June 7, 2011

Logic Lessons: Ad Hominem

Ad hominem, or "against the man", is the most common logical fallacy to be encountered, and is a very popular tactic by evolutionists and atheists. People use this to provoke their opponent instead of actually addressing the topic, and it is primarily intended to humiliate.

Ad hominem, or "against the man", is the most common logical fallacy to be encountered, and is a very popular tactic by evolutionists and atheists.

Normally, people find it quite easy to recognize when it is used as a simple insult, but it can be rather well hidden at other times. What complicates matters is that ad hominem attacks can be mixed with one or more other fallacies to manufacture a particularly loathsome statement. I will bring discuss these mixes again when I write about the "straw man" and "poisoning the well" fallacies.

To make matters worse, words with emotionally-laden connotations are used to create a negative response against the opponent. I have seen "redneck" and "homophobe" used in spiteful articles and comments because they are loaded terms. I have been called a "fundie" (short for "Fundamentalist") simply because I said that I believe the Bible. When applied to Christians, it is meant to convey a rigid, legalistic, dour religious stereotype that unfortunately does exist today. This is an attempt to color someone else's perceptions of what I am saying as if to negate my remarks.

These ad hominem attacks are not always clear cut. It would be convenient if a spiteful debater would simply say what he means, "You're a doo doo head and I want to hurt you!", but that rarely happens. Ad hominem is not always a matter of forthright name calling.

When used skilfully in a tense situation (again, it is a logical fallacy and not a recommended tactic for discussion), ad hominems can provoke an emotional reaction in an opponent and cause him or her to lash out and possibly self-destruct. The argument is won, but not on the merits of the concepts that were raised. I often irritate my own opponents by seeing the attacks for what they are and pointing them out.I have a few examples of some of these attacks:

Here is one with a condescending attitude: "Lynda, honey, get a grip. If the men around you can't be mature, respectful and self-responsible on their own, get outta the preschool and find some real men." Weblogs that do not permit ad hominem attacks would have disallowed that remark.
This next one not only engages in ad hominem, but in dishonesty to further the emotional reaction. Quoting me, in a comment that was directed to someone else: I guess that means that you do not have to be civil any longer?
In his reply, an outright lie was introduced: Dude, why pretend? You’re never civil from the beginning. Those of us who’ve played with you know this, and Steve’s about to learn.
Quoting me again: Then I won’t waste your time and mine with a discussion.
His reply, with another ad hominem, plus an outright lie, plus projection (because I dealt with him on another occasion): Yeah, what I just said (I hate to repeat myself). You’re going to throw out the standard lines, and when they’re batted out of the park, it’s all ad hominem, all the time.
How about an ad hominiem with a serving of red herring? "Not to mention the effects such a mentality as Trish's can have on women they've become victims of sexual assault." Not only is Trish insulted, but the diversion of "sexual assault" was brought into the conversation, which was irrelevant.

This mix is interesting: "...it seems that's what you want because you clearly can't answer the question. What a way to be a witness, btw." It is ad hominem, with a bit of argument from silence (which is assuming that because a certain question was not answered, the other party was unable to answer; more about the argument from silence another time), followed by an appeal to guilt (the Christian "witness" remark). I dropped that conversation because it was too irritating.

There are a few of things that I have noticed with ad hominem attacks. First and foremost, I repeat that they are used to hurt or humiliate. Also, part of their power is an appeal to pride. When your pride is attacked, you may be more inclined to chase after the red herring and "show them", but it is far more annoying to your antagonist to either ignore the attack, or let them know that you are not falling for it. Unfortunately, I have not always been on guard. The main "benefits" of the ad hominem fallacy are to avoid, disrupt and change a discussion without actually dealing with the original point, savvy?

Now you're forewarned. When subject to ad hominem distractions, you can either point them out and stay on topic, or laugh and do something more productive.


June 6, 2011


Not in the mood to write just now, so I'll show you this bumper sticker that I found. I think it's great, and too bad the publisher is gone or I would get more.

June 4, 2011

Christians are BAD PEOPLE!

