The ‘Pah, What Would He Know!’ Argument

(The 'Ad Hominem' Fallacy)

You have been discovered using a silly fallacy in an attempt to win an argument.

Sorry and all that, but it seems that you have been busted by someone a little smarter than you (bet that doesn’t narrow it down much, eh?)

You see, what you have done is ‘attack the person‘ instead of the argument.

This is known as ‘Argumentum ad Hominem’ , or sometimes just ‘Ad Hominem’.

Here is why it is silly to expect normal people to be influenced by it:

Drawing attention to an unrelated negative characteristic or belief of an opponent in an attempt to cast doubt on his argument does not prove anything. You need to attack the argument, not the person. Their education, criminal history, sexual predilections or physical limitations do not by themselves affect the logic of their argument.

Often this strategy is adopted when one party appears to be losing the argument, in the hope that a personal attack will distract their opponent into defending themselves instead of their argument.

That you tried this approach proves one of two things

  •  You genuinely have trouble with logical thought.
    ..or..
  • You foolishly thought your opponent in the debate was even more stupid than you, and so wouldn’t notice.

Either way, you ended up  looking like a bit of numpty, and anyone else who clicked this link is probably now having a good old chuckle at your expense.

In case you fall into the ‘having trouble with logical thought’ camp, we will try and help you to avoid such embarrassing errors in future with an example of the ‘Ad Hominem’ fallacy that may make more sense to you:

“Why should you be allowed to vote? Your views on politics should be discounted, as you are clearly badly educated” 

… there, does it make a bit more sense now?

 

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