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A Swede in Germany

Archive for June 2010

Unfair argumentation methods VI: German example (flawed, cf. comments)

with 6 comments

I have promised three examples of the discussed problems, which I had in mind when I started this article series. Due to the growth in scope, I have not gotten around to them until now; however, here I present the first:

I commented on a German blog named after a leading GDR womane, requesting actual arguments to support an almost nonsensical and definitely absurd thesis. The resulting counter-comments included e.g.:

Was willst Du hier dauernd mit »Argumenten«, »Erklärungen«, »Nachweisen« und »Begründungen«? Am Ende vielleicht noch Tatsachen? Die Partei hat immer recht und basta! Oder bist Du vielleicht Kulak oder trotzkistischer Troll, daß Du das in Frage stellst? Es sind schon Leute für weniger Nachfragen nach Workuta gekommen, oder wenigstens nach Bautzen.

(What do you want with “arguments”, “explanations”, and “proof”? In the end possibly even facts? The party is always right and basta! Or are you possibly a Kulak or a Trotzkistic troll, since you put this in question? People have been sent to Workuta [Gulag labour camp], or at least Bautzen [similar character], for less.)

and

Und wenn man schaut, was mit solchen zersetzenden ElementInnen, die sich in der Vergangenheit tatsächlich über unsere gemeinsamen Ziele lustig gemacht haben, gerechterweise widerfahren ist, würde ich ein solches Tun auch nicht unbedingt empfehlen. Nur so viel an michaeleriksson: Sei Du jetzt mal ganz vorsichtig!!!

(And when one considers what has rightfully happened to such disturbing elements, who have made fun [a characterization of my comments that I do not agree with] of our common goals in the past, I would not recommend it. Only this to michaeleriksson: Be very careful!!!)

Notable are the lack of actual arguments, the thinly veiled threats, the unpleasant tone, and the absence of self-insight/-critique. Even by the standards of political blogs, this is a horrifying example.

For some time, I actually thought that this page was a parody; however, the continued reactions of the other commenters soon made me rule this possibility out—the likelihood that someone would go to such extreme efforts to keep pretenses up is smaller than that of extremest stupidity. (The razors of Hanlon and Occam both apply in this case—Sacha Baron Cohen notwithstanding.) Notably, there are many other similar pages on the blog, and Google yields other pages yet that seem to take the blog seriously.

(If you wish to comment, please make sure that you have read Unfair argumentation methods I: Preliminaries first.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Unfair argumentation methods V: Intermezzo on Hitler und Mein Kampf

with 12 comments

With the debate around Sverigedemokraterna, I decided to finally read Hitler’s Mein Kampfw, in order to better judge the sometime claim that SD is a Nazi-organisation. (I have also found it useful make an effort to read books that are or have been influential, even if their intrinsic value seems dubious.)

About one third through, I have found many statements that are pertinent to this article series, most notably in Chapter 6, “Kriegspropaganda” (“War propaganda”), showing Hitler’s conclusions about propaganda with an eye on the German left and the respective British and German efforts during WWI. These conclusions not only go some way to explain the success of unfair reasoning (and, possibly, its popularity on the left), but also many of Hitler’s and NSDAP’s own later actions. (And what else may be said about Hitler, his success in the area of propaganda was immense and indisputable.)

I would advise all who have strong opinions about people from different groups (be they determined by race, class, sex, opinion, …) to read this chapter very closely—and ask themselves whether they are pawns blindly following manipulators using these strategies. (Online editions can be found following the Wikipedia link. Check your local copyright situation before use.)

A few core issues:

  1. Propaganda is to be directed at the masses, who are sufficiently easily fooled and led by it. In contrast, those who are of higher intelligence should be met with a different approach based on actual reasoning and facts.

    While this is something which we can observe in everyday life (politics, commercials, whatnot), few politicians today would dare say it. Mona Sahlinw, the leader of the Swedish social-democrats, is an excellent example of this—in fact, she may take it too far, literally talking to adults as if they were little children, including tone of voice, and taking dumbing-down to an extreme where there is more-or-less no content left.

