Dale Williams
Dale Williams

Intellectual vandalism

A friend told me about a house he was building. It took months to get it nearly complete. Lots of work by lots of people, creating something of beauty that everyone could admire. A week before completion vandals broke into the property and ripped the place to pieces, just for fun.

Vandalism sits on the opposite end of the continuum to creativity.

This story has many parallels in the world. An employee spends hours working on a new idea only for their boss to reject it without offering any suggestions for improvement.

A child spends hours on a project only for a teacher to dismiss it without proper acknowledgment.

The hallmark of intellectual vandals is those that only break down without offering an alternative. Criticism is always welcome, if constructive. Intellectual vandals seldom offer anything constructive.

Their interactions mostly consist of vigorous attempts to shoot down ideas and make them less valuable.

The destruction of ideas, thoughts and concepts is much easier than creating new thought. Vandalism is much easier than creativity. As in the example of the “house-breakers”, the “idea-breakers” use a fraction of the energy of the creative.

Like the child who breaks down sand castles on the beach because they are more beautiful than hers, the intellectual vandal looks to bring all ideas down to a size that he can feel less intimidated.

  • ian

    Should have put a fence around it.

  • Gerry

    A teacher of mine called them “human fire extinguishers”. You come up with a concept and all they do is whooosssh!!! and kill it with profound lack of enthusiasm.

    I find this a great problem in modern-day living, not only about the vandalism, but also about people totally void of their own ideas. We are told what is good for us and what is not, that life is better if you have great hair, that lots of sex with different partners is a better life, and that we must all follow the same norms so we can be a homogenised society.

    And this is where the crap comes in: people destroy other people because they are individuals and do not carry out the norm. Vandalism is not by definition malicious, but a subconscious expression of fear. A fear that “we are not good enough” and therefore we destroy that which we can not create, and despise that which we cannot have.

    Effing sour grapes, in other words!

    But Ayn Rand said it best: Resentment of another’s success is the hallmark of the second-rater. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

  • Richard P

    So, anyone who (like me), rips into your blogs on Thought Leader are “intellectual vandals”?

    How very precious of you.

  • Harry Dampers

    ” Like the child who breaks down sand castles on the beach because they are more beautiful than hers”

    No it is not. It is not like that at all.

    You are using a childlike variation of the straw man argument. You do NOT have to have a solution in order to have a valid complaint.

    People with no access to essential services do not need to have a solution to the problem of service provision before they complain.

    Many if not most South Africans are stressed to high heaven under the onslaught of violent crime, only an idiot would suggest that they should not open their mouths in complaint before they have some mythical solution.

  • Richard P

    Allow this intellectual vandal to elaborate.

    (In case my above post does not make it through, this blog appears to be a thinly disguised cris de coeur arising from the reactions that some of your blogs on Thought Leader, your fan club of Dave and Phillipa excepted)

    Anyone can come up with “ideas, thoughts and concepts” (unless they are brain dead or damaged or too young). You only have to listen in on pissed conversations in the pub or to self-appointed experts on radio ‘phone-in shows.

    You appear to believe that “ideas, thoughts and concepts” are intrinsically valuable without further ado, and therefore to be treated with respect and subject only to “constructive criticism”.

    Bovine manure.

    If I believe that an idea, thought or concept is superficial garbage or a collection of empty feelgood platitudes, then I am not going to waste my time by treating it as though it were some precious pearl of wisdom handed down from on high. I will simply give it a much-needed kicking and move on (as I have done with those of your blogs on which I have commented).

    If, on the other hand, the thought, idea and concept actually moves the debate forward or provides a new way of looking at things (something that none of your blogs on which I have commented have done), then I will be minded to spend treat it seriously.

    Perhaps it is time that you started generating something other than hot air?

  • http://kwerekwere.blogspot.com mundundu

    um, okay, but where was the rest of this post, man? did the wordpress text editor eat it or something?

    you were on a roll, but you could have taken it on a few different paths, in either giving advice as to how to bounce back from such a thing [eg, when your intellect is knocked about] or to avoid having a property vandalised [in many “developing world” countries, the workers are expected to live on the building site until completion].

    please elaborate, and rewrite.

  • John Collings

    Yes? Go on. Or don’t you have a point?

