Just the FAQ

SECTION II, Appendix I: 
POOR SPORTSMANSHIP and Anti-Critical Bias






As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.  Proverbs 27: 17
“Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.” — Sir Francis Bacon
Q. What is the vital importance of,
                            and why such deadly antipathy towards,
criticism ? 

Loud HowardA. Indeed, beyond simple Empathic Failure, underestimation of situational factors often engenders Fundamental Attribution Error (also refferred to as correspondence bias or overattribution effect), motivating, in turn, such blanket rationalizations as the Hostile Attribution Bias typical of the reactive victim type bully, and, in specific, Anti-Critical Bias, winner-take-all heartless shunning of unhappy complainers exhorted instead to positive thinking, Ad Hominem Abusive and dishonest peer pressuring tabooistic emotional extortion against controversy expressed in the perceived right never to be challenged in any views or statements whatsoever, as a quite frankly loony over sensitive hyper-fragile imperative of personal comfort drastically undermining Critical Thinking

Such, alas, is the nature of anti-critical bias.
Anti-critical bias is the prejudice to the effect that doubt paralyzes, that dispute leads to strife and the incapacity to cooperate, and that criticism is a form of aggression and an expression of antagonism and hostility. And that is just poor sportsmanship.

Alas, from fear of the unknown and aversion to the effort and focus entailed, let alone conflict on any level, there may so easily and readily arise the most tremendous tension, distress and hence both inner and outer conflict a plenty, unless, as, alas, seems more often, just empty bickering, among all known responses especially as associated with the deep denial characteristic of unaware incompetence or even the most highly Skilled Incompetence and, at any rate, presumably one way or another learned or conditioned at some time and place in the past, running the gamut from awkwardness, dishonor, disgrace, panic and closed minded paralysis and passivity to denial, approval seeking and Conformism, outright hostility, anti-critical bias, blame, Fundamental Attribution Error (also known as correspondence bias or overattribution effect) , Hostile Attribution Bias, collapse, perhaps worst of all, conflict aversion, sometimes even to the point suicide, simply from repression and suppression of the very free expression to reach out for help, of the victimized actually coerced into silence and secrecy protecting their abusers. 

For it remains one of the most ancient and still most popularly entrenched prejudices, that controversy, criticism and dissent are signs of hostility and contempt, at best disrespect, never appreciation or sympathy. Indeed, the identification of conflict or even controversy with strife tends to be self-fulfillingly hostile. Likewise, the "look what you made me do" passive hostile defensive knee-jerk reflex of refusal to cooperate at all with dissenters renders self-fulfilling the notion that dissent undermines cooperation utterly.

Nevertheless, any inexpert yet sane person by whatever twist of fate obliged to build a boat with their own hands then to trust their life thereto upon a stormy sea, would surely come to prize their harshest critic in the endeavor as their greatest friend! Indeed, even in life far less dire, hypersensitivity to criticism is an unaffordable liability from which springs no good ever.

In plain truth, the acrimony of controversy, of argumentative open disagreement is a bias and self fulfilling, whereas, in actuality, argumentative open disagreement is the fundamental expression of democratic values and good will, fun and good sportsmanship, all Valuable Intellectual Traits. And progress arises from trial and error, and from the open airing of criticism, far better than otherwise. And so, the very notion that any benefit of the doubt entails abstention from criticism is among the very deadliest of misconception (even should criticism be merely deferred, momentarily, as in Brainstorming). Human enterprise, especially when it is new and different, thrives not on assent but upon keen interest, and keen interest is expressed not in defensiveness on behalf of such enterprise, but in being critically friendly towards it. However there often will be manifest a prevailing ignorance and rejection of the very concept of uncompromising, even unapologetically harsh, yet friendly criticism, indeed, acknowledge the very possibility at all only when criticism comes sugar coated, or else only should it pertain to distinctly marginal issues. Hence feedback may tend to be either critical or friendly, but seldom both at once.

Alas, both the value of uncritical friendliness, and that of unfriendly criticism, are severely limited. Uncritical friendliness is practically useless because criticism is essential to progress, and unfriendly criticism the more so, especially should such be characterized by irrelevant and obtrusive hostility, even to the point of flaming, which, alas, is so often either the typical tactic of the conniving bully or just the knee-jerk actingout and Fundamental Attribution Error (also known as correspondence bias or overattribution effect), and Hostile Attribution Bias of the insecure reactive victim, unless better critical standards of civility and moderation are in play, fostering the eustress of Creative Tension in fruitful Dialectic controversy.

