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Everything posted by Invictus2017

  1. Not quite. I don't have a reference, but what various Objectivists have said is that you should do your own philosophical thinking (as you should do all thinking) and live by whatever you conclude. You should do this even if the result of your thinking is not Objectivism. If you err, the fact that you erred while reasoning leaves open the possibility of discovering your mistake. If you didn't reason, you have no way to know whether or how your philosophy is wrong.
  2. Coercive School Photos

    Refuse the photos, burn them even. If anyone complains, ask them to produce the signed contract where you agreed to having those photos taken. They'll try to bullshit you. Stand firm and remember that you're protecting your child and yourself against predators.
  3. I have added sjw to my ignore list, for his recent trolling.

  4. A theory of "theory"

    I make a distinction between "theory" and "model" when I think it is necessary. A theory explains certain facts in terms of others. A model predicts certain facts from others. So, for example, chemistry is a theory and a model, because it contains explanatory relationships as well as predictive methods. Quantum mechanics is a pure model, devoid of (generally accepted) metaphysics. (But QM plus the "many worlds" interpretation would be a theory and a model.) Our understanding of much psychology is theory, rather than model, explanatory without much predictiveness. Re: Hypothesis and theory. I tend to think of them as points on a continuum. A hypothesis is merely a set of explanatory relationships suggested by the facts. A hypothesis becomes a theory when its consequences have been explored without finding contradictions. Go further and the theory becomes a certainty, a fact in itself.
  5. For those curious about how I ended up illegally convicted, I have done a small amount of writing about what happened.  It's at https://wp.me/p2tt1M-1Z Comments welcome here or there.  However, I'm having difficulty getting through the reCAPTCHA screen on this site (because I use Tor), so it might be awhile before I see or respond to comments here.

  6. Race Realism

    Just so. And it wouldn't matter if the numbers were 90 and 160. Or whether we're talking musical ability, running ability, or any other non-essential characteristic. If an entity possesses the attributes of a human being, he is a human being for moral and political -- and therefore for Objectivism's -- purposes, regardless of what race (however defined) he might be.
  7. Veganism under Objectivism

    Why? "Rights" is not a floating abstraction. It arises from a consideration of what humans require to live, what this implies about the proper society for humans, and what each individual should do in such a society. One of the essential facts relied on in the derivation of rights is that humans survive by means of the use of their rational faculty. Take away that fact and the derivation falls apart. Thus, unless an organism survives by means of reason, it cannot be said to have rights.
  8. Veganism under Objectivism

    I don't have the time to read this topic through, so perhaps someone else has made this point: Man does not have rights because he can reason. He has rights because his fundamental method of survival is reasoning. The latter is not true of any other organism, so no other organism has rights.
  9. Reblogged:Thought-Crime in Belgium

    This is called question begging, and is not an acceptable form of argumentation. An action is not a crime until there is proof of intention. Why? See the Objectivist definition of force.
  10. Reblogged:Thought-Crime in Belgium

    You are wrong, historically and philosophically. With few exceptions, all crime involves a "mens rea", a "guilty mind". Without such a mental state, there is no crime. In America, punishment generally depends on the person's state of mind, as in giving a person a greater sentence when he does not demonstrate remorse for his crime. Even before "hate crimes", judges often gave harsher sentences for crimes motivated by animus towards individuals or groups. While you are correct that a person should not be prosecuted based on a mental state, the nature of his punishment properly depends on his mental state. The reason is that punishment serves two different purposes. One is restitutive, based on the harm done by the criminal to others. The other is defensive, based on an estimation of future danger to others of the proven criminal. It is this latter where mental state plays a necessary role. The person whose behavior comes from, say, an isolated lapse of control is far less a danger to those around him than one who, for example, believes that predation on others is an appropriate mode of being. Similarly, a person who commits an assault, motivated by anger toward a particular person is a lesser danger to anyone else than would be a person motivated by hatred toward a large group of people. So, yes, properly understood, there can be increased punishment based on group hatred, even if group hatred itself is not a proper ground for prosecution.
  11. Stockton, California, is already considering a guaranteed minimum income. See, e.g., http://www.businessinsider.com/stockton-california-launching-the-first-us-experiment-in-basic-income-2017-10
  12. Neuromarketing and choice

