Hippocratic Oath for the Culture War

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= Pledge to overcome the acrimony of the culture wars in online settings, aimed at content creators and curators. By Conor Barnes and Peter Limberg.

URL = https://areomagazine.com/2019/07/09/hippocratic-oath-for-the-culture-war/

The Text

The Oath:

"I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will be truthful in content creation. I will not willingly distort or misrepresent reality.

I will create content and engage others in the hope of improved understanding. While there might be multiple reasons for me to create content, my overarching intention to keep conversation open will keep my other intentions in check.

I will be sensitive to the human proclivity to engage in motivated reasoning. While creating content, I will be aware of the fact that I am just as likely to be guided by unconscious self-interest as anyone else.

I will engage in the principle of charity when interpreting opposing arguments. I will apply the strongest possible interpretation to the argument I am addressing, independently of how it comes across to me.

I will engage in the principle of humanity when interpreting motives. I will recognize that if I had experienced the same circumstances as the person I am disagreeing with, I might have made similar arguments.

I will conduct myself with intellectual humility. I will operate under the caveat that I could be wrong about the ideas I put forth. In contributing to conversation, I accept that my opinions are not the final word.

I will have evidence for the propositions I put forth, and will present it readily when asked.

I will be clear on the difference between verbal and factual disputes. If I am using a word that has competing definitions, I will acknowledge this and will define my usage.

I will be explicit in my political orientation. If asked, I will state any current intellectual commitments I may have.

I will recognize that, in our current information ecology, accusations have the power to ruin reputations and livelihoods. If I believe such an accusation to be warranted, I will acknowledge the power I am exercising and will publicly justify why I am using it. If I am mistaken, I will retract immediately, apologize and make recompense.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy similar goodwill from others. May I always act to preserve healthy dialogue, and may I experience the joy of adding to a robust public conversation."



By Conor Barnes and Peter Limberg:

"We are all potential performers in the outrage porno, nervously waiting on the casting couch. We are increasingly aware of the fact that the slightest misstep can put us on the receiving end. All it takes is an iPhone, a narrative and a mistake. We are thankful that our worst moments have never been caught on camera, nor our worst ideas published on Twitter, to be condemned by hundreds of millions of people. At least, not yet.

The term outrage porn was coined by essayist Tim Kreider in 2009 to describe manufactured indignation, optimized for virality. In 2019, social media, financial incentives and the pitfalls of human psychology have coalesced into a perverse production line, in which we are producer-consumers. Outrage porn is exploited by culture war profiteers, weaponized by memetic tribes, leveraged by wokonomic capitalists and kept alive by an outrage industrial complex.

Every angry retweet and snarky reply turns us into useful idiots for the outrage porno machine. Our perpetual outage has reduced our agency, ruined our sense-making apparatus and rendered us powerless to confront the numerous risks that require long-term, collective decision-making. How can we escape the outrage porno before we realize—horrified—that we’ve been cast in a starring role?

A Hippocratic oath for content creators is one possible avenue by which we could improve our social media climate. The Hippocratic oath famously centers the injunction to do no harm. In our social climate, in which it is easier than ever to harm others all over the world, through misinformation and abuse, such an oath is vital." (https://areomagazine.com/2019/07/09/hippocratic-oath-for-the-culture-war/)