Re: Why result to insults instead of reasoned arguements? Was: The wisdom of the object mentors

From: Keith H Duggar <>
Date: 3 Jun 2006 14:16:25 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Laurent Bossavit wrote:
> The logical validity of an argument is independent of the
> number of insults you intersperse in it.

Thank God.

> The effectiveness of the argument as a vehicle for
> convincing others, however, is very much dependent on
> whether it conforms to the norms of socially acceptable
> discourse.

It also depends on how others react to discourse that violates social norms. Some might choose to ignore the violations and focus instead on the logical content. In other words they might have a "thick skin" and the ability to mentally focus.

> When you insult people, you actively discourage them from
> listening to you. Worse, you discourage anyone else who's
> listening in - and who may have started out inclined to
> listen to you.

Not necessarily. Again, communication is bidirectional and hence the effect depends on both sender and receiver. In addition, communicating with someone who is both ignorant and "thin skinned" can be an EXTREMELY tedious undertaking. Sometimes it is best to weed them out as soon as possible.

> If the tone of a speaker's message is designed to close
> people's ears, then it's not very rational of the speaker
> to spend much effort on the information content of the
> message.

Perhaps but where is this "designed to close ..." coming from? How do you know this is the design goal of a given message? Aren't some people simply rude by nature with no need to design rudeness? Might those people also be highly intelligent and right at the same time?

And again, communication is two-way, are you missing this important fact? You seem to place all responsibility for effective communication on the sender and none on the receiver. This is irrational. Especially since each individual will no doubt receive messages from /numerous/ sources in their lifetime. Hence, I would suggest a more effective strategy is that individuals learn to focus on logic and reason in BOTH /sending/ AND /receiving/.

> When you're doing your best not to be listened to, you
> might as well be spouting nonsense.

Non-sequitur in my view.

> It seems to me, then, that it's a safer bet to listen to
> people who are polite and respectful.

What do you mean by "safer"? Why is it "safer" to listen the polite? Can a person be both wrong and polite? Can a person be both right and rude? If I choose the "safer" option and listen to the polite and ignore the rude might I then be listening to the stupid and ignoring the smart? In what sense is that "safer"?

  • Keith --
Received on Sat Jun 03 2006 - 23:16:25 CEST

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