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Skeptic Friend

333 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2007 :  09:17:58  Show Profile Send tw101356 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is an interesting post on a phenomenon we sometimes see here - the poster who keeps coming back with the same argument despite it having been refuted. Matt McIrvin is calling it the Ad Homonym attack.

- TW

Evil Skeptic

13467 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2007 :  11:57:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hmmmm... Bill Scott comes to mind. And a few others who leave and then come back with the same tired arguments...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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The Imperfectionist

4954 Posts

Posted - 11/24/2007 :  12:05:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I liked this:
In the later iterations, the presumption against ad hominem argument is on your side. Anyone who was around for the previous rounds will go nuts, and the reason they're going nuts will largely be that it's you again. You just put forth the same calm, measured argument as if the previous rounds never happened. Anyone new to the discussion will see a sane-sounding guy being hounded by an enraged establishment for no apparent good reason. You may even pick up some followers who will repeat your act with the sincerity that comes from being genuinely naive.

Countering this is hard. It even makes me think that, while ad hominem is a fallacy in a purely logical sense, insisting on this too strongly in an extended debate stretching over several years can be counterproductive. I think that recognition of the ad hominem fallacy was the reason the sci.physics.research charter had no provision for permanently banning a poster--and we paid for that. Oh, how we paid.
So there obviously can be repercussions for being too lax about not banning trolls, it seems.

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15831 Posts

Posted - 11/25/2007 :  00:39:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Because it uses an advantage of repetition, this seems to be a variant of the Big Lie propaganda technique.

Maybe the best response is to always provide links back to where they previously lost the same argument. Then, if they continue, Mods can step in and tell them to stop the repetition, or else. Might be useful to have an anti-repetition policy made very explicit, as well.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 11/25/2007 00:42:33
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SFN Die Hard

6891 Posts

Posted - 11/26/2007 :  09:16:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So often the ad hominem label is misapplied. An argument can only be called ad hom if it implies that a person's position is wrong because they are an example of the insult being used.

This particular informal fallacy is actually quite rarely used.

For example: You're wrong, because you are obviously to stupid to understand.

They can also take a less openly insulting tone:

For example: You are from TX, so you don't know what you are talking about. Or: You aren't a christian so you wouldn't understand.

Simply calling people names, which is what happens most of the time, is not an ad hom argument, its just petty namecalling. (you might be able to make an argument that namecalling is a type of red-herring, because it often derails a conversation away from the topic being discussed...)

Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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