  • Richard P

    Further elaboration.

    First, an analogy simply cannot be drawn between vandalising a house (or anything else tangible) and dismissing a poorly thought out and presented idea, thought or concept as crap. It simply does not wash.

    Secondly, as there can be little doubt that this blog is really about you and the way your scribblings on Thought Leader have been treated by nasty folk such as me, there is really no comparison between your publication of the workings of your mind, and an employee or schoolchild.

    In an employment or education context, constructive criticism is what is expected by way of feedback.

    That said, if an employee or schoolchild were to offer up something which was a million miles from what was required or which was poorly thought out or presented rubbish, I hardly expect that either would receive anything other than a short and sharp reaction which left him or her in no doubt as to how badly the ball had been dropped, with nothing to spare the ego. Which is as it should be.

  • Richard P

    contd..

    You, on the other hand, not only make your living through telling other people how to lead their lives and run their businesses, but also choose to inflict your shallow platitudes on Thought Leader. Those of your blogs that I have commented on, have offered the following less than profound insights:

    “SA: Best place for kids to grow up”:- SA is, like, so wonderfully dangerous and lawless as to make you feel like so totally alive, and therefore (fully) a far better place to live and bring up your kids than boring law-respecting Australia, hey.

    “The case for optimism”: It is, like, better to be optimistic than pessimistic, hey.

    “Zuma’s state of the nation challenge”: South Africans must, like, unite around a single vision, hey.

    The first of those blogs just pissed me off with the way in which it twisted itself into trying to turn SA’s negatives into positives, and generally insulted everyone’s intelligence. There was simply no “constructive” way anyone could respond that that garbage.

    The last two of those blogs were, as I have previously noted, nothing more than a collection of superficial feelgood platitudes which contained absolutely nothing of substance. Again, how can one respond “constructively” to this sort of “I’m OK, You’re OK” pop psychology bollocks?

  • Richard P

    @ ian

    “Should have put a fence around it.”

    Actually, the correct use of jargon would have been: “Should have ringfenced it”

    :)

  • Richard P

    @ Gerry

    I was going to respond but when I got to the end of your post, I saw you quote Ayn Rand.

    One thing that makes my life more pleasant is to avoid getting sucked into debates with Randroids, but I would encourage you to stick with the day job and avoid psychology (ripping into a half-arsed argument is not a “subconscious expression of fear” but instead a rational act).

  • http://www.connecteddale.com Dale Williams

    @Richard P, I must have missed it, where did you rip into my blogs?

  • Tebogo

    @ Dale

    We do NOT care about the processes, we care about the outcome! Just like the player who scores a goal, we embrace the goal NOT how it was scored, that belongs to analysts and enthusiasts!

  • SouthEaster

    The hallmark of intellectual vandals is those that only break down without offering an alternative.

    If an idea is weak then it should be tested and brought down. No alternatives are needed to a really strong idea.

  • http://www.zowa.co.za slovo

    We always think that we could have done better than what we are presently.

  • Kristi Maria

    I like it. Conversation is an art, we can build upon each others ideas to achieve great height and complexity, or we can keep knocking each other down to ground zero and never come close to grasping at truth. A bit of poetry for the morning. (see there I go, knocking it down again, we all do it.)

  • David James Smith

    Not sure what made you write this post but you make sense.

    I work in a world where I present ideas everyday. By the nature of the work, many are rejected. But usually with a sense of fair play and consideration. However some are rejected in spite. By people looking to gain power by stomping on other people’s ideas. So I feel your pain!

    But you can’t let the haters, the doubters, the small people get you down. Good ideas shine even when dull minds try to blow them out.

    Just keep rocking on, doing your thing.

    The following words were written for Apple TV commercial. Even though they are for an ad, they are a tribute to people with ideas.

    Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

  • Perry Curling-Hope

    There are indeed examples of unadulterated intellectual vandalism, which relate to Rod Mackenzie’ quest for an example of ‘pure evil’

    What would be the conceivable motivation of persons who spend seemingly endless time and effort to create and distribute ‘Trojan Horse’ computer viruses designed specifically to damage operating systems?

    One wastes time and effort which could be more productively employed in order to download ever more sophisticated virus software plus endless updates to remain ‘current’.

