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Pointing out logical fallacies.


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In a thread a poster committed what I think is an ad hominem attack. I don't generally report them but I do think it is useful to point them out to show that the poster's argument is weak. Recently a moderator added a note that pointing these out in the thread also constitutes an ad hom attack. While it may well discredit the poster, and in that sense may meet the definition of an ad Hominem, I suggest the primary purpose of pointing out the logical fallacy is to demonstrate that the argument is weak. I think for consistency, pointing out any logical fallacy would have to be considered an ad hominem attack by the moderators description. Are the only remedies really to report these fallacies or ignore them?

 

What are your thoughts?

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Moderators are here to moderate.

 

Ad hominem is a fallacy because it distracts from the topic under discussion. It implies that the argument can be dismissed, not because of its validity, but because of some irrelevant personal reason.

 

Even under the situation where one responds immediately (and not as part of the debate), it's a questionable practice, because of the tendency for the discussion to center around whether it's an ad hominem or not. Waiting to do so (and in a different thread, no less) and doing it as part of a discussion is even worse, because it's simply retaliation and tends to poison the well. In the context of your post, the relevant content would have not been changed at all if you had omitted the sentence about allegedly being attacked. You didn't even provide a link that people might check for themselves, not that that would excuse it. An ad hominem attack is, by definition, not a valid argument. Responding to one is off-topic. It's not appropriate to bring it up later to use it as a bludgeon.

 

——

 

That said, I'll also say I'm not a fan of threatening to or calling "troll," either, for similar reasons.

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Please. Someone saying your argument is weak and violates logic is a personal attack? [/Quote]

 

DH; Nonsense, just as your comment here or my comment is, they can be defined as opinion.

 

Are the only remedies really to report these fallacies or ignore them?[/Quote]

 

cypress; I have noticed on several of your post, where as a moderator, he will admonish your post during the discussion which I find disgusting. However moderators "here" are expected and do participate in conversations. As I, I think your primary motivation to post lies in some disagreement with in the thread, which IMO is fine and adds to the interest of the reader. There is nothing less interesting in two, three or more posters patting themselves on the back over some trivial subject.

 

Since at least two moderators here and a couple posters, seem to hold grudges from elsewhere and will never post in agreement with any of your comments, to report any thread or post, in turn to them, seems rather fruitless. Ignore them, move on to the next challenge and note that most every one of your post/threads has been or will be scrutinized. You and I and a very few others are still around, that will challenge a consensus of authority in any way, even when right or correct and I won't bother you with the numbers of those now banned or gone, which are many....

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cypress; I have noticed on several of your post, where as a moderator, he will admonish your post during the discussion which I find disgusting.

 

Where? Please give examples or retract the accusation. When I post as a moderator, it is quite clearly labeled as a moderator note (and before that software was adopted, in colored text).

 

However moderators "here" are expected and do participate in conversations. As I, I think your primary motivation to post lies in some disagreement with in the thread, which IMO is fine and adds to the interest of the reader. There is nothing less interesting in two, three or more posters patting themselves on the back over some trivial subject.

 

When moderators participate in discussions they are not doing so as moderators.

 

Since at least two moderators here and a couple posters, seem to hold grudges from elsewhere and will never post in agreement with any of your comments, to report any thread or post, in turn to them, seems rather fruitless. Ignore them, move on to the next challenge and note that most every one of your post/threads has been or will be scrutinized. You and I and a very few others are still around, that will challenge a consensus of authority in any way, even when right or correct and I won't bother you with the numbers of those now banned or gone, which are many....

 

It's always possible that the disagreement is due to errors of fact, or because different opinions are held.

 

User that have been banned (for reasons other than spam) are logged, along with the reasons why — the bans are due to rules violations. Breaking the rules is one challenge to authority that will not be ignored.

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Part of our moderation policy requires staff to not act as moderators in discussions they are actively participating in, unless urgent action needs to be taken (someone just posted a bunch of porn) or no other staff are available. I enforce this rule actively. If you do see it violated, I would rather you not ignore it, but bring it to the attention of the administrators. (If not me, than one of the other three.) If we are not made aware of it, we cannot stop it.

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DH; Nonsense, just as your comment here or my comment is, they can be defined as opinion.

 

 

 

cypress; I have noticed on several of your post, where as a moderator, he will admonish your post during the discussion which I find disgusting. However moderators "here" are expected and do participate in conversations. As I, I think your primary motivation to post lies in some disagreement with in the thread, which IMO is fine and adds to the interest of the reader. There is nothing less interesting in two, three or more posters patting themselves on the back over some trivial subject.

 

Since at least two moderators here and a couple posters, seem to hold grudges from elsewhere and will never post in agreement with any of your comments, to report any thread or post, in turn to them, seems rather fruitless. Ignore them, move on to the next challenge and note that most every one of your post/threads has been or will be scrutinized. You and I and a very few others are still around, that will challenge a consensus of authority in any way, even when right or correct and I won't bother you with the numbers of those now banned or gone, which are many....

 

 

So the accuracy of a posters evidence is irrelevant to you and you will argue things that are not true just so you can oppose people who are correct but you don't like them personally? Typical...

 

Please. Someone saying your argument is weak and violates logic is a personal attack?

 

 

The truth should never be personal, the truth should be pursued at all costs but simply being stubborn and obtuse because you don't like the truth is the real problem here. To some people any disagreement is a personal attack, I like disagreement, only a true friend would tell you your argument is weak or incorrect, some one who agrees with you just because they want to be part of your posse' is insulting. Kind of like chatting up a girl you really don't like so she will have sex with you, it's dishonest and disgusting. Respect=truth, this requires that you disagree when it's necessary :doh:

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DH; Nonsense, just as your comment here or my comment is, they can be defined as opinion.

