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...then the conversational terrorists have already won.
January 22, 2003 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Conversational Terrorism Protect yourself from responding to or using these rhetorical cheats. (via the lovely boingboing)
posted by PinkStainlessTail (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Now besides grammar nazi's we'll also be subject to the logical argument gestapo....
posted by PenDevil at 6:20 AM on January 22, 2003


Do they hand this to every talk radio jock on their first day:
"Well, you might not have a well-founded opinion on every issue, so just close your eyes, point to one of these little babies and you're all set. Now go get 'em kid!"
posted by chandy72 at 6:22 AM on January 22, 2003


One of these days I'm going to set up a Argument Certification system, basically converting introductory philosophy course material into a way of preparing people to argue well, specifically on the net. You can then wear your certification level as a badge. There could even be negative levels, as punishment for poor arguments. You could go from neophyte to master debater depending on your dedication to your arguments. And one could have a central certificate authority that would handle the ratings, and the ability to report good or bad arguments made by the participants. Kind of an online equivalent of a reputation.

If this were the late nineties I'd have VCs at my door by now.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:29 AM on January 22, 2003


I'd like to respond to this thread, but taking into account your background, education, and intelligence, I am quite sure that you would not be able to understand.
posted by moonbiter at 6:31 AM on January 22, 2003


These are great. I've studied logic, but can never remember the various fallacies, etc. Now I can look them up, and the examples are really enjoyable.

Now that I've conceded that this is a good site, perhaps I can be allowed a critcism without being told I'm doing a sleight of mind nitpick - why oh why must this web page feature dark blue text on black background.
posted by orange swan at 6:33 AM on January 22, 2003


Seriously, thanks for the link. Interesting and informative.
posted by moonbiter at 6:33 AM on January 22, 2003


Great link! I recognize so many of these tactics and am embarassed to have used many of them. I try as much as possible to eliminate them from my discussions with people, but it can be very difficult. At least now, I'll be able to throw them back in people's faces when they use them as 'conversational terrorists'. Where would that tactic land?
posted by PigAlien at 7:12 AM on January 22, 2003


orange swan, try here. It's a bit less Fallacies for the Layperson, but does provide examples of each without that blue-on-black text.
posted by tolkhan at 7:15 AM on January 22, 2003


Stephen's Guide To Logical Fallacies

This is not an exhaustive list. There are longer ones which I can find at the moment. But one of my favorite fallacies, which "Stephen's" neglects is.......

"Und So Weiter" - Literally, in German, "And so on", and serves as shorthand for "And so on, and so on, and so on....": The is the Fallacy of Assumed Continuity. Meaning: we can NEVER assume the continuation of trends. In fact, the geological record is full of catastrophes which ended longstanding trends -- abruptly.

We all know this implicitly, of course. We know, for example, that the "trend" of our lives will one day, sooner or later, end abruptly. But we normally forget the wider implications, or even vehemently deny them, as in: "Director of Woods Hole warns of Sudden Climate Change brought about by Global Warming - "We are walking towards a cliff", says Bob Gagosian... "That's just nuts!" is the common response. This news is "nuts", course, because of the emotional weight of the "Und So Weiter" fallacy.
posted by troutfishing at 7:28 AM on January 22, 2003


Too bad all the fun tactics, like "Forehead Fun" ("whilst your opponent is talking, switch your gaze momentarily to his forehead and then back to the eyes") are the ones you can't use on the internet.
posted by furiousthought at 7:33 AM on January 22, 2003


So there! :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:43 AM on January 22, 2003


I might have missed it, but I didn't see the "Am Not/Are Too" tactic.
I've totally had people use the looking at the forehead, then, back to the eyes and that's just plain wrong. Almost as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you're talking and them muttering 'uh-huh, uh-huh' impatiently till you have to take a breath and then having the conversation hijacked.
I should probably come up with a catchier name for that...
posted by chandy72 at 7:55 AM on January 22, 2003


Well, I think that just about wraps up MetaFilter once and for all, so thank you ladies and gentlemen and plese proceed in an orderly manner to the nearest exits!
posted by briank at 7:56 AM on January 22, 2003


Almost as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you're talking and them muttering 'uh-huh, uh-huh' impatiently till you have to take a breath and then having the conversation hijacked.
I should probably come up with a catchier name for that...


