Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

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Cradarc
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Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Cradarc » Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:32 pm UTC

To what extent is an attack on a strongly held belief an attack on the person who holds it?
This happens a lot in politics, religion, race, etc. As people, we tend to associate ourselves with strongly held beliefs, so someone attacking them is like a personal attack.

I don't think it is at all, in theory. In practice, emotions fly and people start saying things that deviate from the idea and into the people involved.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Qaanol » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:47 pm UTC

“People who believe the earth is flat are wrong because <evidence>” is an attack on the idea, not the person who holds it.

“People who believe the earth is flat are morons because there is so much evidence they are wrong” is an attack on the person, not the idea.

“People who believe the earth is flat are holding back progress because they won’t fund the GPS satellite program” is a searing indictment of the pragmatic costs of holding a wrong belief, but it is not an attack on either the person nor the idea.

“People who believe the earth is flat are evil because their failure to support upgrades to the GPS program leads to thousands of deaths every year” is an attack on the person, not the idea.
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Cres
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Cres » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:06 am UTC

There are plenty of beliefs where there is overlap between attacking ideas and attacking people. If I believe in the supremacy of one race over others, for example, and you call me a racist, you are (rightly) not just criticising the idea, but criticising me as a person for holding it.

There are also situations where attacking an idea goes with a personal attack in a 'technical' rather than 'moral' sense. If a philosopher makes an argument riddled with logical missteps, based on implausible assumptions and that displays total ignorance of obvious objections raised by existing literature on the issue, then their ideas (whether you construe this broadly to include the whole argument, or just the conclusions) are bad, and they are also a bad (ie technically incompetent rather than evil) philosopher for holding them. If they are dabbling in philosophical arguments on an internet forum, this is probably not a fundamental attack on their person. If they are a professional philosopher, then it gets right at the heart of their professional identity.

(Cf the perhaps apocryphal story of GEM Anscombe destroying CS Lewis so thoroughly in a philosophical debate that he abandoned serious theological argument for children's literature.)

The important thing is perhaps the direction of causality. You can be a racist, or a bad philosopher, because of the ideas you hold. But the ideas are bad in themselves, not merely because you hold them.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby ahammel » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:23 am UTC

Cres wrote:There are plenty of beliefs where there is overlap between attacking ideas and attacking people. If I believe in the supremacy of one race over others, for example, and you call me a racist, you are (rightly) not just criticising the idea, but criticising me as a person for holding it.

I don't think that describing people who hold racist beliefs as racists really counts as a personal attack.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Cres » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:51 am UTC

ahammel wrote:
Cres wrote:There are plenty of beliefs where there is overlap between attacking ideas and attacking people. If I believe in the supremacy of one race over others, for example, and you call me a racist, you are (rightly) not just criticising the idea, but criticising me as a person for holding it.

I don't think that describing people who hold racist beliefs as racists really counts as a personal attack.


So maybe this is not the best example, as someone believing in the supremacy of one race might be happy with the racist label (I still think that, although they might not interpret it as a personal attack, someone else could certainly intend it as such).

A better example might be James Watson's comments about race and intelligence. He said that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”. He was attacked as a racist, and these were attacks on his personal and moral character as much as the ideas themselves - to the point where his career was destroyed.

That these attacks were indeed personal and taken as such (and, to be really clear, I don't mean 'personal' in the sense that the attacks were unjustified or unfair, or that Watson was mistaken to take them personally - merely that they were related to his character as a person) is perhaps best illustrated by Watson's response:

"I have never thought of myself as a racist. I don't see myself as a racist. I am mortified by it. It was the worst thing in my life."

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Tirian » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:07 am UTC

ahammel wrote:I don't think that describing people who hold racist beliefs as racists really counts as a personal attack.


They do, and it's not the conversation you want to be having anyways.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby ahammel » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:10 am UTC

Cres wrote:
ahammel wrote:
Cres wrote:There are plenty of beliefs where there is overlap between attacking ideas and attacking people. If I believe in the supremacy of one race over others, for example, and you call me a racist, you are (rightly) not just criticising the idea, but criticising me as a person for holding it.

I don't think that describing people who hold racist beliefs as racists really counts as a personal attack.


So maybe this is not the best example, as someone believing in the supremacy of one race might be happy with the racist label (I still think that, although they might not interpret it as a personal attack, someone else could certainly intend it as such).

A better example might be James Watson's comments about race and intelligence. He said that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”. He was attacked as a racist, and these were attacks on his personal and moral character as much as the ideas themselves - to the point where his career was destroyed.

