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The Ten Commandments of Online Discourse – a proposal

August 8, 2015

So, from repeated browses though Facebook and elsewhere, I have come to the conclusion that online discourse on science and politics is generally of poor quality.  I therefore propose the following set of ten commandments to guide all such discourse in the future:

1: Thou shalt not generalise from a specific event.
2: Thou shalt verify a meme/link/whatever before thou shares it.*
3: If thou disagrees with the claims made in a meme/link/whatever, then thou shalt verify it anyway. Because maybe, thou ist wrong.**
4: An hour spent researching a subject is not equal to a lifetime spent studying it. Thou shalt accept this.
5: Thou shalt not defend thy denial as “skepticism”
6: Thou shalt not defend thy prejudice as “opinion”
7: Thou shalt not quote statistics without giving thy source.
8: Thou shalt not dismiss thy neighbour’s source without reason.
9: Thou shalt accept that “it’s from a far-right hate group” is a valid reason for thy source to be dismissed.
10: Thou shalt not frame thy personal soapbox as a set of ten commandments…

…well, I guess I’m done.

*If nothing else, try googling it and see if something like Hoax-Slayer comes up on the first page. Seriously. It takes a minute, tops.
** This one is harder, certainly. But as a rule of thumb: if you cannot think of a rebuttal that does not rely on your emotions and/or your personal beliefs, then it’s safe to say that you have a problem.

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One Comment
  1. Thank you for this … it amazes me how people so unquestioningly share and forward things that are so utterably false and could be verified as false with one quick google search.

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