“Don’t be a dick” was the topic of Phil Plait’s speech at TAM 8. You can watch the video but, basically, Plait argued for moderation in discussions. He was addressing skeptics and atheists and specifically their interaction with the religious and believers in “woo”.

As might be expected, the response was mixed. Some people accused him of being an accommodationist and others applauded his call for measured and civil interactions.  

At the time — eight years or so ago — my reaction was . . . well, defensive. 

Mind you, I found a lot of counterarguments and rebuttals in support of my defensiveness but the reality was inescapable: I had to examine why I was so defensive. 

I reviewed my past discussions and interactions with people and examined how I approached discussions about religion and magic and UFOs and any topic I considered anchored in ignorance and willful disregard of science and reason. 

The conclusion was uncomfortable to admit . . . not a majority of the time but enough times to be significant, I was a dick. Needlessly confrontational and prone to badgering would be another way to say I was a dick.