Tuesday 6 October 2020

Loopy Logic 6: What to Say When You're Losing the Argument

It's an emergent property.
The map is not the territory.
I’m sick of all this hysteria.

Sometimes the logical way isn't the best way.
Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.
When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Deal with it.
Get over it.
Let's agree to differ.

Can't we have a civilised discussion about this?
I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
Why should I do your research for you?
Won’t you even admit that there might be something in astrology? (80s.)

We can never actually KNOW anything.
There are lies, damn lies and statistics.
Define "fact"! Define "proof"! Define "evidence"! What is "rape", anyway?
Why must you get so angry about everything?

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must keep silent.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein)
I just wanted to provoke a reaction!
I just wanted to practice debating!

Haven’t you heard of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle? (80s)
There’s no such thing as reality. (Popular late 70s, early 80s.)

Truth is just perception.
The truth is always somewhere in the middle.
There is no such thing as truth.
There are many truths.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio… (William Shakespeare)
The truth is seldom pure and never simple.
(Oscar Wilde)

You are taking this much too seriously.
I was asked to be controversial!
There isn't a debate so don't let's argue.
It’s true in a wider sense.

There’s no point in continuing this conversation.
Anyone can edit Wikipedia, therefore you can’t trust any of it.
That’s a very complex question.
People do X for many reasons.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (Popular in the 80s, completely meaningless.)
You're provoking abuse by answering back.
Can we stop this childish squabble?
We should come together and find common ground.

Yes, but my point holds! (Gustave Flaubert, Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues)

(distort or exaggerate your opponent's argument)
Move the goalposts
(redefine your terminology)
Tu quoque
("You're attacking me by accusing me of attacking you!")

Personal attack: Throw in a snide reference to your opponents being “smug and pompous” and “thinking they are better than the rest of us”.

Narrow redefinition: Redefine words like "servant" or "class" so that you can prove both have disappeared.

If you’re a right-winger arguing with a lefty, accuse your opponent of hypocrisy.

Swiftly remove the discussion from real situations in the real world and spout a lot of airy fairy nonsense about epistemology.

Using the Socratic method, “prove” that your opponent is contradicting themselves, or saying the opposite of what they mean, or has just admitted that everything they say is wrong, or has done what they accuse you of doing.

Pretend you don’t know the meaning of a very common word, or that it has no meaning.

People spiting logic to prove UP is Down and vice versa. (Via Twitter)

Someone has got the wrong end of a stick and won't let go.

"It's more subtle and nuanced than a mere black/white truth/lies opposition."

When your only defence is ‘What about...’ then you’re in trouble. (@MichaeljMcVey)

Keeping to strict facts all the time makes for rather boring conversation. (MJ)

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds ... With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. (Ralph Waldo Emerson. But he meant it was OK to change your mind, not that it’s OK to hold a self-contradictory worldview.)

The idea that there is no objective truth or that we shouldn't bother trying to find it is just an excuse used by people who don't want have their opinion changed by facts... I believe there is still an underlying truth even if we can't find it. (Christina Rees)

A little pet hate from me. I find it really, really hard to ‘agree to disagree’. If I disagree with something, I disagree with it. If it’s abominable, I can’t ‘let it pass’. And no, I’m not sorry about that. (@PaulbernalUK)

"Time to move on" is inevitably said by people who are not great fans of close scrutiny. (@andraswf)

“Time to move on” is the new “Let’s get Brexit done”. (Beverley Clack)

More here, and links to the rest.

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