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Good arguing

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Good arguing

Postby Phylax » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:19 am

I've seen convincing arguments in this forum, and less convincing arguments.

Most of us here are to learn or revise Latin and Greek, and we have recourse to a wealth of appropriate text books. In this particular board, would it help if we also occasionally revised our skills in 'disputation'?

There is now a wealth of stuff out there on the Web about tricks used in debate, about fallacies that we sometimes fall into.

Here's a list of resources that I have used in the past:

http://www.246.dk/38tricks.html
http://www.info-pollution.com/fallacies.htm
http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skep ... ments.html
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/
http://datanation.com/fallacies/index.htm
http://www.fallacyfiles.org/index.html
http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~gmyers/esssa/rhetoric.html
http://www.cuyamaca.net/bruce.thompson/ ... lacies.asp

I wonder if anyone else can add to this list anything they have found useful in discerning good arguments from bad?

Good arguing, all!
Phylax
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Postby Paul » Tue Sep 13, 2005 7:54 pm

Hi Phylax,

I suspect that your point of departure for this thread might have been my exchange with Peter in the New Orleans thread:

Phylax wrote:
responding to Peter, Paul wrote:Also, you sure have a lot to say about America. Yet you know absolutely nothing about it. So why don't you stop telling us what America is supposed to be? Pretty much everything you say is wrong.


Am I right in assuming (a) that Peter is a Canadian, and Paul is an American; and (b) because this is so, Paul believes that Peter is not qualified to make a reasoned statement about America?

If both my assumptions are right, may I say that I am amazed (and slightly delighted) that this form of argument is still alive and kicking!


If my suspicion is correct, then please note:

Peter is Canadian.
Paul is American.

But where, exactly, did I say that because Peter is Canadian he is "not qualified to make a reasoned statement about America"?

I am, of course, pleased to have delighted you. But permit me to suggest that "good arguing" is best preceded by careful reading.

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby annis » Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:10 pm

I have my own little summary, polished over time: How to hold an argument. This got more use in the past, when I'd link to it when when fleeing a flame-fest. In the last few years enough people I don't know have linked to it that I flatter myself by thinking it more generally useful.

The tone is frankly polemical. It's a list of certain rhetorical tricks that drive me bonkers and will usually make me drop an argument altogether.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Paul » Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:42 pm

Hi,

I recommend George Polya's two volume "Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning". Volume 2, "Patterns of Plausible Inference", is especially useful.

Polya is probably best known for a book called "How to Solve It".

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Paul » Thu Sep 15, 2005 2:00 am

Hi,

I would also recommend D.Q. McInerney's "Being Logical - A Guide to Good Thinking".

Also, Sister Miriam Joseph's "The Trivium - The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric".

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Phylax » Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:20 am

Grave apologies, Paul and Will, for my having neglected this thread for a while, but enormous thanks for your contributions.

Paul, you are of course entirely right when you suggest that nowhere did you say that because Peter is Canadian he has no authority to comment on things American. But you did say amongst other things, "Also, you sure have a lot to say about America. Yet you know absolutely nothing about it. So why don't you stop telling us what America is supposed to be? Pretty much everything you say is wrong.

Why don't you pin your revolutionary hopes on your homeland? There must be some problems in Canada you can devote your energies to.... "
, which made me feel that the shaggy old wolf of the argumentum ad hominem was prowling around. I didn't at that point realize that you and Peter are old friends, and this is the bantering way that you like to conduct your discussions.

Will, I am much obliged to you for your link to your article on "How to hold an argument", and I have linked to it from another forum where it seems good manners and good reasoning are too often at the moment being forgotten.
Last edited by Phylax on Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Phylax » Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:44 am

In a lighter vein, but illustrative of some of the points Will makes in his article How to hold an argument, here is a little 'lightbulb joke' which I have copied from elsewhere and am unable to ascribe, about the way things sometimes go in forum threads (I apologize if this is 'old hat' to my forum colleagues):

How many forum members does it take to change a light bulb?


One to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been
changed.

Fourteen to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how
the light bulb could have been changed differently.

Seven to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.

Seven more to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing
light bulbs.

Five to flame the spell checkers.

Three to correct spelling/grammar flames.

Six to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ... another
six to condemn those six as stupid.

Fifteen to claim experience in the lighting industry and give the
correct spelling.

Nineteen to post that this group is not about light bulbs and to please
take this discussion to a lightbulb (or light bulb) forum.

Eleven to defend the posting to the group saying that we all use light
bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this group.

Thirty six to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior,
where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best
for this technique and what brands are faulty

Seven to post URLs where one can see examples of different light bulbs.

Four to post that the URLs were posted incorrectly and then post the
corrected URL.

Three to post about links they found from the URLs that are relevant to
this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group.

Thirteen to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety
including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"

Five to post to the group that they will no longer post because they
cannot handle the light bulb controversy.

Four to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"

Thirteen to say "do a Google search on light bulbs before posting
questions about light bulbs"

Three to tell a funny story about their child/dog/cat and a light bulb.

AND

One group lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and
start it all over again.
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Postby Timotheus » Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:29 am

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
:lol: :lol: :lol:

and one to post a million emoticons

that was great Phalax
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Postby annis » Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:47 am

That's a good list, Phylax.

The only thing I'd add for us is "three to ask if we really know how the ancients pronounced light bulb."
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Postby Eureka » Sat Oct 01, 2005 5:24 am

annis wrote:The only thing I'd add for us is "three to ask if we really know how the ancients pronounced light bulb."

And one to state that there's no possible way we could determine how they pronounced "lightbulb" and to suggest that we simply pronounce it by making loud yelping noises while bashing our own heads with kitchen utensils.
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Sat Oct 01, 2005 6:18 am

This is why I like forums of a certain size. Enough people so that there is some serious life to the forum, but not so many people that the lightbulb conversation could go that far ... I may lurk in forums which of immense size, but never join.
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Postby Geoff » Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:04 pm

Textkit is unique; it is remarkable how little flaming takes place and anything approaching flaming is in superior taste to regular webculture (or is it web-culture?) ;)
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Postby Geoff » Sat Oct 01, 2005 3:26 pm

... oh wait, that should be "...taste superior to web-culture." :lol:

you stinking idiot;

[face=SPIonic]mwro/j iw(/eff e)sti/n[/face]
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:40 pm

I once read a posting by Will (if I remember well) on a thread about religion (must have been) where he gave us links to "How to hold an argument" and a few other sites about rhetoric no-nos. Would our Moderatör make a sticky with those links? (I sometimes forget.)
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Postby Bert » Sat Oct 01, 2005 5:41 pm

Bardo de Saldo wrote:I once read a posting by Will (if I remember well) on a thread about religion (must have been) where he gave us links to "How to hold an argument" and a few other sites about rhetoric no-nos. Would our Moderatör make a sticky with those links? (I sometimes forget.)

Out Moderator posted a link right on this thread (3rd post.)
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Postby Bardo de Saldo » Sat Oct 01, 2005 6:10 pm

I meant Emma, Bert; Will is our Global Moderator. I'm well aware of his link, and the reason why I asked for a sticky is because a year from now this thread will be in the Chimbambas, while we will still be making the same argumentative snafus, like reading what one wants to read instead of what is written.

Emma, better yet than links for the sticky, would you read them all and write a compendium for our benefit? (You've been quite idle lately.)
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