Godspell Follies

Refuting the illogic of "intelligent design" and creationism. An illustrated guide to fallacies of logic.

ad hominem

"Against" the man, To the man, Argumentum ad hominem

This is probably the commonest fallacious argument of all in debates about emotion-laden issues – attacking the messenger.

Addressing the qualities or qualifications of "the man" might not be fallacious if "the man" clearly displays prejudices in his/her opinion. The possibility always remains that the conclusion drawn by a highly biased debater may be the correct conclusion. However, arguments that display prejudices are automatically suspect.

Equally, the conclusions of an arguer who is not an expert in the area under discussion may be correct, but such an arguer would need to make the premises and logic of his/her argument quite clear in order to compensate for the possibility that his/her argument is not authoritative. Nevertheless, to question the messenger's expertise is not necessarily an ad hominem fallacy, though it is an ad hominem - a legitimate ad hominem.

On the other hand, tTo call the opposing debater 'an ignorant idiot' might feel justified in view of one's frustration with his obdurate denial of one's own version of reality, but it is not a good argument against his or her argument, or his or her conclusion. He or she might be correct, or you might both be mistaken. However, such an assessment ought to be based on the merits of his or her, or your argument.

Fallacious ad hominems employ a variety of attacks: directly abusive, circumstantial, and accusations of "poisoning the well".

Index Refuting ID

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment section will be used as a glossary, obviating some of the need to move around the site. If the website’s name shows as blue, you can return to the main page by clicking on “Godspell Follies” or “Home”.

idism = intelligent design theory
idist = intelligent design proponent, for example Behe or Dembski
fodi = fellow of the Discovery Institute, one of the organizations set up for the purpose of promoting intelligent design theory
proid = advocate of intelligent design theory, often an Internet debater

For a full explanation of these terms, see the Illogical Deceit Theory post at: http://refutingid.blogspot.com/2007/12/illogical-deceit-theory.html

3:33 PM  

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