What kind of argument is this?

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witness
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Post by witness » 05 Jul 2003 00:38

Here, the writer abruptly changes the subject. He mentions "the tragedy," but only to focus attention on the revisionists who are trying to get to the bottom of this "hoax." How can the "tragedy" also be a hoax? It can't. The writer is being sarcastically insincere
This reminds me the hypocritical "brutalization " thesis .
How can the "tragedy" also be a hoax
Or how can the "brutalization" also be a Holocaust ™ ?

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Post by Dan » 05 Jul 2003 00:47

The salient features of this form of argument are:
(1) a series of claims with little or no underlying evidence, and
(2) the use of as many insults and offensive insinuations as possible to:
(a) emotionally charge the argument,
(b) psychologically distance the target audience from the writer's opponents,
(b) recast complex issues of fact into primitive and simplistic moral terms, and
(c) to challenge the reader to take sides immediately.
Is this original thinking on your part? If so, I am impressed.

I think it may be difficult to build a systematic matrix incorperating all these points which would describe a particular method of argumentation, but I'm very interested if you think you see a common enough pattern to do this.

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Post by RACPISA » 05 Jul 2003 01:02

David Thompson wrote:Here are some thoughts on the form of the argument used in the "Dresden hoax" parody.
Wow, you really have this well thought-out.
I'd like to hear more.

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Post by David Thompson » 05 Jul 2003 01:13

Dan -- I didn't have any outside help on that essay. I'd seen the form of argument before and never liked it, regardless of what point was being made. After reading the parody I thought it might be a good idea to try to take it apart, which is why this thread got started. There have been descriptive lists of rhetorical and logical fallacies around since Greco-Roman times, but this form of argument was a challenge to analyze because of its strong irrational component. In other words, it's easy to say what's wrong with it -- to point out the logical fallacies -- but harder to explain why it can be effective. Fortunately the parody was well-done, which gave me a good example to work with. When you made the remark about the value of the parody as a debating point, I started to write it up.

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Post by David Thompson » 05 Jul 2003 04:37

Comments on the "Dresden hoax" parody (continued):

(6) "Take the fact that there are numerous memorial sites in Germany that supposedly mark "mass graves" of civilians alleged to have been killed in these so-called 'bombings'."

This is the first example the writer gives of the "many establishment lies." A lie is a deliberate falsehood. There are numerous memorial sites in Germany, but what makes them a lie? The writer doesn't say directly, but re-enforces the hoax suggestion though the use of quotation marks and terms like "supposedly," "alleged" and "so-called," making the point four times in a single sentence. Furthermore, the insinuations are now directed at all of the memorial sites -- not just the ones at Dresden. So far, there has been no evidence whatsoever of any lie or hoax. However, the writer has made the claim, in various forms, at least seven or eight times in the first six sentences. Any persuasive effect of the argument is based on the repetition, over and over again like a chant, of the negative conclusion or slogan (a "lie," a "hoax" etc.).

(7 and 8) "Yet not one of these sites have ever been excavated and subjected to impartial forensic examination to confirm that they contain what they are alleged to contain. Appalling, is it not?"

This remarkable passage starts by suggesting that the memorial sites may not "contain what they are alleged to contain," and that confirmation is required. What is the basis for the writer's doubt? He doesn't tell us. Why is a confirmation required "that they contain what they are alleged to contain"? What's wrong with the existing evidence? The writer doesn't tell us. And what is the form of the confirmation the writer expects? An excavation of the mass grave sites. And not just an excavation -- the site must be subjected to forensic examination -- "impartial" forensic examination. So you see, the writer thinks the graves should have been dug up by forensic experts years ago. And of course, if by chance something of the sort had happened, the impartiality of the examination and qualifications of the forensic examiners would need to be established to the writer's satisfaction. The fact that it hasn't already been done is "appalling"? Why? The writer doesn't tell us. But the writer's "chummy" aside ("Appalling, is it not?") does invite the reader to share his point of view.

Taking the time to look at this proposition dispassionately, how reasonable is the writer's demand for confirmation? It isn't. The writer is skeptical about whether mass graves really contain bodies. As far as the reader can tell from the argument, the factual, as opposed to the psychological, basis for skepticism is non-existent. As for the psychological basis of the skepticism, if it goes beyond the writer at all, it is probably confined to a relatively small circle of "cranks." Furthermore, the "confirmation" demanded by the writer is time-consuming, costly, laborious and involves disturbing the graves of the dead. What could possibly justify such an examination? The reader doesn't have time to work through this analysis, however, because the writer has already moved to the next point in his argument.

(9) "These Dresden hoaxers obviously have something to hide."

So this is the reason those dead folks hadn't been dug up and subjected to an impartial forensic examination! It's not because the idea is ridiculous -- it's because the whole mass grave story was a hoax! "They" had something to hide! (Don't trouble your excited brain by wondering if there were no bodies, what would there be to hide? The writer will smile knowingly and tell you "the truth.")

This approach, startling but by now familiar, shifts the burden of proof by suggesting that if the writer's proposition hasn't been disproven, it must be true. A few seconds' reflection by the reader here would also expose this claim to ridicule. A proposition which hasn't been disproven isn't automatically true, it's only debatable. And this one doesn't even have any evidence to support it. However, the reader doesn't get those few seconds to reflect because he now must consider the writer's inflammatory charge -- the claim that since no effort has been made to disprove the writer's proposition, it means that his proposition is true, and his opponents are dishonest ("hoaxers [who] obviously have something to hide.").

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Post by Scott Smith » 05 Jul 2003 07:46

witness wrote:This reminds me the hypocritical "brutalization " thesis.
How can the "tragedy" also be a hoax


Or how can the "brutalization" also be a Holocaust ™ ?
History is full of examples of charlatans taking advantage of tragedies. Fraud and forgery are among the oldest and commonest of crimes.
:)

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Post by Erik » 05 Jul 2003 16:12

Erik tried to summarize by quotes from Dan and Mr. Thompson:
Quote:
This “type of argument”, “designed to create anger and frustration in the population group it was aimed at”, is a “valuable debating tool”, and an “excellent debating point for some serious issues”.
“The use of this form of argument has been more frequent since public schools stopped teaching logic and rhetoric”.

You recommend voodoo logic and rhetoric then?
Dan thought that it “serves a purpose”:
There is no inherent non-sequitor here. It is possible to connect the dots. Hypothetically, the arguement form is inferior in some respects, but still serves a purpose, especially to less well educated people.
Mr.Thompson summarized the salient features of this form of argument:
The salient features of this form of argument are:
(1) a series of claims with little or no underlying evidence, and
(2) the use of as many insults and offensive insinuations as possible to:
(a) emotionally charge the argument,
(b) psychologically distance the target audience from the writer's opponents,
(b) recast complex issues of fact into primitive and simplistic moral terms, and
(c) to challenge the reader to take sides immediately.


Witness illustrates (?):
Erik I really appreciate that you get to the point of knowing "that the Earth is round, for that matter " This is quite a progress. Now how have you arrived to this knowledge Erik ?
What kind of the ultimate evidence convinced you that this knowledge is correct ?
What is your criterion according to which you accept an evidence on behalf of some fact ?
If to leave out your favorite ambigious questions?
Let me tell you my point of view
on this matter .
I think that there is no criterion . There is no more rationality in Democracy then in Fascism . There is no more ( and I suspect even less )
rationality
in the Christian concept of mercy then in the Social Darwinism.
That 's true that everything depends on whose bull is being gored.
Even talking from the point of view of the Social Darwinism there could be several positions you could assume according to your desire and all of them would have some ratonal foundation.
For example you can assume the position of Julious Streicher declaring Jews to be parasites and poisonous mushrooms as very well illustrated by the posted by Smith picture from the Sturmer.
Or you can assume the Zionist position and tell that since Jewish IQ in average is above of
the same of the other ethnic groups it is the Jews who sholud be considered as
some
kind of bringers of various joys to humanity.
Both positions are based on some principles
of Social Darwinism.
For me this kind of "rationality" is disgusting .
And even if from the rational point of view the position embracing Christian mercy is much less acceptable plus right away I would be pointed out to the phenomena of Inquisition etc this is my position .
There is no some kind of abstrct and cold objectivity Erik . You choose what is close to your heart.
And no matter what the arguments would be if you love AH no argument ,no evidence would dissuade you from your love.
So whatever position one doesn't accept one can always confront
with all kind of ambigous questions.
Obviously the more obscure these questions are the better.
More profound air from nowhere.
The bull “serves a purpose”, according to whose ox is being gored?

