Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How I Became a Slimy Polecat

My six-year-old daughter is super smart (as if it could be any other way). But she's still got some odd quirks that are really quite funny. One of those is her idea of sneaking around. Like earlier tonight, I wanted her to do her homework, and she knew that, but wanted to do something else. So to "hide" from me, she goes dashing through the living room, as if I wouldn't notice her going by, just as long as she went fast enough. And I live in an old house with loud wooden floors, so it's even more obvious every time she went dashing through, as it's fairly loud. While I was absorbed in my work enough that I wouldn't have noticed if she walked through normally, her evasion tactics definitely drew my attention to her. And I laughed and kept pretending as if it had worked.

And I bring this up now because I'm still engaged in the most ridiculous debate ever with this crackpot conservative. And while the debate started on semi-legitimate grounds involving Obama and his pastor, it quickly devolved into the dumbest thing you've ever read. I only keep it going because I have so much fun with this guy. But apparently, he has to keep posting because he has some invented rule of debate that says that if you don't respond to any point, you automatically concede that point. Apparently, debates are like ping-pong and that if you don't hit back every argument, the other guy scores a point.

Yes, crazy stuff. Especially as there are TONS of debate threads he's failed to respond to. In fact, most of his posts consist of little more than ranting insults and victorious taunts. Oh, and that's another of his rules: Apparently, if you call your opponent a name, like "nutjob" then you've committed an ad hominem fallacy and basically lose...or something like that. It doesn't matter how many times I've tried to explain to him what ad hominem fallacies are, and why insults aren't really ad hominem arguments; but that's all more red herrings to him and he'll use that to ignore my arguments. In other words, because he thinks I've committed an ad hominem fallacy, he commits an ad hominem fallacy.

And one of his favorite debate "techniques" is to call me a polecat, or a slimy polecat, or a slimy "Texas-dragged" polecat, and other increasingly odd inventions. But...he imagines that these constant slurs don't count as insults, because he's only saying that I act "like" a polecat. And I guess polecats are well-known for their lousy debate skills. And besides the fact that this is total hypocrisy on his part, and that these constant insults are a huge distraction to our debate; it's just dumb. I've asked him repeatedly why he keeps up with the lame polecat thing, and he won't tell me.

And he assures me that analogical insults are ok, because they're analogies and not actual insults. And while I often pepper insults throughout my posts for style points, this guy's insults are the argument. For him, it's scoring points if he calls me a nihilistic, post-modern, America-hating polecat; despite the fact that NONE of these labels are even close to fitting me (well, with the exception of polecat, because I really am a polecat). Oh, and another clever technique of his was to change my name to "Dr. Biowordsmith," for reasons that continue to escape me. Wow, that's a clever guy. It's as if he imagines that changing someone's name somehow undermines them, which in turn undermines their argument. Again, he engages in ad hominem arguments at his most basic level of debate, yet imagines that me calling him a "nutjob" undermines my point.

And we've now reduced the argument down to whether opinions can be "obvious." I had said that it was "obvious" that Obama didn't agree with his pastor; an opinion I find entirely obvious. And he's now insisting that this ONE WORD magically turned my opinion into an empirical claim, and that unless I admit that the empirical claim I accidentally made was false, that I'm a phony...or something like that. But, of course, an opinion can't be empirical, no matter how I described it. And so he's really just down to arguing that I used ONE WORD incorrectly. Oh, and did I mention that he thinks semantic debates are fallacies...or something? Again, this guy is nuts. Each comment is filled with yet another layer of inanity, insults, hypocrisy, and most of all, little games that he imagines is a substitute for real debate.

Of course, the truth is that this is his revenge for our first debate, last summer. He thought his opinion of Bush refuted somebody else's opinion of Bush. And he's now apparently learned that lesson, and wants revenge by forcing me to use Obama's words as facts to refute his opinion; thereby forcing me into the corner that he forced himself into last time. But I won't do that, because I know what opinions are. And so this is all just a weird round-about game he's playing, trying in vain to force me into a position which I'm far too intelligent to adopt. And he's down to that ONE WORD, insisting that using the word "obvious" turned my opinion into an empirical claim and wanting me to use Obama's words to defend those claims. Too funny.

Another fun add-on to our debate was when one of my readers mentioned how this nutjob is a college professor, and I replied back that becoming a professor didn't take intelligence, and that tenaciousness was enough; which this guy clearly has. Well somehow this guy imagined that I said he wasn't qualified to be a professor, and started making this big deal about how I insulted him, which automatically undermines my credibility...or something. I'm suspecting that his sense of inadequacy is so great that even the hint that his professorship doesn't give him authority hurts him; thus explaining his great outrage for mocking professors.

