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 The sanity of Joe Meert....
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SFN Die Hard

14408 Posts

Posted - 05/29/2006 :  11:32:39  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Some time back, I enjoyed some conversations with Joe. How they went might be seen by example here, where he mildly expounds upon Triassic forest fires, jackleg politicians, hatred. and all kind'a good shit like that. The following exerpt, I'm sure, will ring a chord with us all, as we encounter it every day:
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Argumentum ad googlum

I've noticed a very dangerous trend on discussion boards (especially those that discuss pseudoscience). The web is a tremendous resource for people wanting basic information on a topic. The problem is that it's easy to forget that anyone with the desire and webspace can put up a webpage. The temptation to find a quick retort means that, many times, people don't bother to check the source carefully. In still other cases, people will look for a specific phrase that may be taken out-of-context to support their argument. I call this internet-based argument searching argumentum ad googlum.

Argumentum ad googlum is not necessarily a bad thing after all isn't the 'information superhighway' supposed to make our lives easier? Are we not all to be commended for 'doing research' on a topic before arguing about it? The problem is that without a solid base of knowledge, it is equally likely that we stumble upon misinformation when looking for information. I found, much to my dismay, that any technical argument I might make can be seemingly countered by an argumentum ad googlum. In some cases, it may be that my argument was poorly made or contained some errors. In this case, a good google argument can help clear up misconceptions. In many cases, I've found that google is used to argue simply for arguments sake.

The question is whether or not we should avoid google when making an argument. I don't think so. There is a lot of good information out there and google is a superb search engine. The information can be placed at our fingertips in a matter of seconds. We must also understand that scientific research is not easily summarized on a single webpage. We cannot, for example, discuss the intricacies of plate tectonic theory on a single website. We cannot, for example, highlight the research on mantle convection using a webpage. We can find bits and pieces of these distributed around the web, but it is both dangerous and irresponsible to think that we can google away a complex discussion.

I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to argumentum ad googlum. I've learned long ago that there is no substitute for detailed research on a topic (even those that show up on discussion boards). Just be sure that you use google wisely and always be prepared to back up your arguments!


Joe Meert

I wonder if Joe might someday pay a visit to our fractious, little backwater. Maybe if we throw a party....

"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres

"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

SFN Regular

1496 Posts

Posted - 05/29/2006 :  17:14:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message
That's good advice, to which could be added, that if someone is enthusiastic about a topic, (but doesn't have experience or a degree in it,) "argumentum ad googlum" can still be used to backup a claim. Also adding a little politeness or a bit of humility goes along way towards keeping things focused and civil with most folks on discussion boards, (the ones who are civilized.)

Diversity, independence, innovation and imagination are progressive concepts ultimately alien to the conservative mind.

"TAX AND SPEND" IS GOOD! (TAX: Wealthy corporations who won't go poor even after taxes. SPEND: On public works programs, education, the environment, improvements.)
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

26020 Posts

Posted - 05/29/2006 :  17:31:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
What, does Meert mean that our book announcement at the bottom of this Skeptic Summary is inappropriate?!?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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