Sunday, May 26, 2013

The 12 Commandments of flaming

1 Make things up about your opponent:

It's important to make your lies sound true. Preface your argument with the word "clearly."
"Clearly, Brian Hillis is a racist, and a dirtball to boot."

2 Be an armchair psychologist:

You're a smart person. You've heard of Freud. You took a psychology course in college. Clearly, you're qualified to psychoanalyze your opponent.
"Peach Pshawski, by using the word 'zucchini' in her posting, shows she has a bad case of ... "

3 Cross-post your flames:

Everyone on the net is just waiting for the next literary masterpiece to leave your terminal. From OPINION to EZ-READER to PETS to CHIT-CHAT, they're all holding their breaths until your next flame. Therefore, post everywhere.

4 Conspiracies abound:

If everyone's against you, the reason can't possibly be that you're a ******. There's obviously a conspiracy against you, and you will be doing the entire net a favor by exposing it.

5 Lawsuit threats:

This is the reverse of Commandment #4 (sort of like the Yin & Yang of flaming). Threatening a lawsuit is always considered to be in good form. "By saying that I've posted to the wrong group, Didley has libelled me, slandered me, and sodomized me. See you in court, Didley."

6 Force them to document their claims:

Even if Ralph Gagliano states outright that he likes tomato sauce on his pasta, you should demand documentation. If Newsweek hasn't written an article on Ralph's pasta preferences, then Ralph's obviously lying.

7 Use foreign phrases:

French is good, but Latin is the lingua franca of flaming. You should use the words "ad hominem" at least three times per article. Other favorite Latin phrases are "ad nauseum," "vini, vidi, vici," "fetuccini alfredo,"...

8 Tell 'em how smart you are:

Why use intelligent arguments to convince them you're smart when all you have to do is tell them? State that you're a member of Mensa or Mega or Dorks of America. Tell them the scores you received on every exam since high school. "I got an 800 on my SATs, LSATs, GREs, MCATs, and I can also spell the word 'premeiotic.'"

9 Accuse your opponent of censorship.

It is your inalienable right to post whatever the hell you want to the net. Anyone who tries to limit your cross-posting or move a flame war to is either a communist, a fascist, or both.

10 Doubt their existence:

You've never actually seen your opponent, have you? And since you're the center of the universe, you should have seen them by now, shouldn't you? Therefore, they do not exist! This is the beauty of flamers' logic.

11 Lie, cheat, steal, leave the toilet seat up.

12 When in doubt, insult:

If you forget the other 11 rules, remember this one. At some point during your wonderful career as a flamer, you will undoubtedly end up in a flame war with someone who is better than you. This person will expose your lies, tear apart your arguments, make you look generally like a bozo. At this point, there's only one thing to do: insult the dirtbag!!! 
"Oh yeah? Well, your mother does strange things with ... "

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jante Law

The Jante Law refers to a pattern of group behaviour towards individuals within Scandinavian communities, which negatively portrays and criticizes success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.

It has been observed as a form of behaviour for centuries, but was identified as a series of rules, the Jante Law, by the Norwegian/Danish author Aksel Sandemose in his novel "A fugitive crosses his tracks", where he portrays the small Danish town Jante, where nobody is anonymous.

Generally used colloquially as a sociological term to negatively describe an attitude towards individuality and success claimed to be common in Scandinavia, it refers to a supposed snide, jealous and narrow small-town mentality which refuses to acknowledge individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while punishing those who stand out as achievers.

The term may be used by those individuals who feel they are not allowed to take credit for their achievements, or to point out their belief that another person is being overly critical.

There are ten different rules in the law as defined by Sandemose, but they are all variations on a single theme and are usually referred to as a homogeneous unit: Don't think you're anyone special or that you're better than us.

The ten rules are:
1. Don't think that you are special.
2. Don't think that you are of the same standing as us.
3. Don't think that you are smarter than us.
4. Don't fancy yourself as being better than us.
5. Don't think that you know more than us.
6. Don't think that you are more important than us.
7. Don't think that you are good at anything.
8. Don't laugh at us.
9. Don't think that anyone of us cares about you.
10. Don't think that you can teach us anything.