And all this reminds me of my six-year-old. She'll dash through the room, drawing tons of attention to herself, and all I can do is laugh and pretend that it works. And I always do. But it's just too fun to play around with this nutjob. Anyway, if you're bored, you can read through our LOOONG discussion. You can even skip down to the end, as you really won't have missed anything important. This guy never really explains anything, so the debate continues in the same rut, as he refuses to concede even the most basic facts of reality. Fun stuff.

I'm still planning to write a grand opus on this guy once the debate ends, but at this point, I'm not sure that can ever happen. He's already lost the debate in every conceivable way, yet continues on like the Terminator. It's possible this will go on forever.

P.S. And yes Donald, I'm fully aware that my constant use of insults like "nut" and "nutjob" entirely undermines my argument. Because my argument is dependent upon my credibility. Too funny.


Anonymous said...

I tried to read that thread but my eyes got tired and then my fingers got tired just scrolling. Obviously, if he never concedes, he thinks he never loses. Therefore, he is obviously not a loser.

Fade said...

It's weird to me when these people lose sight of the point they are trying to make by veering off into these useless little wordgames of verbal masturbation.

or maybe - that is the only point they have.

John of the Dead said...

That was my experience, and why I've dropped out of that argument. The primary antagonist had no point to argue, and was just running in circles trying to argue anything possible. It's hard to debate someone who claims one thing, gets called on it, reverses positions, and then attacks you on the same grounds. In fact, it's dishonest; but, then again, if he was honest, he wouldn't have been making those claims in the first place.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Michael - Yeah, that's about how he thinks it works. For him, this isn't about giving good arguments. It's about having any kind of response at all. If you respond and act like you've won, then you're still in the game and might presuade your opponent that it's true. If you fail to respond, you lose. And that's what's so funny about him calling me a "post-modernist." For him, being "right" isn't about actually being right, but just about convincing everyone else that you're right. And if you play enough little wordgames and technicalities, you can win, even if you were wrong. And as I've seen from him in other debates, he can keep playing these games forever and keep insulting people while insisting that he's not until his opponents eventually stop responding and he declares victory. It's really quite sad.

And to tell you the truth, there isn't one of his comments that I've fully read. It hurts my brain to try to decipher his weird "reasoning," and so I only skim his comments for a few choice points. Especially as 85% of each of comment is just noise, and he rarely gets to his point. But that's another of his techniques. He has so little to say that he has to junk it up with insults, empty huff, and noise; as a way of hiding the fact that he has nothing to say.

And remember, he's supposedly a Poly Sci professor or something. Were it not for that, I'd assume he was half-retarded (literally, and not in the insulting sense) and I wouldn't bother. I'm still thinking the "professor" thing might be fake. He is a prime example of everything that's wrong with debates. That's why I keep this up.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Fade - Yeah, I think it's intentional self-deception. They know they're wrong, and their last desperate hope is to veer off into the absurd and hope you go down the rabbithole with them. And by their logic, if you don't follow them down, then you lose by default. And if they can finally get you to trip up and say one wrong thing, you lose the entire debate; even if the new discussion bares no relation to the original point. They resort to these games because they have no other hope to win a debate.

Doctor Biobrain said...

John - I think your problem in that debate is that the guy is an authoritarian and he therefore considered you to be one of my evil minions. To him, you weren't raising any real debate points; but were just snipping at his heels as a way to help me out. In my first debate with him, he'd use the approval of his readers as proof that I was wrong about everything. I mean seriously, he kept insisting that his readers had determined him to be the winner and that I just had to deal with the loss. And so he had to ignore you for the same reason; because he imagines that your opinion can decide the debate in my favor. As I said before, reality isn't as important to him as the appearance of reality. And so for him to admit that I had two readers who independently disagreed with him would be tantamount to admitting defeat. So he had to put you guys on my team and therefore, anything you said was the same as me saying it.

But that's the way it is with everything this guy does. He doesn't even know what a real debate is, and thinks it's all just tricks and games; and so he imagined that you were just a dirty trickster distracting from the real debate.

But I don't think I'll ever drop out of the debate as I really do enjoy this kind of thing. Sure, it's frustrating, but I find it to be a decent mental exercise, though I'm barely giving any effort to this at all. And I really do think it's funny to keep forcing him to dig deeper into his own corner. And that's what's weird, this is all just a desperate attempt by him to force me into a corner, yet all I've been trying to do is get him out of his corner and into reality; yet he refuses. He just can't admit that he's said anything wrong and has to keep digging deeper into lunacy to avoid conceding to reality.

repsac3 said...

Donnie's just a masochistic polecat who enjoys being laughed at. There is no other explanation.

Doctor Biobrain said...

You're wrong, Repsac. He's "like" a masochistic polecat who enjoys to be laughed at. You need to describe his behavior; not insult him. By making it a simile, you turn it into a clever debate point, rather than a classless ad hominem.

One of my favorite parts of this debate is mimicking his absurd logic. It really is good practice for the day that I ever find an intelligent conservative to debate.