That these attacks were indeed personal and taken as such (and, to be really clear, I don't mean 'personal' in the sense that the attacks were unjustified or unfair, or that Watson was mistaken to take them personally - merely that they were related to his character as a person) is perhaps best illustrated by Watson's response:

"I have never thought of myself as a racist. I don't see myself as a racist. I am mortified by it. It was the worst thing in my life."
I suppose it is a special feature of positions that are widely agreed to be wrong that describing somebody as holding them tends to be interpreted as an insult, whether or not it's true.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby leady » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:23 am UTC

To be fair, the obvious examples are all essentially pejoratives rather than descriptive terms with extremely wide definitions.

But I've never been sold on the whole "Ad hom fallacy". From a strict logic perspective then sure all arguments should be evaluated on their merits. From a time constrained practical perspective, ignoring fat dieticians, poor brokers, ugly beauticians etc etc is a very good sorting mechanism.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby morriswalters » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:17 pm UTC

Personal attacks are cheap cognitively. And they can influence how a persons argument is perceived. How much you trust the person making the argument is almost as important as the argument itself. So my take idea of personal attacks revolves around relevancy, is you insistence that I am a shithead relevant to the point. Even without using pejoratives it is possible to shift the debate from the point, to how much you trust the person making it by controlling the tone. In one to one confrontations it is a cheap attack. Forcing you to spend effort controlling your emotional response to the detriment of your argument. And it works.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby leady » Mon Apr 13, 2015 2:04 pm UTC

very few people are swayed by reason

lots of people are swayed by emotional rhetoric or Ad homs.

In the UK highlighting that Cameron is a public school Oxford snob is infinitely more powerful that highlighting that he hasn't really controlled the deficit. Ditto just showing any photograph of Milliband basically makes him look clueless - no one cares about mansion tax policies

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby morriswalters » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:17 pm UTC

Yeah. I know. Sheeples will buy anything if it is packaged correctly. And there are no non sheeples.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Autolykos » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:21 am UTC

leady wrote:But I've never been sold on the whole "Ad hom fallacy". From a strict logic perspective then sure all arguments should be evaluated on their merits. From a time constrained practical perspective, ignoring fat dieticians, poor brokers, ugly beauticians etc etc is a very good sorting mechanism.

The motivation or moral nature of a person says nothing about the validity of their logical arguments. But if I suspect someone of motivated reasoning, it has a heck of a lot of influence on how I evaluate any evidence presented by that person, as long as I can't verify it independently.
And for anyone lacking sufficient training in logical argument to check the complete line of reasoning, the logical argument itself becomes evidence. Finally, you have to admit that most non-scientists aren't very good at evaluating logic, which explains a lot about what kinds of arguments are effective in political debate.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby leady » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:38 am UTC

Autolykos wrote:
leady wrote:But I've never been sold on the whole "Ad hom fallacy". From a strict logic perspective then sure all arguments should be evaluated on their merits. From a time constrained practical perspective, ignoring fat dieticians, poor brokers, ugly beauticians etc etc is a very good sorting mechanism.

The motivation or moral nature of a person says nothing about the validity of their logical arguments. But if I suspect someone of motivated reasoning, it has a heck of a lot of influence on how I evaluate any evidence presented by that person, as long as I can't verify it independently.


I don't think its ever that simple in practice. Anyone can show a mathematical proof and the nature of the person is irrelevant, because the logic is self contained and there are zero conflicts of interest. Outside of this though you move rapidly into imperfect knowledge issues, for example dietary science is not particularly exact. In most of these scenarios the behaviour of the presenter betrays a huge amount of unspoken information that you need to be mad not to consider even though technically that information is derived from ad homs. The fat dietician either doesn't think healthy weight is important (so how interested can they be in diets) or they don't use their diet (no faith) or it doesn't work. Dismissing their view in the absence of other knowledge in this scenario is highly sane.

Finally, you have to admit that most non-scientists aren't very good at evaluating logic, which explains a lot about what kind of arguments are effective in political debate.


I hate to break it to you but Scientists aren't particularly better - they are human afterall ( well maybe not some physicists...)