I call this the K.C. and the Sunshine Band Technique.

The "non-apology apology" is my fave.
"I'm sorry you didn't understand."
"I'm sorry you got upset."
"I'm sorry that confused you."

Classic assholery.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:59 AM on January 22, 2003


I didn't see 'guilt trip' on the list, or did I miss it?

"What a retard."
"That's not funny. My sister is retarded."

"What kind of stupid name is 'Olga'?"
"My mom's name is Olga."
posted by troybob at 8:27 AM on January 22, 2003


Do you want to ruin mefi? Is that what you want?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:37 AM on January 22, 2003


Thanks for the link PST.

The "non-apology apology" is my fave.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld use this very tactic in his "apology" to Vietnam veterans.
posted by nofundy at 8:37 AM on January 22, 2003


"Why, that's Calvinism!"
posted by brownpau at 8:54 AM on January 22, 2003


Interesting link and all, but you have to admit that Huey Long would trounce any well-mannered MeFier in a public debate. He was so good, they're teaching classes today to discredit what he said over 50 years ago. Now that is how one debates properly.
posted by son_of_minya at 9:42 AM on January 22, 2003


There should be people who're equipped with this list and wander around wearing striped jerseys, carrying flags to throw in the air and whistles to blow when they hear a conversation being hijacked this way. *fweet!* "Ad Hominem, five yards." And then the offender would be forcibly moved five yards away from their conversation partner.
posted by wanderingmind at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2003


Alex, I'll take "Things my girlfriend should read, but I don't have the guts to send her." for 300
posted by woil at 10:06 AM on January 22, 2003


You could go from neophyte to master debater...

Am I the only one with a dirty imagination here? This made me smile...
posted by Termite at 12:35 PM on January 22, 2003


Termite, what would your father say if he could read you now? (Selective Quotation)
posted by Holden at 12:52 PM on January 22, 2003


Have you noticed that professional athletes, in TV and radio interviews, invariably use the "Like I said..." gambit?
posted by Holden at 12:57 PM on January 22, 2003


These are NOT logical fallacies.

These are tactics that people use to dominate an argument when they don't necessarily have a good argument. This is sophistry.
posted by Hildago at 12:59 PM on January 22, 2003


You could go from neophyte to master debater...

Where does cunning linguist fall on that scale?

Hildago: some of them *are* logical fallacies. The ad hominem, and the authority by association are both logical fallacy tactics. The thing about logical fallacies is that they all LOOK exactly like sophistry because they *are* sophistry, but they only make up a subset of its many methods...
posted by jaded at 2:22 PM on January 22, 2003


Yeah, a couple are, but 90% of them are just bad debate techniques, and I don't want someone telling me I've made a logical mistake when in reality I'm just being an asshole...
posted by Hildago at 3:22 PM on January 22, 2003


Maybe they're just trying to be nice...by not calling you an asshole, I mean ;-)
posted by jaded at 8:06 PM on January 22, 2003


You have to be cruel to be kind.

...Studies which you've never heard of prove this.
posted by Hildago at 10:54 PM on January 22, 2003


This thread this thousands of years old! The best strategy for endrunning the sophists is the Socratic Method. It's used intuitively by little children to drive their parents nuts! You've probably used it yourself without realizing it.

Just keep asking questions, clarifying definitions, and asking to see evidence. If your opponent's position is fallacious or not in your best interests, it'll be exposed sooner or later. Play humbly and simply, let your opponent underestimate you. Think Columbo!
posted by wobh at 7:38 AM on January 23, 2003


Ahh Columbo. The last truly great cop show......

*breaks out of reverie, remembers purpose for being here*

Oh yeah, A list of fallacious arguments.
posted by troutfishing at 8:38 AM on January 23, 2003


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