  2. There is much to be gained in portraying the enemy as a dangerous and evil monster.

    This is a common technique in propaganda, which can be readily observed in a wide variety of contexts. Consider e.g. Swedish leftist propaganda, Bush’s “Axis of Evil” (which has some justification, but that is beside the point in this context), the Arabic/Islamic “ Great American Satan”, or, indeed, the Nazis on Jews).

  3. Propaganda should be one-sided and not concede any good points in the enemies positions.

    While Hitler makes a decent case for this item, it is not necessarily one that I recognize as being systematically used—or as necessarily being effective outside of “preaching to the choir” contexts. (Then again, I may well be over-estimating the masses—which I have a long history of doing.) However, in Sweden many such examples can be found, e.g. in the attacks on Sverigedemokraterna (cf. the previous post).

  4. Propaganda must be limited in content and constantly repeat this content.

    This is certainly something that the advertising industry has taken to heart. Similarly, if we look at the political messages displayed to the masses during election campaigns, they tend to focus on just a few core issues.

Another highly pertinent theme:

Daher muß eine Vielzahl von innerlich verschiedenen Gegnern immer zusammengefaßt werden, so daß in der Einsicht der Masse der eigenen Anhänger der Kampf nur gegen einen Feind allein geführt wird. Dies stärkt den Glauben an das eigene Recht und steigert die Erbitterung gegen den Angreifer auf dasselbe.

(For this reason, a multitude of internally different opponents must always be joined together, so that the fight is only against one enemy in the understanding of the mass of own supporters. This will strengthen the faith in ones own right [righteousness?] and increase the exasperation against those who attack it.)

Here we have many of the problems I discuss in a nutshell: Anyone who criticizes immigration policy is a racist, anyone defending Sverigedemokraterna’s right to fair debate is, himself, one of them, those who want lower taxes for ideological reasons, or to stimulate the economy, are grouped with the (likely, very small) group of those who want to get rich on the cost of the poor, etc. (Similarly, it is not uncommon that right-wing USanians group all leftists into the communist category.) That this is taken to the extreme that Hitler recommends is unusual, but at least the gender-feminists tend to do so, with their ever present “Patriarchy”.

Hitler himself is a very notable user, e.g. by reducing Marxism and Social-Democracy to parts of a larger Jewish machinery—effectively making sure that there is just one enemy (the Jews), not several (Jews and Marxists/Social-Democrats). (Incidentally, this raises some question as to whether Hitler’s stated views on the Jews were honest, or whether he largely used them as a near-ideal scape-goat and main enemy.)

In case this post is read by some of the people I write about in this article series, I see myself forced to add: Reading a work by Hitler does not make me a Nazi—neither does the fact that I have read the Communist Manifesto make me a communist, that I have read the Bible make me a Christian, or that I have read the US constitution make me a USanian. For that matter: The fact that you have read this entry does not make you me.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 22, 2010 at 7:17 am

Unfair argumentation methods IV: The party Sverigedemokraterna

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Originally, I intended a post on the Swedish party Sverigedemokraterna and the way it is maligned and attacked. The post rapidly grow out of the size suitable for a WordPress entry, and I chose to instead write an article for my website on the same topic.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

We All Like to Reblog (via WordPress.com News)—but not the way WordPress wants

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This post has two purposes:

o To test the feature of the blog post mentioned.

o To criticize this feature.

If you read the original post, you will see that (in a common, but amateurish, mistake) the feature entangles various concepts and ideas in an unfortunate manner. It should, notably, be possibly to re-blog without liking and “bookmarking” without liking (i.e. add the post to an internal page in the manner described without increasing the page’s like count).

As a further complication, it does not currently appear to be possible to un-like a post after liking it. (Note e.g. the risk of a mistaken click or a change of heart.) The absense of a “dislike”, OTOH, can be defended.

For those who wonder: I am still actively writing on the article series on unfair argumentation—it just takes longer than anticipated.

We All Like to Reblog Have you ever come across a blog post that you enjoyed so much you wanted to easily share it with the readers of your own blog? Sure, you can copy and paste the link and perhaps even a snippet of text with your own comments, but overall it's not a particularly enjoyable experience. We wanted to change this and make sharing other posts with your readers as easy as posting to your blog. Today we're introducing a new like and reblog feature enabled … Read More

via WordPress.com News

Written by michaeleriksson

June 13, 2010 at 10:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

The trial of the year—Victory! (Follow up)

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As I wrote in March, a jury ruled in favour of Novell in the fight against SCO, whose widely-considered-faulty claims had caused great costs and uncertainty for a number of other parties (including, obviously, Novell).

There was still some remaining uncertainty in theory (considering the overall situation and previous judgements, a practical problem was unlikely), because there were further “findings of facts” and various motions to be decided by the judge. As Groklaw now reportse:

Judge Ted Stewart has ruled for Novell and against SCO. Novell’s claim for declaratory judgment is granted; SCO’s claims for specific performance and breach of the implied covenant of good fair and fair dealings are denied. Also SCO’s motion for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial: denied. SCO is entitled to waive, at its sole discretion, claims against IBM, Sequent and other SVRX licensees.

CASE CLOSED!

Maybe I should say cases closed. The door has slammed shut on the SCO litigation machine.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Unfair argumentation methods IIIa: Follow-up to preceding post

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Looking at some further comments, the situation has changed in character, but remains bad: After reconciliatory statements by Darsh (a born diplomat, it appears; taking a very “New Testament” approach) the tone of the comments have gone from “You are an evil idiot.” to “You are horribly misguided and should do your best to benefit from our wisdom.”—something so absurd that I do not know whether I should laugh, cry, or get mad. (In fact, I will be unsubscribing to the comments, seeing that there is little knowledge and information to be gained, but much aggravation.) In many ways, it is like a group of average fifteen y.o. school girls trying to lecture an intelligent adult. Certainly, these women would do well to read up on the Dunning-Kruger effectw

These follow-ups demonstrate several other common components in similar discussions (mostly from a larger context than, specifically, rape):

  1. An undue and over-large tendency to claim the moral high-ground. (While everyone tends to make this erroneously at least some of the time, those whose who are bit further in their development tend to do it less often and for better reasons—and stand a far greater chance of legitimately doing so.)

    Similarly, some people (in particular women, for some reason) have a tendency of considering someone who (in their opinion) is factually wrong to, ipso facto, also be morally wrong.

  2. Claims along the lines of “We are so tired of explaining this again and again.” or “It is not our responsibility to teach you. You have to learn for yourself.”:

    Firstly, if person A wants to convince person B, it is the responsibility of person A to provide the corresponding arguments. It is not acceptable to just claim to be right and ask the other party to educate himself. If the issue is recurring, write an article on the issue for future linking—or link to a pre-existing one.

    Secondly, many of these claims, in my experience, have been made in cases were the point to be explained is either flat-out wrong or, at best, implausible or just applying in some special cases. If someone goes around claiming, e.g., that the world is flat, then he has to live with repetition—other people will want to know what leads to this claim, before they give it any credibility.

    Thirdly, there are many, many issues where more rational and better informed people have gone to lengths explaining e.g. that the “women earn 70 cents of the dollar” claim is at best highly misleading, at worst completely bogus—yet this does not stop feminists from repeating it again, and again, and again. (This specific issue will be discussed in one of the upcoming articles.)

