Claudia:

What does this maxim mean and why is it important?: Do not say what you believe to be false.

I also don't understand how it is used.

Otherwise I get them and I like them.

Larry

From: Claudia Hemphill Pine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 15:13:12 -0600
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Why some reposts don't belong on SftP -- a framework for evaluation

Okay.  I just looked at two reposts from someone NOT on this list-serve named David Baillie, re-posted without any apparent rhyme or reason. Without chewing into this 2nd offender (still appended below) and the previous one specifically, I want to share some basic concepts from communication and linguistics that may help us reach a better collective understanding of what doesn't belong on SftP.

On the whole, these two reposts from other online forums show no immediate relevance to the list purposes. There is neither the kind of clear content,  nor contextualization, that would highlight any details that are germane.  Furthermore, the writing is unfactual, highly personal, and laden with insults.  This makes these posts not just unpleasant reading, but uninteresting to members who don't know the original writers - and probably won't want to, either!

Beyond the whole issue of posts that too frequently may seem irrelevant and even offensive to the general membership, there are three problems of communication and possibly legality when piecemeal bits of other people's conversations are reposted.  All of these could be avoided by keeping in mind a time-honored set of conversational conventions known as Grice's Maxims.  Let me explain the problems, and the maxims, and ask if the SftP list members might consider the Gricean Maxims worth applying as a general rule.

1. Piecemeal reposts of other people's emails present three problems: 

First, while it's not technically illegal under SftP's server use contract, so far as I know, for many list-serves and list sponsors it is.  It depends on the server providers and their policies.  People do get into legal trouble forwarding emails with permission, y'know.... (see: Wikileaks!)  In addition, international laws on the public circulation of private parties' communication differ.  Thus, as a rule, it's safer to simply avoid randomly reposting statements made by non-public figures, especially when those statements include obscenity, profanity, racist/sexist disparagements and the like, or conspicuously untruthful and/or illiterate content.

Second, the authors of the original emails often assume, or at least prefer, that their statements will not be reposted elsewhere, unless they say "okay for reposting" or "please forward" or something like that.  Have all of the people whose emails -- and email addresses (another legally iffy issue) are being reposted here indicated that they're okay with this?

Third, I have NO IDEA from these snips and pieces of other people's obviously ongoing "conversation" -- which is so poorly framed, and phrased, that I hesitate to call it even that -- what the heck the POINT is of cluttering up SftP members' inboxes is.  If this crass and coarse exchange illustrates something relevant to how science serves (or disserves) progressive politics, or vice-versa, it needs to be made clear with an introductory comment.  I for one do not appreciate being handed random bits of rude conversation and expected to somehow divine what the poster thinks it shows.... besides the poster's inability or unwillingness to (a) be clear, which is the courteous thing to do, and/or (b) reconsider whether the re-post is germane. 

2. That brings us to Grice's Maxims, at least half of which are violated by these reposts.  Paul Grice was a philosopher of language who is perhaps best known (certainly outside of his sub-discipline) for developing the list of four "Conversational Maxims": quantity, quality, relevance and manner.  Violations of all, especially the last two, are clear in the reposts that prompted me to this response.  I've copied in brief definitions of them down below.

Basically, the Gricean Maxims (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gricean_maxims) identify the qualities that people look for in clear, concise, constructive conversation.  Grice developed them from empirical as well as theoretical philosophy of language.  The Maxims have been widely referenced and applied in linguistic and communication research.  In sum, they are the standards that make for successful cooperative communication -- which is what most list-serves are for.

The reposted material, in contrast, appears to be from the kinds of online fora that aim more at uncooperative, adversarial, and conflictive communication - in short, "flame wars" and that sort of overwrought, opinion-laden, intentionally offensive discourse, which some people choose to use online media for. It has always seemed to me that despite some members not seeing a difference, SftP's purpose has always been cooperative communication, which makes Grice's principles completely applicable.

Grice's maxims have stood the test of 50 years of linguistic application, although in certain specific circumstances some equally robust critique applies.  (1) As general patterns, the maxims omit some of the more complex and subtle uses of rhetoric within particular speech communities, so for very close analysis the maxims sometime need refinement. (2) Because they were based on English-speaking and Western sociolinguistic patterns, the maxims don't recognize some of the alternative methods of achieving cooperative communication that have been developed in several non-Western cultures. For research and use in multicultural settings, again, some refinement and reconsideration can be advisable. 

For SftP, I don't think either of these critiques is a major problem, although they merit consideration.

By and large it is agreed across a wide number of fields studying communication, philosophy of language, sociolinguistics, media and the like, that Grice's maxims capture the basic requirements for successful cooperative communication in most cultures, particularly those that dominate global conversation today. 

Thus, let's consider them as applicable to these two recent reposts -- as well as much of what gets posted to SftP -- and observe where these reposts violate the maxims.  Here is a good summary of the Maxims.  (I'll violate 1 & 3 a bit right here and note that Maxim 1 has always reminded me of Einstein's saying "make it as simple as possible, but no simpler"!  There is a lot of overlap, I suspect, between "good science" and good-quality conversation.)

Maxim of Quantity:

  1. Make your contribution to the conversation as informative as necessary.
  2. Do not make your contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary.