    The fundamental problem these people have is that they have rejected philosophy, so they really have no idea of what free will is. They are as ignorant of the nature of free will as you are (supposedly) ignorant of neuromarketing research. Free will, as applied to mental action, is an axiomatic concept; the capacity to choose is a precondition of and is entailed by the capacity to reason. The proposition that neuromarketing (or anything else) destroys free will entails the proposition that it also destroys the capacity to reason. Experiments that merely show a probabilistic effect on behavior simply miss the point -- they demonstrate no more than the obvious proposition that peoples' choices are influenced by their environment. Aside from the supposed utility of quantifying that influence, such experiments deserve no more than a "duh, and now you'll prove that the sun will rise tomorrow?" in response. Similarly, even if there are observed physical effects on a person's brain from advertising, it's irrelevant to the question of free will, unless those effects are shown to prevent a person from reasoning. Now, if the neuromarketing advocates proved that advertising prevents people from reasoning about what is being advertised, that would be a different matter entirely. But that is not what they have proved, nor is it what they are trying to prove. And, unless things have changed radically since I paid attention, it is something their experiments can't prove -- those experiments are designed to eliminate the role of reason in choice. So, next time they give you this nonsense and you want to confront it, tell them that the science does not prove that advertising destroys a person's capacity to reason and, so long as they have that capacity, they have free will. If they try to argue against you, tell them that they haven't studied enough philosophy to have an opinion worth paying attention to. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, after all. But if they want references, you can direct them to Rand, rather than just blowing them off.
  13. Neuromarketing and choice

    No, in their minds you were not challenging the science -- you could not have been, because you avowedly didn't know the science. Your challenge was to the philosophy -- that is, their dogma -- that they used to justify their belief that the science proved that people can be controlled by external forces. Yes, they disregard philosophy, as too many people do. But that doesn't mean that they avoided philosophy. All it means is that they relied on an unexamined philosophy, one that tells them that people's behavior is determined by external forces. Because, to them, determinism is an article of faith. It's dogma, not to be thought about, and certainly not to be challenged by those who don't accept the faith. This is mere sophistry, the sort of "reasoning" that the dogmatic use when they are confronted by unanswerable arguments. That said, yes, advertising doesn't need 100%. But the argument that people can be forced to act in a particular way by advertising does. Without 100%, either in actuality or in theory, the argument is simply false. (I think you need to beware of the trick of changing the goal-post. That's where a person you're arguing with changes the topic when you get too close to showing them to be wrong. So, once you pointed out the flaw -- that there are never 100% experiments -- they change the topic from the truth of determinism to the utility of advertising.) Agreed. Except that I'd say "evil", not merely "jerk". The arguments were not merely those of a disagreeable person but were also designed to subvert their opponents' reason. They were arguments from authority -- an unspecified authority, but an authority nonetheless -- and attempts at intimidation and at creating a sense of inferiority.
  14. Neuromarketing and choice

    If you start with the philosophical premise of determinism, you will interpret each scientific result in which stimulus seems to affect behavior as proof of determinism. If someone points out that no experiment gets a 100% response, you reply with the assertion that if only you could account for all the circumstances, you would get a 100% response. Conversely, if you start with the philosophical premise of free will, you will interpret each scientific result as merely quantifying the obvious fact that people are influenced by their environment. You will see no need -- or possibility -- of getting a 100% response; free will means that there's always the possibility of people doing something other than the expected. Can science prove determinism or free will? No. Because the interpretation of the results of scientific experiments depends on which premise you start with. To reach either position based on science would amount to question begging. The only field of knowledge that can speak to this issue is philosophy, and those who reject philosophy do not thereby escape philosophy. They merely take some particular (generally incoherent) philosophy for granted, as an article of faith, as essentially a religion. This, BTW, explains what those people were doing. In their minds, you weren't challenging the science, you were challenging their religion's dogma. Of course they responded with arrogance and condemnation -- just like any other religious fanatic.
  15. Neuromarketing and choice

