My social media policy and useful references to my philosophy
|Image by Yoel Ben-Avraham, used under CC BY-ND 2.0 license.|
This post aims to calibrate expectations about my social media presence, as well as to provide useful resources that could avoid the need for you to wait for a social media reply from me. As the visibility of my work increases, it has become impossible for me to maintain the level of social media engagement I used to have. Therefore, I will from now on refer to this post in situations wherein I cannot engage as extensively as before.
1 Explanations of my philosophical system
I have now written six books, dozens of essays, and recorded several videos. My philosophical system cannot be explained in a couple of brief online comments. Therefore, please consider looking up some references (see below) if you are curious about my ideas. This is likely the best and fastest route for you anyway, since I can't properly or timely convey the scope of my ideas through short messages on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, comments on my blog, or even my own discussion forum. Although I may occasionally continue to provide overviews on social media, this will necessarily become more the exception than the rule. I provide the references below in the hope that they will be more useful, complete, and accurate than my occasional and brief online reply.
Naturally, the best resources are my books, especially my latest ones: More Than Allegory, Brief Peeks Beyond, and Why Materialism Is Baloney. Yes, these books aren't free. I don't write for money but there is a reason for books: they are the best, most complete, most honest way to elaborate on a philosophical system. In fact, they are the only truly appropriate way. If this weren't so, I wouldn't have written them. So if your interest in my work is high enough to justify a heated interaction with me on social media, it must be high enough to justify an investment of time from your side to read at least one of these books.
I count on your understanding that I cannot repeat every philosophical argument personally to everyone who asks.
Now, if before investing the time and energy it takes to read a book you want some brief overview of my ideas, please consider the following references:
- The best overview yet in video format (40 minutes)
- Short, rigorous paper containing an analytic summary of my philosophical system
- ~5 minute video teaser
- ~10-minute video introduction
- ~30-minute video presentation
- ~40-minute video presentation
- Brief introductory essay
- Essay discussing a few more nuances of my philosophy
- More elaborate, general essay
- Essay exploring implications of my philosophy
The references above provide a fair overview but are not complete. Many topics of crucial importance to my philosophical system are only addressed in the books, because they require the elaboration that only the book format allows for. Therefore, you will inevitably notice that the references above leave some gaps open. Please consider perusing the books before concluding that my system is incomplete or fails to address critical issues.
2 Refutations of criticisms of my philosophical system
Criticism is the engine of (self-)honesty, precision, accuracy, and truth. I welcome criticism and, in fact, deeply appreciate it. My character is such that I even enjoy sharp, incisive exchanges on content. That said, I cannot repeatedly and continuously address the same valid criticism every time a new person confronts me with it. There simply wouldn't be enough time or finger-power to do so. So if you confront me on social media with a criticism that I have already addressed before, chances are that I will refer you to this post and the sources below.
In essay 2.2 of my book Brief Peeks Beyond I've collected the 16 best materialist arguments against my philosophical system that I've come across over the years. That long and elaborate essay is, as of this writing, my best and most complete attempt to address criticisms. To give you an overview of the topics covered in it, I list below the 16 criticisms the essay refutes. If you find in this list the very criticism you want to confront me with, please consider perusing the essay first.
- Our sense perceptions provide direct evidence for a world outside consciousness.
- Because we cannot change reality by merely wishing it to be different, it’s clear that reality is outside consciousness.
- Because we are separate beings inhabiting the same external world, reality has to be outside consciousness.
- It is untenable to maintain that there is no reality independent of consciousness, for there is plenty of evidence about what was going on in the universe before consciousness evolved.
- It is not parsimonious to say that reality is in consciousness, because that would require postulating an unfathomably complex entity to be imagining reality.
- Reality is clearly not inside our heads, therefore monistic idealism is wrong.
- Monistic idealism is too metaphysical.
- There are strong correlations between brain activity and subjective experience. Clearly, thus, the brain generates consciousness.
- Unconscious brain activity precedes the awareness of certain decisions, showing a clear arrow of causation from purely material processes to experience.
- Because psychoactive drugs and brain trauma can markedly change subjective experience, it’s clear that the brain generates consciousness.
- During dreamless sleep, or under general anesthesia, we are clearly unconscious. Yet, we don’t cease to exist because we become temporarily unconscious. Obviously, then, reality cannot be in consciousness.
- The stability and consistency of the laws of physics show that reality is outside consciousness.
- To postulate a collective and obfuscated part of consciousness as the source of consensus reality is equivalent to postulating a reality outside consciousness.
- Why would consciousness deceive us by simulating a materialist world?
- Monistic idealism is solipsistic and, as such, unfalsifiable.
- One cannot prove that monistic idealism is true.
