Hiding your identity online

AnonSo, doxing is becoming a more and more common event for people who partake in debates on various topics online. A dox in this regard is when you dig up personal information on a person who does not want to have that information published and either publish it (usually on social media) or threaten to publish it unless a the person does what you want them to do. This became very common during the #Gamergate controversy and since then has become a much loved weapon of the regressive left to silence opponents and critics of their authoritarian beliefs. Continue reading

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Fun with fallacies 10: Circular reasoning

circular reasoningThe circle never stops, it just keeps going around in circle. The circular argument is easier to understand when its named “assuming the conclusion” it is very common among ideologues, and the “sound-snippet” crowd.

It’s effective because it often sounds good because of the way it has been worded, and because the conclusion becomes self-reinforcing.

A very easy example is: 

Premise: The Bible is the absolute word of god and infallible.

Conclusion: The Bible is infallible because it is the word of god.

In this case, the conclusion is just the premise in a slightly different order.

Tackling the Thermian argument

The Thermian argument so themed by its creator Dan Olsen, is an invention to shut down people who use in context defenses to in his words “shut down critics of fictional works”. The argument is that criticism of a fictional world, is in embryo the criticism of the decisions made by the creators of that world. (You can find his video here)

I’m inclined to accept the logic of the argument as it seems to be fairly valid, here is how I would structure it:

Major premise: All fiction is made by a creator.

Minor premise: The creator has full control over a work of fiction he or she produces.

Conclusion: All fiction is the result of the creators control. 

The argument that Mr. Olsen is making is to make the creator of fiction inseparable from that fiction. So, for instance “I’m not criticizing the amount of foul language in “Gran Torino” I’m criticizing the director, writer, actors, key grip, and anyone else involved for allowing that amount of foul language in the movie.” 

This eliminates the need to defend a criticism of a work from arguments about that work. Such as “This makes sense in context of the work”. However, it kind of doesn’t because the argument works both ways.

If criticism of a fictional work is the criticism of the decisions made by the creator of that work. Then criticisms of the criticism is criticism of the person who made the original criticism. Furthermore, the “thermian argument” is in reality a defense of the decisions made by the creator, anchored in the original work.

The reductio ad absurdum of Mr. Dan Olsen’s argument in this video is:

  • Criticism of the world is in fact criticism of God (if you believe in god)
  • Criticism of a culture is in fact criticism of the people within that culture.
  • Criticism of religion is in fact criticism of the people who support and maintain the religion.

Just to show how fallacious and ridiculous Mr. Olsen’s argument is, take a look at this painting by Jackson Pollock:

Thermian argument 2

I could say a lot of things about it, however, I’m going to play out an argument:

Person 1: My 7 year old could have painted that, it’s just paint splattered on a canvas, it looks like the floor after I painted my house last time and spilled paint all over the place.

Person 2: Well, actually the style is called abstract impressionism, it sprung out from surrealism and makes perfect sense when put in context of the development of painting focused on subconscious or automatic painting, based in creating art that is viewer dependent.

Person 1: You are just making a Thermian argument.

Of course, a rebuttal to the argument I’ve spent the last 400 or so words on is possible, in that a person could argue that I unfairly generalized and employed the argument outside of its intended sphere. That it’s only meant to deal with artistic expression in context of art, taken to mean writing, film or video-games. I suppose that is a fair criticism, however it misses the point, that art is an artist sharing their imitation with us, in good ways and in bad ways. Context matters, without Blofeld, you have no James Bond, without Mr. Hyde you don’t really have a decent novel, without the “first night” rule in “Braveheart”, you lose the characters motivation and without what I think was a very upsetting scene in “Law Abiding Citizen” you have no plot.

Fun with fallacies 7: Oh well, fuck you!

calvin and suzie ad hominemFinally the argumentum ad hominem, the personal attack. The manipulative tool, the distraction, and the red herring. It means to the man, and it is when someone attacks the person who made an argument, rather than the argument. This can take many, and frequently inventive forms, it can be subtle, or it can be obvious, it can be forceful and understated, it can be overt and covert.

Here is an example:

Person A:  I don’t think feminism should be defined as being about “gender equality” due to the many ideological tenets that promote misandry, such as Andrea Dworkin and Valerie Solanas. Furthermore, the use of the term “rape culture”, and treating all men as potential rapists.

Person B: That’s because you’re a misogynistic, sexist, evil person.

 

Fun with fallacies 6: So, you’re totally wrong and I’m totally right, lets call it in the middle

british fallacyThe British fallacy as it is called sometimes, is the argument that the middle-ground between two debaters is most likely the accurate one.

I say there is no God, you say there is a God, so lets say there could possibly be a god. This is a fallacy in most cases, due to the fact that it argues a middle-ground without regard for the positions. The absurdity becomes clear when you put it in a mathematical perspective:

Person 1: 2 + 2 = 4

Person 2: 2 + 2 = 6

Conclusion: 2 + 2 = 5

I don’t have much to say on this fallacy, but it does tend to pop up where you have 1 party who has taken an extreme position vs a moderate opponent, who then tries to use the fallacy to “trick” their opponent over to their side.

You can see this in both American and European politics in different perspectives. Where in the US the “Left – Right” center line has been drawn very much in “moderate-right” and in Europe where the center line has been drawn in the “moderate left” perspective.

 

Objective vs Subjective

2012-10-16-subjective-objective

This is a topic that is close to my heart and a pain in my ass. The argument of what is subjective and what is objective.

This goes back to my post on Positivism vs Phenomenology and the different approaches to research. From a positivist perspective, if something cannot be quantified and measured it has no meaning.

This goes to what a fact actually is, it is something that can be said to be mind independent. 2 + 2 = 4 is a mathematical fact when the terms are defined without decimals.

That my height is 6 feet is something that can be verified by using a ruler or other form of measurement set up to the use the imperial system of measurement. Whether I’m tall enough, too short or too tall is a subjective judgement. Subjective statements can contain facts, but the nature of something subjective is that it is not mind independent. It represents the perspective of the person communicating to you.

In research, new facts are found through structured study of a topic, new theories are often developed through a mix of study and creative thinking, which is called theoretical research. You can also find new facts through observation, in what is called empirical research.

For instance, if I state that 4.2% of S&P 500 companies have female CEO[1], that is an objective statement.

If I were to state that 50% of CEOs of the S&P 500 companies need to be women, that is a subjective statement.

[1] http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-ceos-sp-500

 

Fun With Fallacies 1: I feel sorry for Angus

No true ScotsmanPoor Groundskeeper Willie, not only is he forced to live in a shed, he can’t put sugar on his porridge either. The “No true Scotsman” fallacy is a classic and it gets the name from the following “discussion”:

Player 1: No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge

Player 2: My friend Angus is from Scotland and puts sugar on his porridge

Player 1: Well, no TRUE Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge

Usually, this fallacy happens when someone is trying to distance themselves from facts that undermine their argument or position. As I’m sure you remember from my post on basic logic, if premises are proven not to be true, then the conclusions are invalid. This goes to both soundness and validity in that, if premises are proven untrue, then the argument is invalid, and if empirical observation contradicts the argument, then it is also not sound; in short, it is a poor argument.

The fun version:

Player 1: Feminism is about equality of the sexes

Player 2: Valerie Solanas is a feminist and she wants to kill men.

Player 1: Then she’s obviously not a real feminist.