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Ad Hominem

Posted by ktarthan , 01 February 2012 · 366 views

I'm a busy man, so this will be a short one. Comment if you require elaboration.

An argumentum ad hominem, to borrow from wikipedia, "is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it."

The specific data point people need to take from this is that an insult is not by default an ad hominem.

Also something I want to try to mention every time I bring up fallacies: if an argument contains a fallacy, it is not by default wrong.

Feb 01 2012 02:43 PM
This would be true, except you're in MK.
Chief Savage Man
Feb 01 2012 02:44 PM
ktarthan is a stupid !@#$%^& therefore the op is wrong
Thanks for the excellent examples, folks.
Feb 01 2012 03:29 PM
Shotgun dating CN style.

Ad hominem! Argumentum ad baculum! Argumentum ad populum! Tu quoque! <insert other Latin 101>!
I loved how you called out Myth.
Feb 01 2012 04:51 PM

Shotgun dating CN style.Ad hominem! Argumentum ad baculum! Argumentum ad populum! Tu quoque! &lt;insert other Latin 101&gt;!

My favorite is "stawman!". It's not even Latin and people don't even know what they're talking about.

I loved how you called out Myth.

I think SCY is a big offender with this too (if it's not you SCY, apologies).
Il Impero Romano
Feb 01 2012 10:35 PM
Don't even bother trying to explain it, because it won't go away. Ever.

I've mentioned it many times before, but it's worth reiterating that the whole 'ad hominem, strawman, paradigm, draconian, etc' word bank is possibly the biggest pet peeve I have in this game. They are almost always used wrong, and even when they aren't it's just seething with a thick layer of try hard. Every time someone uses one of those words/phrases, I picture the poster as a middle school student sitting with his eyes three inches away from the screen grinning ear to ear while hitting refresh and waiting for that fateful response of "golly, you're so smart!".
Feb 01 2012 11:31 PM
Posted Image For Me?!?!
Since you used the medium for the discourse of this debate of being wikipedia I suppose I'll use it as well for !@#$% and giggles.

I'll "assume," you used this article: "http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Ad_hominem "

Abusive ad hominem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponent in order to attack his claim or invalidate his argument, but can also involve pointing out true character flaws or actions that are irrelevant to the opponent's argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and negative facts about the opponent's personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent's arguments or assertions. However, verbal abuse in the absence of an argument is neither ad hominem nor a fallacy.


This post is particularly hilarious because l337 quotes two posts which were made before the post he refers to and referencing the five or six individuals who ignored or attempted to debase Rampage, before l337's quasi-answer which basically was predicated that his and his alliances unreasonable behavior was actually justified. I digress.

l337's "blithering idiot," comment would constitute as an abusive ad hominem as the main and first point to his explanation has nothing to do with the post he has quoted. In addition, he also states that I and/or Don whatshisface have in fact ignored his post (The original posts make the same accusation l337 infers that our point is moot because we have in fact reverse-engineered time itself and ignored him,) (Tu quoque) (Impossible due to the timing of his post and posts quoted,) and therefore people should not want to disclose things publicly, or whatnought.


This post claims that one should not use words when one doesn't know what they mean. Whether he is correct or incorrect it does not address whether the logic involved in the point made has merit, and seeks to belittle the individual when whether one knows what a word means or not it does not actually determine whether the word is accurate for the assessment or situation, and is thus an abusive ad hominem argument. One could theoretically not know what the slang use of the word "!@#$%^&," means and accurately identify an individual who is in fact an !@#$%^&. Or we could just say it's not an argument but just verbal abuse, but since it's used in the context of whether or not the previous argument is valid or not it's not really clear.

And...Key change!!!

Baby you're the one that I neeeeed!!!
I just learned how to call the 561 mentions of my 165 forum abuse reports!
And that me spouting fallacies doesn't mean that I am wrong!

