Robert’s Rules operates under the idea of majority rule while still acknowledging and respecting minority opinion. The system of debate allows for this by ensuring equal speaking opportunities from all sides.
The application of parliamentary law is the best method yet devised to enable assemblies of any size, with due regard for every member’s opinion, to arrive at the general will on the maximum number of questions of varying complexity in a minimum amount of time and under all kinds of internal climate ranging from total harmony to hardened or impassioned division of opinion. [Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised [RONR (11th ed.), Introduction, p. liii]
There are three pragmatic principles at work here. First, debate is limited. Since different individuals will have different levels of access to a body, such as control of a newsletter or speaking opportunities, it is important to have the debate about a specific question constrained and confined to a well defined session following agreed up on rules. This is a problem when on line or email based discussions are happening, because those rules are hard to apply or comprehend, let alone enforce.
Second, there is the idea of majority rule. This seems obvious, but in fact, many decisions are made by subsets of individuals with more power than others, or subsets of individuals with access to the decision making machinery. It is not reasonable to assume, however, that majority rule is best (see below) in all cases.
Third, the voices of the minority, which are often not defined at the beginning of a debate, are protected. If a majority emerges early in consideration of an issue, and the minority lacks this protection, the majority is likely to prevail before deliberation is complete. It is not uncommon for minority opinion to prevail after after a fair discussion.
Majority opinion is not always the best when an issue for debate comes before a body that has been carefully considered by a trusted and representative subset of the body. It is not uncommon for the larger body to reify, or replicate the work done by the smaller group, but with less expertise and less time, and thus reject the opinions or recommendations of the subgroup, where those recommendations were actually superior to the larger group’s opinion. For this reason, I recommend that subcommittees or study groups avoid presenting the larger group with unordered options unless full deliberation and debate is expected. Within the context of rules of order, a strong and trusted chair might call for some sort of consensus vote on an issue and hear the “Yeahs” and “Nays” rather than allow extensive discussion, but that power can be abused and therefore, there are rules that would easily stop it from happening, thus giving lie to the “strong and trusted” assumption.
Note, however, that in order for rules of order to function, they have to be followed from beginning to end of a process, for obvious reasons.
So, for rules of order to work, the following is recommended:
1) Pick Robert’s Rules from among the various available rule sets that exist, because they are the most widely known.
2) Read the book. If nobody knows the rules, using them isn’t going to work.
3) Make every part of the process operate under the rules. This means using the rules as the default, and it means making sure that important steps (like voting, handling motions, etc) are clearly defined with respect to procedure.
4) Follow the rules carefully and strictly. For example, after a motion is made, always make sure there is opportunity for supporting and opposing views, and always follow the rules adopted as to how many speakers, and how much time. When a person is done with their statements, they may be tempted to jump in later to clarify after a different person has spoken. This is normally not allowed. When this is happening regularly in a meeting, the rules are not being followed, and the protection of minority opinion has probably been thrown out the window.
5) Follow through with the rules. Apply the rules (to develop procedure) before things are done, follow the rules while doing the things, but then keep following the rules after the thing is done. In other words, a meeting must be adjourned properly before casual conversation about an issue handled during the meeting starts. A change in what was voted on during the meeting can’t happen on the way out the door.
The term “ad hominem” means directed against a person.
If you are a racist, and I say you are a racist, then my statement is ad hominem. Note that the statement may be technically correct. I’m saying something about you, and you really are a racist, so my statement is correct. On the other hand, if you are not a racist, and I say you are a racist, that is an incorrect ad hominem statement. My statement is incorrect. Either way, I have not committed an “ad hominem fallacy.” I’ve simply made a statement about you, that may or may not have been correct.
So, what the heck is the meaning of the term “ad hominem fallacy” you may ask? (Note that the term “ad hominem” itself, or “ad hom” for short, has come to imply “ad hominem fallacy.”) In the above example, you might think that if I call you a racist and you are, that I have not committed a fallacy, but if you are a racist, I’ve not. In neither of the above examples, have I committed the ad hominem fallacy.
If I sent you to this post to read it, it is more likely because I think you’ve committed the fallacy of the ad hominem fallacy. This is a meta-fallacy. You have claimed that an ad hominem fallacy has occurred because someone has called someone a racist (or some other nasty thing, I’m using “racist” as an example here, obviously) whether the accusation is right or wrong. But your reference to the ad hominem fallacy is in fact a fallacy because none of that relates to what an ad hominem fallacy actually is.
An ad hominem fallacy is when you are arguing over an issue, like are cats better than dogs, and you go after the person you are arguing with and attack them as a person as part of your argument. That is not the same as the question of whether the person is in fact worthy of this attack.
Let me give you an example.
Me: Cats are better than dogs.
Hitler: No, dogs are better than cats.
Me: No. You are, in fact, Hitler, and Hitler is a total jerk, so therefore, cats are better than dogs.
Here, I am wrong in two ways. First, you can’t say that cats are better than dogs. Or visa versa. Second, I’m arguing that the other guy in this argument is wrong because he is a jerk. I was committing an ad hominem fallacy.
However, I am right about one thing. Hitler is a jerk. So, let’s play it out again from a slightly different angle.
Me: Cats are better than dogs.
Hitler: No, dogs are better than cats.
Me: Hitler, you are a complete jerk, did you know that?
