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Re: Summary of the debian-devel BoF at Debconf9

On Tue, Aug 18 2009, Bernhard R. Link wrote:

> * Ben Finney <ben+debian@benfinney.id.au> [090818 11:28]:
>> "Bernhard R. Link" <brlink@debian.org> writes:
>> > Perhaps there is a way to [???] discourage all meta-discussion or
>> > mentioning of "fallacy", "ad-hominem" or "strawman" on the other
>> > lists.
>> Perhaps you have a better way of succinct terms to use when challenging
>> those logical fallacies?
> I think succinct terms help not at all here. Once there is a succinct
> term 90% of their use is name-calling. If people think something is
> wrong they should say what is wrong and not invoce some name.

        If you want a full description of the logical fallacy in all
 replies, sure. The point is that the best refutation of a logical
 fallacy is to point out it is a logical fallacy, and thus, stop
  basing the rest of the discussion based on the logical fallacy.

> And really, if some logical conclusion is so broken that this brokeness
> has its own name, then everybody should be able to see it.

        This is a nice theory, but in reality one does see people arging
 against the person, or their perceived personality, or their
 traits, or ascribing motives to them all the time.

        These attacks on people, as opposed to discussion of what they
 said, is one of the major reasons discussion threads devolve into
 unproductive chaos. We should be managing to police discussion better,
 and the first step is identifying that such a post has been made. 

> So either someone does it on purpose (then it is just some form of
> misbehaviour and discussing it only on topic on some mailing list about
> behviour on mailing lists).

        First, that list would be pretty nasty and uninteresting, so not
 many people would subscribe to it, and this notice would go mostly
 unnoticed, in the meanwhile, the poisonous email would have derailed
 the original discussion.

> Or the writer really missed something. (In this case I cannot imagine
> shouting "strawman" will make them understand), but staying with the
> facts and not entering the meta-level helps more.

        Just callingit strawman with no justification is suboptimal, I
 agree. If you call something a strawman, you should also justify why it
 is so (like, you are argying against point A, which not one ever
 advocated, and you are ascribing to me positions I never took. This is
 a strawman).
> I guess that is a reason why those "succinct" terms are so often used
> to throw them againt people like names-calling. And that is why I think
> they do not belong in any discussion unless you are sure you know
> everything better.

        But using the term, while also explaining why the term is valid,
 seems like a good thing. Without the rationale for using hte term, you
 are correct, it is just name calling.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub
it out. Andy Capp
Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> <http://www.debian.org/~srivasta/>  
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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