Recently, in connection with some of the topics I've been discussing on ATS, I've noticed a disturbing brand of rhetorical tactics used by a
particular group, here. It is a series of techniques which collectively attempts to mask itself as legitimate rational argument, when in reality
being the direct opposite.
I consider it very important to warn other posters here of this behaviour, as I've noticed that in the case of certain topics, the individuals running
this particular game are extremely persistent, although there are not that many of them. Although as mentioned, they try to mask their tactics as
genuine logical persuasion, the real goal is censorship; to simply bludgeon the original poster into silence, via any means available to them. I have
personally been a target of all of these tactics during my time on this forum, and continue to be a target of them.
a] Using requests for sources as a means of obtaining ammunition.
Although I've since been impressed with the rationale that, if asked legitimately and without hostility, there can be genuine grounds for listing a
person's sources in their argument, in my experience, it is still far more often when what I call the "citation needed," troll is used either as a
means of discrediting an argument in and of itself, or as an attempt to gain further information about the poster themselves, which can then be used
as a basis for ad hominem attacks, that often have no relation to the topic being discussed.
b] The "credible sources," troll.
This is a related troll to the above, where if an individual cites a particular source, then as a generalisation, an opponent can arbitrarily brush
off the source cited as not being "credible," when credibility either remains a subjective abstraction, or is defined as including institutions or
organisations that still have every possibility of being corrupt or non-credible.
A good example of this is when I've cited certain specific sections or chapters of the Zeitgeist movies as support for a given argument, and then
immediately had this troll thrown at me in response. The reason why I consider this a trolling argument, is because although I know myself that
parts of Zeitgeist and its' sequels are very much factually questionable, not all of them are.
Another example, is a recent argument I saw against the film Thrive
, where the author argued that the accuracy of virtually the entire film was
thrown into question by the mere presence
of David Icke, without making any reference to the specific
statements made by
Icke in the film. The issue of David Icke's belief in Reptilian aliens was also brought up, when this was not even indirectly mentioned in the
Where the source credibility argument becomes a trolling technique, is when it is used as a generalisation, and the entire source cited is dismissed
out of hand, if only a particular part of said source is being referred to. Cited subsections of a given source should be refuted purely on the basis
of the specific subsection cited, and nothing else. If David Icke gives a lecture on the reserve banking system, I am not going to dismiss his
argument because of his belief in extraterrestrials, if said belief is not mentioned and is not relevant to the subject of reserve banking.
This one is both a lot more generalised and subtle, and harder to pin down. It can manifest in a number of different ways, but in general I could
define it as an irrational and/or emotively based worship of certain elements of the politics or culture surrounding science, (including individual
scientists) which are not directly related to the scientific method itself.
c1] There is a very strong bias towards the idea that large, centralised scientific institutions contain the only people who are permitted to express
opinions on certain subjects, or apparently to even think critically at all.
c2] There is often a disturbing level of naivete implied in the presumption that individual scientists are incorruptible, and that any study cited,
simply because it identifies itself as
a study, should be regarded as infallible. Scientists are human beings, many of whom rely on
large corporations for funding. It is therefore to be expected that in a very large number of cases, experimental results are going to match what
said corporate sponsors want to hear, rather than as might be desired, the testable and verifiable truth.
c3] Related to c1] above, there is an attitude that the "mainstream scientific community," in terms of what it thinks and believes, is to be held
sacrosanct, and the idea that said community might reject a given idea on the basis of it conflicting with erroneous, pre-held ideas which are
associated with a purely emotional
bias, is considered unthinkable. I believe two quotes from the physicist Max Planck are appropriate
New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who
struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die,
and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
To further elaborate on this point, the reader is invited to read about (as but one example) the reaction of the scientific orthodoxy to Thomas
Edison's first demonstration of electric lighting in Menlo Park. The invention was rejected completely out of hand, with one scientist, Henry Morton,
who lived locally, refusing to walk the short distance necessary to verify Edison's claim, and instead felt that he needed to "protest in behalf of
true science," and that Edison's lights were, "a fraud upon the public."
My point here is not an attack on the scientific method
at all. My grievance is with what could be crudely referred to as the "circle
jerk." Elitism, insularity, and a willingness to reject unpopular ideas without due dilligence.
d] Direct, relatively undisguised psychological warfare.
This is the most rarely used tactic, and generally does not rear its' head in a truly blatant manner. Usually those who consider themselves
rationalists, prefer to camouflage their emotionalism in a more plausibly deniable way. Arrogance and condescension are one way in which this can
manifest. Name calling and outright profanity are rarer, and of course do not manifest on ATS so much, but they can show up elsewhere.
Psych warfare, when it is used, underscores the point, that all of the tactics listed above, are not intended for the purposes of persuasion or even
basic communication, as much as they are intended to cause its' opposite; censorship.
The goal is to shame or otherwise bludgeon the original poster into silence, to the point where even if they continue to disagree with the
pseudo-rationalist, they will not continue to express
their dissenting opinion.
edit on 23-4-2012 by petrus4 because: (no reason