    Despite this, operating systems get damaged to the extent that disc re-formatting is necessary, resulting in loss of license keys which sometimes cannot be replaced.

    This can result in temporary or permanent loss of access to software crucial to ones enterprise, delays, inconvenience and loss of business.

    Damage and loss is suffered by persons totally unknown to the perpetrators, which indicates that these vandals have a malignant regard for humanity in general.

    These efforts can only damage, stunt and hobble, it is a poke in the eye delivered for no reason, putting a spoke in the collective human wheel, watching the result and saying “Ha Ha, FU all, you deserve it. I don’t like you and I don’t care!”

    It is a lot easier to damage things than create something useful…these dudes aren’t even all that clever.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    I think (though I have no previous personal knowledge of this author’s blog, or of the comments) that the point is that, should one disagree with an idea or point of view, it contributes nothing to simply shoot it down without motivating your reasons. That is constructive debate. Don’t rubbish something without saying why; it is too often seen in these internet blog/comment pages.

    If you want your criticism to be taken seriously, you need to elucidate your reasoning and motivation, otherwise you add nothing and gain nothing and are merely wasting your own time and everyone else’s.

  • Richard P

    Dale, read my comments on those of your blogs I have referred to above.

    Not being able to work out the point of this blog (I was not the only one), I assumed that this was in reaction to the adverse comments that your blogs have received on TL. If I am wrong in this regard, then I apologise.

  • Kit

    So the other day I’m accosted by some nutcase in a suit and shiny shoes while minding my own business. He starts ranting on, trying to find my listening ear, about his fabulous solution to world peace and blah blah blah.

    Should I:
    (a) tell him to *&^% off;
    (b) ignore and just keep on walking;
    (c) run like mad to the nearest police station;
    (d) stop, listen to the totality of these ideas before offering constructive criticism?

    Well, let’s be honest, either of the first three is probably a valid option. (d) however is just plain stupid and, incidentally, your only option. Sign me up for additional courses, I already completed Vandalism I.

    See, you are confusing these issues here. There is a vast difference between the nurturing that a teacher, parent, even employer should provide to developing ideas. Those people with those ideas, their successes are theirs but also indirectly yours by virtue of your position.

    When random third-parties assail all and sundry with spurious self-promotion and illogical ideas, as in the case of the would-be world saviour I came across the other day, the correct response is to ignore them or knock them over. Where they absolutely won’t be knocked down, run like hell.

    sound of dust being kicked up
    screech

    Quick, before I go – what’s the solution to the intellectual vandals? How must they improve themselves? That bit was missing.

  • craig

    Which is why an idea itself is worthless (try tell that to patent lawyers). You need perseverence and self-belief to make an idea reality.

  • Kit

    Perry, I’m not convinced your example holds up very well. The purpose of a trojan ordinarily is to open up a backdoor which then delivers your system into the hands of miscreants, who proceed to fleece you. There are forms of virus whose sole purpose appears to be destruction but they’re uncommon now as the vast majority of malware is made for profit.

    It relates then more to Dale’s example of the house. All that effort into building a thing of beauty and vandals come in and spraypaint everything in lurid green and rip out the fittings.

    But even there, I’ve had the misfortune to be living next door to an empty house for a couple of months and it has been completely stripped. I’d imagine that 90% of the stuff is going to be remoulded into something else. Kind of like what happens when your boss takes your stunning idea, takes only bits of it and makes it into ‘his own’ (substandard) project. It’s not exactly a lack of creativity, just a lack of standards (intellectual and moral?). But first the thing has to be worth taking.

    (And big thanks to the SAPS, by the way, they were efficient in their attendance and even had regular patrols, were polite and professional and took a big interest in the place not being allowed to become a den of iniquity. Of course one can’t watch something 24/7 so the fools still got their stuff…)

  • vic

    @ Havelock :

    ” should one disagree with an idea or point of view, it contributes nothing to simply shoot it down without motivating your reasons. That is constructive debate.”

    Havelock …..when I was an SA resident …I was not interested in having “constuctive debate” about why I had to carry more keys around with me than the Jailer of Alcatraz .. why service provision was falling over or why my next door neighbour was blown away for his cell phone.