  3. Reversal of Hanlon’s Razor and presumption of guilt, even to the point of considering someone guilty in the absence of any sign or indication of a crime. (As if a police officer would arrest a man with the claim “He has a criminal face, so he is bound to have robbed the little old lady next door.”—even when there is no indication whatsoever that the little old lady has actually been robbed…)

  4. The common “If you have not been raped, your knowledge in any related question is, ipso facto, inferior.” theme of rape discussions (often extended to any and all aspects of the discussion in question, even if not actually rape-related):

    Obviously, this is a grave fallacy, because this only relates to a part of the subject—and, in fact, seems to cause more clouding of reason than enlightenment. In what way, e.g., does being raped increase a woman’s ability to judge the risk of any particular man being a rapist? (On the contrary, in many cases, her ability will decrease due to an irrational fear—as is the case with other crime victims too.) In what way would she be better able to judge a semantic difference between blame and responsibility? What constitutes a reasoned argument and what a vicious personal attack?

Notably, while being a rape victim is horrible, it is not an excuse for an adult woman to behave like a child, to ignore what others actually say (as opposed to interpreting in something completely different), to use unfair argumentation methods, to use personal attacks, or similar. If she cannot abstain from this, then it is in the best interest of the discussion that she voluntarily abstains from taking part in it at all. In fact, while I am very much in favour of free speech and debate, such excesses as those by violent rabbit (possibly also blue milk, herself) are justifiable cause for a forced exclusion from the debate. In contrast, there is nothing in any statement by Darsh that would warrant an exclusion. (Note that the critical issue is not what opinion is held, but how it is promoted, how others and their opinions are treated, etc.)

Of course, in the end, these women do more harm than good to their cause by antagonizing men who might have been sympathetic to it, diminishing their own credibility severely, or even (depending on whom and what discussion) appearing as man-haters, fanatics, or rabid feminists.

Statements like the following certainly do not help:

Cristy:

I tried to comment on this post earlier today, because it made me think about the parallels with how female victims of homicide are accorded some ‘responsibility’ for provoking their male killers (by trying to leave them, for example), while male victims are not (despite having threatened the life of the female perpetrators and subjecting them to years of violent abuse).

In reality, to all evidence I have seen so far, it is exactly the other way around: Women are given a systematically more lenient treatment and are given access to the provocation excuse (in various forms and shapes) to a higher degree—even to the point that some feminists have argued for the inclusion of this systematic difference in the law it self (including, IIRC, Harriet Harman). Cf. e.g. the related categories at http://www.mens-links.net/home.aspe.

As an aside, I use the phrase “ipso facto” in this article series at a rate far higher than I usually do. This is for the simple reason that faulty “ipso-facto thinking” is common in many of the situations and groups discussed.

(If you wish to comment, please make sure that you have read Unfair argumentation methods I: Preliminaries first.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Unfair argumentation methods III: Intermezzo on rape debates

with 4 comments

After posting a new article, I usually have a look at the WordPress pages for the tags I have used. This I did yesterday too, and stumbled onto an excellent example of some of the issues I discuss in this series of articles:

A discussion of rape, blame, and responsibilitye was started by what appears to be a reasoned good-faith comment landing in the eyes of an active feminist, who responded with a long, mostly irrelevant post (but probably still a good faith post). Critically the post-author (blue milk) did not seem be understand the semantic differentiation the original commenter (Darsh) made—thereby basing her attacks on him on entirely faulty assumptions. The same applies to many of the subsequent commenters. In my one comment (so far), I tried to give some help in understanding it by quoting a very thought-worthy poem:

Here lies the body of William Jay
Who died maintaining his right of way
He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.

(Attributed to the Boston Evening Transcriptw)

Unfortunately, after the original post, things went out of hand more or less immediately, including comments (my commentary in brackets) like:

  • Darsh: Out of curiosity, could I ask what happened so that you didn’t get raped?

    thewhatifgirl: Why? So that you can use that as a reason to judge other women for “getting raped”? No, it’s none of your goddamn business.

    [Note the accusative tone, the presumption of Darsh being malicious (the complete opposite of my impression), and the rudeness. What is wrong with “No, that is too private.”?]

  • Gappy:

    “Guys regularly need to press on through token resistance from girls”???

    WTF? Token resistance? No clearly doesn’t always mean no in your book Darsh.