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Autolykos » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:39 pm UTC

Okay, then it seems we're mostly in agreement, with only some differences on where to draw the line between argument and evidence. But that division is kinda academic anyway, because any argument outside of mathematics must be grounded in evidence.
Still, it is the goal of any scientific work to show all its logical reasoning, source all potentially controversial claims and describe original research well enough so it can be replicated independently. When that's done correctly, the work can't (reasonably) be attacked with ad homs anymore - which does not keep some politically motivated people from trying it anyway...
leady wrote:I hate to break it to you but Scientists aren't particularly better - they are human afterall
No, they aren't much more resistant to making mistakes. But most of them can at least tell when an argument is presented well enough that attacking the reasoning or the evidence directly are the only sane options for contesting it. Or, if they can't tell, they are at least too proud to openly admit it and won't go on attacking the messenger instead.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby ShadE » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:31 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:To what extent is an attack on a strongly held belief an attack on the person who holds it?
This happens a lot in politics, religion, race, etc. As people, we tend to associate ourselves with strongly held beliefs, so someone attacking them is like a personal attack.

I don't think it is at all, in theory. In practice, emotions fly and people start saying things that deviate from the idea and into the people involved.


Intention, reception & weight.

All communication has at least two perspectives. The communicator intends a specific message, the communicat'ee' interprets that specific message. You then have the following results:
Intended Attack/Interpreted Attack
Intended Attack/Interpreted Non-Attack
Intended Non-Attack/Interpreted Non-Attack
Intended Non-Attack/Interpreted Attack

To visualize these scenarios I like to think of the oft used phrase/response... "No Offense"/"None Taken" (i.e. Non-Attack/Non-Attack).

There are then weights or modifiers that can push either side of the communication. If the idea being criticized is a core belief, upon which a person has built their entire view of the world, then the interpretation will likely weight toward attack. Likewise the intention can be weighted. Then there is the balance of the two separate perspectives... "Anchovies should be eaten daily" is an idea that most likely carries more weight for a fisherman than a programmer.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:06 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Yeah. I know. Sheeples will buy anything if it is packaged correctly. And there are no non sheeples.


None of us are perfect, but progress is always possible. It's important to recognize our shortcomings, but also to remember the value in striving to overcome them, even if we will still be imperfect then.

leady wrote:I don't think its ever that simple in practice. Anyone can show a mathematical proof and the nature of the person is irrelevant, because the logic is self contained and there are zero conflicts of interest. Outside of this though you move rapidly into imperfect knowledge issues, for example dietary science is not particularly exact. In most of these scenarios the behaviour of the presenter betrays a huge amount of unspoken information that you need to be mad not to consider even though technically that information is derived from ad homs. The fat dietician either doesn't think healthy weight is important (so how interested can they be in diets) or they don't use their diet (no faith) or it doesn't work. Dismissing their view in the absence of other knowledge in this scenario is highly sane.


I could contrive some scenarios where a fat dietician is giving good advice, that doesn't bother me overmuch. It's like a mechanic having a car that needs fixing. That's pretty normal. So, the mere knowledge of someone being fat isn't a very good reason to dismiss their professional skill out of hand. Sure, you keep it in mind, and as you gain further knowledge, you can paint a pretty good picture of that person that's fairly informative of them, and that may impact how credible you see them, but identity should not be central, and using it as a cognitive shortcut is very dangerous. Even people that are just the worst sometimes say things of value.

Maybe you learn that this person has been fat from childhood, and eventually, grew frustrated enough with it to learn about it. Having knowledge doesn't make becoming skinny easy, and it's likely still a challenge for them because of behaviors they grew up with, but they're working on it. That's super common in a lot of fields, and not at all a bad thing. In fact, if what the person has experienced closely matches what my challenges are, then that might make their advice MORE useful.

I hate to break it to you but Scientists aren't particularly better - they are human afterall ( well maybe not some physicists...)


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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Cradarc » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:46 am UTC

I think something to consider is how much the person see themselves in their ideas.
For example, culture.
A person's culture is the embodiment of how they live their life. If you degrade their culture, are you also degrading them? In a sense, yes. The implicit logic is that a person's character is reflected by how they live their lives. If you are attacking how they live their lives, aren't you implicitly attacking their character, regardless if you mean to or not?
Technically you could find them an extremely pleasant person while still dislike certain aspects of their life style. However, to them, those aspects of their life style can be extremely important and meaningful. So who gets to decide if it's a personal attack or not?
The "attacker" could claim innocent intent, but the "victim" could claim better judgment of what is being hurt by the statement.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:31 am UTC

Question for clarification:

Is this about rebutting ideas or about potentially insulting people while rebutting ideas?

There is nothing logically problematic about insulting someone while refuting their ideas, provided your refutation isn't reliant on your insult - "Minorities aren't naturally intellectually inferior because of X, with that, since you're a pretty disgusting person, I'm going to go to the other side of the room now.", isn't logically faulty at all, the attack does not diminish the force of the evidence in any logical manner.

On the other hand, if the question is about when is something offensive when it comes to refuting a topic - as in, how do you refute something with minimal offense - then that's a different topic, one I'm not overly qualified to comment on, honestly. However, I will say that while attacking a person in place of an idea is logically problematic, and problematic in general, that being offensive, by itself, need not always be something that should be avoided (or, at least, it is debatable that is always wrong to (un)intentionally offend, ever). I'm not advocating we be as nasty as possible, obviously, but do want to make the point that the issue with ad hominem isn't just, "It's offensive", but "You're being offensive instead of addressing anything I've actually said".
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Autolykos » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:42 pm UTC

Also, I find most ad hominem only moderately insulting, but very logically rude. They are almost as good at ensuring no further discussion will be possible as dropping a straight Godwin (for bonus points, these two are also easily combined).

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:28 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:I think something to consider is how much the person see themselves in their ideas.
For example, culture.
A person's culture is the embodiment of how they live their life. If you degrade their culture, are you also degrading them? In a sense, yes. The implicit logic is that a person's character is reflected by how they live their lives. If you are attacking how they live their lives, aren't you implicitly attacking their character, regardless if you mean to or not?
Technically you could find them an extremely pleasant person while still dislike certain aspects of their life style. However, to them, those aspects of their life style can be extremely important and meaningful. So who gets to decide if it's a personal attack or not?
The "attacker" could claim innocent intent, but the "victim" could claim better judgment of what is being hurt by the statement.


That's...something of an overstatement. A culture does not belong just to one person, and no single person is responsible for a culture.

You could, if you like, replace "culture" with "country". Yes, you probably shouldn't trash a stranger's country for the hell of it on first meeting them, but it's perfectly reasonable to discuss problems with a country or culture. A great deal of this is in how you go about doing so.

Talking about "their lifestyle" for instance, is very clearly personalizing it. You're talking about decisions they have made, rather than the culture at large.

And yes, sometimes an insulting argument is also logically valid. Just because someone takes offense at something doesn't make it false. There's rhetorical value in being careful about when insult is given, but logically, feh.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby leady » Thu Apr 16, 2015 4:43 pm UTC

Autolykos wrote:Also, I find most ad hominem only moderately insulting, but very logically rude. They are almost as good at ensuring no further discussion will be possible as dropping a straight Godwin (for bonus points, these two are also easily combined).


Correct - which is why in any adversarial debate, always play the man and not the ball :) Its an order of magnitude more effective.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Qaanol » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:09 am UTC

leady wrote:in any adversarial debate, always play the man and not the ball :) Its an order of magnitude more effective.

Well of course someone like you would say that. We all know how your kind* stoops to logical fallacies at every chance. But those of us with the privilege of having facts and evidence our side will continue to take the high ground and present clear, straightforward explanations of what is right.



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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:39 pm UTC

I think that this is very relevant. http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html He places the 'Ad Hominem' below 'Responding to Tone' and above 'Name-Calling'. He also says that the 'Ad Hominem' is not even an attack on the argument. Whenever you hear someone attack a person's character or motivations, just add 'but he just so happens to be right' after every sentence. For example:

'My opponent has never published a paper before, but he just so happens to be right.'
'I am much smarter and more knowledgeable than my opponent, but he just so happens to be right.'
'My opponent believes what he does because of his religious beliefs, but he just so happens to be right.'

Something that people need to be careful about is implying an insult without actually saying one. It usually follows this pattern: If society accepts that people who support opinion A are morally wrong. I say that my opponent's opinion is equivalent to opinion A. I am implying that my opponent is morally wrong. I think that is why a person, whether he is a racist or not, gets angry when someone says his ideas are racist.

This reminds me of another idea (I forget exactly where I got it from). Compare the statement, "So and so has committed theft many times" and "So and so is a thief." At first they look identical. However there is a subtle and major difference. The former says that an action that this person did is immoral, while the latter says that this person, himself, is immoral. There is a very thin line between attacking an action and the person who did that action. Similarly, there is a very thin line between attacking an idea and the person who hold that idea.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Nem » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:54 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:To what extent is an attack on a strongly held belief an attack on the person who holds it?
This happens a lot in politics, religion, race, etc. As people, we tend to associate ourselves with strongly held beliefs, so someone attacking them is like a personal attack.

I don't think it is at all, in theory. In practice, emotions fly and people start saying things that deviate from the idea and into the people involved.


It depends how conclusively you prove the person wrong, how trivially you are able to do it, and how significant the consequences of being wrong are.

If it takes significant work, and research, to find the facts and mistakes of logic that show that the person is wrong, and if they are wrong only by a little bit, then they are making an understandable mistake. But, if they make some statement to the effect that the world is flat, then proving them wrong makes them look like an idiot. It destroys their credibility, at least insofar as they had any to begin with, and – as such – for all that you are attacking the idea, you are also doing damage to the person who holds it. Both reputational damage, in so far as others will be less likely to trust them, and personal damage, insofar as in the future they will be less able to trust themselves. In that much it is likely for them to interpret it as an attack on them.

And this is all quite aside from the fact that often criticisms of political ideas actually are criticisms of the person who holds them, rather than criticisms of the idea itself.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon May 18, 2015 1:38 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:'My opponent has never published a paper before, but he just so happens to be right.'

How far down the chain are you willing to go? There's no one answer to that question - it's always a judgement call. Someone with credentials and without conflicting interests is simply more likely to be right. You can't recursively check every possible assumption made in an argument, and the selection and rigor of that rechecking will always be influenced by assumptions about the person presenting the case.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby leady » Mon May 18, 2015 3:07 pm UTC

That is my earlier point in effect

Ad homs cover at least 3 scenarios to me

1) in the absence of any further information, your presentation allows me to ignore what you are claiming. This I think is a prejudicial yet time saving and somewhat valid use of ad homs, Christian scientists claiming new bible centric physics can fall happily in here. But there needs to be some self reflection on dogmatic but empirically untested uses. For example politics clouds people to motivations quite impressively (e.g. apparently everyone on the right is evil and selfish therefore....)

2) there are some topics themselves that taking any position but the collective dogma essentially self ad homs. I think we all know what they are

3) People cynically using ad homs as a method of argumentation, i.e. the jump to "socialist" in the US as a method to label someone to kill an idea rather taking the time to refute the argument

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon May 18, 2015 5:40 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:This reminds me of another idea (I forget exactly where I got it from). Compare the statement, "So and so has committed theft many times" and "So and so is a thief." At first they look identical. However there is a subtle and major difference. The former says that an action that this person did is immoral, while the latter says that this person, himself, is immoral. There is a very thin line between attacking an action and the person who did that action. Similarly, there is a very thin line between attacking an idea and the person who hold that idea.


I view the citation of a specific action as stronger evidence. Someone calling another a thief might be simply linguistic hyperbole. Not even strange in political circles. Citing a specific example or examples of theft, well, now you've made it pretty clear that you're talking about actual theft, in a serious manner, not just slinging mud.

Also, the idea of relying on someone "just happening" to be right seems unreliable. If you cast doubt on someone's methodology, you SHOULD be casting doubt on their conclusions. Credentials are not everything, of course, but the way in which people do things matters for everyone, credentials or no. If you can convince me that someone does not even understand proper methodology for studying subject matter x, I'll assume that he was unlikely to follow proper methodology by chance, and his findings are more likely to be bullshit.

That's why I don't bother testing every little detail of every free energy claim. The obvious signs of "this guy has no idea about the subject he claims to have made a breakthrough in" are usually quite obvious, and it is not worth investing a great deal of time on stupidity.

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue May 19, 2015 1:51 am UTC

leady wrote:That is my earlier point in effect

Yeah, I didn't mean to rip you off there, but I was agreeing with what you had to say as I was reading the thread. = ] I was just surprised to see a couple of these really naive notions of ad hom posted again at the end of the thread after you and others had already explained this.
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Rhombic » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:08 am UTC

Meanwhile somewhere in Ukraine... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2Df7z6FNBk

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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:00 pm UTC

I think it would be kinda fun to have something like and automatic Ad Hominem highlighter/remover followed up by Automatic summarization

http://curtis.ml.cmu.edu/w/courses/inde ... eview_data
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_summarization

It'd be really funny if debates got trimmed down to a series of statements on one side and blanks on the other.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Autolykos
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Autolykos » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:56 am UTC

Once this is widespread, the only result I expect is ad hominems becoming more complex and indirect. But if we can raise the threshold enough that the only people smart enough to parse the attacks that fly under the radar are also smart enough to discount them as off-topic, (or the only people smart enough to smuggle ad hominems past the detector are likely to have better non-fallacious arguments at hand) we can also declare victory.
Machine learning FTW!

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Copper Bezel
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:00 am UTC

So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her

morriswalters
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:57 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:It'd be really funny if debates got trimmed down to a series of statements on one side and blanks on the other.
Then again it would be funnier if both sides were blank.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Attacking an idea vs attacking the person who holds it

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:46 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
HungryHobo wrote:It'd be really funny if debates got trimmed down to a series of statements on one side and blanks on the other.
Then again it would be funnier if both sides were blank.


I already have an algorithm that can produce that.


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