own mental
>images.  Many of these images are unflattering.  Unless you stress the fact
>that there is no insult intended and extend utmost courtesy, many readers
>will assume for the worse.

Perhaps. But In a Society that professes to value courtesy, and for any
person claiming to hold courtesy  high in their belief system, such
behavior is, I think, hypocritical and inappropriate.  Where is the grace
and courtesy in assuming the worst about other people ?  Personally,
I will not accept responsibility for other people's mistakes, including
their mistaken and discourteous assumptions of the worst.

Now, I will often hypothesize the worst about others, and make
contingency plans to limit the consequences if that hypothesis
proves correct.  But that's a long way from assuming the worst,
and then acting on that assumption as if it were true.

>> So, I never attempt to humiliate people on the net, because it
>> is not possible to do so.  Only the lamest flame-newbie thinks
>> otherwise, I believe.
>Of which it is obvious you are not.
>> BTW, the "too much fun" in part refers to the joy of constructing
>> a strong argument, which is similar to the fun one finds in constructing
>> a good thorough mathematical proof. (I have a Bachelors in Math, BTW).
>Arguments are fun but the opponents must meet upon mutual ground and if it
>begins to get nasty then in cyberville as in real life you "take it outside".

I haven't gotten nasty.  Not on my scale of nasty, anyway.
It has not been me attacking other people's character.
Unlike others, I try not to assume to know more than is posted
about a person.  I try to address the message, not the messenger.

>> Not at all, I enjoy debating philosophies of instruction as much
>> as anything else.  I suspect we hold differences of opinion with
>> respect to certain axiomatic aspects, such as when or if it is
>> appropriate to use embarrassment as an instructional tool.
>Had you maintained this respectful and rational demeanor all along people
>wouldn't be suspecting you of being an arrogant pompous jerk.

I don't get it: people post numerous ad-hominem attacks and
other invalid argumentative forms, and *I* am the one who is a jerk ?

Personally, I'm suspecting a lot of herd-type behavior here, where
the members of the existing group have a predisposition to
side with the members of the group regardless of who is actually
at fault.  That's just human nature.  Plus, of course, there's the long
string of wounded egos I've left in my wake in other forums, people
who remember me that I don't recall at all. If you look, you'll see that too.
Dennis O'Connor               dmoc at
All rights reserved. Speaking only for myself, by default.


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