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Post by David Thompson » 05 Jul 2003 16:29

Erik -- You asked: "The bull “serves a purpose”, according to whose ox is being gored?"

To use your mixed metaphor, I think you've missed goring the ox with your "bull." The topic of this thread is not whose ox is being gored, but the type of instrument used to gore the ox.

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Post by Erik » 05 Jul 2003 16:46

Not the ox, but the type of instrument used to gore the ox?

And the instrument varies, according to whose ox is to be gored?

If it gores, it is OK?

Like...
20. Attacking a Straw Man -- There are times when someone distorts or exaggerates the content of someone's statements to try to destroy his/her logic through misrepresentation. Just as it is difficult to knock over a real man, it is difficulty to attack a sound, logical position in an argument. But since it is easy to knock over a man made of straw, it is easy to attack someone's position after it is distorted to suit one's purpose. Like the argument ad hominem , which diverts attention form a strong argument by dragging in personal traits, attacking a straw man distorts a strong argument by replacing it with a weaker one which can be assailed more easily. The weaker one can be an exaggerated version, a distortion, or sometimes an outright lie. Such a device is common in discussions of controversial issues such as abortion, capital punishment, or rape. If someone says she does not believe that capital punishment is effective in deterring murder, you would be attacking a straw man if you reduced the seriousness of her statement with "I bet you think we should send killers back on the streets with just a slap on the wrist." Belittling someone's idea is, unfortunately, quite a common way to try to destroy someone's credibility.
http://www.pittstate.edu/wac/logic.html

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witness
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Post by witness » 05 Jul 2003 16:57

Erik wrote:Mr.Thompson summarized the salient features of this form of argument:
The salient features of this form of argument are:
(1) a series of claims with little or no underlying evidence, and
(2) the use of as many insults and offensive insinuations as possible to:
(a) emotionally charge the argument,
(b) psychologically distance the target audience from the writer's opponents,
(b) recast complex issues of fact into primitive and simplistic moral terms, and
(c) to challenge the reader to take sides immediately.


Witness illustrates (?):
Erik I really appreciate that you get to the point of knowing "that the Earth is round, for that matter " This is quite a progress. Now how have you arrived to this knowledge Erik ?
What kind of the ultimate evidence convinced you that this knowledge is correct ?
What is your criterion according to which you accept an evidence on behalf of some fact ?
If to leave out your favorite ambigious questions?
Let me tell you my point of view
on this matter .
I think that there is no criterion . There is no more rationality in Democracy then in Fascism . There is no more ( and I suspect even less )
rationality
in the Christian concept of mercy then in the Social Darwinism.
That 's true that everything depends on whose bull is being gored.
Even talking from the point of view of the Social Darwinism there could be several positions you could assume according to your desire and all of them would have some ratonal foundation.
For example you can assume the position of Julious Streicher declaring Jews to be parasites and poisonous mushrooms as very well illustrated by the posted by Smith picture from the Sturmer.
Or you can assume the Zionist position and tell that since Jewish IQ in average is above of
the same of the other ethnic groups it is the Jews who sholud be considered as
some
kind of bringers of various joys to humanity.
Both positions are based on some principles
of Social Darwinism.
For me this kind of "rationality" is disgusting .
And even if from the rational point of view the position embracing Christian mercy is much less acceptable plus right away I would be pointed out to the phenomena of Inquisition etc this is my position .
There is no some kind of abstrct and cold objectivity Erik . You choose what is close to your heart.
And no matter what the arguments would be if you love AH no argument ,no evidence would dissuade you from your love.
So whatever position one doesn't accept one can always confront
with all kind of ambigous questions.
Obviously the more obscure these questions are the better.
More profound air from nowhere.
The bull “serves a purpose”, according to whose ox is being gored?
"Witness illustrates "
Maybe it is Erik who "illustrates " ?
Where in my post Erik saw
1."series of claims with little or no underlying evidence" ?
2."the use of as many insults and offensive insinuations as possible" ?
Perhaps you need to reread my post Erik ?
And I am still waiting for the answer to my question."What is your criterion according to which you accept an evidence on behalf of some fact ? "
Because it is all about the evidence is not it ?
"The Devil is in the details " .
If you don't accept any evidence and refuse to clarify your criterion according to which an evidence would be accepted by you then the question is begging to be asked ''What kind of argument is this ?"

