Merits of TEDx talk by Ran Gavrieli on the topic of porn

You can preempt that easily, by using a suitable subgroup qualifier (at least “some”, if you don’t have an actual select parameter).

Trying to get others to follow your pet interpretation of argumentation is dooming you into a life of eternal frustration; no amount of complaining and counterarguing will change that. You can however avoid that with “one weird trick”.

The power to avoid these brouhahas is all yours. Use it.

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So, when people say things like, “Basketball players are really tall!” or, “Football players are really ripped!”, they should ALWAYS say something like “some” first?

No, they shouldn’t, because listeners understand that not all are tall or ripped. Right? So people don’t jump up and say, as they often do in these other kinds of conversations, “Hey, not ALL ______!”

So why is it that in some conversations, that happens, and people who are regular members of those conversations object to that? And get bloody TIRED of that?

I think you’re still missing the point. It’s about the motivation behind such interruptions (and the perhaps unintended effect–derailment).

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One has got to wonder! If people know, as you suggest, that these realities are not absolute - why continue to state them in absolute terms?

I think it is because nearly everything would be much more convenient if we could deal with it in universal black-and-white terms. So, following a path of least resistance, people tend to lazily phrase things in such terms, often without being aware of doing so. There are other ways to limit or qualify one’s remarks instead of injecting “some” everywhere, but it works. As a mental exercise, you could list common words or phrases you or others use frame things as overly general. And re-think more accurate ways to convey the idea. Such as “Tall people generally play basketball more easily.” or "Professional football players tend to be ripped! There are amateur players who don’t meet the ideal, and even some pros who are exceptions to the apparent rule. This is how framing can hide reality - amateur players might far outnumber professional players, yet the pros will probably be the ones more people are familiar with.

In casual conversation, people often joke about how “everybody knows” there are exceptions, but when talk turns into debate or argument, these same uses of absolutes can become tactics to marginalize people, or explain away instances as being negligible.

Why, exactly, is it up to people who experience the realities of racism and sexism to make other people feel comfortably in these discussions?

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Except that I don’t know that. The status of certain kinds of sex as sexist is culturally constructed in a broader context. Because there is such diversity of sexual preference and activity, I’m very reticent to say, “This sex is sexist.” I think the only way to discuss pornography is case-by-case. I’ve known sex-workers who enjoyed their work and would do it for as long as they could. They’re not in denial about where it sucks, but they like the compensation, they find it to be safe within acceptable bounds, and they enjoy it. There are others in sex-work where these factors are likely to be more complicated.

You can certainly argue that the manner in which pornography is marketed, and the manner in which it is consumed, is sexist or at least panders to the sea of sexism we live in. However, I’m categorically opposed to framing categories of consensual sexual acts as inherently sexist.

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I think your comment shifts from the topic in what you quoted from me to another topic.

There’s a difference, isn’t there, between what most people know as “porn” and identifying that as sexist, sometimes-just-borderline abusive, mainstream, filmed-for-money sex), and “framing categories of consensual sexual acts as inherently sexist.”

But in the concatenation of adjectives you’ve implied certain things. Mainstream sex? A) What does that mean. B) Why is that problematic? This is in fact, taking issue with a type of sex. Or at least it could be reasonably and in good faith read that way, regardless of how you intended it. You have, in a sort of typical manner, set up a litany separated by commas which defines the sex being had, the noun described by the adjectives, as:

  • Sexist.
  • Mainstream
  • Sometimes-just-bordline abusive.
  • Filmed-for money.

This is how you’re describing “sex” to define the type of sex being had in pornography. “Mainstream” and “filmed for money” are going to require explaining as a type of sex that is inherently problematic. Sexist sex? What is that? It requires expansion. “Sometimes-just-borderline abusive” literally means it is difficult to call abusive, but I take the implication to mean, “abusive” because (despite my parsing out-loud) I’m not trying to be obtusely literal. Why is it abusive and in what contexts?

In other words, at very least, it’s a very nebulous remark and it’s easy for me to interpret it as I have. And again, I’m not trying to misunderstand you, but that’s how I understood it without trying to put words in your mouth.