    I had my own business and worked HARD to keep it profitable …..because it was profitable I “contributed” a huge whack in personal and company taxes to the SA government.

    I didn’t give a stuff about “debating” why I had to live with an electric fence around both my residential and business properties.

    South Africans at all levels have been “talking” and “contributing” and “making a difference” for many years now….what good has it done ?

    Perhaps it is time to stop the talking and pee or get off the pot.

  • Gerry

    @ Dicky P:

    “One thing that makes my life more pleasant is to avoid getting sucked into debates with Randroids”

    I am amused by your labelling of me, and bemused by the label itself: Gerry = Randroid.

    Interesting insight into your character there!

  • Perry Curling-Hope

    Hi Kit,

    Indeed, much ‘malware’ serves some rational purpose to it’s progenitors , I’ve had bandwidth thieves and snoopers before.

    Last week my machines succumbed to the ‘uncommon’ variety of assault which had no other purpose than misanthropic vandalism.
    One operating system was recovered after several hours of work, the other not.
    It is the cyber equivalent of punks who scratch the paint work of cars in passing, just because.

    Comments here seem to focus upon instances where any idea emanating from a particular individual is trashed without due consideration of possible merit, simply because that individual (as a cyberspace persona) is not liked by the commentator.

  • Sihlangule

    I think there are plenty of people who choose to misunderstand your point. I think this s partly because the manifestation of fear that Gerry spoke about in his post on the 9th of June.

    It is easier to destroy than it is to build. And it is infinitely easier to offer an armchair critique of an idea whose intellectual creative energy you cannot match.

    The rule seems to be: “hold in utter disdain that which you cannot outthink or outspend”

    That’s a damn shame.

    I get you Dale Williams

  • Richard P

    @ Gerry

    This might clear up your confusion: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=randroid

    I regard followers of Ayn Rand as equivalent to secular Scientologists. I waste my time with neither.

  • Richard P

    @ vic

    “Perhaps it is time to stop the talking and pee or get off the pot.”

    Talking is a growth industry in SA. You know, stuff like Executive Coaching, Lecturing, Facilitating Strategy and Scenario Planning Sessions.

    It’s one way of fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    @Vic

    This all depends on the situation in which you find yourself. Nobody expects you to go out during your lunch hour and look for someone with whom you can debate; however, when faced with a situation (such as these blogs) where you put yourself in a position to discuss and debate an issue, it is not constructive to simply dismiss a an idea or point of view without motivation.

    People will not come over to your point of view without persuasion. If you are dissatisfied with the government’s policies, the only avenue open to you is persuasion through discussion, to bring more people around to your way of thinking. If you just complain or tell people they’re stupid you gain nothing and they gain nothing; you just make an enemy and stress yourself more.

    Your “contribution” (in taxes), while valuable, is something that anyone who is capable of earning money can contribute… it’s neither unique nor personal, and you have no say in its use. However, should you choose to discuss, debate, educate or argue, your contribution is personal, directed and unique to you.

    So you decide – do you contribute or complain?

  • http://www.obama.com Phillipa Lipinsky

    @Harry Dampers: Really, your interpretation of Dale’s intelligent article is dampened by you shalow-mindedness. At no point did Dale say the vandalisers were “violent criminals”. They clearly aren’t your average criminal. For all we know, they are priviledged kids who decided to rip the place apart for fun-however ill-conceived their idea of fun obviously is!

    I suggest you read again. Dale is the kind of intellectual who is desperately needed in this country. With his self-critical debut article on this site, followed by many articles filled with innovative ideas-such as very few people can come up with, he has proven himself to be an incisive,thoughtful,admirable and intelligent writer and the future of this country looks brighter because of people like him.

    Richard P: You have certainly left the country for England so your views are not relevant-but you can’t rant on just for fun (that’s ok-in fcat it keeps some of us entertained).

    Dale, on the other hand, is a true son of this soil who has invested “his energy,intellectual and monetary resources’ to the betterment of this country-all without being self-congratulatory like many poeple who’ve done much less than he has. Got it! Good.

  • Kit

    Perry, I see your point and I see Dale’s, although I do think it’s a bit more complicated than merely not liking someone (or their persona as seen on these pages, which in many cases is unlikely to be the same thing).

