Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some Rules of Philosophy Q&A

The later contributions to the "Absent Keynoters" thread get my gears going... Why is there so much bad conference behavior, especially during the q&a period? It seems that at almost every session I've been to of late, there's some jackass who didn't listen to the paper or didn't understand it, but nevertheless wants to 'make a comment' or 'share an observation' about it. These "comments" and "observations" are rarely to the point, and the pointlessness is most often directly proportionate to the length of time the questioner takes to articulate them.

First Rule of Philosophy Q&A: ASK A FUCKING QUESTION AND BE CONCISE.

And then there's the widespread attitude according to which follow ups are always permissible, as long as you preface it with an assurance that it will be quick. Is it me, or do most "quick follow ups" simply restate the original question?

Second Rule of Philosophy Q&A: DO NOT FOLLOW UP UNLESS (1) YOUR FOLLOW UP REALLY IS QUICK, (2) YOU HAVE SOMETHING NEW TO ADD, AND (3) THERE'S LIKELY TO BE SUFFICIENT TIME FOR ALL QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR .

Others?

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please, stop prefacing your questions with drawn-out compliments. It's not useful for the speaker, and it's tiresome for the audience. Get to the point. A philosopher is happy when the audience is after her like a thief.

Anonymous said...

Third Rule of Philosophy Q & A: Do not monopolize 7 minutes of the Q & A at a talk at the APA Central, and then get up and loudly leave the room before the Q & A is over.

Anonymous said...

Whereof one cannot state one's question without also prefacing it with a summary of your latest book or your dissertation and/or some far fetched counter-example story, thereof just fucking skip asking it.

Anonymous said...

This requires some practical wisdom, because sometimes one probably should crush the presenter, but one should also recognize when the presenter has no good reply, or has given the best reply possible, and let it go. Don't gloat, don't cram one's superior point down everyone's throat. If it's a good point, everyone already gets it. Getting huffy and incredulous and repeating the point until the presenter urinates his/her pants is bad form.

Unless they deserve it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with 10:23-- the "thanks for the paper" or "I really enjoyed your talk" is useless and time-wasting. Let the fact that the audience applauded after the paper stand as sufficient indication that everyone's grateful for the speaker having delivered the paper. Then get on with the question.

Anonymous said...

10:44:

By what standard is '"thanks for the paper" or "I really enjoyed your talk"' a drawn-out compliment?

Srsly.

Anonymous said...

11:32,

10:44 didn't say it's "drawn out," only that it's useless and time-wasting. And it is.

Anonymous said...

Its not about YOU!

Your aim should be to help the speaker improve his/her paper - or come to appreciate it should be binned.

Anonymous said...

I only say thanks if it is a really good paper. So that's once or twice a year then. It doesn't therefore waste much time in the overall scheme of things, and it is nice to show your apprecation to someone who has done something really worthwhile, and who has really benefited you.

Anonymous said...

the "thanks for the paper" or "I really enjoyed your talk" is useless and time-wasting.

Sorry, but that sounds absolutely ridiculous. I agree that some people preface their questions with too many accolades about the paper. But merely saying 'thanks for the paper' takes, what, three seconds? Is time-management during Q&A sessions really so fine-tuned that three seconds for a compliment is considered excessive?

Euthyphronics said...

At a conference last year, some friends and I started compiling a list of "rules" for Q&A, stemming from violations we witnessed. A lot of them here were on the list (although we never banned a quick "thanks for your talk"). Others included:

1. Don't apologize for your question/stay how stupid your question is probably going to be and ask it anyway.

2. Don't pretend you are merely asking a clarificatory question when you really think you have a knock-down objection.

3. (As mentioned above:) if it's clear the speaker doesn't have a good response to a question, stop asking it.

4. A corollary to 3: if someone asks the really good question you were going to ask, you don't need to make a big point about how you were going to ask that very same question when you're up. Just bow out and give someone else a chance.

And the list went on... But we found at some point that the rules could more-or-less be "derived". Gricean fashion, from two meta-rules:

A. Keep the discussion focused on trying to get at the truth --- not on the people (egos) involved.

B. Be considerate.

I'm thinking these two meta-rules sum it all up -- but are there others I might be missing?

Anonymous said...

The first rule of Philosophy Q&A is, you do not talk about Philosophy Q&A.

(The seventh rule is that if it is your first Philosophy Q&A, you have to ask a question.)

Let's get back to bitching about the APA and waxing nostalgic about the real punk of days gone by.

Anonymous said...