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I largely agree that the “not ALL ____!” invocation is most typically used to throw a spanner in the conversation, or because the user can’t quite deal with the conversation not being about them; but I would propose one (hopefully not-too-vague-and-subjective) situation where not All “Not All ___!” invocations are guilty of being conversational chaff:

Essentially all generalizations(outside of mathematics being rigorously conducted) are expected to be useful, not universal; and this is fine, they are useful, and it is…suspicious…how often people are totally A-OK with the use of generalizations until one hits close to home.

However, there is one area where generalizations are overtly fallacious and worth calling out: Begging the question. It is fairly easy(sometimes in good faith, by mistake, sometimes mendaciously) to start at the conclusion you wish to arrive at, construct some generalizations and maybe a few ill-defined sets(as with the ‘porn’/‘erotica’ use in this TEDx), and achieve a situation where your intended result flows beautifully from your definitions. In this case, ‘Not All ___!’ is not a precise way of identifying the problem; but it is a legitimate reaction to somebody tweaking the categories in that way. “You’ve defined your categories in such a way that your assertion is tautologically true” doesn’t roll off the tongue; but that can be the complaint being made.
One useful diagnostic question is “Is the category being discussed also being defined according to the properties for which it is being praised or condemned?” In this case, say, I’d be more sympathetic to “Not All Porn!” objections because “Porn” is being given a somewhat specialized definition, closely tied to what he thinks is bad about it, with a bunch of broadly similar material being classified elsewhere.
If, however, the category being discussed has a (reasonably) robust definition independent of the aspect of it you are talking about, the “Not all ___!” objections are more often frivolous. If, I say, for sake of example “Men enjoy the preponderance of economic power and wealth” “Men” has some reasonably robust and functional definitions that have nothing to do with wealth, so I’m unlikely to be concealing a tautology, and somebody pointing out that male blue-collar industrial workers are pretty screwed economically isn’t wrong; but is likely talking past the point.

That ended up being longer than I hoped; but punchline is that “Not All!” is arguably legitimate(if imprecise) if you are calling out a generalization being constructed as part of a thesis that begs the question(which is mostly likely to be happening if the category being generalized about lacks a decent selection criterion or criteria outside of the area the thesis examines); but it is much more likely to be chaff if there isn’t any question begging going on, or if the quality of the definitions and classification rules is such that question begging isn’t even practical.

I didn’t write mainstream sex; you’re twisting my words. I wrote, “sexist, sometimes-just-borderline abusive, mainstream, filmed-for-money sex,” in other words, most “porn.” And the sex in most porn is not mainstream sex, whatever that means; if it means “the sex that most heterosexual people have,” that’s not what I nor Ran Gavrieli are talking about.

You know, I just don’t have time nor space here to fill you in on the basic problems with porn that’s targeted toward heterosexual and (unfortunately) normal men, men who are encouraged by the conventions of their time and place to treat women like sexual objects, and often to further abuse them accordingly.

This is a fairly old issue by now; a lot has been written about it. Try these, if you’d really like to know what I’ve more or less been saying:

http://www.alternet.org/story/62833/pornography_and_the_end_of_masculinity

Because of a need and desire to persuade people to see their point of view?

But all too often our points of view are framed in language that is so polarising that listeners switch off, because the speaker/writer is disregarding the lived experience of their audience. But there may be many in the audience who could be reached, who are only tuning out the argument because they don’t agree with the definitions of the terms used, or because the examples don’t match up with their lived experience of the culture they inhabit.

If we merely use terms and examples that mean something to the audience we’re addressing (rather than to the one we represent) and do it in language that isn’t formed in absolutes, then there can’t be any #notallwhatevers or side discussions about terminology.

If the arguments are framed in terms that actually generalise properly to the whole audience, then the responses will address the argument itself, rather than the way it’s framed. No excuses to derail, no-one turned off by being lumped in with a group they don’t identify with.

