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February 02, 2013

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Wow! I really couldn't read through his wall of bold type (are his regular readers six years old, or over ninety perhaps?) so I just skipped to the "Ambiguity" bit. I clicked his link only to find it is a list of "fallacies that are rarely seen, not really fallacies, or otherwise just unworthy of [the list author's] time to fully explain and your time to read and understand."

So, is it even a fallacy?

your comment has been released, but no answers yet

ya, what's up with the boldface?

Not to mention the childish cartoons etc. A picture of people fencing with the caption "Fencing – Another Way to Solve Disputes"? Is he 12?

Why is it that 12 is the archetypal age for that sort of joke/implicit assertion of immaturity?

Just posted a comment elsewhere about how I think critical thinking is an important aspect of maturity. Critical thinking encourages a person look for the correct answer, while motivated thinking encourages them look for excuses to maintain a position. I definitely see it happen a lot with trolls making assertions of logical fallacies without understanding what they're accusing people of.

How can one guy get so much so wrong? And embarrassingly do so at the top of his lungs ?

Skeptico reminds me of concrete – his mind is all mixed up and set solid.

He adamantly and persistently disputes that two directly conflicting claims in the same argument is a logical error.

Skeptico: “Contradiction is not a fallacy, otherwise you’d never be able to disagree with anyone…”

That type of fallacy is widely recognized, even by young children, and goes by the name “Contradiction,” “Internal Contradiction” or “Self Contradiction” http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#contradiction or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contradiction

But not according to Skeptico. There is no such fallacy.

I guess his arguments are consistent in one odd way– he finds no logical problem with his own numerous contradicting claims.

He also insists there is no inherent logic problem with ambiguous key terms in an argument.

He then accuses me of not defining “science” as I properly insist that the Genetically Modified food defender do when claiming there is a “war on science.”

So I agreed, in writing, that I had not adequately clarified my terms,

“difference between me and Eisen and Skeptico is that I am always happy to correct my errors; to help define and explain any terms I use that are unclear. (My use of the ambiguous term “science” is available here.)”

and then took responsibility for correcting the ambiguity and wrote up a page with my definitions of what I mean by the term “science” when I use it –

http://daviddilworth.com/pol/references/what-do-i-mean-by-science/

(Fasten your seatbelts for a guy who can’t take “yes” for an answer.)

Well that wasn’t good enough. Skeptico then falsely accused me of lying that my definitions for my uses of the term “science” had been there for a long time (Wrong there is no such claim, in fact the text indicates the opposite) and then trying to cover up and lie about it.

So because he misunderstood what I wrote - he claims it’s a lie; a deliberate, knowing misstatement of fact. Of course that is false. I could have written it clearer, and will add the word “now” the article to help so it will read --

“difference between me and Eisen and Skeptico is that I am always happy to correct my errors; to help define and explain any terms I use that are unclear. (My use of the ambiguous term “science” is now available here.)”

Or maybe what I wrote was ambiguous and had more than one possible meaning for the same sentence.

Its hard to keep from laughing because he takes himself and his myopic delusions so seriously.

So now he can read my definitions, but Skeptico refuses to give his definitions for what the term “science” in the phrase “war on science” means to him.

We can now add double-standards to Skeptico's list of logic errors.

Aha. So “Windsurfer” is David Dilworth.

How can one guy get so much so wrong? And embarrassingly do so at the top of his lungs ?

Yes David. How is it that you get so much wrong over and over again? That’s what we’d all like to know.

Skeptico reminds me of concrete – his mind is all mixed up and set solid.

Describing yourself again.

He adamantly and persistently disputes that two directly conflicting claims in the same argument is a logical error.

Skeptico: “Contradiction is not a fallacy, otherwise you’d never be able to disagree with anyone…”

That type of fallacy is widely recognized, even by young children, and goes by the name “Contradiction,” “Internal Contradiction” or “Self Contradiction” http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#contradiction or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contradiction

But not according to Skeptico. There is no such fallacy.


This is a serious misrepresentation, and Dilworth knows it. My original comment was written because I didn’t understand what Dilworth was claiming. I thought he was saying it was a fallacy to contradict someone. When he explained what he meant I obviously moved on to his actual argument that I had previously misunderstood. Is this what it has come to David? Are you so desperate that you have to attack something I wrote in my first response, and that I withdrew weeks ago? Is that the best you can do?

He also insists there is no inherent logic problem with ambiguous key terms in an argument.

Another straw man. Show me where I said “there is no inherent logic problem with ambiguous key terms in an argument.” Obviously I have never suggested that. In fact, I described to you in detail what the equivocation fallacy is. Remember? You liked my explanation at the time. What I actually said was that merely using an ambiguous word does not make it a fallacy. And it’s not despite your ridiculous denials.

Respond to my actual arguments please, not your made up ones.

He then accuses me of not defining “science” as I properly insist that the Genetically Modified food defender do when claiming there is a “war on science.”

Well, you hadn’t. Which made you a hypocrite, to say the least.

