Why intelligent people are walking away from the discussion.

Update: After you read the comments here head over to Netscape where there are a bunch of folks discussing this post.

I love intelligent discussions.

I love to debate complex issues.

However, I hate politics because every time you try to have any kind of intelligent debate the folks from way out on the left and right immediately get personal and start calling each other idiots. The facts are lost, the screaming gets even more intense, and the smart people leave. That’s why so many smart people have left the discussion–the screaming.

Imagine a dinner party for a dozen people. Imagine two of the guests are on the extreme ends of an issue and they start screaming across the table at each other in the middle of a group discussion. What would the other 10 do? Well, they might first try to find some common ground and tone down the volume a little bit, but if the screaming persists what do they do? They get up and go to the other room and have a civil discussion. That’s the logical thing to do when people get in a screaming match: walk away.

That’s what’s happened online clearly. I don’t know that people would debate like this in person, certainly they wouldn’t be as hostile. As we all know the Internet takes a filter or three away from people, and the result is the online screaming match is 10x more intense then the dinner party one. People not only walk away from the online debate they think the people in it at idiots.

Yesterday I wrote a simple blog post about why the right hasn’t embraced social news. I gave some logical thoughts on why they might not be embracing it. What happens 15 minutes later? The screamers show up and start calling each other crooks, liars, and idiots. Great job screamers: you just pushed the intelligent people away again.

I have a suggestion for the screamers: why don’t you guys tone it down and try to bring some more people into the discussion? Why don’t you consider both sides of the argument? Why don’t you try and argue the other sides position for a bit? That’s what intelligent people do: consider all sides of an issue.

The screaming is ruining the dinner party for the rest of us.