Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ad Hominem - Against the Man

Ad Hominem - "against the man" , is perhaps the most famous, most common and diabolical of logical fallacies.  A fallacy is a rhetorical 'argument' that is by nature seriously weak on logic and hence seriously lacking in validity and truth. 

The following is an example of ad hominem.

Person 1 - "The world is round."
Person 2 - "That's not true. The world is flat.  You only say it is round because you're a liar and a pedophile."

A person may be a liar and a pedophile but this may have no relevance to the discussion of the geographical nature of planet earth.  Note that the 'respondent' has indeed given no 'evidence' to support his position that the world is not round. 

The term 'toxic politics' has come into play to describe the present nature of the world political system as it devolves into tribalism and banality. 

Some examples of ad hominem in present day politics:

"You don't believe in global warming and climate change because you're a Republican." 

The term "unpack' is used to break down these complex argument which are indeed simply 'name calling'.

The term 'global warming' was initially used but then there was a recent identified period of global cooling. Therefore the new 'term' was 'climate change'.  Everyone knows that climate change occurs even hourly or daily, so to accuse a person of 'not believing in climate change' is like accusing a person of not believing in weather. 

Further 'to believe in climate change' carries with it an acceptance of a whole set of actions which may be as convoluted as answering a person who says, "You don't believe in Jesus Christ." I, personally, might believe in 'climate change' but be unwilling to accept that I should 'buy' your wind generator at exorbitant profit to you, underwritten by my own taxes, and sold by China as some sort of political economic terrorism.  Further, I might not want to ride my bicycle to work in Canada or do a whole list of other things which follow my 'agreement' with you that there is weather.  Further, though I may believe in Jesus Christ I might not want to become a celibate priest or give my lifesavings to your church. 

I can believe something and not 'act' in a way, different from what you believe is the correct action associated with a particular belief.

Ad hominem couples and links 'beliefs' with 'actions' in a peculiar way.  In the example above, a person may be a republican, which is a belief system, vaguely associated with Conservatives in Canada and Tory's in England.  Having that belief does not mean that one shares the 'other' belief which is 'climate change'.  Being a republican one can believe in 'climate change' but historically would not believe that the country should raise taxes to build a multi billion dollar freezer unit to stabilize climate and encourage American know how and engineering. 

Today, 'toxic politics' is also historically what psychiatrists called the 'paranoid' position in the psychotic extreme. 

In this regard "I'm okay; you're not"  becomes 'I'm okay. I'm right. I'm God's representative on earth. I'm the future of man and woman kind, I'm the saviour of civilization. I'm the only one with the answer to everything, I'm the ONE, You are wrong. You are not okay. You are the devil. You are going destroy the planet, kill women and children, polute the galaxy, you don't have an answer for anything."

Shaming refers to 'ad hominem'. To shame is to say you are intrinsically a bad and evil person, not that you have a 'wrong idea' , or did a 'wrong thing'.

Ad hominem attributes "wrongness" or "rightness"  to an intrinsic value such as  your 'character', 'personality', 'race', 'sexual preference', 'religious affiliation' , 'colour of your skin', 'language', 'birth origin', 'genetics', 'nationality', 'culture' etc. 

Rhetoric in arguments is a magician's hat trick.  The idea is to 'distract' you from the issue at hand and emotionally move you into an area where your 'instincts' will confuse you.  Rationally it's obvious that in the above example there is no logical association between whether the earth is round and whether you are a pedophile.  However, the 'word' 'pedophile'; like most labels as an explosive device in an argument.  This 'irrationality' moves the 'discussion' about "what" is right or wrong into 'who is right or wrong. 

Women and now men do this today by suddenly stating."You don't love me?"

Of course the answer is 'fish fly.'  Right?

No comments: