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Apr 22 2009

Appeal to Ridicule and Ad Hominem

Gonzo of the Gonzolog has a nice post up concerning the logical fallacy of “appeal to ridicule”, which has been defined as “a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an argument”. You should go read the whole thing, but I just want to make one point of my own.

The thing about appeal to ridicule and ad hominem is that they are both thrown around indiscriminately and incorrectly by dumbfucks who don’t like it when people mock them for being dumbfucks. If you are a ridiculous fucking idiot and I ridicule you for being a ridiculous idiot, that is neither appeal to ridicule or ad hominem.

It is only appeal to ridicule or ad hominem if we are engaged in argument and I argue that *because* you are a ridiculous fucking idiot, your assertions must be false. If we are not engaged in argument, and I mock you for being a ridiculous dumbfuck merely because it amuses me to make fun of you for being a ridiculous dumbfuck, then there is no ad hominem or appeal to ridicule fallacy.

And one last thing: just because *you* claim we are engaged in argument, doesn’t mean we are. Dumbfucks spouting gibberish and then petulantly stamping their feet and demanding “rational argument” and “reasoned responses” frequently deserve nothing but mockery. This is especially the case when *you* approach *me* and start spouting dumbfuck gibberish.

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  1. 1
    The Barefoot Bum

    You moronic motherfucker, it’s totally fucking retarded to hold that ridicule and insult are ever acceptable. And stop swearing, goddamnit! It fucking offends me.

  2. 2
    Comrade PhysioProf

    Dude, you know I love you, but it really hurts a substantial number of people to hear the word “retarded” used as a generic insult. Please don’t do that here. Insult is, of course, fantastic, but insults based on slurs of marginalized or oppressed groups of people is not.

  3. 3
    Learn Hexadecimal

    It’s even better than that.

    What you do is the exact opposite of appeal to ridicule or ad hominem. Instead of claiming that their assertions must be false because they’re total nutjobs, you mock them for being total nutjobs because their assertions are so very ludicrously false!

  4. 4
    Gonzo

    Hahaha! That’s just so true!!!
    The funny thing about this is that their line of reasoning is fallacious. (Argument from silence and style over substance).
    After someone told me this week, that I *can’t* even disprove an argument, because I *refused* to argue with him, I decided it’s about time I make a series on fallacies.
    Thanks for linking to me!
    :)

  5. 5
    Spiny Norman

    The hilarious thing is that most of these fartnozzles are too fucking stupid to understand the argument that you make in *this post*.

  6. 6
    rehctaw

    Give `em heck Bro.

    Fuck `em if they don’t realize they’re the fucking joke.

    Take Down! Two Points- Gonzo!

  7. 7
    DuWayne

    But, but – we’re supposed to engage in debate – even if it means that we spend days chasing the moving goalposts, running in circles and having our substantive responses ignored while the whole circle is run again and again.

    Fuck the dipshits, sometimes – often, the proper response is ridicule.

  8. 8
    LostMarbles

    CPP, haven’t you gotten the memo. Every human interaction that includes disagreement is a formal debate. You must have a well reasoned argument, preferably in bullet points, and a counter argument that hits every one of your opponent’s bullet points. And you’re not allowed to give up on this format no matter how asinine and dishonest the other person’s argument. Most importantly, you can’t simply call them stupid or dishonest, even if anyone with a marginally functional brain can see it, because then you are breaking the rules of debate and to the high-school debate champion there is not greater insult.

  9. 9
    PalMD

    yeah, well, people hate being told that they’re wrong. it’s a good thing i’m never wrong

  10. 10
    Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde

    Never before has the appropriate use of “dumbfuck” in netiquette been dissected with such precision.

  11. 11
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Funny. I had to explain this just today.

  12. 12
    sandy

    Loves it.

    May I suggest at some point a rant about the overuse of “impact” when the intended meaning is “affect”? Cause I fucking hate that, and it is fucking ubiquitous.

  13. 13
    Isabel

    “Dude, you know I love you, but it really hurts a substantial number of people to hear the word “retarded” used as a generic insult. Please don’t do that here. Insult is, of course, fantastic, but insults based on slurs of marginalized or oppressed groups of people is not.”

    Couldn’t an argument be made that “retarded” fell out of medical use decades ago, and is in the category of retired medical descriptions that are now common insults like idiot and moron? On the other hand…

    I have objected here to all forms of saying someone is less intelligent as an insult, but have been shouted down by people saying they are not talking about the person’s actual intelligence -just their stupid beliefs, or something like that. But whatever the excuse “stupid” people have indeed been marginalized and oppressed.

    What’s wrong with calling someone an asshole or telling them they’re full of shit, or something similar but more creative? That covers either possibility (that they are stupid or are just misguided) without being specific and insulting a marginalized group.

    Furthermore, many marginalized groups are poor and have poor nutrition and low quality education, so they in fact really are as a result often less “intelligent” but through no fault of their own.

