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The following article (https://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2014/07/02/obama-george-w-bush-quinnipiac-poll-reagan-clinton/11985837/) generated a discussion that was strange.

There was nothing in relation to this link that I said except “Hmmm.” I made no argument concerning the content, made no remarks concerning agreement or disagreement; in fact, I said nothing about it.

Someone did, though.

One brother typed, “Fake News.”

An interesting remark, since it came from the USAToday website.

I replied to that: “Then USAToday is Fake News”

He replied: “The article is fake news. 1st is outdated. 2nd. Its sampled from a very small minority. 3rd. A similar poll has Trump as the worst (same circumstances applied).”

Note that he called it “fake news.” To speak of something as “fake” is to say that it is not real, not true, thus false. Yet, nothing in what he said gives indication of anything false. It is “outdated” does not say that it is false, “sampled from a very small minority” does not say that it is false or untrue and Trump has worse numbers also does not say that something written within is false or untrue.

I replied to this: “dated is not fake, your denying notwithstanding. The sampling can be criticized if you like, but if it’s the norm for such actions, then you not liking it means nothing. Perhaps Trump is worse, I don’t know. I don’t follow or reverence him like some do with others.”

What did he say to this?

“Ron Thomas thats a strawman argument. You posit that I dont like the results and then criticize the assertion. You have no idea if I like the results or not. I simply stated that the message of the article is false. Misleading at best. To gather 35 ultra conservatives and ask them who is the worse president ever is prejudicial and you know it. It produces fake results, making this article fake news.

Notice what I said above. There is no argument from me in anything I said to this point, neither did I say anything about his liking or not liking. My remark about “your denying not withstanding” was not a comment on his liking or disliking the contents of the article, only that he wrongly attributed “fake news” status to the article. He said, moreover, that my reply to him was a “strawman argument.” Go back and see what I said – I said nothing that can be construed as an argument, not even a syllable’s worth. He said the article is false, which means the data used in the content of the article is nothing but lies (at worse), untrue otherwise because “to gather 35 ultra conservatives” alters the results.

35 ultra conservatives? I don’t remember reading anything about the sampling being conservative, to say nothing of ultra conservative.

To what he said, I replied: “Do you even know what a ‘straw man’ argument is? What about the article that is fake/false? It was a report in 2014 of a survey of popularity concerning presidents. Do you know if there are 35 ultra conservatives who thus judged? If your assertion is right, then I agree it is unbalanced. But do you see ‘ultra conservatives’ in the piece, or even ‘republican’? If not, then why assert?”

For the benefit of understanding, here is a definition from a Logic Textbook: “It is argument by caricature. It avoids dealing with the real issue by changing the opposition’s view” (Come Let Us Reason Together, p. 101).

The one who replied to what I posted asserted I made an argument (when I made none), then tried to tag me with this fallacy, the fallacy of setting up a straw man. Here is another source: “The Fallacy of “straw man” is changing or exaggerating an opponent’s position or argument to make it easier to refute” (The Fallacy Detective, p. 68).

With these two definitions in mind, see if what I said to him, to this point, is a straw man. Did I change anything he said or exaggerate his position? I simply considered the words he used.

He did not like what I said, he replied: “still attacking my intelligence huh? Thats called an ad hom fallacy. Smh. My statements stand. You disagree. Carry on.”

Now, I am “attacking his intelligence”? More than that he said I am doing it “still.” Wow!

I called into question, only, his use of the term “straw man” – this is not questioning his intelligence, not even close! Amazing!

Then he says I used an ad hominem reply to him. From the same two sources, here is the definition of ad hominem: “This is argument by character assassination. ‘reject whatever he says because he is a bad person’” (Reason, p. 93); “attacking an opponent’s character, or his motives for believing something, instead of disproving his argument” (Fallacy, p. 47).

In all that I said to this point, is there any character assassination, an ad hominem attack? No reasonable person will agree with his interpretation of what I wrote.

So, I replied: “Ken, you used the term, but you did not properly apply the term, so I asked. Shake your head if you like. You assert ‘ultra conservative’, so I asked for evidence, shake your head if you like. You said I insulted your intelligence by asking you a question and then said, ‘I spoke against the man’ (the meaning of the Latin term), when you give no evidence I spoke against you as a man. Shake your head if you like. Others will have to read and discern.”

The brother in the Lord replied to me, “Accusing me of incorrectly using the term is another attack upon me. (Ad hom). I in fact did use the term (strawman) properly”.

Be sure to note the authoritative source definitions and his use of the terms to see if there is a match.

Moreover, he said, “You posited an argument, (actually an assertion) that I do not like ‘sampling’ as a way of polling, and consequently implied that I do not like the results. It is a strawman argument because I have never said nor asserted that I do not like “sampling” as a way of polling, nor have I implied that I do not like the results.”

Again, go back and see what I said; you will notice I said nothing of the sort. He said, “nor have I implied that I do not like the results” and compare with his remark below when he said “the poll is skewed.”

Here is his point in this discussion: “You set up a strawman…and proceeded to knock it down. Further your comments contributed nothing to my original statement that it is fake news. The message of the article is that Obama is the worse president since WWII. And that is a lie. The poll is skewed, the article is misleading, and it is the epitome of the definition of ‘fake news’.”

From this, I brought my part in the discussion to a close: “Ken, this conversation is going nowhere. Others will have to read and judge.”

It is clear to me, from this discussion, the brother does not know what an argument is in a debate context. In posting a news-link, I made no argument. In posting a news-link, the piece online was simply a survey of opinions, not a substantive story that made a case for or against a person.

There was nothing I posted at the outset that can be in any way construed as an argument. I did not assert a single thing, I did not say premise one is the case, premise two is the case, therefore the conclusion stands (a formal deductive argument in debate). I did nothing of this sort. He perceived I said something when I said nothing.

Neither does he know the meaning of the terms he used, though he said he does. If he does know the meaning, then he terribly misused the terms in discussion. I did not speak against the man, I only question his use of the terms he used – which is NOT “attacking the man.”

Is this brother a partisan political apologist? Perhaps.