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Ryoshun Higoka

An Argument Clinic, or How to Disagree with Civility

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4 minutes ago, slowreflex said:

You should also not forget that it's entirely possible for both parties to be correct, even when applying facts to the situation.

Much of the time, people are not that far apart. In some cases, the parties involved can sometimes even discover that they're both arguing the same point, just differently! I've definitely had a few of those dawning realizations of "why are we arguing, anyway?".

However, there are certainly times when both parties can't be correct, as in the Middle Ground Fallacy example above - no matter what I might believe, you are correct when you tell me that two plus two is four. I can accept that, or I can find myself very confused at the end of the day. Even the "Green Sky" argument cannot have both sides being correct - except from their respective points of view. Green Sky has been told his entire life that that color in the sky is the color "green". Blue Sky has been told that it's the color "blue", and that light filters through the atmosphere in such a way as to give it that "blue" appearance, and that humanity's naming conventions have named that shade of light "blue".

Sometimes you can both be right. Sometimes you can only both be right if you really twist your facts around to make yourself right.

And most of the time, people aren't that far apart to begin with, they just think they are. We're all just fallible people, and if you start with that presupposition and assume the positive intentions of those with whom you converse, it's a lot easier to have these kind of discussions.

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11 minutes ago, Ryoshun Higoka said:

Much of the time, people are not that far apart. In some cases, the parties involved can sometimes even discover that they're both arguing the same point, just differently! I've definitely had a few of those dawning realizations of "why are we arguing, anyway?".

However, there are certainly times when both parties can't be correct, as in the Middle Ground Fallacy example above - no matter what I might believe, you are correct when you tell me that two plus two is four. I can accept that, or I can find myself very confused at the end of the day. Even the "Green Sky" argument cannot have both sides being correct - except from their respective points of view. Green Sky has been told his entire life that that color in the sky is the color "green". Blue Sky has been told that it's the color "blue", and that light filters through the atmosphere in such a way as to give it that "blue" appearance, and that humanity's naming conventions have named that shade of light "blue".

Sometimes you can both be right. Sometimes you can only both be right if you really twist your facts around to make yourself right.

And most of the time, people aren't that far apart to begin with, they just think they are. We're all just fallible people, and if you start with that presupposition and assume the positive intentions of those with whom you converse, it's a lot easier to have these kind of discussions.

Even in your example, what one society calls blue, another society could call green.  Or they may in fact see different colors due to issues with eye-sight.  You should not assume that the other party is coming from the same point of reference as you.  Sure, there may be a high probability that you have the same point of reference, but sometimes it is prudent to qualify that first.

Edited by slowreflex

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Just now, slowreflex said:

Even in your example, what one society calls blue, another society could call green.  Or they may in fact see different colors due to issues with eye-sight.  You should not assume that the other party is coming from the same point of reference as you.  Sure, there may be a high probability that you have the same point of reference, but sometimes you need to qualify that first.

Absolutely. The ancient Greeks classified colors by whether they were light or dark, not by hue. Their word for Dark Blue could also mean dark green, violet, black or brown; their word for a Light Blue could mean light green, grey, or yellow. The purpose of any debate is to have a conversation in a constructive way, so establishing a common point of reference is important, no question.

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I like this topic, and what it aims to achieve. You could change your profile pic to a Crane or Dragon mon without anyone arguing. :)

I mostly try to stay civil and on topic, but every now and then something gets me riled up. Never worth it. Everyone gets dirty from a mud fight. Usually this is if I feel a game or person which I respect is getting attacked. Something which basically had me avoiding the Warhammer Fantasy RPG community like the plague, considering how toxic the feedback was from several of the 1st and 2nd edition fans to the wonderful FFG 3rd edition. But that's a separate topic, completely!

I hope and wish for this FFG L5R community to be civil and friendly. This thread is a great step on the road there. I will try to do my part.

"Wisdom can be found in many places, but you must always begin at home." - Tao of Sensei

 

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1 minute ago, lumia2 said:

I like this topic, and what it aims to achieve. You could change your profile pic to a Crane or Dragon mon without anyone arguing. :)

Enraged Penguin just appeals to me way too much, though :)

2 minutes ago, lumia2 said:

Everyone gets dirty from a mud fight.