    Part of it is merely experience of a commentator’s mode of argument. It’s not exactly that Dale doesn’t have a point, it’s more than he appears to have written several pieces in a row essentially saying the same thing (the latter ones appearing to spring in a logical sense from the fairly strident commentary on his piece on raising kids in SA – wherein he imposed his methods of thinking on everyone else, regardless of their experiences (it’s a mistake – for who?)).

    Since we all had our say on that bit and he keeps bringing it up, one gets the sense that the entire debate is merely turning into a crystallisation of positions…so you’re damned if you’re going to be left behind. Frankly, I feel much the same about Messrs Saks, Memela and Diakanyo and a couple of other people. They’re all highly intelligent and logical but don’t always display it and when they do, it becomes hard to keep the mind open.

    People display exactly the same tendency in the Zuma vs Zille yawn. There is actually no point whatsoever rehashing the same topics in the same ways, better use out-of-the-box communication.

  • Richard P

    @ Havelock Vetinari

    Ah, “contributing”!

    I don’t know why this is such a magic word for certain shiny-eyed Saffas, who take the view that unless you are “contributing” (whatever the hell that is), you are disqualified from being able to express any view on SA.

    If you are dissatisfied with the government’s policies, you try to vote the buggers out, but SA is inflicted with a government which believes that it has a God given right to govern SA until the Second Coming and which regards any opposing views (particularly if held by whites) as unpatriotic and even racist.

    But you, like Dale, appear to believe that the more hot air you generate, the better things will be.

    Sorry to have to break the news to you, but it is the SA government which has a duty to the SA people, not the other way around.

    It is every South African’s (resident or expat) right to bitch and moan without some duty to “contribute”, just as it is with every other citizen of every other country.

    And paying taxes is a “contribution” which all too many SAns do not even make, and that is “contribution” enough.

  • Richard P

    @ Kit

    “better use out-of-the-box communication”

    And what would that be? Allow us to peek behind the jargon.

  • vic

    @Havelock

    “So you decide – do you contribute or complain?”

    My training is not that of a policeman or a doctor (example) for those services I would have to rely on the Govt….if the Govt. fails to spend my taxes wisely then I complain….loudly.

    There is not requirement that I go out and “contribute” by taking these responsibilities on myself……nor do I have to provide ANY sort of “solution” before opening my mouth.

    I cannot understand how seemingly smart South Africans have been taken in by this nonsense.

    @ Phillipa

    ” Dale is the kind of intellectual who is desperately needed in this country ”

    Dale is an intellectual ?

    I don’t think so ……Dale is peddling positive pills to those who desperately need them ..he is telling them what they want to hear.

    That IMO is dangerous and counterproductive.

    ” You have certainly left the country for England so your views are not relevant-”

    Phillipa , Richards views are at LEAST as relevant as those of non-indigenous South Africans living in SA……….but if the point you are trying to make is that only indigenous South Africans views are now inportant to the SA Government…I tend to agree.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    @Richard P

    A derogatory label (“Randroid” for instance) is a convenient way for those with differing viewpoints to package and discard what they don’t agree with. It is a method much used by those too lazy to explore and understand their reasons for disagreeing. Many of these people simply come across as bullies.

    The term “Randroid” is associated with those using Rand’s work and ideas as dogma – a practice as bad as your “package, label and discard” approach.

    Ayn Rand produced some excellent, thought-provoking work, but its value lies not in her conclusions, but in the ideas and thought process it inspires, opening up new ideas to interested minds, to be processed and considered through the filters of their own experience and leading them to their own conclusions. This is how we grow and learn.

    This is true not only of Rand’s work, but of all systems theories and knowledge. Dogmatic use of ANY theory, knowledge or system is always limiting, and more often than not indicates an incomplete understanding of the theory.

    Richard, your approach to these comments is in itself a strong motivator for an article such as this one; you come across as abrasive, pushy, self-aggrandising… in short a bully, and your only contribution is that you have shown us all that you’re not a very pleasant person.

    Happily, I’m a tyrant – it’s the Scorpion Pit for you 😉

  • Kit

    (Apologies for megabold earlier, not intentional).

    RichardP, I figured Dale should be able to be a bit more non-traditional maybe than fingerwagging?

