To be a dick, or not to be a dick

I've been wanting to write something for a while in response to Phil Plait's "Don't Be a Dick" speech at The Amazing Meeting 8 last month. This speech has perhaps made the biggest waves in the skeptical community since I've known that there was a skeptical community a couple years ago. There is a shitstorm going on right now on the blogosphere.

One side of the debate is the "You'll Catch More Flies With Honey" side of the argument. That if you treat people with civility, it'll be easier to change their minds. On the other side, is the reasoning that ridicule and general dickishness are effective, especially when your main goal is to target a third party, not the person you are debating who probably isn't going to change his mind anyway.

Defenders of both view have taken to their blogs, and even PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins have waded into the debate. Quite frankly, there are people being dicks on both sides, and I've felt that it was time to get my two cents in. I wanted to do a well researched post with scientific facts and lots of quotes, but that would take forever to put together. Thanks to my wonderful power of procrasination, somebody else wrote the perfect article that I would have wanted to write. Daniel Loxton at Skepticblog wrote a piece called "The War Over 'Nice.'" Loxton pretty much says everything that I wanted to say. I really can't add anything to it, you should just go read his article instead of wasting your time here.

This quote just about sums up my views on the whole debate:

Skeptics should passionately argue the merits of their case, and we should leave the ad hominems and snarling and hyperbole to the bad guys. Which is to say, don’t be a dick.

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