Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Don't make ASSumptions!

Over at NRO's TKS Jim Gerahty makes a point about one of my pet peeves. Namely, what he calls "unfounded, unverified, unproven speculation about opponents’ motives?"

Amen and Amen! Part of why I've struck out on my "own" here is a predeliction on the part of my fellow posters at ESPN to assume they know better than I what I mean. To boot, I often had to deal there with folks who loved nothing more to dismiss any and all arguments in oppsition to their own by simply assuming that my postings are the result of parroting others; implying a lack of critical or independent thought. From there, it's an easy walk across the street to imputing motives to the "opposition." Nothing used to infuriate me more.

This attempt to dismiss arguments by assuming that your opponent doesn't mean what he says, that you know better than he why in fact he comments on something is an instant debate-killer. If in fact the goal of such things as the ESPN message boards in particular and the blogosphere in general is conversation--nay, debate!--why on earth would you do this!?

Argue the points as Gerahty remarks: "When I propose policy X, and say it will lead to good results, my opponent has a choice. The first option is to say policy X will lead to bad results, and explain why. Then my opponent and I can argue about the likely results of the policy." That's called debate; assigning motive and insulting the intelligence of your opponent is called nonsense.

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