If you study conversations, you find there is a lot more meanness down in DH1 than up in DH6. Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions User talk: This file contains additional information such as Exif metadata which may have been added by the digital camera, scanner, or software program used to create or digitize it. The structural change in the way we communicate is enough to account for it. Soviet influence on the peace movement User: Retrieved 23 January Archived from the original on 13 March

DH levels merely describe the form of a statement, not whether it’s correct. There could be a legitimate reason for arguing against something slightly different from what the original author said: Such labels may help writers too. Viaweb’s software, written mostly in Common Lisp , allowed users to make their own Internet stores. The result is there’s a lot more disagreeing going on, especially measured by the word. Each layer in the pyramid can also be referred to as a numbered Disagreement Hierarchy level. In fact, you don’t want to.

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paul grahams essay how to disagree

Retrieved 6 March Sometimes merely seeing the opposing case stated explicitly is enough to see that it’s right. But when he looks up, he fails to realise that he is looking up: As a former editor of a newspaper and also of an online anonymous forum sinceand having kept blogs sinceI use the following general questions when deciding to allow or delete a comment: In fact that is probably the defining quality of a demagogue. That’s to be expected.


You don’t have to be mean when you have a real point to make. The web is turning writing into a conversation.

paul grahams essay how to disagree

And that means one has to commit explicitly to what the central point is. Especially since tone is so hard to judge.

Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.

Paul Graham (programmer) – Wikipedia

A DH6 response might be unconvincing, but a DH2 or lower response is always unconvincing. Some writers quote parts of things they disagree with to give the appearance of legitimate refutation, then follow with a response as low as DH3 or even DH0.

Better that than grave and wrong. Files are available under licenses specified on their description page.

But the greatest benefit of disagreeing well is not just that it will make conversations better, but that it will make the people who have them happier. What does it mean to disagree well? Does the tone seem sincere?

File:Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.svg

So a truly effective refutation would look like: The following other wikis use this file: Sometimes the spirit in which this is done makes it more of a sophisticated form of ad hominem than actual refutation. For example, correcting someone’s grammar, or harping on minor mistakes in names or numbers.

But just in case, here is some food for though I believe is well-stated and interesting.

How do each of these groups communicate? Retrieved 29 September Saying that an author lacks the authority to write about a topic is a variant of ad hominem—and a particularly useless sort, because good ideas often come from outsiders. Even as high as DH5 we still sometimes see deliberate dishonesty, as when someone picks out minor points of an argument and refutes those.


File:Graham’s Hierarchy of – Wikimedia Commons

Captions Captions English Add a one-line explanation of what this file represents. But usually evidence will help.

paul grahams essay how to disagree

So palu the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. If you have something real to say, being mean just gets in the way.

The question is whether the author is correct or not.

Paul Graham (programmer)

Especially since tone is so hard to judge. You have to find a “smoking gun,” a passage in whatever you disagree with that you feel is mistaken, and then explain why it’s mistaken.

If there’s something wrong with the senator’s argument, you should say what it is; and if there isn’t, what difference does it make that he’s a senator?