Fun with fallacies 20: The fallacies of #Gamergate

fun with fallacies 20When I started this series, it was more to drive me to write something on a regular basis, so that if I get busy, I will have some content to post. Since this is post 20 in the series, and we have quite a few to go, I figured I’d make a special post on the two new fallacies I saw emerge from #gamergate.

For those of you who didn’t follow it, #Gamergate is a quantum-state topic, for some it is the gaming communities rise against what is a clear lack of integrity from gaming professionals. Triggered by the discovery that an indie game “developer” who got great reviews for a game that is unplayable, based on sleeping with a string of members of the gaming press.

For some it is the anger of misogynist gamers rising up against “wominz” playing their games, interfering with their hobby and producing videos with the academic credibility of a German doctor, specializing in Eugenics in Poland ca. 1943.

Besides just about every fallacy in “Fun with fallacies” 1 – 19 being used, the anti-gamergate movement also invented their own fallacies, which isn’t that strange considering they invented their own research methods and their own variant of peer review as well.

These two fallacies are; Sea Lioning and the Dictionary fallacy.

Sea-lioning

The definition I found for “sea-lioning” is:

“Sea-Lioning is an Internet slang term referring to intrusive attempts at engaging an unwilling debate opponent by feigning civility and incessantly requesting evidence to back up their claims. The term was coined in September 2014 by anti-GamerGate Internet users to mock perceived online discussion tactics employed by GamerGate supporters.” [1]

To me, as someone who insists that claims or arguments can be dismissed for there is no evidence for them, this seems like a strange thing to accuse people of. It strikes me as a case of “I should be able to say anything I want without providing evidence or arguments to back up my position” which runs counter to any accepted decorum in debate or public discourse. One could argue that public discourse is founded on evaluating ideas, arguments and evidence using critical judgment.

Furthermore, that anyone who is unwilling to engage in debate, should write a personal journal, rather than post their thoughts to public communication forums such as social media or blogs. After evaluating it, this meme is a form of an ad hominem attack on the person asking for evidence, as the person accusing the other of “sea-lioning” is attacking the person rather than the argument. Secondly, it could be argued as a Red Herring in that it draws attention away from a potential non-defensible argument or position held by the accuser.

The dictionary fallacy

This is also a more classical fallacy and is sometimes called “appeal to the definition” arguing that the definition of something in a dictionary is the ultimate true definition. I’ve mentioned this on multiple occasions when discussion feminism, that the definition of “seeking political, social and economical equality between men and women” is no longer an accurate or sufficient definition of feminism.

The reason why this is arguably a fallacy, is that dictionaries are generally just short-form explanations of the current usage of a word, and does not reflect changes in use or the depth within a term. A very good example of this is the definition of “Christianity” from dictionary.com [1], which while accurate fails to account for numerous smaller groups, or even the meaningful differences between lets say Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

Bonus: Fallacy of a single cause & The moralistic fallacy

This was one of the more disturbing fallacies I saw among anti-gamergaters. The tendency to argue the cause of gamergate as a bunch of misogynistic and racist CIS, white male gamers harassing women. Now, I’m not going into what is and what is not harassment, as I’m not a lawyer, and this blog is not called “Black label law”. However, what I do want to weigh in on is the gargantuan fallacy committed when the whole movement were described by both anti-gamegate activists and the gaming press in the form of a fallacy clusterfuck that can be written up as single cause + moralistic fallacy.

Where rather than look at the complex variety of potential causes it all came back with “You are all sexist and racist” and then went into a series of arguments based on a moralistic fallacy. I.E. “Gamegaters are immoral”, “Gamergaters are scum” and similar arguments aimed at negating any factual and logical claims that the #Gamergate movement could make such as:

  • The revelations of overly close relationships between game developers and game journalists.
  • An agenda that conflicts with producing the best games possible for an audience.
  • The disdain that the gaming press holds for it’s own audience as shown by numerous articles.
  • The overly close relationships and coordination of members of the gaming press. On an industry level this is collusion/oligopoly and is against the law.
  • The ownership structures of the gaming press, where multiple outlets are owned by the same companies. (Generally a case for most of the MSM these days)

[1] http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sea-lioning

[2] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/christianity?s=t

 

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