Saturday, June 10, 2006


Facts are the building blocks of ideas; ideas are the building blocks of concepts; concepts are the building blocks of beliefs, views, opinions, and ideologies. It is impossible to have a rock solid opinion, belief, or view without accurate facts, clear ideas based on the facts, and clear concepts based on consistent ideas.

Last week I was told by a writer/blogger that the type of comments I leave at his site made him feel like I was only concerned with nitpicking his pieces. Therefore, he didn’t care to respond to my type of challenges. He assured me he wanted dialogue, but he didn’t want to get dragged into a vortex of challenging each other’s facts. He felt like my challenges were a hindrance to his ability to focus on what he was trying to achieve with his writing at his blog.

I don’t know that dialogue is possible without challenges to facts. If you say you are a Methodist and I say I am a Presbyterian, we don’t have dialogue. We may have learned something knew about each other, and we may have the start of a relationship, and we may even have a starting point for dialogue, but we still don’t have dialogue until we reach a point of disagreement in regards to some facts. There is no “iron sharpening iron” until and without challenges to the building blocks of beliefs.

“I am a Democrat” - “I am a Republican”, is not dialogue. “I am a Democrat because Democrats care about the poor” - “I am a Republican because the Republicans actually help the poor”, still is not dialogue. “I am a Democrat because Democrats care about the poor by creating government programs to assist the poor” - “I am a Republican because the Republicans actually help the poor by reducing taxes and government regulations”, is getting close to being dialogue, but it is still missing the challenge that is needed for dialogue. Up until this point, we have only made statements of belief. Dialogue begins when the Democrat challenges the Republican to demonstrate how reducing taxes has helped the poor and the Republican challenges the Democrat to demonstrate how government programs have helped the poor. Through the challenges, we may both reconsider the possible fallacy to our belief.

I like getting comments on my site and I like most of the people who comment, but I especially like the challenges I get from Hammer and Derek. Both of these men have impeccable integrity to go along with a professional ability to nitpick. I still have a long way to go, but I think I am a clearer thinker as a result of the challenges I have received from Hammer, Derek, and others. Without their challenges, I may have been able to improve my writing skills, but I would not have been able to improve my thinking or my communication skills.

Although I have a high tolerance for being nitpicked, it seems like most writers are offended when they are challenged. I don’t know why I like it and others don‘t, but it probably has something to do with being contrarian. I can see where nitpicking can go too far when criticism becomes the stubborn repeating of the same debatable point. Several months ago I had to tell an old friend to leave me alone. We couldn’t have a conversation without him claiming that “Bush Lied”. Of course I don’t believe President Bush lied to convince Americans of the need for war or even if he did lie regarding a few facts it would change what needed to be done. My friend is certainly entitled to an opinion and he is entitled, even encouraged, to express his opinion to me. However, he should have realized that at some point, I did not agree with his facts and it was time for him to give it a rest.

Occasionally I may cross the line of what is acceptable and I may become obnoxious. I hope my friends will honestly let me know when I have gone too far without telling me to leave them alone. I also hope all of my readers will nitpick with all of their energy and ability because I do still have a long way to go in writing and thinking clearly.


Hammertime said...

Thanks for the compliment, David.

I have found that the vast majority of bloggers merely want to throw out their opinion and listen to cheerleaders. When one asks intelligent questions about the premises, evidence, or conclusions, they are called "divisive" or "looking for a fight". If you press after that, the name calling begins, especially "judgmental".

Of course, after someone calls you judgmental, what will immediately follow is a torrent of judgment upon you!

I appreciate your comments as well - I was kind of disappointed that you didn't really comment during my "Grace Revealed" series. Iron sharpens iron!

As far as those who want only cheerleaders, I'm afraid we have to recognize that when iron meets with mush, it just cuts right through it and leaves it as cut up mush!

David M. Smith said...

Hi Hammer,

Wow, I think you are right. People desire affirmation, not criticism. I don’t like criticism, but I need criticism to grow. I also need to know when to take criticism to heart and when to ignore criticism. I don’t know any other way to grow to maturity other than having to deal with criticism. People who don’t want to be criticized seem immature to me.

I read all of your grace revealed series. I even looked for places to insert a comment [I can’t help myself], but I never felt sufficiently knowledgeable to comment. I mostly agreed with what you wrote, but I did not feel as strongly as you.

Good to see you took a short Sunday break for blogging.

"Cut up mush" is soooo true.

Anonymous said...

Last week for leaving comments that challenge you get called a "nitpicker".
This week for leaving comments that challenge I get called a a man of "impeccable integrity" with a " professional ability to nitpick." And get put in the company of the Hammer to boot.

Thank you for making this week much better for me than last week was made for you. And at this point I'd be a fool not to agree with Hammer: some bloggers walk on the field not to play defense and offense, but only to score with the cheerleaders.

Derek(your endorsement check is in the mail)Simmons

PS: I used Bloglines new "search" feature to look up a couple of your challenges. I guess the subject writer/blogger