If what you're going to do is ramble on for quite a while and then say, after several minutes, "so, I guess my question is...", wait a bit before asking and see if you can formulate a more coherent question, perhaps starting with the part you were going to put at the end of the long ramble. (I should say that I sometimes violate this rule.)

Also, if time is running low and there are several people waiting to ask questions, even if you have "two questions" or "a question and a comment", just ask whichever question you think is better.

Anonymous said...

Something of the flip-side, but relevant:

As a *presenter*, do not end your response to a question with: "does that answer your question?" or "is that what you were getting at?"

It's the very, very rare case where the egos involved and the quality of the answer combine so that the answer is "yes." As a result, these questions lead to what looks a lot like an 'instant replay,' with the whole back-and-forth repeating itself...

I hate that.

PA said...

Aren't these suggestions all sub-maxims of an overarching super-maxim: Don't be a dick?

Anonymous said...

Team 10:44. "Thanks for the paper" is an empty gesture. Get on with the objections.

Anonymous said...

You hit upon the aspect I hate most about philosophy conferences. Q&A really means lets try to destroy this guys work--unless we are trying to kiss ass with Big-Wig in the field.

I was shocked at the first couple of non-philosophy conferences where I got to present. Imagine my horror when I discovered that no one read their paper...they talked about their research and the main themes of the paper. People either read the paper on their own before the talk or asked for a copy afterwards. Second moment of horror was when the Q&A session turned into a "How can we help you?" group therapy. You mean you want to talk about the good and bad points of the paper? You want to point out how to strengthen the arguments or conclusions?

This is how other fields behave?

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for the paper" actually strikes me as a nice gesture, like "please" "thanks for comming" etc.

I don't know how anyone can get bent out of shape about that one way or another


On the other hand long prefaces to questions are extremely annoying and do eat up valuable time. Usually one can ask a question quickly and, before asking, its good to try to think up a good way of doing so.

This might not be as much of a problem now as it used to be, but presenters also have to limit their paper to the alloted time. Make your argument. You don't need to go into all the permutations a published piece would--that's what the discussion is for.

Anonymous said...

PA writes: Aren't these suggestions all sub-maxims of an overarching super-maxim: Don't be a dick?

Ethics in a box.

chrono said...

I worry that for most questioners I've seen, following Spiros' second rule invariably leads to violating the first rule. If people can't ask follow-ups, they will ask a question of the form, "Do you think that p, and if you do, how do you reconcile it with the fact that you said q, and I think I know what you're going to say; you're going to say r, but if you say r, then aren't you committed to s, and isn't s inconsistent with p?" I've seen such questions, and they're not pretty. I'd rather have someone ask, "Do you think that p?" and if the presenter does, ask the follow-up(s). There's always the off-chance that she doesn't, and we can move on having saved 6 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I think the second rule is too weak. Philosophers so abuse the follow-up that we should be forced to give them up, cold turkey. I propose that follow-ups be off limits unless specifically asked for by the presenter.

Dr. Killjoy said...

Until session chairs grow spines, the nonsense will continue--the school kids act like idiots or shitheels largely to the extent that the playground monitor lets them do so.

Anonymous said...

Avoid the introduction which details the reasons the questioner came to be in the room today. For example, it is not recommended to begin the question with: ‘I came to your paper because thought your title was a joke [since I’m employed as a professional philosopher but I’ve never heard the term ‘sortal’ before. And I find the word funny.]’

Having said that, philosophers are not the worse offenders, in my experience. I give papers to audiences in another academic field in the humanities and have less constructive interaction in discussion. There’s few questions: comments are more common, especially the ‘I think I remember reading someone in the secondary literature who disagrees with you’ comment. There’s seldom an objection to the argument of the paper: just expressions of disagreement with its conclusion.

Anonymous said...

Consistent or inconsistent with the rules of Q&A:

Asking a tough question of the commentator when the questions have basically run their course and relatively senior commentator was criticizing young kid who was clearly scared crapless for not defending an absurd position that belonged to the commentator. (This isn't a situation where the commentator was behaving badly, just where the kid is clearly drowning and was being slaughtered by someone who was saying silly things to someone just too scared to fight back because he couldn't handle being in front of a crowd or standing up to a senior philosopher.)

Anonymous said...

@9:26 PM

Definitely within bounds. I once saw a fucking bigshot waltz in having not even giving comments in advance to the person on whom he was commenting at an APA colloquium. The speaker, no idiot but a very young guy, was shaky in his response but seemed to be on the right track. In my view, blaze away at the big shot and make him look like the tool he is.

