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Wow So Meta: Hypocrisy & Truth

HM Solomon I

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Hypocrisy is an oft slung critique on the OWF. It's an easy argument to make because everyone in this game who's played for almost any amount of time can somehow be made out to be hypocritical on just about any topic. However, there is a massive problem with this:

It doesn't work as an argument.

Calling out someone for being hypocritical in their arguments is an ad hominem attack not a valid critique. Yes, the person in question may very well be hypocritical, but that hypocrisy does not necessarily make their argument invalid or unsound. When calling out someone for being hypocritical, what you're actually saying is not that what they're saying is false but that they may not be the best person to say it. However, that's just a straw man. By pointing that out you're trying to make the false claim that the argument is about who should be making a point not whether the point itself is valid. If you're not going to actually respond to the substance of an argument, then don't bother saying anything at all.

It may work with some, but anyone who knows much at all will see through your veil of illusion and notice that you didn't actually argue against anything substantive and instead resorted to attacking another poster's character. It's easy to do, but it is also not particularly persuasive as an argument. Most of the decision makers, the people you might actually want to convince you're in the right, are fairly intelligent people as this game may have some standouts morons but really it is played largely by, let's face it, nerds. And nerds are disproportionately intelligent (relative to the general population) and thus able to see through these kinds of fallacious approaches to argumentation.



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Good post. I think it's more about slinging mud and trying to make a person look bad than actually trying to have a discussion on an issue. OWF is more about one-liners and trying to look witty. It's not even saber rattling anymore at this point. Just tossing the mud around in a pit.

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Assuming that we're talking of IC arguments, ad hominem are a valid and honourable method to "win" discussions. Everything is fair in war, and a tactic that works, well, it works even if it's logically unsound... no problem with that.

There are also situations in which accusing others of hypocrisy is logically legitimate and sound. When someone is not arguing about a point, but trying to improve their image/stance, attacking them is the point and going ad hominem is thus the appropriate response.

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That it works some of the time doesn't make it a good idea. Our world would be immeasurably better if it wasn't used.

As to the second point, in those cases it isn't a straw man and so what I said above doesn't really apply.

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