As somebody once said, "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig enjoys it."

I have no idea who it was. It's been attributed to George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Oscar Wilde, and Cyrus Ching. It's a neat saying, though! A prototype of "don't feed the trolls".

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13 minutes ago, Ryoshun Higoka said:

Much of the time, people are not that far apart. In some cases, the parties involved can sometimes even discover that they're both arguing the same point, just differently! I've definitely had a few of those dawning realizations of "why are we arguing, anyway?".

However, there are certainly times when both parties can't be correct, as in the Middle Ground Fallacy example above - no matter what I might believe, you are correct when you tell me that two plus two is four. I can accept that, or I can find myself very confused at the end of the day. Even the "Green Sky" argument cannot have both sides being correct - except from their respective points of view. Green Sky has been told his entire life that that color in the sky is the color "green". Blue Sky has been told that it's the color "blue", and that light filters through the atmosphere in such a way as to give it that "blue" appearance, and that humanity's naming conventions have named that shade of light "blue".

Sometimes you can both be right. Sometimes you can only both be right if you really twist your facts around to make yourself right.

And most of the time, people aren't that far apart to begin with, they just think they are. We're all just fallible people, and if you start with that presupposition and assume the positive intentions of those with whom you converse, it's a lot easier to have these kind of discussions.

Speaking of presuppositions, I would like to address starting assumptions.  Everyone has them, and they're not necessarily bad or wrong.  However, it is important to recognize what your presuppositions are, and how they influence your interpretation of the facts.

For instance, take a criminal court wherein a man is on trial for stabbing his friend.  The prosecutor claims that the man took a knife from his kitchen, went over to the friend's house, and stabbed him.  The defense attorney claims that the man came home to find his house broken into and one of his knives stolen, and only later heard about his friend getting stabbed.  If the knife in question were found with the man's fingerprints and the friend's blood on it, both sides could claim it as evidence for their story, because they're both interpreting it with different starting assumptions!

However, this also doesn't mean that both sides are correct, or that there isn't any correct side!  Rather, it means that you need to show how the evidence doesn't fit with the other side's assumptions instead of showing how it does fit with your own!  Doing the latter may help show that your view is plausible, but it doesn't disprove the opponent's view.

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11 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

Speaking of presuppositions, I would like to address starting assumptions.  Everyone has them, and they're not necessarily bad or wrong.  However, it is important to recognize what your presuppositions are, and how they influence your interpretation of the facts.

For instance, take a criminal court wherein a man is on trial for stabbing his friend.  The prosecutor claims that the man took a knife from his kitchen, went over to the friend's house, and stabbed him.  The defense attorney claims that the man came home to find his house broken into and one of his knives stolen, and only later heard about his friend getting stabbed.  If the knife in question were found with the man's fingerprints and the friend's blood on it, both sides could claim it as evidence for their story, because they're both interpreting it with different starting assumptions!

However, this also doesn't mean that both sides are correct, or that there isn't any correct side!  Rather, it means that you need to show how the evidence doesn't fit with the other side's assumptions instead of showing how it does fit with your own!  Doing the latter may help show that your view is plausible, but it doesn't disprove the opponent's view.

Let's make sure we've got some terms defined here.

Your argument's starting proposition has to clearly state where you're intending to go. Your argument is how you show evidence to prove your point. This is different from a presupposition - a presupposition declares something to be; it's an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in order to have a discussion. Both parties have to start out agreeing on certain things - this world is called Rokugan, there are Great Clans and Minor Clans, etc - or they can't have a conversation. And assumptions are something that's accepted by at least one party, without required proof. "We all breathe a mix of oxygen and nitrogen" is a fine starting assumption and presupposition. Basing your argument on "all Unicorn are barbarians" is not a great starting assumption, and one that can (and should) be challenged by your audience. Now, two Crane having a debate about the Unicorn might start with that as a presupposition, but that's another issue entirely!

