Saturday, April 19, 2014

One of My Biggest Pet Peeves

I love to argue.  That could hardly be news to people who have read anything I write.  I had some training in formal debate and could, I suppose, do it if I had to but what I really like is informal argument that is unstructured.  But I am familiar with the more common terms for the various types of fallacious tactics in argument and what those mean and I try to avoid being guilty of them.

But there's all the world of a difference between knowing how to say a word and knowing what it means.  The typical use of terms such as "ad hominem" "straw man" and the more recently asserted ones, "cherry picking" etc. online proves that a lot of people learned the words but they don't know what they mean. They also can't apply them to arguments made against their position by other people, never mind the far more important, far more difficult and less gratifying use of those tests of ideas, applying them to what they want to be true.

The most frequently encountered sloppy use of those terms is by online atheists, the kind of people who learned everything they know about them from reading Carl Sagan or some other atheist ninja in their own minds.  Only the terms, as used by them have all been conglomerated into synonyms to mean "I don't like that". Here's a good example of a callow young atheist making an accusation of "ad hominem" and a good explanation by one of the more accomplished of recent debaters as to why he doesn't have the first idea of what he's talking about.

1 comment:

  1. Ad hominem? I hardly know 'em!