So I agreed, in writing, that I had not adequately clarified my terms,

“difference between me and Eisen and Skeptico is that I am always happy to correct my errors; to help define and explain any terms I use that are unclear. (My use of the ambiguous term “science” is available here.)”

and then took responsibility for correcting the ambiguity and wrote up a page with my definitions of what I mean by the term “science” when I use it –

http://daviddilworth.com/pol/references/what-do-i-mean-by-science/


I figured you’d try to lawyer your way out of it. So, in reality, you had said all along that you had just written that? You never meant anyone to think it had been there all along? Seriously? That’s the best you could come up with after over a week? You're relying on "My use of the ambiguous term “science” is available here."? So it really does depend upon what the meaning of the word "is" is. You’re not fooling anyone though. You wrote that page and hoped no one would notice you’d only just written it.

Well that wasn’t good enough. Skeptico then falsely accused me of lying that my definitions for my uses of the term “science” had been there for a long time (Wrong there is no such claim, in fact the text indicates the opposite) and then trying to cover up and lie about it.

Well then, your wording was ambiguous. By your logic that is another fallacy.

So because he misunderstood what I wrote - he claims it’s a lie; a deliberate, knowing misstatement of fact. Of course that is false. I could have written it clearer, and will add the word “now” the article to help so it will read --

Yes, re-write it again. Eventually you’ll talk your way out of it. Or convince yourself you have.

It makes no difference. As I wrote on your blog:

First, there were no links to that explanation in your post. It’s a bit much to expect someone to search your site every time a word is ambiguous – if it’s ambiguous, define it right there.

Second, even with that explanation, it’s not clear which definition you are referring to on each occasion. For example, when you say “Eisen’s article attracted me because I’ve been helping work for good science for a few decades” do you mean “science” related to facts or methods or do you mean ““science” related to science as a mode of thinking”? You don’t say and so your page doesn’t help one bit. So you FAIL again.

Why did you ignore all of that?

More to the point, it shows that you know that your own use of the word “science” is no different from Eisen’s (or you wouldn’t have felt the need to define it now, six months later). So you have to make a choice now. You have to choose either:

  1. Your (Dilworth’s) own post contained more ambiguity fallacies than Eisen’s, and you therefore has to apologize to Eisen for calling him a hypocrite, or
  2. You have to agree that merely using the word “science” without fully defining it (as both Eisen and you do) is not a fallacy, and therefore you have to agree that his “fallacies” #1 and #2 are not fallacies.

So now he can read my definitions, but Skeptico refuses to give his definitions for what the term “science” in the phrase “war on science” means to him.

Why the hell should I? I’m not arguing there is or there isn’t a war on science, I’m just pointing out your errors.

We can now add double-standards to Skeptico's list of logic errors.

No, you will do that, falsely as usual.

As usual, you ignore my actual arguments. You asked for citations that show mere ambiguity is not a fallacy. I provided them. You ignored them. You claimed that you were not calling equivocation with your ambiguity fallacy call, but you refused to say what you were calling. (And calling ambiguity, but not saying whether it is equivocation, amphiboly, or any of the other meanings of ambiguity is therefore itself ambiguous. So by calling an ambiguity fallacy but not defining which one, you were by your logic, committing an ambiguity fallacy. The irony.)

And you ignore the questions. Answering reasonable questions that arise from your arguments is a sign of intellectual honesty. Also, if answered honestly, they help you see where your argument might be invalid. Here they are again, with #1 modified following your reply above:

  1. Why did you feel the need to write that “what I mean by Science” page? Is it because you just realized your own use of the word “science” was no different from Eisen’s? If not that then why?
  2. Now that we know you hadn’t defined what you meant by “science” the numerous times you used it, will you now either (a) admit that your article was full of logical fallacies too (and it still is – the new page doesn’t help), and apologize to Eisen for calling him a hypocrite or (b) agree that just using the word “science” without defining it is not a fallacy, and admit your fallacies # 1 and 2 are incorrect? Pick one. (Hint: the correct answer is (b).)
  3. You claimed that the ambiguity fallacy is not equivocation. But according to Wikipedia, equivocation is ambiguity arising from the misleading use of a word. Aren’t you talking about misleading uses of word? If so, how is that not equivocation?
  4. If you didn’t mean equivocation, what did you mean? Alternatives include amphiboly, accent, composition and division. Explain what you meant and how it applies to this case. (Also, if you haven’t defined which it is, isn’t that an ambiguity fallacy too by your logic?)
  5. Why do you insist that all that is necessary to identify this fallacy is to show how a word has multiple meanings, when your own cited link, plus this one and this one disagree?
  6. Show how someone could actually be fooled into believing GMOs are safe when they were not, due to the ambiguity. Explain exactly how this could happen. What would be the thought process? If you can’t show that you can’t claim a fallacy.

(Obviously, If your answer to question 2 is (b) (neither are fallacies) then you don’t need to answer the others.)

Answer the questions David. They’re not going away and nor am I.

Hey David aka Windsurfer

Good move on banning Sceptico from your site. No one will suspect deceitful censorship.

Bravo!

better to take your licks here anyway, I don't have to read that ridiculous font XD

The problem with skeptics is that they spend way too much time arguing with stupid people.

