What is this place?
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. You are encouraged to crosspost these elsewhere.
Why are you called The Motte?
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.
New post guidelines
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Very disheartened by this "postmortem".
In my experience, it's not the "icky red tribe discussion" that's lowered the quality of the sub. It's actually the increase in number of people with niche or unpopular opinions, that are often coded right wing.
Worse, the newcomers or people discovering this place for the first time are not properly acquainted with the culture it inherited, a culture where their ideas are discussed and debated (on good faith). When someone genuinely tries to steelman their viewpoint and argue against it, the newcomer finds their genuinely held belief challenged. They will double down rather than change their mind or accept a new argument - as opposed to the standards of the motte, where steelmen grind against each other, and the weak are ground into filings - they consider any challenge to their viewpoint just plain wrong even in the face of evidence.
This results in a norm of more and more people that are willing to assert increasingly outlandish claims without evidence, as they understand on some level that outside this place, evidence is not needed to convince others for or against their viewpoint.
Evidence didn't convince them away from their viewpoint before, so why would it convince anyone else? This makes arguing in good faith extremely difficult.
Hats off to the mods, even if I agree or disagree with their positions. There are a significant number of genuine shit-stirrers who explicitly set out to skirt the rules while actively trying to sabotage discussion, and the place is the worse for it.
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