    The answer to "X causes behavior Y" is the fact that behavior Y does not invariably follow X, and any explanation for why is just plain guesswork and special pleading. At best. The rejection of free-will as an explanation is philosophical, not scientific.
  16. A tyranny is objectively worse than a free society, regardless of any particular person's context, for all the reasons Rand so eloquently expressed. But evaluation must always take into account the particulars of a person's life so, for a particular person, a tyranny might not be objectively worse than a free society. This is a paradox, if not a contradiction. But it has a simple resolution: Get rid of the mind/body dichotomy at its root. For an irrational person, one might say that he's better off in a mixed economy like that of the US, if he can physically survive much better than he could in some poorer country. But a rational person recognizes that he must take into account not just his physical well-being but his psychological well-being. He will understand that, no matter how comfortable his life is, he will have it at the cost of either refusing to see the world around him or of living in a state of constant revulsion. Neither is an appropriate way to live for a rational animal -- and this is precisely what the OP expressed.
  17. Might be time to accept that this result may as well be a metaphysical fact, and move on to other uses of your time. That's my conclusion. I just don't waste my time with the anti-liberty types any more. If a person doesn't now respect the individual and his rights, he's history as far as I'm concerned. I might make an exception for the young and naive, but that's it. Everyone else has had their opportunity to learn and either used it or didn't.
  18. I'm certainly aware that most people still see things as, on balance, tolerable. But I never forget, and neither should those other people: First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. --Martin Niemoeller
  19. Are we on the edge of the Peter Schiff dollar collapse?

    Back in the 90's, my now ex-wife and I were spending more than we took in. We were unable to increase our income and were not willing to decrease our outgo. Our debt kept increasing, but we insisted on maintaining our lifestyle, hoping that "somehow" we'd pay off our debt. Well, the day came when we had to start borrowing to pay off our creditors. Then, for me (we had by then separated), it became a hectic round of getting new credit cards, shuffling balances...and, as certain as sunrise, came the day when none of this juggling was possible, the day when I was unable to even pay for necessities. The day when I was forced to acknowledge my bankruptcy could not have been predicted -- that primarily depended on how much work I could manage and how foolish the credit card companies would be -- but the fact that such a day would come was entirely predictable. This, in miniature, is what is happening in the US. (Except that the US is being even more stupid than we were.) "Whether" is predictable, "when" is not. My excuse was major depression, which really messes with one's judgment. But only I (and my foolish creditors) paid for my stupidity. America has no such excuse. And when America falls off the cliff, the consequences will be much worse.
  20. Real Wage and Purchasing Power