A further rule recognised in the novel is:
11. Don't think that there is anything we don't know about you.

In the book, those Janters who transgress this unwritten 'law' are regarded with suspicion and some hostility, as it goes against communal desire in the town, which is to preserve social stability and uniformity.
- Wikipedia

Now, this is generally considered to be Scandinavian phenomenon, but it works everywhere. There will always be people who have problems with people who seem to be this and that, whom they assume to think this and that about themselves and others. "Full of himself" and "Goody-two-shoes" :)
"You can repeatedly say that you know nothing and that you question everything, including your own beliefs, but you can still act in a way that seems to indicate that you know you are right and others are wrong."

With other words
"*I assume* you think you are right and others are wrong because *I see* the way your act in a certain manner :)"


The Law of Jante according to Paulo Coelho

the anti-Law of Jante:
"You are worth far more than you think. Your work and presence on this Earth are important, even though you may not think so. Of course, thinking in this way, you might have many problems because you are breaking the Law of Jante -- but don't feel intimidated by them, go on living without fear and in the end you will win." 

Here is Bearcy's explanation and anti-law

1. You are exceptional.
2. You are more worthy than anyone can measure.
3. You can do something special.
4. You have got something to give to others.
5. You have done something you can be proud of.
6. You've got a bundle of unused resources.
7. You are good at something.
8. You can accept others.
9. You've got the capability to understand and learn from others.
10. There are someone who love you.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What is Apologetics?

by Kyle Butt
Apologetics Press

You walk up to the man on the street and tell him that Jesus Christ loves him and died so he could receive forgiveness of his sins. You explain that everyone should obey Jesus because He is the Son of God. The man wants to know how you know this information. You inform him that the Bible, the inspired Word of God, declares it to be true. He wants to know two things: (1) How can you prove that there is a God?; and (2) How can you prove that the Bible is His Word? He is not being belligerent or cantankerous; he simply wants some good evidence that would warrant the total overhaul of his life you are asking him to make.

It is now your responsibility to present solid, rational arguments that prove the things you have affirmed. You must defend the propositions you have presented. You are appointed for the defense of the Gospel (Philippians 1:17, NKJV).

The term "apologetics" derives from the Greek word apologia, which means "to defend" or "to make a defense." Thus, apologetics is a discipline dedicated to the defense of something. There can be as many different types of apologetics as there are beliefs in the world: atheistic apologetics, Hindu apologetics, Buddhist apologetics, Christian apologetics, ad infinitum. However, generally when the discipline is discussed, most people associate it with Christian apologetics. Therefore, for the remainder of this discussion, when I use the term apologetics, I will be referring specifically to Christian apologetics.

What is apologetics?

Christian philosopher Dick Sztanyo has suggested: "Apologetics is the proclamation and defense of the gospel of Christ regardless of whenever, wherever, and by whomever it is challenged." The apostle Peter used apologetics when he appealed to the empty tomb on Pentecost.

Paul used apologetics when he quoted the stoic poets to draw attention to God's existence as he addressed the Athenians.

Christ used apologetics when He appealed to a Roman coin to prove that Jews should pay taxes.
We can see, then, that the word apologetics carries no hint of "apologizing"—in the sense of being sorry or ashamed. On the contrary, the word houses the exact opposite idea of intelligent vindication by vigorous argument. In fact, Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Apologetics vigorously defends the truth by refuting arguments that exalt themselves above God's Word.

What tools, then, can apologetics use to "cast down" faulty arguments?

Its toolbox is as endlessly deep as it is long. Any discipline—from astronomy to zoology—can be called upon to come to the aid of apologetics.

Just as Peter used the physical evidence of the empty tomb, just as Paul used contemporary literature, and jut as Jesus used an inscription on a coin, modern apologists can use archaeology, literature, science, morality, technology, and countless other facets of human life to defend Christianity.

A small child can watch ants hard at work and testify to the wisdom of the book of Proverbs.

An astrophysicist can contemplate the Second Law of Thermodynamics and maintain that the world will not last forever.

