Last week I wrote about how we should all use our words and try to talk one another out of behaviours that we disagree with instead of use the state's power and authority to inflict violence. It was a short piece stuffed with plenty of repetition of the key phrase and lacking in subtlety and specificity. I refer to this sort of post as a rhetoric post rather than a logic post. Generally I rely far more on logic posts where I do my best to support my positions instead of writing things designed to have a single sound byte message. The Use Your Words post was sort of like a doughnut - quick, sweet, but not particularly convincing.
Pounda took me to task and sent me a long message detailing some of the problems with my post. The things he said were true but it wasn't as if he and I really disagree on the points he brought up; mostly he just pointed out how I was being sloppy. Much like myself Pounda doesn't like people to make the right points the wrong way when there is a perfectly good right way to make them and he also doesn't like to agree with people if their arguments are shoddy. To be taken seriously I should make my points correctly and precisely and make sure that they are clear and logically sound.
I choose to take this chastisement as a compliment. It wasn't a "you suck" sort of message, but rather a "you can do better and you damn well know it" sort of message. It is true; I can do better and I am glad there are people out there who feel like it is worth trying to convince me to do that. Sometimes I find a turn of phrase I like or a message I want to deliver and I leap up on my soapbox and just cut loose. It is hard to be disciplined enough to always say the right thing the right way, particularly when I have spent time reading the dreck that so often passes for reporting in the world of news. This is, of course, because said dreck gets more views than anything that worries about error bars and the truth.
The fact is thought that the world needs more people to say the right things the right way. There is a surfeit of emotional blathering, of style without substance, of sizzle without steak out there. There is a need for people to write in such a way that they cannot be argued with, to communicate in such a way that their message is an unstoppable force. Rational analysis that slowly and inevitably crushes the opposition rarely wins awards, doesn't often get much attention, and is much overlooked. However, those juggernauts of reasoning do eventually permeate the public consciousness and evoke change, however slowly.
This reminds me greatly of one of my first (and most fondly remembered) posts. I must take a deep breath and recognize that although the world needs the slick salesman Christopher Hitchens I am not at my best when I try to emulate him. Rather I must channel Victor Stenger instead and be an unstoppable stone brick of logic.