Anonymous said...

@10:44pm

I'm not Anon9:26, but I can't help but wonder: were you at my talk at the Pacific last year?

Anonymous said...

my experience is that most philosophers, like most humans, can be idiots once ego and disaply is involved...

most questions are about the asker demonstrating something - rarely based on genuine interest.......

and - - keep it short - always - becuase life is short, and there is rarely any point...

Modal Pontiff said...

Best question ever: I'm very interested in your project...but how does it relate to Heidegger's notion of being?

I gave a pretty straight forward analytic paper on Parmenides and got this question. The question "How does this relate to Levinas' project?" has become an inside joke at my program now.

These kinds of questions can be the most annoying, usually given by those people who just need to say something rather than have something to say.

A good rule to curb such questions: If the presenter has gone over your head or went a different direction then you expected the talk to go, do not feel your intelligence has been threatened. You're smart too, but not everyone in the room needs to know it.

Anonymous said...

@1:50 AM:

No, I was not there. But the experience is universal, so I may as well have.

Anonymous said...

"The question "How does this relate to Levinas' project?" has become an inside joke at my program now."
Perhaps, but the deeper question that I think you've missed is how your analytic "joke" itself relates to Levinas' project in its otherness?

Anonymous said...

I find these posts very interesting. And I want to thank you for bringing them up. Very thought-provoking. In fact, they remind me of a Levinasian critique of Heidegger, according to which Being is the unrepresentable condition, rather than the represented object, of Thought. Just to clarify, though, I wonder why you didn’t make more of that point. And, to ‘piggyback’ off of what the last guy probably said while I was thinking of my own point, I think you totally neglected to discuss the Q&A practice at the RC28 conference on Social Stratification: there, the custom is to show why the variables are endogenous. Assuming you agree with my first point, I wonder if you could discuss how it relates to my second – just by way of clarification, I mean. I know some of us are VERY confused about that. Then, we’ll be ready for my question.

Spiros said...

Anon 8:04,

Genius.

But surely such an "analytic" joke (because even humor conforms to a dying tradition's way of partitioning the discipline, and proponents of that tradition never laugh at themselves, which in part is why it's dying) has it's own meta-retort? Because the meta-level is always where the real philosophy gets done....

Stinky the Stagirite said...

I was at a conference recently where the commentator said the stuff that got the audience riled up. The first four questions were directed *at him*. The presenter was not pleased. Commentator finally asked us (meaning my fellow audience members) to direct our questions to the person who wrote the paper. So, perhaps, another rule:

Make comments at the session on the paper given at the session, not on the comments at the session. Save those on the comment for the bar, later.

Stinky the Stagirite said...

Oh, and meta- is always betta!

Anonymous said...

Nope - the meta-level is where philosophers disappear up their own backsides...

Anonymous said...

"PA said...
Aren't these suggestions all sub-maxims of an overarching super-maxim: Don't be a dick?"

Seems more like they amount to: avoid conferences, everyone there is a dick, especially the question-session rulemakers. Don't take 1 second to say thanks? Don't ask if your reply was on point (not with an intention of starting over again if not, but to show you tried, you gave a shit)? Who's a dick, again?

Anyway, if the rule is "don't be a philosopher and a dick," you've got a potential ought implies not logically contradictory problem.

Anonymous said...

There's the type of question that goes: "I've listened to you talk about your views for an hour, now I want to talk about my views."

Or "Let's go back and forth ten or more times to see if you can help me actually come up with a question."

My rule (which I only break sometimes) is one follow-up. I think that does often advance the discussion, but more than one quickly becomes a waste of time.

Nada Cabani said...

Actually, I have no comments. I just wanted to be the first *non* anonymous commentator on this post...just couldn't resist! :-)

Anonymous said...

Actually, it seems to me that question-asking behavior has gotten better at APA sessions than it used to be. Ask an internal question and then shut-up. Twenty years ago I was just amazed at the lunacy I witnessed at APA meetings.

Rowan said...

The first rule needs to be: Display or state whatever the rules are immediately before the Q&A begins.

If the consternation is so universal, then I think it makes sense to set the Q&A's ground rules so everyone is informed.

Although that would take a lot of guts as opposed to Anonymous postings in a blog.

Anonymous said...

One question that often arises is something like (not this extreme, though): "yeah, but all this assumes there's an external world; how do you know that?"

(Assume that the presentation was not about proving the existence of an external world.)

--Rob

Anonymous said...