:wub: ktarthan
Buzz Lightyear
Feb 02 2012 11:42 AM
i feel like anyone using this term, or any term like it is just trying to sound smart. and they use it in hopes that the person they are talking to doesnt understand it. that way they can call them stupid when their response shows they dont understand the word

bla bla bla

While I don't appreciate you bringing arguments from an unrelated thread into my blog, I'll still do you the courtesy of giving you my honest opinion on the arguments you've presented that are relevant to the blog topic.

I assert that 1337's "blithering idiot" comment is not an abusive ad hominem as his insult does not contribute in any way to his argument or detract from yours. He called you a blithering idiot because he thought his argument was correct; he did not call you a blithering idiot to prove his argument was correct.

The claim of an ad hom by potato is entirely without merit. I don't know how you can claim that he's trying to refute the point of the post he quoted when A) he only quoted the words "Ad-hominem", B) he didn't say a thing about the rest of the content of the post, and C) you deliberately kept your accusation of ad hominem out of your main point. He didn't substantiate his claim, but afaik that's not a fallacy.
Perhaps you should've disabled comments then.
It's an abusive ad hominem as per the definition you provided. In addition you completely ignored the argument (ironically,) that he incorrectly argued that the individuals he had quoted had actually ignored him and as such the basis of their posts were not valid. (This is proven to be incorrect, but this is irrelevant from the point being made here.)

potato's entire post is without merit because he is debating the point of whether the user who posted it knew what the word meant and as such fallaciously assumed that even if an individual did not know what a !@#$%* was that they could for sure not accurately call someone a !@#$%* and be correct. This is thus described appropriately in the text you removed.

It is a fallacy by the definition you provided and the basis of which your entire premise is centered on, which clearly excludes the multiple/many variations of the form that you have listed. This is from your source, not an opinion. Posted Image

I don't know why anyone else posts here, but I do it for fun. I'm having tons of it.
If we are all going to be intellectual snobs we could certainly do better.

Next time, we eat bullets.
Posted Image
Ad hominem: Poster A ignored my post because he's an idiot.
Insult: Poster A is an idiot; he ignored my post.

Ad hominem: Poster A can't criticize people who ignore posts, because he ignored mine.
Calling You a Hypocrite: Poster A ignored my post while criticizing others for ignoring a post.

Can you recognize the difference? Do you know which one more accurately describes the post we're discussing?

I literally cannot understand how you think that potato's post is an ad hominem. Despite your apparent compulsion to go shoulder-deep into that single sentence's implications, maybe you can just answer two simple questions for me, using the language in my source:
1) What claim/argument of yours is potato trying to attack/invalidate?
2) How does potato's post insult or belittle you in order to attack said claim/argument?
You are stuck on the first definition and are ignoring the various list of variations of the ad hominem argument as listed by your source.

I'm aware that the first example you state is the only definition of what an ad hominem argument is does not accurately represent those in question, but have quite rightly used your own source which clearly demonstrates variations of the ad hominem argument which do validate the claim that each posts were in fact ad hominem attacks.

As for you literally or illiterally understanding, his point is that if one does not know the meaning of their argument and thus is attacking whether they have the ability or wherewithall to cognitively process the argument rather than the argument itself, which is p much text book of this definition from your own source. I'll not address l337's as you seem to have focused elsewhere for this exercise.

Abusive ad hominem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponent in order to attack his claim or invalidate his argument, but can also involve pointing out true character flaws or actions that are irrelevant to the opponent's argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and negative facts about the opponent's personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent's arguments or assertions. However, verbal abuse in the absence of an argument is neither ad hominem nor a fallacy.

potato is claiming that because one does not know the meaning of what an ad hominem is (I think whether or not this is valid has been demonstrated quite fruitfully here, but I digress,) that they are either A. Incapable of producing a valid argument B. Similar to CSM's text book-definition but the insinuation the user is unintelligent and therefore can not make a valid argument. C. Incapable of correctly identifying an ad hominem argument despite what he claims to be "not knowing," what it means, which is not necessarily true.