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Post by David Thompson » 05 Jul 2003 17:46

Erik -- You asked: "And the instrument varies, according to whose ox is to be gored?"

No. Here I was just talking about a single type of goring device, not the ownership of the oxen.

You also asked: "If it gores, it is OK?"

As I said in an earlier post: "I'd seen the form of argument before and never liked it, regardless of what point was being made."

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Post by Erik » 05 Jul 2003 19:49

The salient features of this form of argument are:
(1) a series of claims with little or no underlying evidence, and
(2) the use of as many insults and offensive insinuations as possible to:
(a) emotionally charge the argument,
(b) psychologically distance the target audience from the writer's opponents,
(b) recast complex issues of fact into primitive and simplistic moral terms, and
(c) to challenge the reader to take sides immediately.

This form of argument is irrational but effective. It relies almost exclusively on autosuggestive principles, rather than reason, to make its point.

Keeping this in mind, let's look at the first five sentences of the parody argument.

………………
So what about this form of argument?

Is this approach effective? Yes.


“…irrational but effective”.
The first clause of the sentence begins with a suggestion that the proponent of the opposing view is ignorant ("Apparently Mr. Zundel is unaware"),…
Is this irrational? “Poor” Fred Leuchter was more than suggested to be a “denier from ignorance” on an earlier thread.

Effective? From an “autosuggestive” principle? Or does the writer know from “appearance” (“..apparently…”) that Mr. Zundel is ignorant? Is this a claim with little or no underlying evidence (point 1 above)?

How do WE know that it is effective? By the same “autosuggestive principle”?
“… while characterizing the writer and his supporters as morally superior persons ("courageous and politically incorrect truth-seekers"). By making this distinction, the writer also suggests that his opponents are not courageous, are "politically correct," and do not seek the truth”.
If there is a law criminalizing such unauthorized “truth-seeking”, then maybe the writer is right? What would be irrational about it?

One of those “claims with little or no underlying evidence”? The law book supplies evidence.

“Courage” is often “autosuggestive”, so why deny the “denier” some pep-talk?

If this is an example of “the use of as many insults and offensive insinuations as possible”, then we must wait ‘til we have read his debunkers in order to estimate its “effect”.
Is it productive of any understanding of historical issues? No.
Without pausing, the next clause of the sentence moves on to a lurid claim ("recent research . . . has revealed startling evidence that the bombing of Dresden and other German cities during the conflict known as World War II is in fact an elaborate German propaganda hoax.").
But that “startling evidence” would be productive of a historical understanding, wouldn’t it?

Perhaps “the lurid” (hey, that’s an “offensive insinuation”, isn’t it?) “claim” belong to those “claims with little or no underlying evidence” of point 1 above?

That would certainly be irrational, and ineffective, to make such a claim with little or no underlying evidence!

But Mr. Thompson thinks not!
OK -- the reader's hooked! A hoax! Not just a hoax, but a propaganda hoax; an elaborate propaganda hoax. And it's German, too! An elaborate national propaganda hoax, revealed by recent research and startling new evidence. The reader's eyes have narrowed now. It's a good thing, too. Since the reader's attention is focused on the hoax, he may not ask awkward questions, like "what research?" or "what evidence?"