When people begin their question with "Thanks for the paper!" or "I really loved your paper!" I always cringe. These are examples of exclamations that don't mean what they literally say. What they mean is (roughly) "I am the etiquette monitor and I am here to remind you that question time in philosophy papers is far too hostile, so let's all try to be nice to one another this time." At that point I feel embarrassed for all concerned, especially the speakers, who rarely need the help of the people who say these things, and who, when they do, would much rather have it in the form of a useful distinction or an extra argument.

Spiros said...

For what it's worth,

I'm also with those who think that the "thanks for the paper" preface is unnecessary-- yes, it's not a huge time-sink, but it's nonetheless unnecessary. The applause is sufficient to express gratitude. And often it seems patronizing in the way 8:23 indicates. Just ask a good question...

Michael Drake said...

Incredulous stare.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this comment will invite some ugly responses, but, anyway, I actually think most of the comments on here are more disagreeable and obnoxious than any of the behaviors they concern. Most of these complaints come off as extremely pretentious and trivial, while most of the behaviors they regard strike me as rather innocuous or, at worst, a little tiring. I mean, it's more unpleasant to hear someone bitch about the sort of questions people ask at conferences than the questions themselves (including the ones that do seem a little silly or unnecessary). Indeed, it seems rather puritanical and tight-assed to demand people adhere to strict guidelines of efficiency and relevance at a conference talk (by the way, you'll only confirm you do have an unpleasant personality if you pretend to not know what I mean or instead accuse me of being puritanical and tight-assed, because I'm responding to bitchy acerbic moralizing about silly--but mostly morally neutral---behavior, rather than the largely morally neutral---even if a little silly---behavior at conferences that evidently enrages this crowd...just anticipating the usual uncharitable douchebag of the thread. now fire away.).

Justin Kalef said...

Anon 11:10, I acknowledge that there may be something in what you say about the character of some previous posters; but I do think that the general thrust of the thing so far is on the right track. You find it more unpleasant to read these complaints about Q & A behaviour than to endure the Q & A behaviour itself -- fair enough. But then again, you didn't need to read these comments in order to achieve any further end: you could have closed this page at any moment. The case is qute different at APA sessions, since those of us who attend them often wish to engage in the discussion or, at the very least, would like to see how the presenter responds to relevant questions. That's the big benefit, as I see it, to attending a session rather than reading the paper at home.

People who attend APA sessions typically travel great distances to do so. Once the paper has been read, the commentary has been given, and the Q & A period has begun, there are typically (in my experience) only about ten minutes for discussion. If John Q. Jackass wants to take up four or five minutes of that time violating one of the taboos mentioned here, and is followed by Jane Q. Jackass who violates another one, then little or no time will be left for anything else to happen. On the other hand, if the protocols set out by many people here were followed, those precious ten minutes could be a far more rewarding experience for all involved.

Given all that, I don't see the problem with these comments.

Anonymous said...

justin kalef, i probably wasn't explicit enough in my post. i appreciate that it's rude and inconsiderate of someone to, say, dominate Q&A at the expense of other attendees. i was responding more to complaints about things like thanking the presenter. These bratty sort of comments betray an obnoxious everyone-must-accomodate-my-every-whim sort of attitude, which I find rather repugnant.

Anonymous said...

Spiros 8:41,

"I'm also with those who think that the "thanks for the paper" preface is unnecessary-- yes, it's not a huge time-sink, but it's nonetheless unnecessary. The applause is sufficient to express gratitude."

Let's grant the purpose of saying "thank you" is to express gratitude (as you imply). Well then, you're right: saying "thank you" isn't necessary to express that. instead, it's sufficient. but then, applause isn't necessary to express that either; it's also only sufficient. so then, we shouldn't do that either? i'm guessing not, but then what's really the problem with saying "thank you"? is it that it's not the most efficient way to express gratitude? what we should we do, just smile at the presenter for a millisecond after they're done? why should we think we need to be this efficient. what on earth is the gain? all this excitement over thank yous seems petty and overblown.

Anonymous said...

3:25: I think Spiro's comment should be read as saying this:
"Applauding is sufficient for expressing gratitude and does not come across as patronizing.
Prefacing a question with 'Thanks for your paper!' is sufficient to express gratitude but does come across as patronizing.
So applaud and don't preface your question with 'Thanks for your paper!'"
Sounds like good advice to me.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to continue this idiotic non-debate, but ignoring idiocy never ends it, so...

