Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sea Lions

I've definitely looked at the web comic Wondermark before, but I haven't been a regular reader. Today I saw a link to a fair recent strip about Sea Lions that caught my fancy.

I've posted here before about how to argue, mostly to point out how other people are doing it wrong. Recently I talked about the innovation of the strongest argumentators being co-opted and bastardized by those who they argue against. This comic shows two tactics that have been thoroughly debased - reasonability and demanding evidence.

This is pernicious stuff to use. It's very tough to attack someone for being reasonable or for wanting evidence to back up claims. On the other hand, it's pretty obvious that these are often tactics to make people feel that they are better than other people rather than honest attempts at discussion. You can usually tell that people doing this, like the sea lion, are using exaggerated neutral language.

This brings me back to my post on ad hominem last week. At some point, pointing out that someone is just annoying or comes across as an idiot is just fair game, and it doesn't make them right to do so. In a more civilized era behaviour like this would be dealt with by a punch in the face.

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