Today's article is quite timely. I mentioned Norman the paranoid troll in my last post, and he stepped up irrational, personal attacks. Yes, I like to provoke — for a reason: To show what is inside. It ain't purty. One of his favorite mantras is how Christians are awful people. (By the way, I mention Norman because of his breathtaking insanity, but he is far from being the only atheist that makes the "Christians are awful people" assertion.) I am not impressed by such an attack. Not only do these atheists expect Christians to meet their personal expectations, but when we fail (something that must happen because their "standards" are not only arbitrary, but can shift moment to moment), they can say, "See? Christians are bad. There is no God!" I believe it is a shallow cop-out, especially since atheists have no moral foundation; we cannot say, "You are a bad atheist". No, this excuse is one-sided, cheap and convenient.

But enough of my rant. Take a look at this:

"One of the most notable and repeated ways that atheist leaders such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have attacked religion is by attacking religious people. Quotes abound, but here are a few particularly juicy ones. No matter what you think of the content, you have to admire the punchy, clever style of their writing."
Read the article here: Simple Apologetics: Are Christians quite possibly the worst group of people, ever?

June 3, 2011

Logic Lessons: Just the Facts

What do Anthony Weiner, my friend Neil, a KKK rally and Norman the Paranoid Troll all have in common? Insufficient Evidence.

This article presents one difficulty for me: My sense of humor. People who know me are well aware of my fondness for plays on words, and I could have a field day with the current scandal of Anthony Weiner. It will be hard difficult, but I should be able to refrain from indulging in too many tacky puns. Also, I intend to stay on my topic without expressing my political opinions.

The first part of this article could be outdated within hours, but the lesson for the moment is still valid. One thing that people just love to do is believe that they know (or pretend that they know) something when they do not have enough facts for an accurate judgment. Too often, these stem from an emotional basis or bias.

From the information that I have right now, Anthony Weiner is accused of using his Twitter account to send a picture of his covered but distinct naughty bits to a woman. I have heard some interesting comments that Weiner is a scumbag weasel, and must be lying. Well, maybe he is a dreadful person, but so what? Yes, he acts like a liar covering up when asked simple yes or no questions. Yes, he got hostile. Yes, he gets rude. What do you know? Nothing has been proven. "Everyone knows" that he is guilty, but that is based on circumstantial evidence and emotion, not on actual facts, Frankie. Addendum: He admitted some of this, but the point is still valid: Nobody had actual knowledge, just surmise.

I've mentioned Neil in the past, and the huge multi-million-dollar soulless corporation that employs him. They are prone to hire "managers" that are, bluntly, poor thinkers. Not only are they hired to manage areas or departments when they have little or no knowledge of the processes involved, but some "managers" in a different city and state (corporate headquarters) have Neil all figured out — based on rumor and hearsay, not on having met or even spoken with him. That is no way to act  in supervisory and management positions! Get the facts, Felicity.

Some time in the 1990s, my curiosity got overwhelming and I had the opportunity to attend a Ku Klux Klan rally in Michigan. I think they wanted to try to set up a local office there, I do not remember now. What I do remember is that they were articulate, soft-spoken and gracious. They were well within their rights, and did not say anything directly hateful, nor did they incite violence.

However, the crowd was unruly, loud, obscene and obnoxious, shouting down the speakers. (I did not get too close, I stayed near the police on horseback and learned some things from them.) When the KKK passed out their literature, people snatched it away, destroyed it, attempted to eat it and acted like jerks. Now be honest. If you were there and did not know anything about the KKK, would you have felt that they were persecuted victims? You would not have been able to make an informed decision about the KKK until you had the facts, Ferdinand.

Norman the troll will make outrageous accusations about me, God, Jesus, the Bible, Christians and so on. There are two things that immediately come to mind. First, I posted some Christian song lyrics in the comments area of a Weblog post. He said that I posted them so I could feel better about myself, or something ridiculous like that. In addition, he makes claims that I am "afraid" that other people will learn "the truth", because I am constantly lying. Riiiight. I have low tolerance for hateful personal attacks, let alone, those without evidence. Lord, I need help with patience...

