I think I’ve been reading too much Thomas Sowell. I’ve nearly finished one of his latest books, Intellectuals and Society. It is a must-read. The history of public and intellectual opinion around wars is worth it alone.
Sowell likes to point out arguments that aren’t really arguments, but we allow them to pass as acceptable arguments anyway. He calls the ability to do this verbal virtuosity. After reading a few hundred pages of examples, I’m finding myself better at picking out such things.
I heard a radio talk show host mention last night that if you believe that we didn’t send men to the moon (which reminded me of my previous post on the subject), then you’re “just crazy.”
That might be true and most people likely agree, but that is not an argument to support whether men were indeed sent to the moon or not. That’s name calling. It’s an ad hominem attack or fallacy. In other words, whether or not a person is crazy is not linked to whether men made it to the moon or not.
It’s probably not worth debating whether we sent a man to the moon, which isn’t an argument either, but may be better than an ad hominem.