    The entire Zuma/Zille debate became as discussionless as Dale’s commentary may be becoming because the initial kneejerk reaction is never superseded by anything else. First reactions, people take their positions and then just start sandbagging them-unless you drag them out.

    Maybe this is just me, maybe everyone else is happy with repeating these positions ad infinitum and ‘proving’ their own rightness, but I’d say that this series of two-sided monologues with no interaction needs some morphing into a real discussion. I’d just like to see the coaching in action, constructive engagement. Probably good practice.

    So given that we can’t do Kamp Staaldraad for Thought Leader (yawn), a series of articles that genuinely challenge perspective, not just a mere transparent analogy saying exactly the same thing. Now perhaps it wasn’t meant to say the same thing; the line-up of comments says it’s perceived to, sandbags are lined up in the same places). And an admission that there’s no such thing as correct/incorrect for one person being the same as everyone else (personally I found that piece that started this extraordinarily prescriptive). More open-ended, not so obviously linked (is your depersonalised position the same as when you’re automatically defending personal, real-life choices?).

    Maybe that’s just a dreamworld, huh?

  • Candice

    Urm…I have a question for that Richard P fellow. If his writing or intellect bore your that much, why waste your time or energy reading them.

    Whilst I do not necessarily espouse Dale’s thoughts, I do not disagree with them. In his reality those are his beliefs. In your reality Richard, you have your own (however lacking in Creativity they may be).

  • Kit

    You know a little snippet that was lost in some ways was the bit about Dale’s wife calling him and telling him to be careful on the way home because someone was just shot in the neighbourhood. That’s one of those perspective-challenging things that could have been developed into something entertaining and enlightening rather than as an aside to the shouting ‘you’re all so WRONG’…

    There’s just otherwise a degeneration into this amusing classroom construct with a flustered teacher merely shouting louder and louder and there being the kids who are just busy wrecking the classroom because they know the teacher just can’t hold it all together and they’d probably learn more outside, and the teacher himself getting stressed about the whole thing and the couple of kids at the front busy trying to get attention going ‘Look at us, we’re behaving so nicely. Can we carry your bags later?’

    Now I know that’s a crass analogy and no one behaves exactly like that, but I’m trying to convince myself of the merits of one or the other of these. (a) Slouching at the back and enjoying the entertainment or (b) deciding that another class would be a more useful way to spend time.

    So I figured I’d offer some constructive (if ill-constructed) random comment first. Can I carry your bags?

  • Havelock Vetinari

    @Richard P
    Re: June 11th, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Here you are off topic. I won’t dispute anything you say about the government… in fact I agree with most of it. Nor do I dispute your right to express a view. However, if we wish to disabuse our government of the illusion of their “God given right to govern until the second coming”, we need to persuade those with the power to remove the government (i.e. the voters) of the need to do so.

    In order to persuade people, we must give reasoned argument. To simply shout someone down without voicing your reasoning or motivation (“Intellectual Vandalism” as described in the article) accomplishes nothing, and produces nothing but animosity among those whose minds you want to change.

    Further, I don’t dispute the importance of your monetary contribution, I simply point out that you have no control over what it accomplishes. Reasoned argument however might just change somebody’s mind… one more vote in your favour, one less for the government. And if they in turn can reason with, and persuade, just one other person (and so on down the chain), before long your ideas may find some real impetus.

    Remember that big things are accomplished one small step at a time… and though it IS better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, nobody is stopping you from doing both ;-).

  • Richard P

    @ Havelock Vetinari

    Rest assured, I do not post here to be liked.

    You clearly have respect for Ayn Rand’s scribblings.

    I have none.

    They were nothing more than a self-regarding axe-grinding polemic with absolutely no literary merit or ideas of any worth.

    I pay them no more regard than I would the spittle-flecked rantings of some nutter on the street corner, so you cannot expect me to be nice to any argument which rests on Ms Rand’s theories.

    You, like dear Dale, appear to regard all ideas, concepts, theories, etc of intrinsically equal worth and deserving of equal respect, even if some are complete bollocks.

    I don’t. One does not “grow and learn” from superficial feelgood platitudes such as those spouted by Dale, or deranged rantings such as those scrawled by Ms Rand.

    If that makes me appear a bully, then so be it.

