This website is a place for people who want to move past shady thinking and test their ideas in a
court of people who don't all share the same biases. Our goal is to
optimize for light, not heat; this is a group effort, and all commentators are asked to do their part.
The weekly Culture War threads host the most
controversial topics and are the most visible aspect of The Motte. However, many other topics are
appropriate here. We encourage people to post anything related to science, politics, or philosophy;
if in doubt, post!
Check out The Vault for an archive of old quality posts.
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A motte is a stone keep on a raised earthwork common in early medieval fortifications. More pertinently,
it's an element in a rhetorical move called a "Motte-and-Bailey",
originally identified by
philosopher Nicholas Shackel. It describes the tendency in discourse for people to move from a controversial
but high value claim to a defensible but less exciting one upon any resistance to the former. He likens
this to the medieval fortification, where a desirable land (the bailey) is abandoned when in danger for
the more easily defended motte. In Shackel's words, "The Motte represents the defensible but undesired
propositions to which one retreats when hard pressed."
On The Motte, always attempt to remain inside your defensible territory, even if you are not being pressed.
If you're posting something that isn't related to the culture war, we encourage you to post a thread for it.
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Culture war posts go in the culture war thread; all links must either include a submission statement or
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If in doubt, please post it!
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