Hitler: So I’ve been told.
Me: In any event, you are wrong. Cats are better than dogs.
Hitler: Really, you can’t say one is better than the other.
Me: You know, you are right about that. You are still a jerk.
Hitler: So I’ve been told.
Here, our discussion about cats vs. dogs actually came to a reasonable conclusion and, indeed, a consensus. Who knew both Hitler and I could be so reasonable? Also, I made an ad hominem attack on Hitler. I called him a jerk. In so doing, I did not commit an ad hominem fallacy. I made a statement of belief about Hitler’s jerkiness, and very likely, I was right. I did not use Hitler’s jerkiness as part of my argument about cats vs. dogs. Even if I was wrong, and Hitler is a nice guy with a bad reputation, my statement was still not an ad hominem fallacy. It might have been wrong, but it was not an ad hominem fallacy. It was about him, so technically, it was “ad hominem” but not a fallacy.
An ad hominem fallacy is when you use a personal attack on a person in order to devalue or dismiss an argument they are making. It is NOT when you make a statement about the person, which may or may not be a personal attack, in and of itself. I maintain Hitler is a jerk, and I don’t care about cats vs dogs. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but while that is an attack on the man, it is not a logical fallacy. If I say his opinion about dogs vs cats is wrong because he is a jerk, THAT is an ad hominem fallacy.
I sent you here because I think you got that wrong, and I wrote this post because I’m weary of that common fallacy, about a fallacy, being toted out in the middle of arguments.
What is a regular expression? We can talk about that in detail some other time. Briefly, it is a string of symbols that is designed to match a specified set of symbols, or a range of a set of symbols, in a larger body or stream of text. For example, if you pass a stream of information (say, all your emails) through a filter with the regular expression:
then any part of that stream of information that looks like a phone number (not using parens), such as 636-555-3226, will be isolated.
The new edition includes pattern matching with regular expressions, input validation, reading and writing files, organizing files, web scraping, manipulating Excel spreadsheets and Google Sheets, PDF and Word documents, CSV and JSON files, email, images, and automating your keyboard and mouse.
The great benefit of a book like this is that you learn Python (the first part of the book gives you all you need to know to program in Python) in the context of things you actually want to do with Python. If you are interested in learning Python, or coding in general, this can be your first book.
The book is well done, as all in this series are, and fun. There are strong on line resources including all the code, and that information is regularly updated. Generally, “No Starch” press books are great, and this is one of those!
I would like to have seen at least sidebars on manipulating things using Libreoffice software, but note that the book focuses on documents, and OpenSource software does work with normal Excel and Word documents, so it is there.
The second edition adds a new chapter on input validation. The Gmail and Google Sheets sections, and the information on CSV files is also new. I plan on using the software tips and tricks to develop my own highly specialized and targeted search software. I’m often looking for files that have specific extensions, and certain kinds of content, in certain locations. Just the ability to hard-wire where to search for files will save me a lot of time and trouble.
Author Al Sweigart is a professional software developer who teaches programming to kids and adults, and who is author of Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, Cracking Codes with Python, and Coding with Minecraft, all of which are quite nice. We need a new edition of Coding with Minecraft, by the way, that looks at a wider range of coding options and keeps up with the major advances in that software environment! So, get to work, Al!
This is a great tool. It shows you the most commonly googled money terms by state. Student loans in North Dakota, but Auto Loans in South Dakota. Payday Loans in Louisiana, but Car Lease in New Jersey. Health insurance in New York but Cryptocurrency in California. LOL.
Facebook leader Mark Zuckerberg has made moves to look like he battling fake news, but his project is doomed to fail. First, Facebook is explicitly not banning fake news, nor is it banning individuals known to be 100% fake news purveyors. Second, Facebook has brought in “experts” to examine news to see if it is fake that are, in turn, Koch funded right wing/libertarian tools. Continue reading Latest Fake News: Facebook battling fake news→
Lost in space is a brilliant idea that has been done twice, both times deeply flawed, but it still remains a great idea.
The reason this is a great idea is because it places a group of people with sufficient internal conflict to be in a story, in a context where the writers can do pretty much anything they want. Star Trek, of course, did the same thing, with their voyage to wherever the writers imagine scenario. Continue reading Lost in Space→
This is a repost of an item I put up in 2013 based on some interesting scientific research. Today, I was told by Google that if I do not take the article down, I will lose my ad sense qualification. Google and companies like Google are giant behemoths that do not have humans to whom one can talk when they do something boneheaded like this. So, I’ll unpublish the original item and post it here with a change in title. Also, words that might be interpreted by an unintelligent robot at Google as violating policy have been changed. Continue reading Measurements of the human male kakadodo organ, does it matter and why?→
Did you know that truck drivers in Puerto Rico did NOT actually go on strike during Hurricane Maria relief efforts? Or that a former Obama White House official did NOT actually confirm that they wiretapped Trump Tower? Or that the sexual misdeed accusations against former Senate candidate Roy Moore were NOT actually a setup? Or that the Nazi’s marching (and killing) in Chancellorsville was NOT actually a liberal false flag operation? Or, sadly, that it is NOT true that President Obama is running a “shadow government” in some hidden corner of Washington DC? NOT NOT NOT NOT NOTNOTContinue reading How to fix the fake-news problem.→