You are probably correct, Richard. Occupational hazard. Although I don’t think Dilworth I stupid per se, just an example of the Dunning–Kruger effect in action.

Dilworth has banned me from his blog:

The anonymous blogger hiding under the name “Skeptico” is now banned from this blog for making false, defamatory statements anonymously.

Wikipedia was forced to do the same thing “Wikipedia bans anonymous contributors to prevent libel”.


Even with this simple banning he manages three logical fallacies. There’s the “anonymous blogger hiding” ad hominem. The appeal to authority (Wikipedia). Plus the reason Wikipedia does it – to prevent libel. Unless Dilworth is afraid he will sue himself, that wouldn’t apply here so it’s a false analogy too. Also there’s the ambiguity. Does he mean defamatory under English law (which favors plaintiffs) or California law? According to Dilworth that’s another fallacy. Not that it matters – he can ban anyone he wants – but it’s telling that Dilworth can’t even manage two sentences without multiple fallacies.

Now, I’ll admit that calling him a liar was not the most sensible way to get someone to listen to your arguments. I do get carried away sometimes, especially when someone debates as dishonestly as Dilworth (ignoring arguments, attacking straw men and then pompously declaring victory). Even so, I should probably have phrased it differently, even though he was clearly being deceptive. However, is the claimed “defamatory” comment the real reason for the ban? I made my comment and my post on Feb 2 – that’s nine days before he banned me. Could the real reason be that I tried to post two comments on his blog less than two days before the ban where I:

  1. Googled his site for the word safe – and I found him using the word “safe” five times without defining it
  2. Checked the first two paragraphs of his post and found 12 ambiguous yet undefined words.

Isn’t it more likely that he’s just tired of being shown to be wrong over and over again, and that this was just the excuse he was looking for to end the discussion?

I tried to help him understand why he is wrong to say that an ambiguous word alone makes a fallacy. During the course of several weeks and thousands of words I:

  • I gave some examples of an actual ambiguity fallacy and explained where this was different from merely using the word “science” without a full definition. He ignored this explanation.
  • Gave examples of what you would have to add to the sentence to make “safe” a fallacy. He ignored all these examples.
  • Gave citations to three “fallacy” websites that specifically stated that the mere presence of ambiguity was not a fallacy. He ignored these citations (although he was the one who asked for them). I asked him why these websites (including the he originally cited) disagreed with his assertion about this fallacy. He ignored the question.
  • Showed that he had used the exact same form of wording in his own writings, specifically five examples in just one post. I did this not as a Tu Quoque, but in the hope that he might get some self awareness and perhaps begin to realize that this was not a fallacy. This flew straight over his head, and instead of considering my argument he took this as a cue to write a detailed “what I mean by science” page as a way of rewriting history so that he was not using the same form of words as Eisen, any more. (Except he is still arguing exactly like Eisen, as this page still does not explain what he means by the word “science” in each of the specific times he uses it.)
  • Showed that claiming Eisen’s words are an ambiguity fallacy, is itself ambiguous, since he didn’t define what form of ambiguity he was relying on. (He said he didn’t mean equivocation, but he didn’t say which version he meant, despite my asking several times now.) Even this example failed to penetrate his thick skull.
  • Asked him to explain how the “fallacy” (as he is defining it) would work. A fallacy just means that someone does not come to the conclusion claimed using the argument provided, so he needs to explain how someone could come to a false conclusion, due to the ambiguity. I asked him to show how someone could actually be fooled into believing GMOs are safe when they were not, due to the ambiguity. He ignored this question.

Instead of dealing with these arguments he instead attacks straw men and irrelevancies – just look at his comment above.

And we’re only on the first three of six fallacies. He agreed he was wrong about non sequitur (I said it was assertion), although for some reason he counts that as a victory for himself. The other three are even more clearly wrong – perhaps that’s why we haven’t started on those yet.

He can still debate here if he wants. He is not banned, and surely he need not worry about libel, as this is my site not his. He would continue to be asked the questions though, so my guess is that he will hide behind his fake outrage and not appear. If he won’t listen to me though, Dilworth needs to test his beliefs by contacting some experts – a professor at a college maybe, or an author of one of the fallacy websites – to get some different opinions. I decided to do that myself, starting this thread at JREF, to see if maybe I had got it wrong. So far, people seem to agree with my interpretation. (I do this not as an appeal to authority or popularity, rather to test my assumptions, to see if I might have made a mistake.) I’m going to email Dilworth the link too so he can join in the debate and test his arguments against some others. My betting is he won’t, and that he’ll continue to make the same elementary mistakes.

You seem to have tried to work with him, explaining your direction as you travelled and even tried to help correct his errors, improve his knowledge of a subject he is attempting to lecture people on.
It doesn't seem that he wants his errors corrected or knowledge improved.
You can make the information available, but can't force a Dilworth to take any notice of it.

Good effort on your part, Skeptico.

I am so sorry you had to put up with his insane babble. He just blatantly puts words in the mouths of others and makes assumptions to fit his argument. Kind of like bad science, where the hypothesis is never modified through falsification of data. Some people need to realize they actually have to understand something to apply it; David seems to think just knowing of something gives him the right to use and define it however he pleases.

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