  14. 14
    KWombles

    I bow before your incredible frakking prowess with the English language. You are frakking awesome beyond frakking belief. And I feel ever so much better for sharing that. Would have been even better if every frakking had been fucking. :-) Gonna put a little of this post over at Countering.

  15. 15
    voxleo

    While you have a point that ridicule is not necessarily all that constitutes an ad hominem attack, the larger picture which you have ignored is the more to the point of why someone may cry foul. Even when you are right, the fact remains that ridicule (even if deserved) and mockery (even if accurate) are ineffective methods to accomplish anything other than hurt.

    Besides being unnecessary, and especially if hurt IS the goal, it’s still counter-productive in the end. To disrespect and exploit the weak for being weak is nothing more than intimidation and cruelty. These are the tools of a bully, who always attacks to hide his own vulnerability. By using them, you place your own behavior on par with or even below theirs that prompted the ridicule among those who already agree with your point of view. You can think whatever you want of them, and surely others will share your view, but to resort to that low level is to make yourself look foolish regardless of the fool you mock.

    Not to mention that to those who disagreed already, it gives further comfort with the excuse to dismiss any reasonable thing you have presented. Unless you are sadistic and trying to increase animosity it is useless to accomplish anything other than stroking your own ego.

    And as to “What wrong with calling someone an asshole or telling they’re full of shit…” : What’s wrong with presenting a valid counterpoint instead? Telling someone they are stupid isn’t a counterpoint. And even if its true, how is that going to elevate the situation? Why is it not okay to insult (even stupid or misguided) specific marginalized groups but reasonable to insult a group of one?

    Frankly, it’s just plain rude.

    “Ridicule is the first and last argument of fools.”

    “To be able to bear provocation is an argument of great reason, and to forgive it of a great mind.”

  16. 16
    ginger

    Rhetorical effectiveness is substantially reduced by responding sixteen months after the discussion has petered out.

  17. 17
    Isabel

    Hey Ginger, it’s the internet!

    “What wrong with calling someone an asshole or telling they’re full of shit…” : What’s wrong with presenting a valid counterpoint instead? Telling someone they are stupid isn’t a counterpoint”

    I was only contrasting “Telling someone they are stupid” with “calling someone an asshole or telling they’re full of shit…”. Obviously “presenting a valid counterpoint ” is preferred but not relevant to the point I was making.

    “Frankly, it’s just plain rude.”

    It’s the internet!

  18. 18
    ginger

    Yes, and nothing ever dies on the internet, I grant. But I think there are probably more recent things to get inflamed about on CPP’s blog, don’t you? Certainly on the whole glorious ‘net.

  19. 19
    voxleo

    Not really – it all boils down to the same thing in the end. And I don’t feel particularly inflamed, just passionate to put energy in a more constructive direction. Just because litter has sat by the roadside for a year is no reason not to pick it up and throw it out now in order to improve the landscape, is it? Letting it lie doesn’t do much but encourage more litterbugs to add to the mess. I just happened across the discussion and felt that there were some additional considerations to fighting fire with fire.

    Now that the webs have added a new dimension to the permanence of our passing fancies, rash actions and ill manners are preserved for others to take example from in a way that perhaps our daily communications were not previously subject to as they were lost after the moment passed.

    I have sort of made it my personal quest to try and make people aware of how the negative energy we put out there is very easily magnified and reflected back, though not always immediately enough for us to see the connection. Same too, though with the positive energy, though for some reason,that always seems like it takes a little more conscious action to initiate. Maybe because the negative already has so much momentum in our current society.

    Because of this, I have tried to refrain from letting my passions get the better of me, especially when evidence of that may persist long after the passion has burned itself out. The smallest gestures of kindness and respect have a way of amplifying too, and even should they be put forth in vain to that effect, at the very least then one doesn’t add to the power of a contagious unpleasantness.

    World peace begins first within ourselves and then extends towards others from there. And anything I can do to diver energy that produces little but violence in the end is well worth the effort. If just one person in the future stops to think of the potential consequence of their actions that wouldn’t otherwise have done so, then i have managed to change the world in vast way by stopping a chain of ugliness that could continue indefinitely.

    Cheers!

  20. 20
    Isabel

    I hear ya, dude. I have already recently decided to stop cursing so much in my posts. When rereading them later I notice they seem a lot nastier than I intended, and you are right; it’s not productive.

    When I started reading blogs and posting over a year and a half ago, I was an innocent full of sweetness and light, and I feel this whole internet attitude has rubbed off on me in a negative way.

    It’s time for new traditions!

    Isabel

    xoxox

  21. 21
    Kenny

    Just for a change Dear Isabel

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_jeyfijack&w=480&h=390]

  22. 22
    Isabel

  23. 23
    voxleo

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMXCPANHeYM&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

  24. 24
    voxleo

    “At night a candle’s brighter than the sun”
    =)

  1. 25
    American Street » Blog Archive » Bar None Ranch

    [...] Lagniappe: Appeal to Ridicule and Ad Hominem [...]

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