Blake takes the low road

Blake Cretney bcretney at
Fri Apr 20 18:33:33 PDT 2001

On Wed, 18 Apr 2001 06:49:16 -0000
"MIKE OSSIPOFF" <nkklrp at> wrote:

> Blake continues:
> I
> think you took this as a personal attack on your level of
> ability, which wasn't my intent.
> I reply:
> Sure it was.
> It would be meaningless to say "At least economists have
> training" unless you're saying that someone else doesn't have
> mathematical training. It means "At least economists have
> training, unlike the person I'm disagreeing with."

I can see that that's one way to take it.  However, if someone is
being criticized, you can defend them by saying "at least ..."  The
meaning is, even if I assume the bad qualities you ascribe, at least
they have certain good qualities as well.  For example, if I say, "at
least Nixon opened up China," I might mean, Nixon opened up China,
which is more than you've done.  Or, I might mean, Nixon may have some
failings, but at least he has this going for him.

> I should have known that you'd resort to quotes from past
> It's much better to let past discussions alone, because by reposting
> old e-mail you might get others to restart the arguments.

The reason I'm quoting your past comments, is that they form a pattern
of behaviour.  An attack against just me, or Bart, or Markus, or Norm,
etc., might seem credible, but when I show that you attack so many
people, calling them liars, and worse, when I show that you see
conspiracies everywhere, it tends to make your statements about me
less credible.  After all, is it really plausible that you're always
in the right, and that everyone else is truly deserving of your
personal attacks and accusations.  People will compare these quotes
with the experience that the rest of us tend to get along pretty well
with each other.

Rather than blaming me for bringing up your past transgressions, I
think you should look on this as an opportunity to apologize to these

> Maybe it isn't like
> that in your country. But you're more than a little presumptuous to
> tell me how things are in my country. With international mailing
> there will be some people who forget that they can't assume that
> what they know about their country doesn't apply everywhere.
> If I can quote a professor too, the MIT professor Noam Chomsky has
> discussed these matters at great length. Chomsky is a famous
> linguist, and is equally famous as a lecturer & author who makes
> the kind of assertions that you'd call paranoid. But he doesn't
> just assert them. He cites memos, etc.

I think it is rational to believe that money has various negative
influences.  But the claim that academics who favour Copeland's method
(which I personally don't like), do so because they have carefully
studied its properties, and have found that it will subvert democracy,
and therefore propose it for these secret reasons goes far beyond
left-wing social commentary.

> Blake continues:
> Then you go on to imply that the list
> member is antagonistic to democracy, as a natural result of being
> indirectly employed by the defense department.
> I reply:
> Now where would anyone get the idea that that would be possible? :-)
> Blake continues:
> These statements were so bizarre
> I reply:
> Excuse me, but were my statements incorrect? Wasn't Bruce employed
> by the employer that I said he was? Is that employer noted for
> its love of democracy?  What's bizarre or untrue about those 2
> statements?

It's one thing to argue that the US government has intervened in other
countries, to the detriment of their democracies, in order to achieve
goals it thought were more important.  The idea that an individual
writing about election methods on this list would have the secret
motivation that his favourite methods are bad for democracy is quite
another thing.

Also, it's obvious what you're implying above.  You should either
stand behind the implication, or admit you were wrong to make it.

And of course, it isn't just academics and the military you accuse of
various conspiracies.  Remember that the CVD and league of Women's
voters are hatching their own plots.  (I'm not making this up.)

> Blake continues:
> There are plenty of other examples of you flaming list members.  For
> example, Markus, who is amazingly tolerant.  You even attacked Norm,
> who almost always agrees with you about everything.  And, of course,
> those aren't the only ones.  I could provide plenty more quotes. 
> just your debating style to personally attack your opponents.
> I reply:
> For one thing, that wasn't flaiming. It was a search for an
> , and your other quote was an explanation for why I was discouraged
> by preceding discussion


> For another thing, Markus had been exhibiting some of Don Davison's
> traits, repeating arguments that I'd questioned, instead of
> my simple question. 

Although, I too am critical about the way Don uses this list, I think
he honestly believes what he's arguing for.  In the past, I've felt
that the tenor of your attacks on Don, and the use of the term IRVies
as a disparaging term for IRV advocates, have not been productive.

> Norm & I agreed on most everything, except that he preferred 
> BeatpathWinner's wording and I preferred Cloneproof SSD's wording.
> They're equivalent. But I began to wonder if Norm wasn't being
> intentionally misleading, since he had no trouble understanding
> my brief inexplicit definition of ordinary SSD, but said he
> didn't understand the same kind of definition of Cloneproof SSD,
> even though they differ only in their stopping rule.

I would describe that as paranoia.  When you naturally ascribe a
misunderstanding to malice, that's paranoid.

The big problem with your arguing style is that it reflects badly on
the list as a whole.  For example, remember when you launched into
your tirade against Albert.  I recall that after that incident you
resigned from the list for a while.

My point is, imagine if someone subscribed to the list, and got the
impression that that was the level of debate.  They might not
recognize that the other members of the list don't resort to calling
each other names.  It just makes the list look bad.

I hope that by bringing this pattern of behaviour to your attention,
you will begin to reassess it.  That would greatly improve the
atmosphere on this list.

Blake Cretney

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