Maxim of Quality:

  1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
  2. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

Maxim of Relation:

  1. Be relevant.

Maxims of Manner:

  1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
  2. Avoid ambiguity.
  3. Be brief.
  4. Be orderly.
While conversation often veers away from the maxims in small ways -- they're general rules, after all, and language is always more complex than any rule-set ever developed -- on the whole, most of us tend to follow them pretty closely.  Most of us learn these rules as we grow up, and follow them - especially in conversations that are face to face, or with people we know well, or work with.   When we don't, the response is usually immediate, and clear:  people ask us not to share this kind of material - or irritably demand to know what makes it relevant - or complain about the objectionable content and style - or simply run away fast and avoid any further conversation!

I hope that I am not alone in thinking that some conscious and conscientious reflection on what we contribute to the SftP list-serve, using basic communication concepts like the Gricean Maxims, might help us make the list-serve a more enjoyable and fruitful tool than it has sometimes been.

Thanks,

Claudia




On Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 8:39 AM, Dr. Science <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Friends in Science for the People, here's the second item from David
Baillie. There's a great deal that David believes which is surely
correct. I've just finished re-reading Eric Walberg's "Postmodern
Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games". I strongly recommend it
for gaining substantial evidence of "Organized Jewish
Destructiveness". Sincerely --George


Editor  <[log in to unmask]>       Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 6:20 AM
To: [log in to unmask], Carolyn Yeager <[log in to unmask]>,
Bill Finck <[log in to unmask]>
Reply | Reply to all | Forward | Print | Delete | Show original
I thought I would pass this on to show you all what the enemy is up
to. Even you George.

Frankly, I shat in his hat and I pass this on in hopes you will also
spread the alert. You never know if you are dealing with someone that
might stick a bomb under your car. This Trento sounds like a real
shabbas goy fanatic like that Norwegian scumbag that murdered his own
people.

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Tom Trento" <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: August 31, 2011 7:18:23 AM EDT
> To: "'David Baillie'" <[log in to unmask]>
> Cc: "'Glutimas Maximus'" <[log in to unmask]>, "'Trailer Park Patriots'" <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>, <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: response from - Tom Trento
> Reply-To: <[log in to unmask]>
>
> Hi David,
>
>
>
> In no way do I seek to upset or annoy anyone on this list.
>
>
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> Sorry if this email found its way to you. I agree, no sense arguing these issues with you, a self-proclaimed Nazi.
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> If I’m mistaken with the conclusion (you are a Nazi) after reviewing your web site (http://www.nemw.net/) I apologize.
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> But if I’m mistaken that you are at least a Nazi sympathizer (not that there is anything wrong with Nazi-sympathizers) then what do you believe about Hitler and the goals of the Third Reich?
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> And, yes, these are rhetorical questions, so you are not expected to answer.
>
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> By the way, is this anachronistic picture of the cap-wearing, long-hair, cigarette smoking artist, you?
>
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>
>
>
> Tom Trento, President
>
> THE UNITED WEST
>
> 2200 4th Ave. N. # 3
>
> Lake Worth, FL 33461
>
>
>
> Office: 561-582-1424
>
> Fax:      561-582-7675
>
> Cell:      561-319-5533
>
>
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> [log in to unmask]
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> www.TheUnitedWest.org
>
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> Tom Trento/Face Book
>
> http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002040970771
>
>
>
> From: David Baillie [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:56 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Cc: 'Glutimas Maximus'; 'Trailer Park Patriots'; [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: REMEMBER 9/11 WITH ALLEN WEST - YOU ARE INVITED - Sept 7, 2011
>
>
>
> I'm not exactly sure how I got on this mailing list and I'm really not interested in a book called Sharia The Threat. We live under Talmudic Law as near as I can tell and 9/11 was indeed a false flag event, committed by Jews, Israelis, their shabbas goy useful idiots within our government and military, maybe even some of you Team B ding dongs.
>
>
>
> That being said, I am not interested in bringing Arabs, or promoting Islam here, I think it is high time we brought all our boys and girls home from our overseas empire and booted out the tens of millions of illegals. We should finally release the Germans from the shackles we've had on them since we destroyed their country and LIED about the orchestrated murder of millions of Jews in concentration camps and LIED about Hitler starting the war. It is about time we acknowledged that it has ALWAYS been the Jewish financial control of this country since at least 1913 that has sponsored Communism throughout the world, an ideology that has murdered over 100 million people worldwide while we shamelessly murdered peasants in Korea, Vietnam and throughout Central and South America under the guise of "fighting" Communism. A sham we still maintain. It is also high time we acknowledge that Hitler was right when he pointed out that Capitalism and Communism were two sides of the same coin, and that Capitalism has gutted this country of the very industries it pioneered and sent them to China and India, destroying our own middle class, while soaking up all the menial labor jobs by importing illegal aliens who are also sucking off the teet of our social welfare programs, programs that were created only as temporary help for our own people during the Federal Reserve's engineered Depression of the 20's and 30's. A system that was also abused to promote a perpetual underclass of broken black families, the result of which we see today filling our prisons.
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> Yes, there are lots of things that certainly need addressing, and none of you clowns is the right person for that job. You are running some bullshit racket and that's for damn sure.
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> Glutimas, please take me off this list. I have no desire to be rolling around in the mud with lying swine such as these. The "patriot" movement is full of these shabbas goy that want to deflect from the core issue. Jewish power. Pure and simple. Everyone that has ever stood in the way of Jewish control of this world has been crushed by so called United allies, United Kingdom, United States, Untied Soviet Socialist Republics. The United Nations and now The United West. What a load of bullshit. Charlatans. Frauds.
>



--
The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.  -- Paul Cezanne