Applause is customary and indicates the formal, relatively meaningless, gratitude of the room at large. So it isn't a sufficient measure of gratitude by the room (it's expected by everyone for every paper, indicating no gratitude) and it isn't in any way a measure of individual gratitude.

I think the best efficiency measure would be to cut the talks and the questions, and just have the applause. It would be a better use of everyone's time. In any case, the occasional thank you's are a nice counterbalance to the general dickishness of conference-goers.

But dear god forbid that such a little tiny glimmer of human decency among academics be tolerated.

You all deserve one another.

Spiros said...

Anon 11:25 writes:

"But dear god forbid that such a little tiny glimmer of human decency among academics be tolerated."

Nice! You've succeeded in ignoring the issue despite yourself! You've missed the point entirely, and, given how simple this particular point is, you've give good evidence for thinking you're the idiot on this thread. No wonder you think the discussion is idiotic-- you don't understand it. Good job!

Now, let's take this slowly. No one is arguing that "little tiny glimmers of human decency" are bad. The question is whether the practice in question can plausibly be regarded as involving "little tiny glimmers of human decency" at all. Let me repeat that so even you won't miss it. The question is this: is taking time out of a q&a period to state that you're grateful, after you've already expressed your gratitude, plausibly regarded as a "little tiny glimmer of human decency."

And here's one side's view: In a room filled with people who want to ask questions, adding an extra 5 to 10 seconds to express unnecessary (because already expressed) pleasantries is rude and patronizing. It's rude to the others who are in the queue for a question. (When such "tiny glimmers" of rudeness become the norm, people who want to ask questions will be shut out.)
And it's often patronizing to the speaker: if you liked the paper, ask me a good question; whether you "liked" the paper and want personally to thank me for it is irrelevant.

How about going away now?

Anonymous said...

"The question is this: is taking time out of a q&a period to state that you're grateful, after you've already expressed your gratitude"

To repeat:
"Applause is customary and indicates the formal, relatively meaningless, gratitude of the room...and it isn't in any way a measure of individual gratitude."

So the relevant question was addressed; you simply ignored it: "after you've already expressed your gratitude" is a contested claim.

For what it's worth: the only people who find a 1 second (not 5 or 10) statement of thanks to be patronizing are disfunctionally insecure people, of the sort this business intentionally manifactures in spades.

So perhaps, out of deference to the psychological disabilities of the field, your position is a reasonable one after all.

Anonymous said...

If, as you say, applause is customary and meaningless, why should anyone take the "thanks for the paper" to be any different?

Spiros said...

Anon 1:53,

More off-the-point nonsense mixed with an off-the-cuff derogatory pseudo-psychological diagnosis of those who disagree. Excellent move! No need to argue when you can simply declare those who oppose you "disfunctionally insecure"!

How about going away now?

Jen Falutski said...

Spiros, I agree with your view, but you're now just being an asshole. There's no call for bringing this discussion down to the level of pre-pubescent glibness and sneering.

Justin Kalef said...

On the subject of being patronizing, here's something I've seen only a couple of times (thank goodness) but that nonetheless left quite an impression. Some self-satisfied graybeard sits through a couple of questions to let the rank-and-file have their chance, and then, when called upon, says something like the following with a benevolent, paternal air: "Your paper did a good job of raising an interesting issue. I think that you have effectively identified what the problem is, and why your audience should be concerned about it. There are only a couple of points to work on. Here they are:..."

I know that, on the account I just gave, there is some (almost certainly needless) 'thanking' going on, but that's not what I have in mind as most obnoxious here. Rather, it's the fact that the greybeard seems to think that he's teaching some sort of course, and that the presenter is his student. Actually, I wonder whether this is the sort of thing that many of the people who objected to thanking had in mind when they talked about its being patronizing.

My protocol suggestions are as follows:
1. The only way to participate legitimately in a Q & A is as an equal, down on all fours with the presenter. It's inappropriate to throw down comments from any high horse, no matter what you thought of the paper.
2. Q & A comments should never be indistinguishable from a commentary you might give in an evaluation on the work of one of your undergraduate students.

Spiros said...

Jen Falutski,

I'm sorry... maybe you think I'm oversensitive, but I do tend to take issue with someone who in effect calls me and idiot, and then explicitly says I'm "disfunctionally insecure," all in a forum which belongs to me and which I in no way have forced anyone to participate. How about I come to your house and say similar things to you? Would it be wrong for you to ask me to leave? I think not.

Thanks for your support of the view, though.

Jen Falutski said...