In your example, they have to agree (as a presupposition) that somebody's been stabbed by a knife. That the knife belongs to his friend. However, this is important in any argument: the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. The finger-prints and blood can both be claimed by either side, true, but the defense does not have to show that their defendant did not commit the crime; the prosecution has to prove that he did. Hopefully, if the case has made it to trial, they've got more evidence to back up their assertion - especially because the man may not have done it!

In most arguments, the burden of proof will always rest with the person putting forth the idea. You do need to show how your argument is correct, and you don't necessarily have to show that an opposing viewpoint is wrong - that usually comes out in the discussion. It's the person defending their viewpoint that has to provide the evidence, not the audience to that person - unless you're forming the counter-argument to that person, which usually beings with the proposition of "I think you're incorrect; here's the evidence to support that". And then we're off to the races.

"I think that the Crane are very underpowered!" is a starting proposition someone could make, but it's up to them to defend their assertion. The burden of proving that the Crane are not underpowered does not fall on the audience to that argument. They need to show the evidence that backs up that claim, and unless they've got more than "I always play Crane and I always lose" to back it up, they're not going to successfully prove their argument. Remember that it's their job to convince you. Once they've presented their evidence, that's when you can come back with the evidence that supports your own theory and refutes theirs.

In some cases, also, proof isn't binary - it's not an either/or matter. In most cases, it is - either the man stabbed his friend or he didn't - but there are exceptions, especially around non-factual arguments. "I like this thing because I like it" is a tough position to defend with evidence, because your evidence is how said thing makes you feel. The opposite is also true - somebody trying to prove to you that you shouldn't like that thing needs to have something really compelling ("they make their components out of puppies!") or you have no reason to change your mind, since it's purely based in opinion. There's another discussion currently raging on the board that's just going around in circles because it boils down to "I feel this way about a thing" versus "I feel that way about that thing" - and nobody needs to give ground because it's just opinion. Where it gets sticky is when someone tries to take a viewpoint of "I feel this way about something and you should too" - that's when we need to call for evidence to support that position.

Of course, if your stabbing took place in Rokugan, some Samurai can just wander in and say "oh, he totally did it", because testimony trumps all other forms of evidence. So glad we don't use the Rokugani system of justice...

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I also enjoy this topic immensely.  However, there are two further points I want to make here:

Firstly, there are a lot of statements here about factual based arguments, when in reality a lot of heated arguments are based solely on personal opinion for which there may not be any relevant facts, like which clan is the best.  For me, the "with civility" part of the discussion is the universally important part of this thread.  I've dealt with a lot of forum flags over the years and it's amazing how many people struggle to do that.  Then again, maybe my judgement is clouded due to the imbalanced view of seeing so much negativity in flagged posts.

Secondly, I unfortunately suspect that those whom would benefit most from this discussion probably aren't reading this thread.  It's a valiant attempt though. :)

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6 minutes ago, Ryoshun Higoka said:

Let's make sure we've got some terms defined here.

Your argument's starting proposition has to clearly state where you're intending to go. Your argument is how you show evidence to prove your point. This is different from a presupposition - a presupposition declares something to be; it's an implicit assumption about the world or background belief relating to an utterance whose truth is taken for granted in order to have a discussion. Both parties have to start out agreeing on certain things - this world is called Rokugan, there are Great Clans and Minor Clans, etc - or they can't have a conversation. And assumptions are something that's accepted by at least one party, without required proof. "We all breathe a mix of oxygen and nitrogen" is a fine starting assumption and presupposition. Basing your argument on "all Unicorn are barbarians" is not a great starting assumption, and one that can (and should) be challenged by your audience. Now, two Crane having a debate about the Unicorn might start with that as a presupposition, but that's another issue entirely!

In your example, they have to agree (as a presupposition) that somebody's been stabbed by a knife. That the knife belongs to his friend. However, this is important in any argument: the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. The finger-prints and blood can both be claimed by either side, true, but the defense does not have to show that their defendant did not commit the crime; the prosecution has to prove that he did. Hopefully, if the case has made it to trial, they've got more evidence to back up their assertion - especially because the man may not have done it!