Q. What  is "bashing" (sic)? 

A. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition at http://www.dictionary.com defines "bashing" thusly:
v. intr. Informal
          To engage in harsh, accusatory, threatening criticism. 

Of course, it may be that
criticism can be unduly harsh, by whatever standard applies. And any question of proportion does and should remain always debatable. More over, any review, be it a rave, a pan or mixed, may or may not also constitute a meticulously reasoned critique, such as to offer any explanation and/or details in support for it's categorical conclusions, and if not may naturally therefore invite just such very questions. While of course flaming, abuse, bullying accusation and threat are another and quite serious matter entirely. 

But all of this is covered adequately by any civilized constraint to stay at all on topic and against personal attack and flaming, generally. So, why this additional linguistic distinction,  "bashing" (sic)? 

Because, this usage of "bashing" (sic) also often seems to arise from an ingrained perception of criticism as intrinsically dangerous, harsh, accusatory and threatening, in accordance with a distorted view from anti-critical bias and sometimes even Totalitarian sentiments outright, characterized by insecurity, poor impulse control and only superficial self knowledge.  

It may be difficult to demarcate the conniving bullies from those for whom just about any criticism what so ever may come, indeed, as a "heavy" emotionally crushing blow. 

And it's not just the drek of self deluded flakes who won't make any effort, churning out such a glut of unreadable crap across the Net, but, far sorrier then that, the wasted talent of aspiring writers who's tantalizing and promising projects are tragically doomed to half baked obscurity, only because these people may even find themselves so averse to criticism that they may actually drop out of their writing courses on the very first day!

Criticism , after all, is essential.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for serious writers seeking to grow and improve, who would dearly appreciate cogent criticism, and the more uncompromising the better, to complain of well meaning constant praise and encouragement, instead, leaving them so in the dark and stymied.


Q. If I, like, "know where you're comin' from", man, do I have to "go there"? 

A. When Hell freezes over! 


Q. "One must respect the opinions of others!

A. Why?? No, one is not remotely obliged to respect the opinions of others, nor to  agree with them. That goes far beyond any guidelines of civility and upholding the rights of others even with whom one disagrees. 

Indeed, the very question of which disagreements to how so ever take seriously, as at all reasonable or productive, is far too important to be dismissed so lightly. Even while upholding every right to them. 

Besides, what, precisely, does so-called "respecting an opinion" entail? The answer, I fear, is reverential meek non confrontational agreeability rather than the most vigorous, serious and impersonal attack and defense of ideas.

Much as I might ever be ready to lay down my life in defense of other people's right to disagree with me, that need not then compel me to then agree with them after all, or else, like some sort of sycophantic automaton, to think or feel as would please anyone else or even pretend to.

Yes, I do suspect that we are dealing here with yet another trumped up anti-critical Orwellism! 

And it is very hard for me, personally, not to get upset by that sort of mealy mouthed touchy-feely distortion. I might not want to get mad personally, at some poor brainwashed slob who doesn't know any better. But I'm so sick to death of nonsensical catch all excuses for taking offence at free speech and thought!  

After all, it goes without saying that any assertion howsoever, is, in and of itself, intrinsically both a) an opinion and b) an Ontological statement* and thus an implicit assertion as to truth, meaning correspondence of said statement to objective reality in all of it's "out there-ness" [sic]. And, necessarily, more over, that, if true, at any given time, a contradicting logically mutually exclusive statement must therefore then be false and not true. 

Thus, there is no refutation simply in that one is however opinionated, and no transgression, either, in honest unapologetic disagreement or criticism AKA "make-wrong" (sic), both being given, nigh tautologically. 

*An Ontological statement, quite simply, is any assertion at all such as employs the verb "to be". Because, all that is, from the well established to the as yet entirely unsuspected, nevertheless, belongs in the domain of objective reality which is the subject matter of the question of Ontology. 


Q. Why is the expression 'constructive criticism' (sic) so deplorable? 

A. Because it insinuates an unreasonable demand, in the Orwellian Newspeak of those whiners who take things personally, and then start flaming and even censorship, no matter how entirely inappropriate, unintelligent or unfair such a response may be. And often then stone wall, indignantly, when called to account. 


