Apology to list

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 03/13/05-05:10:11 AM Z
Message-id: <42341F91.526D@pacifier.com>

Something happened to me in the last couple of days; I let some
insulting comments made by Ryuji get to me and take me to a place I
didn't need necessarily to go. Instead of trying to prove to him that he
was wrong about me in the insulting comments he made, which is always a
dubious enterprise, I should have simply ignored them as not worthy of a
response. But that's the thing about insults; they make you upset, they
make you a bit crazy, and that's why insults shouldn't be allowed here,
and aren't supposed to be allowed here. Sorry,

Katharine Thayer wrote:
> I should add, lest I be misunderstood, that it wasn't Chris's capital
> letters that made me think that perhaps this disagreement on issues was
> being seen as a battle between persons, but Ryuji's later accusation
> that my whole purpose in the boiling gelatin thread was to be
> confrontational with Chris, Sandy and Ryuji. This is just simply not the
> case, as I said, but I realized that it doesn't matter whether I see it
> that way, if he or they see it that way, then it will color his or their
> interpretation of everything I say or do and it will be raised to the
> level of a battle of factions or personalities, which I don't care to
> participate in.
> Katharine Thayer
> Katharine Thayer wrote:
> >
> > I'm taking some time out to put the finishing touches on some work that
> > has to be delivered this week, but this morning I had a blinding insight
> > that made me laugh out loud, that seemed worth sharing.
> >
> > It occurred to me that maybe I'm the only one here who expected this to
> > be like science, who thought our task here was to refine our collective
> > thinking about gum printing, and maybe that's why people sometimes get
> > upset when I proceed on the assumption that this is what we're about.
> >
> > Some comments come back to me from the past, comments from people
> > complaining that they can't ever share information on the list without
> > being contradicted, saying that they found the contradictions so
> > annoying that they were thinking of leaving the list. To me, this is
> > nonsensical. To me, the contradictions are how we discover the
> > limitations, or boundaries, of our inferences. If I ever said something
> > on the list and someone else had observations that contradicted what I
> > said, and they didn't say so, I would be very offended, because it would
> > breach the unspoken contract that I thought we had, that we're here to
> > figure stuff out together.
> >
> > For example, when I said that a hot size causes speckles, in my
> > experience, and Chris said that in her experience it doesn't, to my mind
> > we're not contradicting each other, at all. Both observations are valid,
> > and our task, if we really want to discover anything about gum printing,
> > is to consider under what conditions each observation holds. But what
> > doesn't make any sense to me is to make some kind of dogfight out of it,
> > to say that because Chris didn't get speckles with hot size on her
> > present paper, that means she wins and I lose, with CAPITAL LETTERS.
> > That makes no sense to me, and if this is going to be that kind of a
> > foodfight, count me out!
> >
> > How I see it is we figured out something interesting this week, that
> > hot size causes speckles on certain papers probably because the hot
> > liquid interferes with the factory sizing. I think that's important, and
> > I think we figured it out together, because it was just after I wrote
> > "maybe hot water would do the same thing" that I remembered Chris's old
> > picture, and it all came together for me.
> >
> > So perhaps it's just incompatible ideas about what we're doing here. I'm
> > willing to accept that and to consider that my expectations are out of
> > place here. To me, a list that was operating for a different purpose
> > wouldn't be as interesting a list, but if the majority of people would
> > prefer a list where no one ever contradicts anyone else's information or
> > inferences, then I probably don't belong here. I can't think what valid
> > purpose such a list would serve, other than giving sources for supplies
> > and workshop announcements and the like, but if that's what people want,
> > that's what they want, and I won't try to impose my preference for the
> > list being a forum for an active debate of issues. I have lots of energy
> > for an open debate of gum printing issues; I have no energy whatever for
> > fights over how the list operates or who gets to stay and who has to go,
> > and I have no energy at all for a list that's about factions one-upping
> > each other for no purpose but winning and driving off their opponents.
> >
> > Katharine Thayer
> >
> > Katharine Thayer wrote:
> > >
> > > I've been thinking about this for quite a while, and it seems to fit in
> > > the present context, so maybe this is the time to share it, since all
> > > I'm doing anyway today is sitting on the back steps thinking about how
> > > much I've given to this list and how little thanks and how much grief
> > > I've gotten for my trouble. Not that I expect thanks so much, although I
> > > have greatly appreciated the quiet thanks that many people have sent me
