Redundant tile. Harsh also, but true, as I will demonstrate.
I wrote my last post, Incorrectly Calling Logical Fallacies, to explain where David Dilworth had gone wrong in his claiming to have identified six fallacies in a single sentence. I have commented on his site at the post in question, my last comment being this one. Dilworth just doubled down on his errors by posting Skeptico’s Misconstruction of Basic Logical Fallacies – while Spreading his own Fallacy Fog (he likes his long titles). Unfortunately it’s just an example of missing the point, ignoring the difficult points, jumping at loopholes, dishonestly altering his blog to support his new arguments and lying about it and pompously declaring victory.
I just posted a comprehensive rebuttal as a comment at Dilworth’s blog, but he holds posts for 5 to 7 days before releasing them [Edit: he actually released the comment later the same day], so I just wanted to get one small part of it up there now. (The entire comment is over 3000 words.) The piece I wanted to cover was Dilworth's claim that he had defined his use of the word “Science” unlike Eisen (and therefore Eisen’s use was fallacious. It’s not, of course, but that’s what he’s claiming). This is how Dilworth argued this point:
..to help define and explain any terms I use that are unclear. (My use of the ambiguous term “science” is available here.)
He’s saying that he did define his use of the word “Science” in that August 2012 post, and so his use of it is not like Eisen’s. But this is not true since Dilworth only wrote that piece within the last week, in an attempt to cover up his mistake, and so it was not “available here” or anywhere as he claimed (ie he was lying).
How do I know that? The thing is, that page looked suspicious. I didn’t remember seeing it – I had looked around Dilworth’s site quite a bit before posting, and I think I would have seen the one page describing the thing I said he had not described. It also looked odd that the “References” section only had one reference in it. So I wondered if he had just added it. I tried The Wayback Machine, but it hadn’t archived Dilworth’s blog for over a year. Fortunately (but unfortunately for Dilworth) there is Google cache. This lets people see what your site looked like the last time Google crawled it – in this case a week ago. Check the Google cache of David Dilworth’s blog. The narrative is: This is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Jan 25, 2013 04:29:27 GMT- that’s ONE WEEK AGO. And guess what – as recently as a week ago there was no “References” section where science is defined. David Dilworth wrote that and added it in the last week. His original “fallacies” post was there for almost six months with no explanation of the ambiguous term science.
As Google cache gets updated eventually that page without the “References” tab will be gone. So I saved the screenshots.
Here is a the current screenshot – note the references tab with the “what do I mean by science” sub tab (ringed rather amateurishly by me). That’s what he said was “available” since August 2012 (click the image for a larger version).
Now look at the screenshot of the 1.25.13 cached blog. There is no “References” tab. Oops! Dilworth added that page less than a week ago and then implied it was there all along.
This shows that Dilworth’s claims of being not (very) emotionally attached to being right as evidenced by his willingness to acknowledge he make errors and to correct his own errors is also a flat out lie. He certainly has to stop claiming now that he is the one arguing honestly, the one willing to admit errors, the one applying the “principle of charity” as he calls it. He is clearly none of those things.
More to the point, it shows that Dilworth knows that his own use of the word “science” is no different from Eisen’s (or he wouldn’t have tried to cover it up). So Dilworth has to make a choice now. He has to choose either:
- His (Dilworth’s) own post contained more ambiguity fallacies than Eisen’s, and he therefore has to apologize to Eisen for calling him a hypocrite, or
- He has to agree that merely using the word “science” without fully defining it (as both Eisen and Dilworth do) is not a fallacy, and therefore he has to agree that his “fallacies” #1 and #2 are not fallacies.
Maybe there is a third option – offhand I can’t think of one. (By the way, the correct choice is #2.)
(Also BTW this is not a Tu Quoque fallacy as Dilworth claimed. I am not saying ‘you did it too so Eisen is not committing a fallacy.’ I am suggesting that neither of them is committing a fallacy.)
At the end of my yet unpublished comment, I wrote the following questions that arose from his post and my dismantling of it. You have to read my full (unpublished) comment to understand all of these, and this post is already long enough, but these are the questions.
Questions For David Dilworth
- If you really are willing to correct your errors as you claim, why did you try to cover up your use of the undefined word “science” by writing a “What do I mean by “Science?” page and pretend it had been there all along? Isn’t that a sign of someone trying to hide errors, rather than correct them?
- 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 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).)
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
David, time to release my comment from “moderation” and answer the questions.