Lately, whenever I witness an argument I can’t help but notice that some of the main strategies people tend to use are fallacies . The Oxford dictionary defines them as mistaken beliefs, especially ones based on unsound arguments. It is “an erroneous argument dependent upon an unsound or illogical contention”. There are numerous types, but they all make use of illogical or unrelated information (real or not), often switching the focus to another topic. The one I see the most however is “Argumentum ad Hominem (argument against the man)”. People start to personally attack the speaker rather than contributing to the actual argument itself.
This happens especially in politics. Even politicians, people who are supposed to be looked up to as leaders and examples are losing sight of what’s intended and utterly important. They will berate, insult, slander, and often fabricate alternative facts in attempt to bias the audience, and emasculate the opponent. The problem is, although it is neither a logical nor reasonable strategy, it is compellingly persuasive to an audience. Despite the flaw in rhetoric tequnique, the disputant can end up with more support than his/her opponent, but without any actual merit.
This can become dangerous, when people are not actually aware of why they’re choosing to agree with someone, or are doing it for the wrong reasons. I’ll use Donald Trump as an example, as he’s been named the King of Ad Hominem. He told Rolling Stone in September 2015, in regards to Carly Fiorina, “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”. Instead of discussing his and her qualifications for presidency, as should be discussed in such a debate, he is blatantly, and consciously being sexist towards her, avoiding the issue all together in attempt to discredit her. And it doesn’t stop there with the vocal insults, he uses Twitter to lob them at the various 307 people, places or things he has chosen so far; using the internet, where, once something is there, it’s ALWAYS there.
How can people be okay with a president, someone in such a position of power, having such a lack of actual eduated arguments to contribute that he has to resort to underdeveloped rhetoric, not to mention limited vocabulary and broken syntax? Doesn’t it frighten you that someone with the speaking skills of a 3rd or 4th grader is running one of the most powerful countries on the planet? He never has anything real to say, he just insults people, and tries to silence the ones who disagree or have other opinions. He, along with his cabinet members, repeatedly dance around direct questions, imploy controversial policies without majority vote, and disregard public wants/needs. They have questionable qualifications, if any, and seem to have no idea what they’re doing, although hidden agendas often remain so until too late. Does anyone else get an impression of the use of manipulation tactics?
It frightens me.
The only time ad hominem might be justified is if “claims made about a person’s character or actions are relevant to the conclusions being drawn”. That being said, critiques should not prevent the argument from being examined further, and the position is usually independent of character. If the only things that people have to contribute to an argument are insults or personal attacks, why are they arguing at all? Do they just want to hear their own voices, or see their posts on social media/forums?
Facts don’t change a person’s mind, once it’s made up, either. So, are people are so hell-bent on being right they don’t care whether or not what they’re supporting is actually true, or relevant? What difference does someone’s genitals make with respect to their presidential qualifications? And how does this lack of input and knowledge not reflect on the person producing the ad hominem in the first place? How are FACTS not able to change someone’s OPINION? Opinion is not synonymous with fact, incase you had any doubt, and alternative facts are straight up LIES.
If you have a valid argument or thought, comment and let me know, because this is something that baffles me. Didn’t peoples’ mothers ever tell them “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Add in to that phrase intelligent and relevant, and it seems to me, if people followed that advice, and ceased with the improper use of fallacies, the world would be a silent place.