In most arguments, the burden of proof will always rest with the person putting forth the idea. You do need to show how your argument is correct, and you don't necessarily have to show that an opposing viewpoint is wrong - that usually comes out in the discussion. It's the person defending their viewpoint that has to provide the evidence, not the audience to that person - unless you're forming the counter-argument to that person, which usually beings with the proposition of "I think you're incorrect; here's the evidence to support that". And then we're off to the races.

"I think that the Crane are very underpowered!" is a starting proposition someone could make, but it's up to them to defend their assertion. The burden of proving that the Crane are not underpowered does not fall on the audience to that argument. They need to show the evidence that backs up that claim, and unless they've got more than "I always play Crane and I always lose" to back it up, they're not going to successfully prove their argument. Remember that it's their job to convince you. Once they've presented their evidence, that's when you can come back with the evidence that supports your own theory and refutes theirs.

In some cases, also, proof isn't binary - it's not an either/or matter. In most cases, it is - either the man stabbed his friend or he didn't - but there are exceptions, especially around non-factual arguments. "I like this thing because I like it" is a tough position to defend with evidence, because your evidence is how said thing makes you feel. The opposite is also true - somebody trying to prove to you that you shouldn't like that thing needs to have something really compelling ("they make their components out of puppies!") or you have no reason to change your mind, since it's purely based in opinion. There's another discussion currently raging on the board that's just going around in circles because it boils down to "I feel this way about a thing" versus "I feel that way about that thing" - and nobody needs to give ground because it's just opinion. Where it gets sticky is when someone tries to take a viewpoint of "I feel this way about something and you should too" - that's when we need to call for evidence to support that position.

Of course, if your stabbing took place in Rokugan, some Samurai can just wander in and say "oh, he totally did it", because testimony trumps all other forms of evidence. So glad we don't use the Rokugani system of justice...

The trial example was meant as an analogy, and may not map completely to all arguments.  However, I would point out that even in a trial in America, the object of the prosecution is not to prove conclusively (almost always impossible, in theory), but to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.  If the defense can raise the idea that the man's house was broken into and the knife stolen, most of us would probably consider the doubt reasonable.  If the defense has to resort to the idea that an alien from space took on the man's exact form, including fingerprints, and it was that alien who actually committed the deed, most of us would probably consider the doubt unreasonable.  (The key phrase there is "most of us".  Even there, we're operating under certain, basic assumptions about the possibility of alien doppelgangers.)

What I was really driving at is simply being able to recognize your starting assumptions and how they can influence your interpretation of data.  In the trial, there is clear burden of proof (though, that itself is based on the assumption in most court systems of innocence until proven guilty, and a court system that assumed guilt until proven innocent would shift the burden of proof 180 degrees), and burden of proof is certainly applicable in other instances, as well, such as your "underpowered" example.  There is a clear status quo to be assumed (that games are meant to be balanced), and so the claim to the contrary needs to prove his claim.

One needs to be careful, however, because there do exist cases where there may not be a clear status quo.  In a debate between an atheist and a theologian, for instance, who has the burden of proof?  In such a case, neither side can prove their case, because both are operating under fundamental, axiomatic assumptions that the other side would utterly reject!  It is this sort of case I was thinking of when I was making the point of recognizing your own and your opponent's starting assumptions and approaching the argument by showing the weaknesses in your opponent's side, while showing how your side is at least consistent with the evidence. 

Granted, these arguments are usually deeper, worldview differences and unlikely to be the sort of thing debated seriously on a message board for a card game or RPG, but I feel any discussion of arguments would be incomplete without pointing out how important starting assumptions can be.  It won't always help you win the argument, but it can often help you understand why you and your opponent disagree, which can at least ease frustration.

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@JJ48 - very well put - this forum is no place for worldview-challenging discussions... at least, not beyond the world of Rokugan! Although your point as to status quo assumptions is very well taken. Sometimes the status quo isn't correct.

And I'd caution everyone against the notion of "winning" an argument - the true victory comes from mutual understanding, not in dismantling someone's axiomatic worldview - let them do that. Nobody can change your mind for you - you have to do that on your own. If you have a deeply held belief, for example, that Yobanjin are subhuman monsters, then I can't make you feel differently. All I can do is point out that you may have overlooked certain things about them and allow you to question yourself. If you lack the self-reflection to do that, then there's nothing anyone can say to sway you. And when you argue with someone who takes that stance, you can at least understand yourself and whether the argument is worth your frustration.