I don't think the two cases are sufficiently similar, Spiros. By opening up this forum for discussion, you seem to be tacitly inviting others to post their views, whether in agreement or not. Anonymous posted some views that disagree with yours, and gave reasons for doing so. He/she then (with some legitimacy, perhaps) claimed that you had not dealt with those reasons in your response. True, he/she said some rude things; but then again, so did you. Under the circumstances, asking Anonymous to leave in a snarky manner seems antithetical to the ostensible purposes of opening up a blog for comments.

I have not opened up my house for people to come and comment on things, so that case is not relevantly analogous.

Spiros said...

Jen Falutski,

The issue is not that the relevant Anon disagrees with my view about anything-- that's of course OK. But one can disagree without name-calling and armchair psychological-diagnostic insults. So, yes, the forum is open for argument and other comments, but I will not tolerate certain kind of insult.

The case is relevantly similar to the house case if we add a few details that I'd taken for granted: You invite me over for dinner. Then I start calling you an idiot (see Anon's 11:25, which began this), and saying that you hold the views that you do only because you're "disfunctionally insecure." That goes beyond disagreement. It in effect says that there is *no* disagreement, because there is no intelligent opponent (viz. the purported opponent needs simply to be diagnosed, not answered). Now, it's ok-- some people are jerks, and it's not a big deal all things considered. But surely you'd be well within your rights to ask me to leave your home.

Jen Falutski said...

Anon 11:25 said that he/she felt that the discussion was idiotic, and a non-debate. That isn't the same as calling you an idiot. And I think it would be difficult for you to deny that the general tone of your discussion is already acrimonious, so that Anon 11:25's saying this seems even less out of line.

Personally, if I had invited some people to my house for dinner and a debate, and set up that debate along polemical lines, and was then told by one of my guests that he/she thought that the discussion was an idiotic non-debate, I would not ask the person to leave my house. And if someone did do that, I would find that sort of action inappropriate and not very conducive to the spirit of free discussion.

Obviously, you're free to run your thread as you desire; but it seems to me at least that you're being unfair here. If that's sufficient for you to ask me to leave as well, then so be it.

Polly Anna said...

I like when people say thanks for my paper at the beginning of their question, when it comes off as sincere. I'm usually not paying attention to any applause after my talk, but I'm often nervous. The sincere "thanks" helps me relax a bit: the question that's coming is intended as helpful, rather than as an attack.

I also like it when someone points out what they like about the paper. I'm usually presenting a paper I want to improve, and knowing what's (perceived as) good is useful, just like knowing what's contentious.

Dan said...

Maybe we have to be 'particularist' about the expression of thanks. You have to look at the particular situation, and respond appropriately. As Polly Anna shows, sometimes it is right to sincerely thank (and I can think of other times, for example when a good paper has been subject to unreasonably hostile criticism or when no one seems to get the paper). Other times it may be redundant. Perhaps we have to do without a rule on this one.

By the way, I would put more strongly the criticism of the claim that applause is an expression of gratitude. Applause is generally no expression of gratitude at all. People clap usually out of good manners, or as a habitual response to the end of a paper, rather than as an expression of thanks. Do you only clap when you are grateful for a paper? How often do you simply refuse to clap?

Anonymous said...

In reply to March 17, 2pm:
I think it's different since people don't always say thanks for the paper, whereas they always applaud - so less customary and meaningless.

Spiros,
As Jen suggested, I really did mean the debate was idiotic, not any individuals on either side. I was too combative but, really, isn't it -- to put it differently -- a funny or silly debate? Imagine, e.g., saying thanks to the bank teller at the bank, and everyone in line behind you getting into a heated debate over it.

I suppose the disfunctionally insecure comment was also unnecessarily snide. It was intended as a semi-serious, semi-humorous (albeit intentionally-mean) diagnosis of the industry in general, myself included. Again, not directed at you in particular.

I overreacted to what I took to be excessive hostility toward people guilty of a relatively minor crime: having the gall to thank someone for their paper before asking a question. To put it differently, I thought I saw pretty jerkish behavior that could use some counterjerk balance. Maybe a misjudgment.

That said, I still don't think the substantive debate has been settled: thanks are excessive only if applause has already done the work, which I still say it hasn't done.

I'd also like to remind people of the bigger picture: given that the major time-sucking device among questioners is pontificating, beating around the bush, and having lengthy followups, wouldn't taking care of those issues make the no-thanks rule unnecessary? Priorities, you know.

Anonymous said...

If truth is good and evil is the truth (as the bible say both are) is evil then by defaul (i guess) good.