The Days Of “Ad Hominem”

Now there is a term you do not hear often…of course not because people capable of using it are attacked using the very tactic that they try to explain….how’s that?

I wrote about this about 6 years ago to an audience that did not want to acknowledge such a thing existed……if you like read it for yourself and I will expand after reading…..

Source: Argumentum Ad Hominem – In Saner Thought

But that was a bit difficult to follow so I will try to clear up any confusion……

Ad hominem (Latin) means “against the man”. As the name suggests, it is a literary term that involves commenting on or against an opponent to undermine him instead of his arguments.

To put it simply, the considerations regarding the use of ad hominem can explain certain arguments and the motives behind them better. Nevertheless, such considerations are not enough on their own to evaluate an individual’s opinion and are certainly not sufficient to disregard them as false or invalid. The fact is that ad hominem is a kind of fallacy that leaves a great impression on the audience’s mind. It is an argumentative flaw that is hard to spot in our daily life. Although, the personal attack that has been made on the opponent might not even have a speck of truth in it, it somehow makes the audience biased. Ironically, despite being flawed, ad hominem has an amazing power of persuasion.

The worst thing about using ad hominem purposely is that an opponent insults you publicly. Whenever this happens to you, you must recover from the humiliation and then point out the false connection in the argument, which was used a trap for the audience. Moreover, the dilemma with ad hominem is that once it has been used against you it smears your reputation. Once somebody makes such a judgmental argument about you, the audience instead of evaluating it on logical grounds take it to be true.

What made me think about a post from the past of IST was something I read over the holidays……

This article was originally published by Scientific American.

Have you ever noticed that when you present people with facts that are contrary to their deepest held beliefs they always change their minds? Me neither. In fact, people seem to double down on their beliefs in the teeth of overwhelming evidence against them. The reason is related to the worldview perceived to be under threat by the conflicting data

Creationists, for example, dispute the evidence for evolution in fossils and DNA because they are concerned about secular forces encroaching on religious faith. Anti-vaxxers distrust big pharma and think that money corrupts medicine, which leads them to believe that vaccines cause autism despite the inconvenient truth that the one and only study claiming such a link was retracted and its lead author accused of fraud. The 9/11 truthers focus on minutiae like the melting point of steel in the World Trade Center buildings that caused their collapse because they think the government lies and conducts “false flag” operations to create a New World Order. Climate deniers study tree rings, ice cores and the ppm of greenhouse gases because they are passionate about freedom, especially that of markets and industries to operate unencumbered by restrictive government regulations. Obama birthers desperately dissected the president’s long-form birth certificate in search of fraud because they believe that the nation’s first African-American president is a socialist bent on destroying the country.

All too familiar these days of vile and disgusting assaults on others….when one is a dolt (yep that was an attack….see NO one is immune) then attack the person when one has NO argument….


26 thoughts on “The Days Of “Ad Hominem”

  1. Before an argument can be engaged with any hope of advancing truth then that argument must be as free of bias as possible … and this is becoming more of an impossibility with each passing day. And to the point of “Attacking Someone’s Character” let me say that there are some characters that are so disposed as to invite one kind of attack or another from one quarter or another ….. noteable examples are, of course, Stalin, Hitler and a few others …. Imagine giving any of them a politically correct positive report back in the day of their ascendancy ….Some “Characters” are so obtuse nothing is left to a debate with them except an expose of their limitations and, of course, the object of such criticism always runs whining to the fore with claims they are being attacked. Expose and attack are a hundred million miles apart.

    1. I will agree about the “characters” these days…semantics again…..if you insult a person’s character then that is an attack…you may call it what you like…but it is an attack.

      1. I appreciate you being a regular on my blog very much — I really do — but it has been my experience that some people who have been the most vitriolic opposers of mine have said to me, “I will never visit your blog again and then in a few days or weeks they are right back again seeing what I have to say .

        I guess it is because I am such a colorful, interesting, magnetic personality and people just can’t figure my customary hit rate of being correct about everything almost 100% of the time.

        But like I said … your faithful regularness means the world to me and I am so grateful to you for hanging in there …. besides which I think you are a cut above the average bear …. I think you are special and a person of great “Quality” so that makes your attendance and your comments even the more valuable to me.

  2. Truth juice was flowing on new year’s eve and the conversation turned to politics. Climate change was mentioned, I produced scientific facts that were verifiable from multiple sources that human beings were the catalyst of increasing temperatures. I was met with criticism and it was implied (without facts to back up their statements) that I was being a moron for thinking that humans could affect an ecosystem as large as the Earth. Ad hominem is making it harder to actually hold a decent conversation or have an intellectual debate before it degrades to character insults. There is bias with everything and everyone, an open-mind is the only way I’ve found to counter that bias. Social media has reinforced individual bias on practically every subject because we can compartmentalize and follow those that think and feel the same way.

  3. All exactly true, chuq! In fact, my entire objection to Trump is purely ad hominem on my part. Totally ad hominem. He hasn’t one positive ad hominem that would indicate he’s presidential material. I have no overt debate regarding some of his policies (although many are indeed debatable).. it’s just the man is.. an enlarged ad hominem.

  4. Want good examples of this type of discourse? Check out just about any criticism our Prez Elect makes regarding any issue. Can’t logically attack the idea bombard attach the speaker or source. Actually works very well but wouldn’t get you a good grade in a debate class. ~~dru~~

  5. I am regularly attacked….by the emotionally unintelligent…I use the BLOCK facility.
    shame it does not delete them on a permanent basis. 😦

  6. I enjoyed this post, in spite of the whooshing sound It made as it shot over the heads of 98% of humanity…


    Ad speciinem,… yep. Deliberately, too….


      1. You did fine; it’s my own lack of trust in the average mundane which prompts such a statement. Your readers came close, mostly, but, in general, any use of Latin will automatically turn off what intelligence they can muster, in favor of yet more denial….


  7. Good post! I read your blog often and you always post excellent content. I posted this article on Facebook and my followers like it. Thanks for writing this!

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