We are better than we think we are - let's not forget that.

 

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Well, at least we can agree on the basics, like the simple fact that no true samurai would ride cavalry.  The Shadowlands have cavalry, and do we really want to model our military after them?  There are plenty of prominent samurai who can back me up on this.

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8 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

Well, at least we can agree on the basics, like the simple fact that no true samurai would ride cavalry.  The Shadowlands have cavalry, and do we really want to model our military after them?  There are plenty of prominent samurai who can back me up on this.

Presumption of the audience! No true Scotsman! False equivalency! Appeal to the nameless!

What a great fallacy post - three sentences, four fallacies. Tip of the hat to you, Mantis scamp!

Not going to lie, there's a part of me that kind of wants to see this thread devolve into a series of fallacy postings...

Edited by Ryoshun Higoka

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Okay, so, the latest message was in regards to Insane Troll Logic. You don't need to send these as messages - just post here! Don't be shy!

This isn't so much a logical fallacy as much as it is a failure to understand or follow logic.

Insane Troll Logic is making huge leaps of deductive reasoning based on really flimsy connections. Here's an example:

 

Village Idiot: Naga don't really exist.

Gathered Peasants: ...what?

Village Idiot: Naga don't really exist! They look like snakes. And snakes have tails. And tales are made up stories, therefore Naga are made-up stories.

Wise Old Peasant: ...I mean, the logic checks out.

 

Also fun, though I don't feel like scouring youtube right now - 1966 Batman TV show had the Riddler. Batman and Robin would solve these riddles through nothing but Insane Troll Logic. It was kind of impressive.

Edited by Ryoshun Higoka

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1 hour ago, Ryoshun Higoka said:

Okay, so, the latest message was in regards to Insane Troll Logic. You don't need to send these as messages - just post here! Don't be shy!

This isn't so much a logical fallacy as much as it is a failure to understand or follow logic.

Insane Troll Logic is making huge leaps of deductive reasoning based on really flimsy connections. Here's an example:

 

Village Idiot: Naga don't really exist.

Gathered Peasants: ...what?

Village Idiot: Naga don't really exist! They look like snakes. And snakes have tails. And tales are made up stories, therefore Naga are made-up stories.

Wise Old Peasant: ...I mean, the logic checks out.

 

Also fun, though I don't feel like scouring youtube right now - 1966 Batman TV show had the Riddler. Batman and Robin would solve these riddles through nothing but Insane Troll Logic. It was kind of impressive.

Ah, yet one more reason Adam West was, and always will be, my favorite Batman!  I'm also too lazy to look it up on YouTube, but it'd usually go something like this:

Batman (reading Riddler's note):  When is a doorman not a doorman?

Robin:  When he's ajar-man!

Batman:  Precisely, Robin!  

Robin:  "A doorman"...a doorman is found at a hotel!

Batman:  ...and Walter Highrise, billionaire owner of the largest chain of hotels in the world is visiting Gotham this week!

Robin:  Holy non-sequitur, Batman!  Then Riddler must be planning to kidnap Mr. Highrise and imprison him in a giant jar!

Batman:  That's the only logical explanation, Robin!  

 

EDIT:  Ok, I looked for examples, and got sidetracked from Batman.  Have some more Monty Python, instead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2xlQaimsGg

EDIT2:  Ok, I give up.  How does one actually embed a video on this message board?

Edited by JJ48

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This is a phenomenal thread. I'd like to point something out though: most of the time these fallacies aren't used intentionally. People get into arguments and over time they notice that they'll win when they use certain tactics, so they use them more, without really understanding that they're fallacious.

It can be very difficult to convince someone they're being illogical, simply because no one thinks of themselves as illogical. Which is kind of the problem: the more logical you assume you are, the less you check your own thoughts, and the more fallacies creep in.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Fumi said:

This is a phenomenal thread. I'd like to point something out though: most of the time these fallacies aren't used intentionally. People get into arguments and over time they notice that they'll win when they use certain tactics, so they use them more, without really understanding that they're fallacious.