An archaeologist can find an ancient inscription about a people known as the Hittites and assert that the Bible has accurate information about this ancient group of people.

A professor of literature can read poetry from ages past and ascertain that mankind always has desired to worship a Creator Who is infinitely higher than humanity.

From the heights of the mountains to the depths of the oceans, facts surface that provide an ample array of ammunition that can be fired from the cannon of apologetics.

However, the machinery of apologetics can operate only on the fuel of reason, for without reason apologetics has no sure foundation.

The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines reason as "the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking, especially in orderly, rational ways."

Paul contrasted reason with insanity in Acts 26:24-25: "Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, 'Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!' But he said, 'I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.' "

God and His spokesmen always have spoken rational, reasonable truths.

God employed reason to convince Isaiah's listeners of their sin: " 'Come now, and let us reason together,' says the Lord, 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow' " (Isaiah 1:18).

When Samuel spoke to the Israelites at the coronation of Saul, he said: "Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord which He did to you and your fathers" (1 Samuel 12:7).

From the dawn of time, God presented man with the facts, and then allowed man to use reason to reach correct conclusions. Thus, Romans 1:20 states: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…."

Reason provides for the removal of all contradictory and fallacious arguments, leaving only those facts that are consistent and correct.

The Christian religion, at its core, is based upon historically verifiable facts. The Bible is not a sourcebook of wise proverbs that somehow stand upon their own merit. Without an establishment of the facts concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Word of God as we know it—even with all of its sound wisdom and practical guidance—is nothing more than a devotional book full of helpful platitudes that deserves to be placed on the shelf next to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. By using historical facts that are consistent and correct, apologetics makes its defense by appealing to man's capacity to reason.

God never has desired that His human creatures blindly accept unreasonable propositions postulated by perverse persons. He does not want us to be "children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:14). On the contrary, He demands that we "test all things; hold fast what is good" (2 Thessalonians 5:21).

In the end, however, apologetics can soften only the hearts of those who agree to be honest with themselves and to deal honestly and reasonably with the available evidence. There is much truth in the old adage: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

What is counter-apologetics?

Counter-apologetics is the term used to describe the process of providing rational objections to arguments made by religious apologists. **While this process could also be called 'apologetics' (based on the strict definition), the terms 'apologetics' and 'apologist' have become virtually synonymous with Christian (or religious) apologetics.**

This redefinition carries implications about the burden of proof and additional concerns that seem to demand that a different, yet similar, term be used to describe objections to traditional religious apologetics.

Iron Chariots is intended to provide information on apologetics and counter-apologetics. We'll be collecting common arguments and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade as "evidence" for religious claims.

The complexity of issues surrounding religion ensures that any proper assessment requires us to delve into a number of philosophical, historical and sociological topics. Our ultimate goal is to provide a robust and definitive resource for:
* atheists seeking responses to common apologetic arguments
* theists who are questioning the efficacy of their beliefs
* apologists who feel that their "pet" argument is above reproach
* individuals of any philosophical ideal who have an interest in religious studies

Sunday, May 5, 2013

12 Rules for Constructive Communication

Destructive communication erodes self-esteem and harms relationships. Such communication patterns may be destructive, but, sadly, plenty of people fall into the trap of indulging in them. If you and your relationship partners follow these rules and steer clear of the traps of destructive communication, you will almost certainly feel better about each other and your relationship.

**Use I-messages instead of You-messages**

You-messages sound blaming and accusing. With an I-message, you can convey the same message without sounding blaming. 

For example:
You-message: "You left the dishes in the sink again."
I-message: "When you don't clean up after yourself, I feel taken advantage of."

**Communicate the entire message**

Complete messages include four components:
Observations: neutral statements of fact
Thoughts: your own opinions and beliefs
Feelings: descriptions of your emotions
Needs: a statement of what you need or want from the other person

Example: "The weekend is coming up. I hope we can go to the movies together. I would like to spend some time with you."

An incomplete message leaves out one or more of these components. It might sound like this: "I hope we can go to the movies this weekend." There isn't really anything wrong with this statement, but the first one is more complete and will more likely result in the speaker getting what he or she wants.

**Don't use your feelings as weapons**

Describe what you are feeling as objectively as possible, not aggressively. Be specific and keep your voice under control.
For example:
Objective: "I felt really hurt when you said that I probably wouldn't pass the bar exam the first time."
Aggressive: (yelling) "You are such an idiot! How dare you insult me like that!"

**Use specific language** 

When you have a complaint, be specific. For example, "I'm upset that you left the food out on the table" is clearer than saying, "Thanks for the mess you left me." The first statement is less likely to produce defensiveness and leaves little room for misunderstanding.

**Focus on the problem, not the person**

Consider how different these two statements sound:
"You are such a complete slob."
"I wish you would take your stuff upstairs."

Attacking someone's personality or character—rather than a specific behavior—is different from simply expressing a complaint. A complaint focuses on a specific action.

Criticism is more blaming and more global. It sounds like this: "You always mess up the budget. Can't you do anything right?"

Behavior like this is damaging to a relationship because:
· Criticism is destructive rather than constructive.
· It involves blame.
· Criticisms are global and tend to be generalizations (you always, you never, etc.).
· Criticisms attack the other person personally.
· It feels overwhelming to be on the receiving end.

**Stop bringing up ancient history** 

It's more constructive to focus on the issue at hand, and not bring up past hurts. When you are upset with your partner and add past issues to the discussion, it can only escalate the conflict. It feels unfair and can never be productive. If you still have feelings about past issues, it is important to resolve them and move on, not use them as weapons every time you have a disagreement with your partner.

**Watch out for mixed messages** 

Keep your statements clean, avoiding the temptation to mix compliments and complaints. For example, let's say that you meet your friend at a cocktail party. You think she looks nice, but her dress seems a little too provocative.

Straight message: "You look very nice tonight."
Mixed message: "You look so pretty. I would never have the nerve to wear that."

**Pay attention to your body language** 

Your words are only part of the message you communicate. If you say "How nice to see you" while frowning, your message becomes unclear. Think about what message you want to convey and be sure that your body is in harmony with it. Watch out for things like these:
· Rolling your eyes
· Crossing your legs and arms
· Tapping your foot
· Clenching your teeth

**Pay attention to your emotions and keep from becoming overwhelmed**

If you are calm, you are less likely to say things you'll later regret, things that could be destructive to your relationship. You will be less likely to become defensive and shut your partner out. Here are some ways to calm yourself:
· Pay attention to your physical responses. Is your heart racing? Are you breathing faster? If you are, take a time-out.
· Leave the room. Go for a drive. Do something relaxing. Listen to music or do relaxation exercises.
· Make a conscious effort to calm yourself down. Say things to yourself like:
"I'm very upset right now, but it'll be okay. I still love her."
"Even though we disagree, we still have a good relationship."
"We can work this out. We're partners."

**Resolve negative feelings** 

If you have bad feelings about your partner, take steps to resolve them. Don't let them grow into feelings of contempt. When you engage in behavior (verbal or nonverbal) that conveys a lack of respect, you are placing your relationship in serious danger. This includes obvious abuse, and also insults, making faces, and name-calling. Any relationship that is plagued by abusiveness and negativity will have a very difficult time surviving.

**Don't be defensive** 

It is understandable to react defensively when you are in a conflict situation, but it can be dangerous to a relationship. Defensiveness tends to escalate the conflict and does nothing to resolve it. Some examples of defensive behavior include:
· Denying responsibility (I did not!)
· Making excuses (I couldn't help it; traffic was awful.)
· Ignoring what your partner says and throwing a complaint back (Yeah, well, what about the mess you left yesterday?)
· Saying "Yes," but you are whining, rolling your eyes or making a face

**Don't shut down**

This behavior is called stonewalling. You are shut down when you are refusing to communicate, storming out of the room, or any kind of withdrawing. When a person is stonewalling, communication is impossible because he or she is refusing to participate. When it becomes a regular pattern of communication, stonewalling is very damaging to a relationship.

These rules are for pair relationships, but can easily be adjusted for internet communications
In my mind the goal of internet communications, just as any other communications, is to reach a deeper understanding of others, to be understood yourself, to share and receive information and to find some sort of agreement of solutions to problems at hand.

If you "communicate" just to "win", to prove everyone you're right, to shut down the opposition, to silence diversity, you don't communicate, and shouldn't be surprised when people stop talking with you.


Blaming and accusing isn't very constructive, even when your object is a politician or some unnamed "you", "one" or "they". It always works better to say "I am horrified by what happened at the Mediterranean" than "the Israeli pirates attacked the ships and killed a lot of innocent, unarmed help workers!" Mainly because your feelings are undeniable truth, while your flaming accusations are not. 

It really isn't functional, constructive, productive, helpful or beneficial to anything or anyone to scream "Obama is a Communist Pig!" 
Of course you have the right to say anything you want, but saying anything isn't always the right thing to do. 
Think a bit what it is you wish to convey with your words. What is it in Communism you find so scary? What is it in President Obama's actions that scare you? What is it you are afraid of? What do you mean with "pig"? Barack Obama is obviously not a pig, but a human being, so which "suidine" charasteristics are you actually referring to? I doubt it is their cleanliness or intelligence ;) 

 While spreading flaming exclamations around, all you achieve is feeding panic, especially inside yourself. Soon you will be hating President Obama without being able to explain why, and won't be able to have intelligent discussions with people about why one shouldn't vote for him in the next election. I doubt that is what you wish to achieve.

So: communicate the entire message

For example:

"President Obama created the health reform.
I think it is unnecessary, too expensive, taking from the people who work to give to the people who don't work, I think it rewards lazyness and selfishness - people won't work because it doesn't pay, and because one gets on fine without working. It makes me worried for my own economy, I have to work now more to get paid the same as before, because I am forced to pay someone else's healthcare. I don't want to do that, I want to keep my money myself, and pay what I decide to pay. I don't like this at all, and I want back to the healthcare we had before."

People would probably respond by showing their compassion, agreeing with that you should be in charge of your own paycheck, and then you could discuss what could be done for the people who are too sick to work and therefore cannot afford healthcare either, or what could be done for people who suffer an accident and cannot work for some time because of that, and loose their health insurance, job, and so on.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don't dare to speak openly about their own thoughts and especially their feelings, because it is common practice to mock people who express their feelings, as if feelings don't matter. 


Generalization is to be avoided, because it doesn't help solve the problems. 


There is no body language in the internet, but there are emoticons, and the use of emoticons can be just as subtle, contradictory and offensive as the use of body language. Also, one should be very careful with words on-line, as words are practically all we have to get ourselves understood.

"I can't be bothered to read that!" is equivalent to rolling eyes, and is used only to insult other people. What it really does is express some very negative qualities YOU have.


Remember, if you enter a discussion when emotionally upset, you are bound to say something stupid. You don't HAVE TO enter the discussion immediately. You can wait several days to calm down before you answer. It's the internet, not life. Your real life takes precedence over ANY internet debate. Who says you weren't sick, out of town, entertaining real life guests, your internet provider wasn't working etc. etc. There are thousands of reasons to why you cannot respond immediately. If someone expects you to respond A.S.A.P. to an email, post or comment, it's their problem, not yours. So, calm down first and try to remember what is your aim with the internet communication. No, you don't have a love relationship with all the millions of internet users, not even with your internet friends, but the aim is "to reach a deeper understanding of others, to be understood yourself, to share and receive information and to find some sort of agreement of solutions to problems at hand."

It is ok to have different opinions on things. It is ok to disagree. It is ok to express different opinions and disagreement.

But - I personally HATE "let's agree to disagree", when people use it to get out of an uncomfortable discussion, without even trying to UNDERSTAND what the other person thinks. People can be discussing of two different things, "fence and fence posts" as it's called in Finland, and then "agreeing to disagree" is saying that "you think a cat is not a dog and I think a dog is not a cat, let's agree to disagree". 

Also, one thing we cannot disagree is the rules of engagement and the common ground. We must agree on what it is we are discussing about and what is ok and not ok in the discussion.