Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Monday, September 19, 2005

Ad hominem

I've seen the above term on the blogosphere lately. I didn't really know what it meant though. Based on the context I had an idea; however, I'm never too ashamed to either ask someone or look it up myself (hard to have a useful conversation if you're not sure about the lingo). In this case the internet and Wikipedia was my friend.

Turns out I'm very familiar with the concept and I've always decried the use of such tactics. Ad hominem is means to attack the person, not the argument of the person.

A says X.
B say A is bad/evil/stupid/not qualified to say anything.
B doesn't counter X in any way.

I've always believed that ad hominem is a sign of intellectual bankruptcy. If you have to attack the person instead of the position you're either lazy or you have no legitimate counterargument. The sad thing is such personal attacks aren't necessary. People are so afraid of being challenged or simply admitting they don't know the answer to a question. I know I don't like it being challenged or ignorant about something, but I view it as a chance to refine my position or to look up a piece of unknown information. Sometimes people are afraid of not winning. Not winning isn't the same as losing. Sometimes you have two or more rational viewpoints on a subject. Sometimes no correct or incorrect answer exists to an issue. The 'correct' answer depends purely on your values and what you view as priorities.

Trust me I'm not going wishy-washy over here. Facts are facts and those are things that are correct. Interpretations, opinions, and analysis of those facts is usually, but not always, open to discussion. Sometimes some opinions are more worthy of consideration than others. Yet sometimes you just have to agree to disagree. NO ONE has to right to say the other side of an issue shouldn't exist and lacks the right to have their opinion. Also, if you can't counter what someone has to say without attacking the person, perhaps you shouldn't say anything. Better to have someone wonder if you're a fool, than to open your mouth and prove it.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.