Friday, April 01, 2011

Logical Fallacies 101 (Part 1 Of 6): Argumentum Ad Hominem

.:Logical Fallacies 101 (Part 1 Of 6): Argumentum Ad Hominem:.

Hello there! Given that it was April Fool’s Day a couple of days ago and there are a lot of fools out there running around, I feel that it is my civic duty to help enlighten some people so that they wouldn’t spout off and look like a complete idiot while at it.

You may not realize it, but often, in the fine art of argumentation, people are prone to logical fallacies. Now, what are logical fallacies? Logical fallacies are, at their most basic, errors in reasoning. When a person tries to argue and sway you to side with their opinion, that person is capable of arguing fallaciously, particularly when they make an argument that has not been well thought out.

The problem is most people throw these arguments about without realizing that they don’t strengthen their position at all. Worse, some of them look downright silly, because instead of giving simple, factual arguments, they would use their anger, or perhaps their limited anecdotal experience, or just their flat-out ignorance to try to win an argument.

Don’t fall for it. Don’t let it work. Seriously.

Over the course of the next six articles are a few common logical fallacies, with matching examples. As a disclaimer, yes, these articles will also be prone to their own share of logical fallacies (More so the comments, I'm guessing.), but one hopes that the point is not lost despite that fact.

Argumentum Ad Hominem

What an eloquent rebuttal!!!

Argumentum Ad Hominem is probably the most common logical fallacy of all time: it is committed by attacking a person instead of an argument. This is often the fallback of people who don’t have any way of rationalizing their side, so they’d pick on the other party’s looks, their character, or whatever other thing they can nitpick just to feel better about themselves.

In this particular case, calling @momblogger “an idiot” for not knowing why Pacquiao was not in session has nothing to do with whether or not Pacquiao should or should not have been in session. In fact, he should have been in session, because, you know, it’s kind of the job he ran for in the 2010 elections.

It doesn’t matter what you think of a person’s looks, or if you hate their guts. After all, the question isn’t about the person’s looks or their guts, to begin with. The question is: should Manny Pacquiao be merely excused every single time he’s not in session just because he’s a legendary boxer? Obviously, since being a boxer has nothing to do with being a Congressman, the answer is unequivocally “no.”

In fact, with regard to the last question, “do you expect him to go back to Manila to cast his vote then to go to Baguio again,” the answer is simple, too: no, we don’t. What we expected was that either a man who knows he will be as busy as Pacquaio will be will simply not run for Congressman. Let’s not even get into the whole “lolo mong panot” debacle Manny got himself into afterwards.

Also in line with this fallacy are arguments that begin with “inggit ka lang kay...” as if that erases the faults of the person in question since their accusers are apparently envious of them. True, some people are indeed merely envious and will just find any reason to pick on someone. However, this does not mean that none of the issues they raise are not valid. The agenda behind a particular allegation does not affirm or deny the validity of the allegation.

More often than not, the minute you resort to insulting the person you’re arguing with instead of debunking their arguments, you have probably lost the argument already. If the temptation to insult the person instead of arguing against issues is getting too strong, maybe it’s time to realize the possibility that perhaps, just perhaps, your opposition is actually, I dunno... right? Ad hominem attacks end intelligent discussion more abruptly than anything else, because you turned an intellectual exercise into a personal one, and more often than not, when you do it online, you’re doing it to a person you don’t even know, so your attacks may not even hold true, to begin with.

And, really. Make sure that the things you whine about when it comes to people you hate aren't the very same things that apply to you. It's kind of stupid, really.

Hey, Skeletor! Try winning instead...


Unknown said...

maybe we should ask them where they got their diplomas, because ,obviously, they got ripped off. Imagine their parents, proud of their degree-holders, only to find out, the only education they had was how to write, and not very good at that.

Kel Fabie said...

@Screaming Mango: You assume they even have diplomas. ;)

Poyt said...

Hay, as a really "passionate" person, this is the one of those fallacies I should look out for. Hahaha!

Kel Fabie said...

@Poyt: Yup. It's easy to get distracted from facing the problem when the problem is her face. LOL.

And, oh, that shouldn't be the only thing you're watching out for in this post... ;)