    [Token resistance is very common, and pressing through token resistance is very different from raping someone, be it in intents, methods, or willingness of the counter-part—in the same way that haggling over the price during a garage sale is different from breaking into the garage at night and stealing the item.]

    Remind me never to get myself in a situation where I’m alone with you. I imagine that might be very irresponsible of me indeed.

    [Here the implicit (and, from what I have read, entirely unfounded) accusation that Darsh is a likely rapist is raised.]

  • violent rabbit:

    Yes, you are. All men are rapists.

    [A long standing, paranoid, and misandrist lie, which I really should not need to comment upon.]

  • violent rabbit: [In reply to a perfectly reasonable comment made by Darsh]

    LOL “avoid”

    GO HOME

    3. “bears…responsibility”

    GO HOME AND NEVER COME OUT AGAIN

  • violent rabbit: [In reply to a perfectly reasonable comment made by Darsh]

    Like not leading him on? By dressing sexy, making eye contact, walking home from work at night? Right!

    GO HOME UNTIL YOU’VE GROWN A BRAIN

    GO HOME

    GO

    HOME

  • Moonmaid:

    I think men react in such a way (like @Darsh), because rape (or violence in general) is not something allowing for much shading and rationalization. Rape is an emotional issue, which requires us to take sides. So men are much rather inclined to side with the rapist than the victim, because otherwise they would be required to show some empathy and turn against their own kind. Siding with the victim also requires you to experience and endure a minimum of their pain. It’s much easier to stay away from such feeling by victimizing the victim.

    [Highly speculative, contains specious reasoning, and is unduely accusative of both men (in general) and Darsh (in particular).]

  • violent rabbit: [Directed at my, so far, sole comment on the thread—which I consider extremely reasoned in the light of the tone and behaviour of most other commenters.]

    GO HOME TROLL

    FFS

    LOL TONE ARGUMENT FROM A CONCERNED MAN MANSLPAINING TO US WHIMMINS

    GO HOME AND NEVER COME OUT AGAIN

  • bluemilk:

    Darsh, your views are way out of step with the other women and men who visit this blog. Your ignorance on this subject actually offends people, including me, so the onus is on you now to take some time to go away and read and think and educate yourself.

    [His views may be out of step with the others, but that is just because he happened to get involved in discussion with many less-than-reasoned feminists, and is certainly not a reason to silence him—but, as I have pointed out in a number of posts, that is exactly what some groups want to do to dissenters. He has shown no signs of ignorance, and certainly I find the behaviour of the other commenters far more offensive. The concluding claim would carry greater justification if directed e.g. at bluemilk, herself, or violent rabbit]

  • Someone:

    I hate to say it, but maybe @Darsh needs to get raped to see the other side of this. It’s obvious there’s no reasoning with him in any other fashion.

    [The first sentence says all we need to know about “Someone”; the second, demonstrates that she has not understood what Darsh was saying.]

  • Blue milk: [In an added statement to the original post.]

    WARNING: the same person who left the comment to which this post responds has also entered the comment thread below. He continued to attempt to argue that women bore some responsibility for rape. Many others have argued against him and I will be moderating any further comments of his, but I have left his existing comments untouched as I think there is some useful discussion happening in response to them. This thread might be upsetting to you, please let me know if this is the case and if you think I would be better to remove his comments altogether.

    [Note the extreme degree of censorship suggested towards the ad rem argumentation of Darsh—while viscious attacks from other commenters are allowed to stand. Speaking for myself, I find a lot of the thread upsetting, namely the intellectual dishonesty, lack of reason and perspective, inability to understand others points of view, etc., that are displayed by the other posters. Darsh, in contrast, has remained within the lines the entire time (even in the face of gravest provocation) and his one sin is merely this: Having another opinion the majority of the commenters… I note, further, that his opinions are again misrepresented or, in a best case, misunderstood even in this “warning”.]

(If you wish to comment, please make sure that you have read Unfair argumentation methods I: Preliminaries first.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm