Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ad Hominem

I wrote this as a comment on Vanilla's other blog.
I think it needs to be aired out for objective scrutiny so here it is.
Note to my editor: Yo Lo Pull are you still with me? Sorry for the uneditable entries. Send up a sign if you've survived.

Ad hominem... Do not attack the messenger, attack the validity of the message. "2+2=4, well you failed algebra" is such attack. But if the message is the opinion of the messenger, cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war!.
You see, if the message is the conclusion of the messenger, then the messenger's mental state, experience, intelligence, logical ability and, especially their judgment is not only open to debate, but actually the foundation of the debate.
Most of the primary logical fallacies have been oversimplified and taught poorly. The logical negative, for instance is used entirely wrong all the time. It covers the "I've never seen a dog therefore there are no dogs", but is commonly used to argue against provable negatives like "Subject A was in Toronto on Monday at 9am therefore not in Guam at the same time". Sorry, I see that one all the time. And I hate half assed academia repeated rote.
Back to the point. So, if the argument starts with: I think, I believe, I learned, I saw, or any other personal testimony based on perception, experience, knowledge, the list goes on.... Basically if they involve themselves as a part of the argument ad hominem does not apply, but be careful not to beg the question when taking them apart. i.e. "I hear you and wonder how long you've been back on crack." only works if crack has been proven in their past and evidenced in their current behavior.
One more thing. A blog is not a person's home on the internet. It is their billboard on the information superhighway. If they choose to splash debatable rhetoric or advert their viewpoints there then they are fair game for opposing billboards and graffiti.
I put theories of my own and ones I support up there for all to see. I damn well better be able to defend those points. If beaten and invalidated, then I must accept reality and accept the valid argument. I am fallible. I will err and be wrong. I want to know when I am and I want to show when I am right. Without interaction one can not grow.
Of course there are going to be belligerents, but no more here than in the real world. This is practice. If you submit to taunts and jibes here, what value do you have in real life where the confrontation is in real time. Sure, anyone can memorize witty talking points and sound smart and right, but can they do so in the face of an informed opposition? No.


mad malva blue said...

hi ... this is part of the comment i left on VB's blog (in response to yours) ...

i do think that a person's blog is more like their home, than a billboard ... most bloggers are not trying to sell something or even draw attention to themselves (i.e as in billboard), but seeking a refuge ...a home away from home ...

a blog is a reflection of the person creating/hosting it ... and so its content reflects the beliefs-values-opinions of that person ... i don't, personally, really think i should HAVE to defend my opinion about something simply because i wrote about it in my blog ...sure we can disagree ... but ... words like "beaten ...invalidated ...fair game ..." hey, man ... them's fightin' words ... i ain't here to fight, just to connect and discuss

"Sure, anyone can memorize witty talking points and sound smart and right, but can they do so in the face of an informed opposition? No."

what, exactly, is "right" ...? truth? reality? well ... what's real, true, right for one ... may not be for another ... and ... DOES IT REALLY MATTER ... who's right? and ... CAN ANYONE BE RIGHT?

Reverend X said...

If you want to write your innermost thoughts and keep them from scrutiny, use a diary. A blog is a public display. I do not let strangers into my home. I sure as hell don't let em in and give them the phone to invite their houseguests. The analogy of home, refuge, safety, does not fit the medium. If not billboard, then how about personal ad? They are putting themselves out there for a reason. The attention for some. Others seek like minded people. Some search for justification for their beliefs. Personal validation. But all are ultimately selling a view of themselves. Perhaps not their true selves, but more the person they wish to be seen as.
I agree, I was thinking fight when I wrote the comments. That is the part of me I express here. I know it is not the same for everyone and I apologize for my zeal. Habit. Ethnocentrism. I focus on the confrontation and usually find what I am looking for. The fighting words help. laugh. Invalidated is not one of them. That term was coopted by therapists and given a pejorative ring. A hypothesis is either validated or invalidated by its proof. Either outcome has equal merit.
Right and wrong?

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

Amen Rev. when you lay it out for public consumption you are open game. There is none of the etiquette afforded to a blog that exists in the real world. Talking about motivations for blogging I say this:

Is it not a legitimate hobby for me
to hone the craft of character study?


mad malva blue said...

why should you, or anyone else presume that you can ...or should ... presume to scrutinize any "innermost thoughts" i may choose to write in my blog?? its ... almost ... like ... you are assuming someone would care if you did not agree with something they wrote in their blog ... pulleese ... hon, don't give yourself that much credit ...

its pretty simple ... if you don't agree with something someone wrote, you can always choose to disengage and walk away (before the steaming brownies starting flying) ... why the need to sparr ... fight ... debate ...? isn't it just okay for people to have differing views that remain unchallenged ... variety is what makes this world such an interesting place ...

i disagree about the home analogy ... i think it does fit ... not everyone who blogs out here in www is seeking validation ... i think that frankly its pretty pathetic to seek personal validation from complete strangers ...

oh ... opinions and personal views are neither valid nor invalid ... they merely are ...

Reverend X said...

Whoa whoa, slow it down. I read many blogs. I debate only when it is important for the preservation of the nation. Most of my comments on other's blogs are thank yous for inspiration and respect for talent. Oh yeah, and the occasional "draw the fire" off a host who is not calibrated for the baser forms of disagreement. That's how i met k9. Called him a pig f***er and dared him to take up his torch with me. As I said, i usually find confrontation easily. It could be the words I use.
People all have different reasons for blogging. personal validation is just one of the reasons. Pathetic? To some. Everyone is viewed as pathetic by someone some where some time. I have no use for chior preaching accolades, but we covered that already. I dig the friction.
Why do you do it? What motivates you to create and publish your production? Home still does not fit the medium. Perhaps story is a better fit. The blog is produced, published, and displayed. Why do you create your net novella/ web epic?

One more thing.... If your opinion is that you can fly, it's invalidated upon impact. If your personal view is that the world is flat, it invalidates at the horizon.

K9 said...

/bark bark bark


I don't think anybody solid cares whether I agree with them or not. You're right that I have the option to move on and say nothing, and that is probably the more mature way to go.

I can assure you it will be the way I handle my visits to your site, ma'am. For I have read nothing there, innermost thoughts or otherwise, that would irk me to the degree that gave birth to this fiction.

Understand, I make the distinction between K9 and myself. He is a character that has his own voice. And Ive taken more digs than a graveyard for my steaming hot brown calling cards; bitch slapped all over the blogoshpere and it is great amusement to me.

Is there not something to be said for the "fly in the ointment?" Something to rage against instead of the eternal round robin of "I agree?" Clearly there is no need for yet another political blog or personal diary in this community, especially from a "baser life form" right rev? No nymph, I do not give myself credit. Except for martyring you know who.

infinitesimal said...

K9: Ad Hominem digs?
ps: I was bored silly before you showed up. I am stubborn as hell, but I think I feel you now.

X: You impress me to all get out! Your hominems cracked me up! I see you have been busy since I last came to visit.

Do not take Vanille too seriously. She has the voice of a sugarspun pixi and is always running about cutting and pasting, and begging me to allow her to comment. But she is a saucey bitch and thinks she is the queen. (a 7 inch queen? unlikely.) Nontheless, she needed her own space because she has a deep affinity for the cut and paste, and it was overwhelming my blog. (she has still leaked in with the last 2 posts, I am lazy)

Funny thing, people like her better I have found. They must be bored too. Everybody loves a character.

My take is that writers love readers and nobody posts here with out advertising, and K9 has won with his final point to that vein.

Time to be a student now, gotta come back and finish what I missed last week on your blog.