Buying the book just to have your criticism addressed may be too big a step for many of you, and understandably so. Therefore, I've also made freely available online several essays and videos in which I address a variety of criticisms. These are free and accessible immediately. Before asking me critical questions on social media, I thus ask that you at least look some of these up:
- Video refuting ten common criticisms of my philosophy
- A debate with renowned thinkers in which I refute several criticisms of my ideas
- An essay refuting five types of materialist circular reasoning
- A Q&A with materialists online
- A long Twitter exchange
- Four more refutations of common criticisms, in essay format (see second half of the essay)
I will gladly address your criticisms online if they haven't been covered earlier in the sources provided above. Otherwise, I will simply refer you to this post.
3 The right place for the right interaction
Here is a brief overview of how I use and manage each of my social media sites:
- Facebook, Google+ and Twitter: These are for announcements, sharing brief ideas and insights, some peeks into my personal life, and light-weight philosophical interaction with my readers. These are not places for in-depth philosophical discussions. I no longer accept private messages on Facebook for reasons I discussed in this post.
- My discussion forum: Here, in-depth philosophical questions, criticisms, suggestions, and alternative ideas (such as your own) can be addressed and debated. Readers can even submit their own essays for possible publication in my blog. There are a couple of hundred participants in this forum and many of them will be able to quickly react to your message in my absence. My personal participation in the forum is necessarily limited, but this is more than compensated for by the other regular forum participants. They are extremely knowledgable (some even scholarly so) and generous in their willingness to interact with new members. I trust you will find a vibrant and unique community here. Incise and sharp discussions on content are not only allowed but stimulated in the forum. It is moderated by Robert Clark (RHC).
- Comment section of each essay in my blog: This is the right place for in-depth philosophical questions or criticisms pertaining to the specific topic of the essay in question. This is not the place for general inquiries or criticisms. Incisive and sharp exchanges on content are also encouraged here.
- Comment section under YouTube videos: Light-weight questions and criticisms pertaining to the specific subject of the respective video are appropriate here. For more in-depth exchanges, please go to the forum. Normally it takes me a long time to answer comments on YouTube, for I prioritize Facebook, Twitter, the Forum and the Blog.
4 How I deal with 'trolls'
'Troll' is a rather derogatory term used to characterize people whose online behavior is disruptive and counter-productive. The term also has very negative connotations regarding the intent and motivations behind such behavior. I use the word 'troll' rather hesitantly, since I do not presume to always know or understand the motivations of these people. For all I know, most 'trolls' are actually sincere and well-meaning, in that they genuinely believe in the appropriateness and usefulness of their behavior. In fact, I know for sure of at least a couple such cases. From a practical perspective, however, the true underlying intent is rather irrelevant. Whatever their motivation, I am faced with the challenge of dealing with unreasonably demanding people who are impossible to satisfy, and whose actions can be unacceptably disruptive to my social media presence. Examples of such behavior are:
- The person repeatedly poses the same criticisms or questions while ignoring my answers.
- The person shows little interest in actually understanding my position, focusing instead on disparaging or 'debunking' it.
- The person focuses on my character rather than on the substance of my ideas.
- The person blows a minor point up to disproportionate heights and insists on bringing it up again and again, without closure.
- The person refuses to accept the citation of a separate source of information (like the links above) as an answer to criticism, expecting me to elaborate on my entire philosophical system from scratch and on the spot.
- The person floods my social media sites with lengthy diatribes repeating standard materialist positions.
- The person builds a straw-man by labeling me at least one of: religious theist, religious apologist, religious fundamentalist, New Age fruitcake, wishful-thinker, etc., and then proceeds to demolish the straw-man without bothering with what my philosophy actually entails.
- The person displays argumentative behavior that is purely rhetorical, lacking any substance. (Important notice: well-substantiated argumentative behavior is welcome in my sites!)
- The person displays abusive, disrespectful, or generally anti-social behavior towards me or others in my social media sites.
You get the gist. In all these cases, the nature of the interaction is such that nothing productive can be accomplished; there is nothing to be gained from it, so there is no reason to engage in it.
Now, this is a difficult situation to manage. My character is such that I cherish discussion, openness, criticism, and despise censorship. But 'troll-like' behavior is often too disruptive to tolerate. I do have a responsibility towards the other participants of my sites to maintain a civil, productive, pleasant online environment there. Therefore, users who display excessive behavior of the types described above will be banned.
It is admittedly hard to tell if a person really is a 'troll' or just sincerely passionate about the points he/she is raising. I have no doubt I have mistaken sincere and passionate debaters for 'trolls' in the past, which I regret. Be it as it may, one can only identify a 'troll' with confidence if one invests significant time interacting with him or her. But it is precisely this time that I no longer have. Therefore, I will have to make difficult and occasionally mistaken calls about what I consider 'troll-like' behavior in my social media sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter, my blog and my discussion forum. I apologize in advance if I mistake some well-meaning, passionate, incisive debaters for 'trolls.'
I hope this helps clarify things. Naturally, I am cognizant that this policy isn't optimal. But it is the best I could come up with to keep my online presence under control as the visibility of my work continues to grow. At the end of the day, of course, it is all about the ideas!