    As for the SA guvmint, I fully accept that people who vote for the ANC need to be persuaded from the self-destructive lunacy of their political affiliations, but I do not post here in order to make nice. I feel nothing but contempt for the ANC, and am quite happy simply to express that.

    As for me, I don’t even make so much as a monetary contribution to SA. I pay UK taxes, you see :)

  • Richard P

    @ Kit

    “I’d just like to see the coaching in action, constructive engagement. Probably good practice.”

    Coaching is the thing Dale does to earn his crust, ironically.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    @ Richard P

    “You clearly have respect for Ayn Rand’s scribblings.”

    Yes, they provoke thought. Whether I agree with them or not is not relevant.

    “…spittle-flecked rantings of some nutter on the street corner,”

    This accurately describes your own vicious and bitter tone, so should we all disregard your words?

    “…cannot expect me to be nice to any argument which rests on Ms Rand’s theories.”

    As I recall, it was a saying regarding resentment of others’ success, not a theory, and was not used to support the argument, just to illustrate it. The saying doesn’t gain credibility BECAUSE Ayn Rand said it, it was used because it is a truism that was elegantly put by Ayn Rand.

    “…seem to regard all ideas, concepts, theories, etc of intrinsically equal worth and deserving of equal respect, even if some are complete bollocks.”

    Richard, it’s the process of elucidating your reasons why a theory or idea is bollocks that gives an idea worth since, if you force yourself to consider it objectively and clearly, you can clarify and improve your understanding of your own position (if yours isn’t bollocks too) to yourself and to others. You learn nothing if you’re not open to being wrong and to thinking critically of your own positions and theories.

  • Havelock Vetinari

    @Richard P (continued)

    “One does not “grow and learn” from superficial feelgood platitudes such as those spouted by Dale, or deranged rantings such as those scrawled by Ms Rand.”

    Whether one agrees with these “feelgood platitudes” or “deranged rantings” or not, one CAN grow and learn by explaining and motivating your points of disagreemennt with them. Anything less is just noise.

    “If that makes me appear a bully, then so be it.”

    You said it, not me.

    “…I fully accept that people who vote for the ANC need to be persuaded from the self-destructive lunacy of their political affiliations,…”

    Yet you clearly are not willing to take the time to do so yourself; it seems you’d rather spend that time shouting people down.

    “…but I do not post here in order to make nice. I feel nothing but contempt for the ANC, and am quite happy simply to express that.”

    To what end? Expressing the contempt you feel (which is shared by many of us too) without attempting to motivate it clearly can best be described by that wonderful cliche “pissing into the wind”… if you want to, that’s fine, but please don’t expect anybody to take any notice of it.

  • Richard P

    @ Havelock Vetinari

    ““You clearly have respect for Ayn Rand’s scribblings.”

    Yes, they provoke thought. Whether I agree with them or not is not relevant.”

    Hitler’s Mein Kampf also provokes thought. On that basis, do you also respect that book?

    ““…spittle-flecked rantings of some nutter on the street corner,”

    This accurately describes your own vicious and bitter tone, so should we all disregard your words?”

    Oh dear, have I upset you then?

    ““…cannot expect me to be nice to any argument which rests on Ms Rand’s theories.”

    As I recall, it was a saying regarding resentment of others’ success, not a theory, and was not used to support the argument, just to illustrate it. The saying doesn’t gain credibility BECAUSE Ayn Rand said it, it was used because it is a truism that was elegantly put by Ayn Rand.”

    Mind if I find some choice quotes from Mein Kampf then and defend it as a truism?

    to be continued …

  • Richard P

    ““…seem to regard all ideas, concepts, theories, etc of intrinsically equal worth and deserving of equal respect, even if some are complete bollocks.”

    Richard, it’s the process of elucidating your reasons why a theory or idea is bollocks that gives an idea worth since, if you force yourself to consider it objectively and clearly, you can clarify and improve your understanding of your own position (if yours isn’t bollocks too) to yourself and to others. You learn nothing if you’re not open to being wrong and to thinking critically of your own positions and theories.”

    Nah, some stuff, like most of Dale’s blogs on Thought Leader, is such self-evident bollocks that one need not even elucidate reasons why – it just speaks for itself.