The reader can’t search the evidence for the hoax!! His/her “eyes have narrowed now”. He/she is autosuggested by the hook of the hoax. The word has served to “emotionally charge the argument”, and to “psychologically distance the target audience from the writer's opponents”.
It has “recast complex issues of fact into primitive and simplistic moral terms”, and
served “to challenge the reader to take sides immediately”.

The word “hoax” perhaps has the same mesmerizing effect on the potential revisionist as the word “denier” on his debunkers?
“Denials of genocide make no sense unless one sees in them renewed opportunities for the same passions, meanings, and pleasures that were at work in the genocide itself, now revived in symbolic processes of murdering the dignity of the survivors, rationality, truth, and even history itself." - Dr. Israel Charny
http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/charny.html

Terms like “Hoax” and “Denial” serves to:
(a) emotionally charge the argument,
(b) psychologically distance the target audience from the writer's opponents,
(b) recast complex issues of fact into primitive and simplistic moral terms, and
(c) to challenge the reader to take sides immediately.
>>The reader's eyes have narrowed now. It's a good thing, too. Since the reader's attention is focused on the hoax, he may not ask awkward questions, like "what research?" or "what evidence?"<<

Change “hoax” to “denial”, and your eyes will perhaps be “narrowed”, too!
(2 and 3) "Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that a few buildings might not have burned down, and that maybe a few people weren't singed or even killed as a result."

What is the writer really doing here? He is acknowledging that something happened, so no one can say he's denying the bombing took place. But the words of the acknowledgement not only minimize, but trivialize the event. The unstated suggestion is that the event was grossly and deliberately exaggerated to promote the "elaborate German propaganda hoax." What is the basis for the writer's characterization of the Dresden firestorm as something in which a few buildings might have burned and some people might have been "singed or even killed"? He doesn't say.

(4) "But revisionists are scorned, and even laughed at, when we ask difficult questions about what really caused the tragedy, and how many people were really killed."

Here, the writer abruptly changes the subject. He mentions "the tragedy," but only to focus attention on the revisionists who are trying to get to the bottom of this "hoax." How can the "tragedy" also be a hoax? It can't. The writer is being sarcastically insincere.

5) "Meanwhile, so many establishment lies about this alleged event have been exposed by revisionist research that its hard to take the normatively accepted version seriously."

Ah! Now we can see that it's not a "tragedy" at all, but an "alleged event." Not only that, but the subject of lies! Establishment lies! Establishment lies which have been exposed by revisionist research. So many establishment lies that it's hard to take the "normatively accepted version" seriously. What about the "tragedy"? The writer finds it hard to take the "tragedy" seriously. And he's obviously an intellectual -- the reader can tell from the phrase "normatively accepted version." The reader is starting to wonder whether he has been taken in by the "establishment" -- have they been lying again? Who or what is the "establishment"? The writer doesn't say. He leaves it up to the imagination of the reader to fill in the description with some personal boogeyman.


The strawman does say what his voodoo doctor want him to say, though. He is just as “effective” or “irrational” or “autosuggestive” as is necessary for the parody to be “effective”.

This is not to deny that this type of Holocaust denier exists. Several contributors at TRF has met him on other boards.

Ward Churchill has met the type, too.

http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/in ... rchill.htm
http://www.socialismanddemocracy.org/33 ... rchill.htm

As has been said, it depends on whose ox is being gored. And then, any bull will do.

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Post by David Thompson » 06 Jul 2003 01:16

Several off-topic posts now have their own thread, "Making money from 9-11," currently playing in The Lounge at:

http://www.thirdreichforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=26110

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Post by witness » 06 Jul 2003 06:30

Change “hoax” to “denial”, and your eyes will perhaps be “narrowed”, too!
I always thought that those are the first who by denial try to focus our attention on "there is something wrong going on there " announcing the found "hoax"on the always shaky or even ridiculous grounds (such as -"prove to me that the eyewitness accounts of the Edit Stein gassing were not fakes 8O ) so that our eyes would get "narrowed " .. And those who try to focus our attention on denial are the second
So where does all this S*** begin ?
:)

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Post by David Thompson » 06 Jul 2003 06:53

Erik -- You're saying something. What is it?

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