Author Topic: Worst argument in the world.  (Read 732 times)

LMNO, PhD (life continues)

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Worst argument in the world.
« on: August 28, 2012, 04:47:21 pm »
I was checking out lesswrong.com, and came across "The Worst Argument In The World", and realized it could be quickly and easily employed at PD.com.

I like it because it's about definitions of words and semantics, but then overcomes and moves beyond the purely semantic argument.  It includes both the specific definition, but also the common usage and context.

Basically, the worst argument comes in this format:

"X is in a category whose archetypal member has certain features. Therefore, we should judge X as if it also had those features, even though it doesn't."

So, (to use an example from the article (and I am more or less paraphrasing the article in this post)) While MLK, Jr actually did break the law, get arrested, and go to jail, it seems entirely disingenuous to say he's a bad person because he's a "criminal".

"Criminal", while technically a correct label for some of MLK, Jr's actions, does not fit the archetypical attitudes, motiviations, or emotional reaction to the vast majority of those in the set of "criminal".

This seems to fit a lot of political and social arguments, such as "abortion is murder" and "taxation is theft", and recognition of this type of argument could possibly allow us to leapfrog the argument when it gets to this point, so instead of pulling out dictionaries when someone says "affirmitive action is discriminatory", we could simply answer, "It doesn't matter how we define discrimination at this particular moment, let's discuss the costs and benefits of affirmative action like mature adults".

I realize that this may look really fucking close to E-prime, but at least it doesn't force us to mutate our syntax any worse that we already do.
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The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 05:22:49 pm »
I don't see it as eprime.  I see it as rational thought, and the ability to use basic 3rd grade set theory.

All apples are round objects.  Not all round objects are apples.

Everyone convicted of a crime is a criminal.  Not all criminals are convicted of a crime.

Some criminals are bad because they broke good laws.  Some criminals are not bad, because they broke bad laws.

"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre."
- Frank Zappa

LMNO, PhD (life continues)

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 05:25:48 pm »
Yup.  It's a shame a lot of people don't know they're doing this.

It's even more of a shame that a lot of people know, but don't care.

I want to set on fire the people that do it on purpose.
LMNO
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"Get offa me, you freaks!  This is not North Korea.  No.  This is America, and I expect to be PAID for that sort of nonsense.  In advance.  No credit...Cash on the barrelhead or GTFO.  I swear to God, there's nothing more annoying than commie perverts who don't understand the intrinsic value of the free market system."

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 05:26:59 pm »
Yup.  It's a shame a lot of people don't know they're doing this.

It's even more of a shame that a lot of people know, but don't care.

I want to set on fire the people that do it on purpose.

Superpacs, you are on notice:  The Big Gay Cowboy has a blowtorch!
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- Frank Zappa

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 05:46:58 pm »
Dogs have fangs.

Dogs make good pets.

Animals with fangs make good pets.
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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 05:51:45 pm »
Dogs have fangs.

Dogs make good pets.

Animals with fangs make good pets.

No no, the point is to arrive at a false conclusion.

Actually this sheds a lot of light on how and where communication can break down. Together with Roger's explanation of the steps in communicating ideas, it may be worth posting as a "basic guidelines to maintain bipedalism."
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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 06:45:49 pm »
Dogs have fangs.

Dogs make good pets.

Animals with fangs make good pets.

No no, the point is to arrive at a false conclusion.

Actually this sheds a lot of light on how and where communication can break down. Together with Roger's explanation of the steps in communicating ideas, it may be worth posting as a "basic guidelines to maintain bipedalism."

Calling people on it, would seem to be the order of the day. It strikes me as being like the bastard cousin of false dichotomy. Like the other side of the same coin or something.
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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2012, 07:03:13 pm »
Yup.  It's a shame a lot of people don't know they're doing this.

It's even more of a shame that a lot of people know, but don't care.

I want to set on fire the people that do it on purpose.

Mongols also set people on fire on purpose.  LMNO is clearly a savage barbarian and is not to be trusted in civilized company.

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2012, 07:04:26 pm »
You know who else called people savage barbarians?


That's right, Hitler.





Wait, I think I got that one stuck in reverse.
LMNO
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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2012, 11:49:55 pm »

So basicly: prejudice, generalizations and stereotypes.

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2012, 07:23:17 am »
Generalizations and stereotypes are the result.

Essentially, how this works is (x innocent trait) is shared between Class A and Class B.  Class B also has trait Y, which is considered negative.  Therefore, Class A is of a type as Class B.

Or, to use another example: Hitler is a vegetarian.  PETA members are also vegetarians.  Therefore members of PETA hate Jews and support genocide.

There's nothing inherently wrong with vegetarianism (well...except the preachy nature of some of its adherents).  But it can be used to link PETA to antisemitic attitudes and support for crimes against humanity.  The link is implied by the sharing of other traits and values.

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2012, 08:18:17 am »
Generalizations and stereotypes are the result.

Essentially, how this works is (x innocent trait) is shared between Class A and Class B.  Class B also has trait Y, which is considered negative.  Therefore, Class A is of a type as Class B.

Or, to use another example: Hitler is a vegetarian.  PETA members are also vegetarians.  Therefore members of PETA hate Jews and support genocide.

There's nothing inherently wrong with vegetarianism (well...except the preachy nature of some of its adherents).  But it can be used to link PETA to antisemitic attitudes and support for crimes against humanity.  The link is implied by the sharing of other traits and values.

So wait, this argument allows us to call PETA members sociopathic nazi's and yet it's the worst argument in the world?  :?
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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2012, 12:02:11 pm »
No, PETA are still sociopathic Nazis.  Just not because they refuse to eat meat.

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Re: Worst argument in the world.
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2012, 12:46:13 pm »
and we still get weight them against a duck and then burn them, right?
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