> > > privately, but what I don't expect is the gratuitous animosity and
> > > insinuations that make it difficult to see why it would be worth it to
> > > me to continue contributing here.
> > >
> > > What I've been thinking about for a while is that I have been surprised
> > > again and again by people who have taken my disagreement with them on
> > > issues, or my sharing of differing observations, as some kind of
> > > personal attack, which I simply don't understand. It seems a simple
> > > distinction to me: A personal attack is a personal attack (calling
> > > someone a misogynistic old fart would be a personal attack, for
> > > example) and is quite easy to differentiate from a disagreement on
> > > issues, which isn't personal. What's more, sharing differing
> > > observations is what scientific debate is all about.
> > >
> > > I've wondered if perhaps it's a difference in background. My background
> > > is in science: chemical, biological and social science, as well as
> > > statistics, where I learned a mode of professional interacting that
> > > seems to be unfamiliar here, perhaps. Where I come from, it would be
> > > considered rude and uncollegial, a breach of faith, if a colleague
> > > suggested an hypothesis he was entertaining or shared some findings and
> > > inferences he was drawing from those findings, and you knew of findings
> > > that didn't support your colleague's hypothesis or inference but didn't
> > > share those contradictory findings with your colleague so that he could
> > > use them to refine his thinking on the issue. Where I come from, the
> > > progress of knowledge is considered a group effort; we always cite those
> > > we have learned from and we progress in our understanding collectively
> > > by sharing our findings and speculations with each other. It's not
> > > considered "inconsistent" to adjust your understanding of an issue with
> > > the addition of new data or further thought; on the contrary it's
> > > considered the normal course of how science proceeds. There's no stigma
> > > attached to learning from observation and from thinking about and
> > > discussing those observations. Here, there apparently is, at least in
> > > one quarter. This, I don't understand.
> > >
> > > But there's another source of misunderstanding as well, and that's only
> > > come to me recently, after someone became very angry with me a few
> > > months ago during a discussion about CMYK vs RGB. I couldn't understand
> > > the anger, at all, but (oh dear, here I'll be doing what I said we
> > > shouldn't do, trying to discern what someone else is thinking, but I
> > > don't know how else to understand than to try to put myself in the other
> > > person's place) on reflction I decided that the anger might possibly
> > > stem from a mistaken belief that I was challenging or refuting his
> > > observations, which simply wasn't the case. What I was challenging was
> > > the conclusion he was drawing from his observations, which my own
> > > observations did not support, and so I was providing my observations
> > > simply to suggest that he might consider qualifying his conclusion. I
> > > thought this was obvious, but maybe it wasn't. And perhaps it's not
> > > clear to everyone that the observations and the inference or conclusion
> > > are two different things; one doesn't always follow from the other,
> > > especially when you're dealing with the kind of largely uninterpretable
> > > data that we're stuck with.
> > >
> > > At any rate, the goal on my part was simply to contribute to a dialogue
> > > that hopefully might further our collective understanding, and none of
> > > it was meant personally or felt personal to me until an outpouring of
> > > animosity directed very personally at me made it clear that for whatever
> > > reason, it was very personal on the other side. I don't mean to dwell on
> > > this particular example out of many possible examples, it's just that
> > > sometimes an example helps to illustrate what it is I'm talking about.
> > >
> > > The point being that if people think I'm out to get them every time I
> > > disagree with them or share contradictory observations, then there's
> > > always going to be these upsetting arguments that make my stomach hurt
> > > and sometimes make me take time out from the list for short or longer
> > > periods because being here doesn't feel good (I'm pretty tough but I'm
> > > not as tough as some of you seem to assume I am) and because I'm afraid
> > > that if I stay I will lose it and start spluttering and sounding
> > > ridiculous. (Sometimes I haven't left fast enough, unfortunately).
> > >
> > > But if people would assume, as I try to assume of everyone, that the
> > > purpose for everyone here is to collectively figure out what's going on
> > > with our processes, and if we could all agree as a matter of principle
> > > that all observations are valid and that no one here is stupid, and that
> > > we're all in this together, then maybe we could actually make some
> > > progress toward understanding some things about gum printing. It's just
> > > a thought, and no doubt I'll be shouted down again for my trouble, but
> > > it seemed important to say it anyway.
> > >
> > > Katharine Thayer
Received on Sun Mar 13 13:06:03 2005

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