In addition, potato quoted a post which actually had a vast amount of information other than the words "ad hominem," so he specifically ignored the rest of the argument and attempted to insult the users intelligence rather than address the argument on hand. While you could claim this was simply "verbal abuse," and not an argument at all that is actually incorrect as then point C. is in effect and his post is an argument for C, which is in fact an argument in and of itself and thus it is by definition an ad hominem argument.

Also, this is a matter of incorrect or incorrect usage, I only need to prove that the definition is feasible and not necessarily more or less appropriate.

if an argument contains a fallacy, it is not by default wrong.

If its still not wrong, then only by accident. The entire point of a fallacy is faulty logic, which leads you to a faulty conclusion. While its technically possible that a conclusion based on logical fallacy is correct, the point of a fallacy is that you had a flawed method of reaching that conclusions. If it happens to be the right one, its sheer coincidence. You've probably also committed a non-sequiter in the process, since the process used to reach the conclusion is wrong.

Worse, the coincidence can lead one to believe their flawed process was in fact correct, spawning more errors in the future.

If you ever discover you have managed to commit a logical fallacy yet still have the right conclusions, check again and resolve the conflict. Because from a debating stand point, even if you have the correct conclusions, the logical fallacy in your process means you lack any convincing means of justifying that conclusion.
Alright, so far I've tried to be nice and provice my stance in the most simple and easy to understand way possible. However, considering you seem to have no such regard for me (I don't know what your second paragraph even means), I welcome you to my unbridled thought process.

A fallacy is, at its base, a flaw in reasoning. It's reasoning that through which a conclusion is formed. This conclusion is *likely* to be incorrect due to the flaw in reasoning, which is why we should always attempt to avoid using fallacies, because any correct conclusions are simply a result of coincidence.

Following this, if there is something that *appears* to be a fallacy but was not used in the argumentation process at all, how can it possibly be called a fallacy? The key point in the "abusive ad hominem" definition is the insults and belittling are in order to attack a claim or invalidate an argument. Including insults or belittling your opponent near an argument do not constitute an ad hominem unless their purpose is to weaken your opponent's position.

In 1337's post, his entire point is that you ignored his post, and while he also called you an idiot and a hypocrite, his point is solely based on chronology, as he seemed to think that he has posted before you. This is an objective stance, as evident by the timestamps on the posts. He got it wrong, clearly, but no amount of insults could ever have changed that. There is no argumentative purpose to insulting you while making such an objective assertion, so those insults cannot be ad hominems.

edit: a hyperbolic example: "You idiot, the sun only comes out at night! Only a moron wouldn't know that. etc etc" There is no subjective opinion to sway, so the insults only act as flavor text.

What you're claiming about Potato's post is ridiculous. Unless you are able to divine the hearts and minds of men, then there's no reason to do anything other than take his words at face value. He's saying that he disagrees with your usage of "ad hominem". Period. You can take any disagreement, put it through the same spin cycle you've used here, and turn it into someone belittling your intelligence because they don't think you have the cognitive ability to understand the situation properly.

Like right now, as you disagree with how I interperet abusive ad hominem variation, you've belittled my cognitive ability. As you are belittling me as well as attempting to refute my argument, by your logic, I could also claim that you are using abusive ad hominem attacks. But I won't because that's absurd.
Main article: Tu quoqueAd hominem tu quoque (literally: "You also") refers to a claim that the source making the argument has spoken or acted in a way inconsistent with the argument. In particular, if Source A criticizes the actions of Source B, a tu quoque response is that Source A has acted in the same way. This argument is fallacious because it does not disprove the argument; if the premise is true then Source A may be a hypocrite, but this does not make the statement less credible from a logical perspective. Indeed, Source A may be in a position to provide personal testimony to support the argument.

l337's post (also,) falls under this variation as provided by your source. He indicates because the individual has ignored his post (which is in fact wrong as you readily admit,) the point that others have ignored Rampage is absurd because others are doing the exact same thing to him.

Nothing about what has been said about potato's post is ridiculous. It is logically sound and follows the definitions you have provided me with. That you associate them as closely with personal attacks is of no consequence to the argument that they are in fact ad hominem variations per your source.

Also, I love lamp.

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