He is like many other Internet atheists that I have encountered. They attempt to belittle and intimidate instead of deal with the subject at hand. One trick is to make accusations (often as diversions from the topic under discussion) where they pretend know your heart and soul. When attempting to have a rational discussion, there is no place for foolish lies and guesswork about someone's motivation. If there is a way to substantiate such assertions, however, there is a chance that your opponent's clouded judgment is germane to the discussion (similar to "discrediting the witness"). Otherwise, guess what? Your libelous lamentations are going to be a conversation killer. Stick to the facts, Flossie.

Discussions on certain subjects often cause emotional reactions by their very nature. People cannot be clinically objective all the time, and their thinking can be clouded by their emotions. We can help matters by pointing out that speculations based on emotion or bias are irrelevant (but say this in a pleasant manner), and that we need to be concerned with the facts. Being aware of what is happening is a step in the right direction.

June 1, 2011

Atheistic Presuppositions 2: Material World Only

Evolutionary science of phrenology in action.
In addition to the previous post on the flaws in some of the scientific "un" disciplines I offer further proof that not only is modern science not being honest with all the facts but they are purposely negating or ignoring entire aspects of the human experience to try and keep their flawed worldview intact. They are willfully ignoring things to maintain their myopic, categorized and nicely boxed-in reality.

May 31, 2011

Logic Lessons: Introduction

Buona sera. In the past, I have shown some horrible logical fallacies that I have endured. So, I've decided to use them to inform and edjamakate people. 

To facilitate that metric (wait, I can't stand that expression) help achieve this goal (there, much better), I thought it would be good to show errors of logic. No, I am not into the "hardcore" stuff, with mathematics and such. Instead, this will be what real people use. Sometimes I will use the Latin terms, but not always. Some fallacies are blurred, combined and overlap, so I will simply describe what is happening and how to avoid being tricked. When you see these schemes and errors for what they are, you are less vulnerable.

There have been many times that I have seen logical fallacies utilized by leftists and atheists to further their ends, and felt that I could have a separate Weblog devoted to such irrational "thinking". (Conservatives and Christians are not immune, however. In fact, there were times I would watch Hannity in a discussion, and wished for a direct line so I could say, "Sean...don't...you shouldn't...") So, I am hoping that I can help people spot errors in reasoning and avoid being manipulated by them, but also to be able to avoid giving enemies a reason to reject our message (1 Peter 3.16 applies somewhat).

In addition, good reasoning will be very useful in the upcoming presidential campaign season. Well, such skills are always useful when subjected to politics, but even more so these days.

Don't make the straw man fallacy and assume that I think that I am perfectly suited to the task, never making a mistake. (In fact, that is one of the most common fallacies that I encounter. I hate it. And I refuse to defend statements that I did not make or positions that I do not hold.) There is one particular logical fallacy in which I have deliberately indulged several times, and nobody has pointed it out to me yet!

If you were paying attention, you may have realized that I just taught you something. Ain't I clever?

After all that introduction to the series, here is the first actual lesson. Fortunately, it's short.

When I have written in Weblogs, forums or whatever about Christians being persecuted, I have received responses along the lines of, "Other people get persecuted, too!", or, "If it had happened to a (fill in group member here), what would you think?"
Ignoratio elenchi. Sounds like an Italian food. Well, sorta. It's also called red herring, a diversionary tactic. (I prefer my red herring smoked, with lemon juice.) I have noticed that diversions like this lead to further diversions, and then you're left defending something that has little or no resemblance to the original topic. Further, it is often used to ridicule the original point. I have been engaged in "discussions" about the appeal to Christian women for modesty, and have been called upon to be shamed for my views because I am "repressing" women because of my own immaturity. Sorry, Sherlock, not falling for that nonsense. The article was an appeal to Christian women, and not an effort to make anyone do anything.

So, there's your introductory lesson. I hope you liked it, and that future illustrations can be interesting and entertaining. After all, this Weblog is to not only inform, but entertain. Occasionally, it can be both at once, you savvy?

May 30, 2011

If I Die Before You Wake

We need to take few minutes to remember those who have fallen, and pray for those who are still serving to protect our freedoms.

Subscribe in a reader