To offer "constructive criticism" (sic) means to proffer advice instead of critique, so as to spare the other's feelings. But any such requirement would go beyond the boundaries of the simple rule against personal attack and flaming

To make matters even more confusing and frustrating, sometimes an illuminating description of a problem or shortcoming may be admitted as "constructive criticism" (sic), but only to a degree, and with reservation of smoldering resentment and rising scorn.   

Strictly by way of illustration, we may all recall the second season 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' episode 'A Matter of Honor', an amusing cautionary tale authored by Wanda M. Haight, Gregory Amos & Burton Armus, dealing with the Inter-fleet Exchange Program, and wherein the actor John Pulch plays Ensign Mendon, a Benzite, the race of clones and approval hungry people-pleasers, so-called "constructive critics" (sic), bound by an ill-considered  protocol against so much as breathing mention of a problem statement or criticism until first being ready to provide a workable solution consisting of "constructive" advice

But Mendon's naive irresponsibly silent lack of assertiveness, his optimistically spineless Skilled Incompetence, damn near blows up the Enterprise, while the manifest and pointless dishonesty of such professional secrecy needlessly alarms the Klingons! 

For the Klingons, after all, with whom Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) serves, al be it quite briefly, are depicted as classic Swiftian Yahoos, so touchy and hostile about just about everything and anything that nothing can ever be settled, and no decision ever resolved, except by brawling, mayhem and murder! - Forestalled, at all, only by transitory and hierarchical dominance. For the Klingons are, no less than Barbaric Hector addressing the allies of Priam, of one blood and without diplomacy, that is to say, nothing if not straightforward as a breed.

Executive Producer Gene Rodenbery's obvious intended moral of this 'Star Trek' fable is Scientific openness and the tolerance all such depends upon. Because, all criticism is intrinsically constructive, in and of itself, and should always be permitted, openly. 

Ad Hominem Abusive personal attacks and flaming that are out of bounds, after all, are entirely distinct from genuine criticism, without any further needless distinction or interdiction. nevertheless, intrinsically, criticism needs to be destructive, because criticism is the technique of fault finding, a destruction test of fitness of ideas to survive. It is by the attack and defense of competing ideas (but never personal attack) that progress evolves, and in fiction writing as with any other undertaking. (Unless one simply dismisses all of this as Utopian.)

So, why does anyone still harp on such a viciously muddled concept as "constructive criticism" (sic)? 

The answer is that some people are just so traumatized and repressed by the deep rooted intolerance of our our culture, that they have difficulty saying much of substance, except when they indulge in injured feelings of rancor, which they themselves still need help to confront and to over come. 

And so, when such repressed and traumatized Reactive Victims encounter other more open people simply speaking their own minds, no mater how genuine and unassuming, instead of according any benefit of the doubt, these repressed individuals still tend towards Fundamental Attribution Error (also known as correspondence bias or overattribution effect), and Hostile Attribution Bias of reading in unfriendly motive, even where there is none, according to the distorted values of their own lamentable cultural conditioning. 

And so, these repressed individuals may even band together and aggressively demand to be coddled or accommodated, one way or another, even at the expense of the free expression and productivity of others. Repression propagating among the repressed. 

Such is the ersatz societal enforcement of mediocrity motivated by the Anti-Intellectual glorification of  jealous rage that author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. protests in his Distopian novel 'Harrison Bergeron', which was later adapted into a feature for Showtime Cable Networks. 

In short, some very touchy people press such an excessive and exaggeratedly high standard of tact which effectively sabotages and penalizes individual honesty, and thus growth and excellence. Whether they are Klingon-like brawling bikers or fragile swooning mean-spirited little old ladies on the proverbial Harper Valley PTA accommodated by Benzite-like interchangeable people-pleasing tactful "clones" and enablers.  

And all such practices need to be corrected by better public awareness of the problem. 

One may learn the most by making mistakes that can be criticized. However, in school, mistakes are penalized. As is dissidence. But such lamentable conditioning can sometimes be to some degree over come by exposure and awakening to better value systems. 

Affirmation is neither a given nor owed, and should never be extorted, neither individually nor societally. Such misconception presses tact into outright dishonesty and waters down truthfulness.

The the truer and deeper affirmation comes from genuine interest, honesty and pertinent response. Flattery can be no less shallow than abuse.



Copyright 2001 - 2014 by Aaron Agassi