It can be very difficult to convince someone they're being illogical, simply because no one thinks of themselves as illogical. Which is kind of the problem: the more logical you assume you are, the less you check your own thoughts, and the more fallacies creep in.

That's a very good point, and a difficult one for many people to understand; @Drudenfusz posted a great video that said much the same thing, laying out the groundwork for why people don't like to think they're wrong.

One of the purposes of understanding logical fallacies is to be able to look at your own arguments and realize that you're making them too! And to someone who thinks they're being logical, it can be very helpful to gently point out the gaps in logic in their argument, encourage self-reflection, and reach an understanding.

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On 4/24/2017 at 3:01 PM, Isawa Tasatu said:

it is about putting a logical argument together without falling into poor logic and fallacies.

And that's what an argument is supposed to be! The more you recognize the fallacies you use yourself, the better you'll be equipped to stop using them and better prove your point. And recognizing them in opposing arguments helps filter out the nonsense.

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I would like to add Argument from Silence, or "Pics or it didn't happen!"  (Not sure what the Rokugani equivalent would be, sorry.)

Essentially, this is when person A makes a claim and either can not or does not provide evidence for the claim.  Person B then claims that the claim is disproven simply because it was not proven (this excludes the possibility that it could be true but unproven).

Two bandits, Akuhito and Hanzaijin, were camped for the night in a clearing.  Akuhito was crouched by the fire, preparing a meal with his back to Hanzaijin, who was sitting on a log.  Hanzaijin suddenly lost his balance and fell backwards, and at the same time saw an arrow flash through the space he had just occupied before continuing into the woods across the clearing.

"The Tsuruchi have found us!" cried Hanzaijin, "One of their arrows would have killed me if I had not lost my balance just then!"

"It is impossible for the Tsuruchi to have found us," countered Akuhito, "You were probably nodding off and dreaming.  That is why you fell!  Produce this arrow or else admit that the whole thing never happened!"

Hanzaijin was about to protest when he suddenly found the argument cut short by arrows in his and Akuhito's chests.

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I applaud your efforts in trying to bring civility to an online community that has had a difficult time with its level of decorum in the past. 

And more to the point, this is actually a pretty good intro to civil discussion and basic debating. Spotting and understanding fallacies, on both sides of an argument, is a difficult skill to master.  

Thanks for this. 

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I love the efforts put forward in this thread. It does strike up a bit of irony when contrasted with the subject matter: Rokugan - a land where public discourse can be a life-and-death battlefield of rhetorical devices, where common fallacies are blades more swift and sharp than logic, reason, or evidence (and where you can win a lost argument by gutting the other guy with a sword).

I feel like there's a take-away here about arguing like real people and not like magical samurai.

Edited by mlund

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11 hours ago, JJ48 said:

I would like to add Argument from Silence, or "Pics or it didn't happen!"  (Not sure what the Rokugani equivalent would be, sorry.)

Essentially, this is when person A makes a claim and either can not or does not provide evidence for the claim.  Person B then claims that the claim is disproven simply because it was not proven (this excludes the possibility that it could be true but unproven).

An important thing to consider as well - an Argument From Silence can be infuriating. It is really hard to keep your cool in the face of a "pics or it didn't happen" response. It's disrespectful to the person's position, dismissive of the person and their experiences, and it can basically cut off communication by calling the person an outright liar. And it's so easy to do in an online setting.

 

This can happen a lot around things that are spoken, especially when they're offensive. Person A calls Person B something awful. Person B objects to the audience at large, which was not present. Person C tells Person B to produce proof that he was insulted, or to stop claiming that it happened - that's an Argument From Silence. There are a few really poorly-informed websites that do nothing but traffic in these arguments, and they're really disheartening.

 

It's important to also note that an Argument From Silence is different from simply requesting proof. It's always good to request proof. Where you can go wrong, however, is when the proof requested either isn't enough (Argument From Silence via Moving the Goalposts) or doesn't satisfy the audience regardless of its level of proof (your quintessential Argument From Silence).

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