    That $18,000 figure for 2011 is definitely not correct. (And if we're talking Nigeria, I seriously doubt that either figure is correct.) It would also be a good thing to think about the premises behind the CPI and ask whether it is a useful or even accurate measure of whatever it is supposed to measure.
  21. With the Govt spying, there are many reasons you can’t be assured it’s safe to do this. If you can stomach it, try listening to some of the far left and far right groups. Most of what they say is pure drivel, but mixed in are real horrors perpetrated by the government. Yesterday's news, for example, had the trial of a couple of cops for rape -- who asserted that their arrested and handcuffed teenaged victim consented to sex with the two of them. They may get off, since too many people still believe -- in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- that cops rarely lie. (BTW, in thirty odd states, it is not illegal for a cop to have sex with an arrestee.) The reality is that all our rights go out the window if someone who can't be held to account decides to violate them. There are huge swathes of immunity, official and otherwise, granted to government agents. Your primary "guarantor" of free speech is not the Constitution or the courts but rather that your speech is of little or no importance to the government. But become a whistleblower against a federal agency, for example, and there's an all too good chance of your going to prison, whether or not you actually committed a crime. And never mind the innumerable ways the government and government agents can legally violate your rights.... From https://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index, The top 10 jurisdictions in order were Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and, tied at 9th place, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Selected countries rank as follows: Canada (11), Sweden (13), Germany (16), the United States (17).... (emphasis added). Other indices of freedom are similarly unfriendly to American pretensions. As to #1: You cannot reason a man out of what he wasn't reasoned into in the first place. #2: Today it's medical treatments. Tomorrow it will be something else. Being an ostrich is not an answer. #3: Not knowing your meaning, I can't comment. If you choose to stay in America, your best option is to batten the hatches against the coming storm of rights violations and eventual tyranny. How you do that depends on the particulars of your situation.
  22. The question isn't whether there is some statism in a person or government, it is the degree of fundamentality of any statism they might have. So, for example, if the people, acting on emotions, advocate government control of drugs, and the government, bowing to the wishes of the people, legislates control of drugs, but the people and government are otherwise rights-respecting, they are not statist in principle. One can hope that the contradiction involved will eventually out, and the people and government will correct their aberration. But if a person or a government grounds their politics in statism, they are statist in principle. That is the situation with the American people and their government. Except for a few putative nutjobs like libertarians and Objectivists, no one in America wants liberty; they want the government to serve their private agendas and to Hell with whose freedom is trampled in the process. And us nutjobs just don't count; we have no significant political power. It is impossible -- and foolish -- to think that this can end well; a society that acts inconsistently with its own necessities must necessarily disintegrate. All we can expect is increasing tyranny, followed by a period of anarchy and revolution, once people have decided they've had enough of expropriation, fear, and death. But even then, the odds that they'll choose liberty are miniscule (this is why I am not a revolutionary) -- most likely, it'll be "meet the new boss, same as the old boss". As a homeless unperson, I have little choice but to hang around church people. They provide me with food, shelter, and clothing; my very life depends on their charity. Most of them are pleasant to deal with and wish nothing but the best -- their conception of the best -- for everyone around them. They are, by most peoples' reckoning, good. But, without exception, they advocate abandoning reason and one's mind in favor of blind faith in the Christian God, and abandonment of ethics in favor of supposed biblical pronouncements. Essentially all of them advocate government intervention in morality or economics or both. None would call themselves theocrats, but most of them want government policies and actions to be informed by their particular brand of irrationality. Are they evil? In their daily life, no. But in the life of the polity, they are evil incarnate, for they would subjugate mind to authority or give aid and comfort to those who would. To preserve civility and keep my blood pressure down, I focus on the short-term good they do, but I never lose my background awareness of the long-term evil they do. And these are the consciously and conscientiously "good" among us. Looking elsewhere, I see nothing better, except among us nutjobs. Yes, most people contribute in small ways and in large to our material well-being, whether hauling garbage or launching rockets. But these very same people act for our eventual doom via government. So, yes, I call them evil; the short-term, practical good they do is vastly outweighed by the catastrophe they will bring upon us. But as for governments, I condemn them all, for not a one of them, even in principle, can refrain from even short-term evil. Never mind the tyranny that all do or will impose.
  23. I've been up to my ass in alligators for the last few weeks, which is why I haven't done more than read this forum. But this one I have to respond to. Whether a country is free or not does not depend on the particulars of its laws and institutions, but instead depends on the principles informing those things. The Founders gave us a Constitution based on individual rights and limited government. But the Supreme Court -- which decides the actual principles that run this country -- has repeatedly affirmed that the rights that our Founders intended us to have must give way to asserted government necessity -- asserted by the government, that is. Moreover, in 1824, in Gibbons v. Ogden, that court decided that the principles that the Founders intended to inform and limit the powers granted to the government by the Constitution were to be ignored when interpreting the Constitution. It has by its decisions removed both individual rights and limited government from the principles that animate our government. The government we have and our lack of rights are not products