People who are really trying to persuade are actually selling their point of view to the listener. And the reality is “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.” (Willy Brandt)

People who aren’t speaking their audience’s language aren’t trying to persuade. They’re merely sermonising, preaching for the edification of the already converted.

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Then don’t bring it up? You raised the discussion and seemed intent on pursuing it, I’m hardly sealioning you. This is hardly about a legitimate interest in refusing to pursue false discourse with people pursuing a bad-faith line of questioning. I was hoping you would clarify what, precisely, you meant. If the point is that porn is often demeaning and perpetuates sexism in our culture, fine, but you made it exceptionally poorly. I’m sorry if I didn’t take the meaning you wanted me to take from the remark, and you can pretend I chose to do so if it makes you feel better, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Except there are a brand of people that I would call “sophists” who can very effectively destroy a discourse by engaging you in an endless, pointless loop about semantics, or by throwing things at you that may or may not be true. I remember hearing Joe Rogan (Comedian and game-show host) debate Phil Plait (Astronomer and science-educator) about whether we landed on the moon. It was an hour long round-and-round where Joe Rogan effectively stumped Phil Plait numerous times because Plait, in his own good-natured way, refused to simply dismiss certain arguments and call Rogan out on his bullshit. He was, effectively, trying to edify and illuminate in the language of the people he was trying to convert. It didn’t work. To his credit Rogan now believes we landed on the moon. He wasn’t making it up that he believed in the moon-landing hoax, or deliberately arguing a point he knew wasn’t true. He was honestly presenting his beliefs. But, though he was wrong, he was simply very effective at controlling the conversation. And, in the end, it wasn’t Plait that convinced him to change his mind.

I do however think a lot of people get swept up in the backlash against sophist tactics. Concern and concern-trolling often look very similar. I think there needs to be a middle ground where people aren’t instantly alienated the second they question something, especially because questioning is often a path that leads to understanding. My fear isn’t that it will send them to the Other Side. My fear is that it will send them Away, never to return to the thinking about the subject.

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But maybe by not shutting Rogan down, Plait left the path open for someone else to finally persuade? Just because that particular battle wasn’t won didn’t mean the tactic was a failure long term.

Not really, not by the strength of his arguments. Rogan explicitly stated that he reached the conclusion he did because all the smart people he knew believed the moon landing happened. That’s it. Consensus. He had an answer for every argument and if you listen to his explanation for why he changed his mind, he said he says he was very good at making arguments that couldn’t be answered. It had literally zero to do with the language of the explanations and everything to do with who they were coming from. If Rogan wasn’t susceptible to the kind of thinking he was (which by the way, is a form of fallacious reasoning), all the arguments in the world wouldn’t have made a difference. The problem is that you make the default (and generally wrong) assumption that human beings form and defend beliefs based on logic in a direct fashion. Evidence shows that we are not rational actors in this sort of perfect or tidy way. You don’t do it, and I don’t do it. We trick ourselves into believing we do, and rewrite our memories to justify our path to an opinion. The reality of our opinions has a lot to do with personality type (high-authoritarian versus low-authoritarian) and things like what media we consume.

This is why I fundamentally believe that exposing people to the viewpoint is often more important than defending the viewpoint in a particular way, and I think that a strategy of engagement is more helpful than one of dismissal. You lead the horse to water often enough, it’ll drink something.

Here is where we have common ground. But I’d characterise continually phrasing an argument in terms that aren’t shared by the participants as a form of arrogant dismissal. It says ‘my frame of reference is the only correct one. Your experience is of no value’. It just leads to responses like this.

People who don’t feel valued instinctively reject the message, or just don’t hear it no matter how often you ‘lead the horse to water’. As you say, we aren’t entirely rational actors.

The types of argument Joe was making can be applied to Bigfoot and Simulation theory too. You cannot disprove the negative.

If he wants to debate using that method then attack the method and expunge it from the discourse first.

Coming to terms is should be the beginning of a debate.

I should add, I’m a fan of Joes precisely because he usually starts with a wayward position and can then be argued around to one that makes sense. But I think he knows this and can leverage it effectively.

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