Paul Graham is an English born blogger, Harvard University, PhD. computer programmer and, the author of several books including, "Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age"
(CWRU Electronic Resource, 2004).
The original March, 2008 article is entitled, "How to Disagree
" and, was published online by Paul Graham. He states, "Many who respond to something disagree with it. That's to be expected. Agreeing tends to motivate people less than disagreeing. And when you agree there's less to say." The result is "more disagreeing going on, especially measured by the word." But how we communicate may not be the only explanation. Additionally, the increase in communications may exacerbate frustrations as well. Expressing angry thoughts online is very different from face to face confrontation.
Graham has created a "disagreement hierarchy" to encourage better conversations and resolutions. To illustrate, Graham uses an isosceles triangle, with the short side as the base, to illustrate the progression from name-calling up to explicitly refuting the central point of an online disagreement:
1. Refuting the central point, the most powerful form of disagreement,
2. Refutation: identify the point of disagreement and explain why its incorrect using quotes,
3. Counter Argument: Contradicts and then backs up with reasoning and/or supporting evidence,
4. Contradiction: State opposing opinion with little or no supporting evidence,
5. Respond to Tone: Criticize the tone of a statement without addressing the substance of the argument,
6. Ad Hominem: Attacking the messenger rather than the substance of the argument,
7. Name-Calling: Speaks for itself. . .