of accident, nor are they incident to evil government officials, they are a consequence of those principles. Similarly, whether a person is evil or not depends on the principles he espouses and lives by, not on whether he does or does not act like a monster. The man who pushes FDA control of drugs is just as evil as the criminal who would break into your home and steal the drugs you need. The man who pushes licensing of hairdressers is just as evil as the man who would burn down a hairdresser's shop. The man who pushes government control of sex -- whether it be deciding who may marry whom or whether one may buy or sell sex -- is just as evil as one who would enact the biblical law requiring the stoning of homosexuals. Do not confuse "pleasant" with "good". And remember that the filth that runs our government got elected by people who know -- or who chose not to know -- what that filth stands for and wants to do. Listen to your neighbors and what they say, hear their words, and ask yourself what principles underlie those words. You will not hear misinformed or thoughtless would-be libertarians, never mind Objectivists, you will hear reality-rejecting, rights-ignorant, would-be thieves, kidnappers, and murderers, people who are so craven that they won't even do their own dirty work, but will instead hire it out to the cess-pool inhabitants of government. So, yes, I agree with the OP. But it is equally true that there is no better place. The best you can do is go somewhere like Europe where they don't pretend so hard that they're individualists. You won't be any more free, but you won't see quite so much hypocrisy about it. My own answer is to start a society elsewhere. I've set up a web site, https://cityofenterprise.wordpress.com/, to get my project off the ground. Please drop in if you'd like to contribute, or just to kibitz.
  24. I was working on an essay about immigration, and realized that I had to first deal with an error in Objectivism. So here is what I ran into. (All quotes are from Rand.) "The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others." ("The Objectivist Ethics".) And, "In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." ("The Nature of Government".) These statements are false. To explain why, I need to go back to first (political) principles. A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action — means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. ("Man's Rights".) So, the determination of what constitutes a right requires an analysis of what actions the nature of a rational being require in a social context. From "The Nature of Government" (all further quotes are from there): Man's rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment. This is not true. Fraud, for example, violates rights, but no physical force is used. Rand gets around this by asserting that fraud involves "indirect force", but this is silly — if there is any physical force involved in fraud, it is in the retrieval of that which was taken by the fraud, not in the fraud itself. Moreover, Rand nowhere explains how one determines what constitutes indirect force. What force, fraud, and certain other categories of action have in common is that, by their nature, they are incompatible with their object's actions to further his own life. Force necessarily deprives a person of the ability to act on his own will. Fraud necessarily deprives a person of the information needed to engage in voluntary trade. Rand observed that, "The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships — thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement." Rand's error here is not in her conclusion, but only in how she arrived at it. Fraud, e.g., must be banned, not because it is a species of "indirect force", but because it is inconsistent with "voluntary, uncoerced agreement" which, in turn, makes it inconsistent with a person's acting to further his own life in a social context. Why is my way better? Because it allows one to solve other problems that would otherwise have to be dealt with ad hoc, by asserting that they involve some species of "indirect force". So, for example, if I invite you into my property and then forbid you to use its exits, I may not be using any sort of physical force, but I am preventing you from furthering your own life. Such an action would therefore violate your rights. So what to make of the "nonaggression principle" I started out with? It must be taken as a mere approximation, to be clarified later. (It's not really germane here, but I should note that Rand's critique of libertarianism — that it takes the nonaggression principle as an axiom when it is anything but — misses the real problem, which is that the nonaggression principle is simply false.) So what is it an approximation to? The essential point Rand makes is that society is a value because it enables one to obtain knowledge from and to trade with others in the service of one's life. What must be banned is not force, or even the initiation of force, but whatever, by its nature, is inconsistent with those values (which includes the initiation of force). Such things necessarily violate rights and it is proper to use force (or fraud or any other species of otherwise rights-violating action) to protect against them or to vindicate rights violated by their use. There is no short phrase for these things, so I am going to use the phrase "violative force" — with scare quotes — from hereon to refer to these things. (If you will, my "violative force" comprises physical force plus what Rand called "indirect force", except that my definition allows one to use reason to determine what constitutes "violative force".) The proper formulation of the nonaggression principle is that no person may use "violative force" against another. But this principle is not sufficient to for the needs of society. There are situations where it is proper to take actions that would otherwise constitute "violative force" to defend or vindicate one's rights. Such actions, "defensive force" and "retaliatory "force" (again, I'll keep the scare quotes), are not only permissible, they are necessary to a proper society. As necessary as they may be, society cannot function if their use is left to the judgment of each person. There must be an organization, the government, that constrains the use of all three sorts of "force". This constraint operates in two ways. The use of "defensive force" in exigent situations cannot, by its nature, be delegated to the government. If you have a burglar in your home, it's too late to call the police — your rights are being violated and only you (or others right there) can put an end to the violation. The government's function is, first, to define such situations and what constitutes "defensive force" in those situations and, second, to review each use of "force" to see whether it is "defensive" or "violative". You get to shoot the burglar, if that is your chosen method of self-defense, but you will be required to show that his actions were "violative force", thereby permitting you the use of "defensive force". Non-exigent uses of "defensive force" and all uses of "retaliatory force" must be left to the government, but the government must be utterly rule-bound, constrained to act objectively, as Rand noted: The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures. Consider, however, what would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of facts it needs to make proper use of "force". Its procedures would then necessarily lack the objectivity that a government must have, and would therefore be inconsistent with the rights of the governed. It follows then that no person may arbitrarily deprive the government of the information it needs to properly employ "force", that doing so is in itself a violation of the rights of the governed. Note here that, under Rand's formulation, a refusal to respond to a subpoena would have to be classified as indirect force, but it is anything but obvious that such a refusal is any kind of force, or even that it violates anyone's rights. It was this conclusion that led me to rethink the formulation of the nature of force. Under my formulation, such a refusal is clearly "violative force" because it is demonstrably inconsistent with the requirements of life in society, just as much as non-defensive physical force, fraud, etc., is. But, to return to the point with which I began this essay, it is simply not true that, "In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." Only by twisting the word force into a hyperpretzel is it possible to consider, for example, a refusal to answer a subpoena as an initiation of force justifying retaliatory force. This proposition needs to simply be excised from Objectivism, replaced with a more accurate description of what sort of actions are forbidden and when an action that would ordinarily violate rights is legitimate.
  25. I spent a lot of time during the 90's on Usenet discussing philosophy. One of the things that really annoyed me was what I call the "hostile reader". They were like cockroaches in the philosophy discussion groups, always there and always ready to pollute the discussion. I encountered one such person on this site and, after his nature because clear to me, I put his username in my ignore list. (I also announced that I had done so, but it appears that he missed that.) But one day I checked the site without logging in, and I saw how he had responded to a couple of my posts. Ordinarily, I would have put his posts out of my mind, but they provided such a good example of hostile reading that I was unable to. After waiting several days (to avoid unnecessary emotionalism on my part) and after some thought, this post resulted. The context was that DonAthos and I were having a discussion that was going nowhere. Over the years, I've learned that if a proper debate results in seemingly irreconcilable positions, the cause is probably not the bullheaded stupidity of one's opponent, it is likely that there is at least one proposition that has not been debated, a proposition relied on by both debaters, which they have different views on. In order for the debate to progress, it is necessary to identify that proposition. So, I decided that I'd get a little Socratic and try a few questions to see if we might spot our real point(s) of disagreement. My first question was, in relation to a situation I had described, "Do you think that it would be legitimate for you to use violence then?" DonAthos' reply was to ask, "what do you mean when you say that the use of violence is 'legitimate'"? He wasn't sure which of the many meanings of the term I had intended, so he asked me. Our hostile reader, by contrast, asserted that, "'Legitimate' is a stolen concept." Of course, "legitimate" is not inherently a stolen concept; what he meant was that I had employed the fallacy of the stolen concept. He based this on the assumption that I had intended the meaning of "legitimate" that is associated with law. I replied to DonAthos, "I meant 'legitimate' in the sense of 'morally proper'". The hostile reader then insisted that, "'Legitimate' hierarchically comes after moral knowledge." and that I was "conflating the moral with the legal." So, instead of accepting that I had used "legitimate" in the sense I had specified (see Merriam-Webster's "conforming to recognized principles"), the hostile reader insisted that his definition was the one I had used. DonAthos displayed the virtue of benevolence: He assumed that I had something sensible to say, and wanted to know what it was. What the hostile reader displayed was irrationality. He put words into my mouth (or, well, meaning into my words), for reasons that had nothing to do with advancing the discussion. A hostile reader is different from a flamer, and is a lower form of life. The flamer is at least honest about his intent -- he wishes ill to that which he flames. But the hostile reader is fundamentally dishonest. He uses the seeming of rational argument, but his goal is personal gratification by means of provocation. He isn't looking to understand or to be understood; he wants to control. In the current example, this is fairly obvious: The hostile reader tried to control the language of the discussion, by insisting that "legitimate" could only mean what he said it meant. No self-respecting debater would tolerate that sort of control, and many will respond by arguing against the hostile reader's position. This is what that person wanted. Had I fallen for it, I'd have become embroiled in never-ending arguments, which would have gratified the hostile reader, but wouldn't likely have done anyone else any good. In my view, the correct response to the hostile reader is to remove him from the forum he disrupts. Failing that, ostracism works well. Like any troll, if he can't get the emotional gratification he seeks, he'll go elsewhere to get it. Arguing with him is a pointless waste of time, because he will only argue on his terms, and his terms are not intended to foster understanding. Those who want to engage the hostile reader must do so with a firm statement of reality. Had I been so inclined, I might have said, "You may not dictate how I use the language, you may not impute to me meanings I am not using, and you will not provoke me into a fight. If you wish to contribute to this discussion, you will make an effort to understand what other people are saying and you will respond to their actual meanings, not what you want them to mean." Repeat, mutatis mutandis, and probably ad nauseam. This is unlikely to generate a change in the hostile reader's behavior, but it may render him impotent.