 

I suspect he agrees and was being sarcastic. At least that is the way I took it.

 

 

 

cypress; I have noticed on several of your post, where as a moderator, he will admonish your post during the discussion which I find disgusting. However moderators "here" are expected and do participate in conversations.

 

Yes, I had been using his posting characteristics as a model to go by. I suppose, depending on the outcome of this thread I may have to find a different model. Perhaps this an example of being admonished for what he considered a logical fallacy and in the process he committed an ad hominem by his definition... Just a couple posts later we have this one, I leave it to the reader to decide what category to place it.

 

It wasn't hard to find more examples that I won't mention, but since I had thought this practice was proper I didn't make an issue of it at the time. I am anxious to here what other think. At the moment I am in a bit of a quandary as to how to proceed.

 

Since at least two moderators here and a couple posters, seem to hold grudges from elsewhere and will never post in agreement with any of your comments, to report any thread or post, in turn to them, seems rather fruitless. Ignore them, move on to the next challenge and note that most every one of your post/threads has been or will be scrutinized.

 

Perhaps this is good advice. Don't point them out, don't report them as this is more likely to be counterproductive for me.

 

You and I and a very few others are still around, that will challenge a consensus of authority in any way, even when right or correct and I won't bother you with the numbers of those now banned or gone, which are many....

 

Though errors of fact don't likely result in banning, selective enforcement of rules can be a very effective way to shape the content and discussion. I am not saying that this has occurred or is occurring but interpretations of rules such as the one being discussed in this thread seem ripe for this kind of eventuality. if this is policy, at the very least it should be clearly described in both the rules and posting etiquette sections. I don't see it mentioned at all.

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Actually, I misread the OP. I read it as cypress complaining about someone else calling cypress on the carpet for using a logical fallacy, that such complaints are ad hominem attacks. On re-reading, it appears that cypress is complaining about someone making a true ad hominem attack against cypress. If that is the case, the rules of the forum are clear: We want a civil discourse here.

 

The correct recourse is to report the post in question. The moderators do take such complaints seriously if they are valid complaints.

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Yes, I had been using his posting characteristics as a model to go by. I suppose, depending on the outcome of this thread I may have to find a different model. Perhaps this an example of being admonished for what he considered a logical fallacy and in the process he committed an ad hominem by his definition... Just a couple posts later we have this one, I leave it to the reader to decide what category to place it.

 

It wasn't hard to find more examples that I won't mention, but since I had thought this practice was proper I didn't make an issue of it at the time. I am anxious to here what other think. At the moment I am in a bit of a quandary as to how to proceed.

 

Where is the ad hominem in either of those posts?

 

Though errors of fact don't likely result in banning, selective enforcement of rules can be a very effective way to shape the content and discussion. I am not saying that this has occurred or is occurring but interpretations of rules such as the one being discussed in this thread seem ripe for this kind of eventuality. if this is policy, at the very least it should be clearly described in both the rules and posting etiquette sections. I don't see it mentioned at all.

 

Rule 2.1.a No flaming. Refrain from insulting or attacking users in a discussion.

Rule 2.4 The use of logical fallacies to prove a point is prohibited. The use of fallacies undermines an argument, and the constant use of them is simply irritating.

Rule 2.5 Stay on topic.

 

——

 

I need to point out that the thread title misrepresents the position I espoused in the other thread. It is not pointing out fallacies, in general, that was the problem. It was pointing out and responding to a personal attack, i.e. nothing to do with the topic being discussed.

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The responses are interesting enough I suppose but other than other than Jackson33 they have been mostly off topic and absent much practical advice.

 

Is pointing out the use by another poster of the logical fallacy of an ad hominem in itself an ad hominem?

 

If so do the site rules make it clear that pointing out ad hominem attacks are themselves ad hominems? If not are the rules vague in this regard?

 

Also:

 

Is it off topic?

Is it an insult?

 

If so, wouldn't pointing out any logical fallacy also be off-topic and an ad hominem?

 

Finally is reporting them really the most appropriate response?

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Calling a poster "habitually illogical" and degrading their content on this basis would be an ad hominem attack. It implies that the logic in a specific post is necessarily or probably flawed without direct reference to the flaws in the post's logic (i.e. by reference to other posts of that user).

 

Discussing the specifics of how a post's logic is flawed with clear explanation of why/how some other logic is more reasonable is just good (i.e. constructive) discussion, imo.

Edited by lemur
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Is pointing out the use by another poster of the logical fallacy of an ad hominem in itself an ad hominem?

No.

 

If so do the site rules make it clear that pointing out ad hominem attacks are themselves ad hominems? If not are the rules vague in this regard?

It is not a matter of our rules. It is a matter of a definition in logic textbooks.

 

Is it off topic?

Is it an insult?

It can be either, depending on how it is done. A conversation that devolves into a debate about whether a particular point was fallacious is off-topic. A debater that questions his opponent's competence and motives through admonishment -- "come on, you can do better than that" -- is insulting.

 

Finally is reporting them really the most appropriate response?

It is if you want us to enforce the rules.

 

It's also better for debate if fallacies are pointed out by a third party. Should one of the debaters point it out, it'll become yet another point of dispute; should a moderator take action, the two parties can continue debating each other as they were before, though perhaps less fallaciously.

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