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Re: Summary of the debian-devel BoF at Debconf9

* Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> [090819 15:52]:
>         Well, if you are trying to just decide whether a post is
>  acceptable or not, this would be fine. But what if you are also trying
>  to keep the discussion on track by refuting logic errors? and not going
>  down that path?

I personally think the best is just to ignore that the arguments match
some abstract fallacy. For example strawman: I doubt anyone thinks
refuting the wrong thesis suffices and nobody but very few trolls will
do so willfully.
Dicussions in Debian are not fights but tries to persuade the other
people[1], so it's best to keep it with the facts and avoid a big
"refute" or show everyone how wrong this specific person.

If there is a real logical error, then it does not only exists
abstractly, but concrete. So if you cannot convice somebody something
is wrong without the abstract pattern, then it cannot have been the

Doing the abstract game has a bit of patronizing: You know the
technical term, you know how to use it, the fault of the other side
can be obtained by reading the Wikipedia entry.

Naming the fallacy has a bit of strawman itself. No argument ever fits
the abstract scheme perfectly, but needs a bit of interpretion and
bending. As the other side thinks what they say is true, they will most
likely dispute it fits and claim you refuted something they did not say.

Pointing out the pattern of the mistake also has a small ad-hominem
aspect. "See, he is doing this kind of general error, why should you
believe anything else he says, he is either willfully confusing you or
has no grasp of logic".

Also accusing someone of the abstract error is too powerfull a way to
bring them into defence. The opposite of "I did this fallacy you
describe" is "I did not do this fallacy the way you describe", which
is too weak to state. So you can easily trick someone into trying to
show "I did not do this fallacy in any interpretation", which means
tricking him to do your job.

So if I had to create a list of fallacies very efficient in "winning"
a discussion, I'd put "Accuse the other side of fallacies." in there.

	Bernhard R. Link

[1] Which usually makes those threads even longer, as noone is
content with having persuaded a majority.

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