From: Steven D'Aprano on 9 Feb 2010 18:37
On Tue, 09 Feb 2010 21:04:08 +0100, Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
> You thought you cold do a bit of ad hominem attack.
That phrase you keep using, "ad hominem"... it doesn't mean what you seem
to think it means.
An ad hominem attack is not when somebody makes a criticism of you
personally. It is when somebody says something along the lines of "Don't
pay any attention to Alf, he doesn't know what he's talking about, he's a
You might not like the personal criticism, but that doesn't make it
either an attack or a fallacy.
From: Alf P. Steinbach on 9 Feb 2010 19:06
* Steven D'Aprano:
> On Tue, 09 Feb 2010 21:04:08 +0100, Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
>> You thought you cold do a bit of ad hominem attack.
> That phrase you keep using, "ad hominem"... it doesn't mean what you seem
> to think it means.
> An ad hominem attack is not when somebody makes a criticism of you
> personally. It is when somebody says something along the lines of "Don't
> pay any attention to Alf, he doesn't know what he's talking about, he's a
ad hominem Latin [æd ˈhɒmɪˌnɛm]
adj & adv
1. directed against a person rather than against his arguments
2. based on or appealing to emotion rather than reason Compare ad rem See also
argumentum ad hominem
> You might not like the personal criticism, but that doesn't make it
> either an attack or a fallacy.
Steve Holden attacked only at the personal level, via characterization.
In response to ...
> >> No idea. Nothing I know of can solve it [failure of article propagation].
> Not sure, but perhaps it's possible to mail directly to gmane?
.... Steve Holden wrote:
Is there *any* problem you don't have a fatuous answer for?
Which doesn't have anything to do with any subject matter discussed, not even
the PS that he was replying to (which absolutely didn't warrant that description
or any negative response), but which does convey an impression of a person.
Then he wrote
you assumed you knew better than Stephen [Hansen]
which again is only about a person, and here about the person's motivations for
trying to help.
And there was a bit more with some collateral damage in the implications.
It's pretty dirty and yes, personal attacks are ad hominem; see above.
The ad hominem attacks that he appears to routinely engage in reflect back on
Steve Holden but the sub-threads that they invariably spawn also constitute a
high level of noise deflecting from whatever issue was discussed.
Cheers & hth. (especially the dictionary reference),
PS: in order to recognize various forms of fallacies the following is a quite
useful resource: <url: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/>. I just typed
"fallacies" in the Firefox address bar. - DS
From: Gabriel Genellina on 9 Feb 2010 19:39
En Tue, 09 Feb 2010 21:06:02 -0300, Alf P. Steinbach <alfps(a)start.no>
> * Steven D'Aprano:
>> On Tue, 09 Feb 2010 21:04:08 +0100, Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
>>> You thought you cold do a bit of ad hominem attack.
>> That phrase you keep using, "ad hominem"... it doesn't mean what you
>> seem to think it means.
>> An ad hominem attack is not when somebody makes a criticism of you
>> personally. It is when somebody says something along the lines of
>> "Don't pay any attention to Alf, he doesn't know what he's talking
>> about, he's a <whatever>".
> <url: http://www.tfd.com/ad+hominem>
> ad hominem Latin [æd ˈhɒmɪˌnɛm]
> adj & adv
> 1. directed against a person rather than against his arguments
> 2. based on or appealing to emotion rather than reason Compare ad rem
> See also argumentum ad hominem
> In response to ...
> > >> No idea. Nothing I know of can solve it [failure of article
> > Not sure, but perhaps it's possible to mail directly to gmane?
> ... Steve Holden wrote:
> Is there *any* problem you don't have a fatuous answer for?
> Which doesn't have anything to do with any subject matter discussed, not
> even the PS that he was replying to (which absolutely didn't warrant
> that description or any negative response), but which does convey an
> impression of a person.
This doesn't make it an ad hominem fallacie. This is just criticism
directed to your person, that you may like or not. It would be a fallacie
if it were intended to dismiss your argument.
> PS: in order to recognize various forms of fallacies the following is a
> quite useful resource: <url: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/>.
> I just typed "fallacies" in the Firefox address bar. - DS
From the above site:
"this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character
of person making the claim [...] Second, this attack is taken to be
evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making
That second part is missing in S. H. posts.
From: Alf P. Steinbach on 10 Feb 2010 03:13
* Stephen Hansen:
> On Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 1:08 PM, Alf P. Steinbach <alfps(a)start.no
> <mailto:alfps(a)start.no>> wrote:
> [abundant snips which do not accurately represent who said what where
> due to my own laziness]
> Not sure, but perhaps it's possible to mail directly
> to gmane?
> Is there *any* problem you don't have a fatuous answer for?
> I thought the answer could help.
> You thought you cold do a bit of ad hominem attack.
> That's the difference between us.
> Well, the way I see it, you assumed you knew better than
> Stephen, and
> insisted on proposing a solution to a problem that he clearly
> stated he
> had no interest in.
> You're going into motivations, that it seems to me that you're
> projecting, saying that any helpful suggestion mean that one thinks
> one knows better and implies a desire to demonstrate imagined
> You're trying to portray a helping hand as a negative personal
> characteristic of the helper.
> "the only reason that guy tries to help you is because he wishes to
> show how superior he (thinks he) is".
> That's your style in a fair number of postings, and now here:
> * ad hominem attack,
> I am, frankly, tired of this.
> Please stop this overly obsessive sensitivity towards what you think are
> "ad hominem" attacks. Just drop it. Its worthless. It degrades you. Your
> arguments are frequently nothing more then, "I define the world this way
> and you do not disagree so I declare your argument invalid".
I'm happy that even though that may (with some low probability) be your actual
opinion, it's incorrect.
> dismissed at least one of my arguments with a simple hand-waving of,
> "That's invalid, cuz."
That is not a quote of me. It is a lie.
> The thing is, there was no basis for 'cuz' beyond
> "In my own head this is what I think, this is how I'm defining words"
That's also a lie, and it's not a quote of me.
And just to be clear, as anyone can see by looking up-thread, generally,
contrary to your claims, I give references for whatever that I suspect might be
And so I've done in (nearly) every article in the original thread, especially
for the terms, and still people have posted articles apparently mis-interpreting
those terms in very non-sensible ways -- one gets tired of that, yes.
> The response of others to such arguments has been, "Do you /really/ need
> to be so absolutely right in everything?!" which is said in frustration,
> irritation and with deep sighing.
It's true that that kind of insinuative arguments have been used in this group, yes.
It goes to alleged motives and alleged history instead of the technical, that
is, it is a purely personal attack.
So, ironically, you're here citing one kind of hominem attack -- not exactly
clever when you're arguing that such does not occur.
> And then begins the loud declarations of ad hominem attacks.
> Its not productive. It doesn't help your case or arguments.
> Its tired.
> It doesn't make your case. It doesn't make anyone but you look bad.
> Every time you go on about, "YOU ARE AD HOMINEM'N ME!", you just make
> yourself look worse.
> Yeah. People can be snarky in a community. Maybe... MAYBE... Steve
> Holden is periodically a little snarky at you. It is not without reason.
> And your declarations of his ad hominem attacks against you comes off as
> nothing but base /whining/.
> Just drop it.
> Its boring.
> I'm not quite sure, given that, what the point of the advice was.
> There are many people who read just the Usenet group, e.g. via
> Google groups.
> When you say you don't understand the point of the advice, you're
> saying that
> * those people don't matter, and that
> * it doesn't matter whether they can read Stephen Hansen's articles.
> * slighting Stephen Hansen, and
> * showing off an extreme ego-centric view of the world,
> Please do NOT presume to take up my defense on ANY level.
> I can handle myself, thank you.
I do offer unsolicited help now and then, as I gave you and for which Steve
Holden decided that a bit of personal attack would be suitable.
But my help was just as much in order to help others (who can't read your
non-propagated articles) as in order to help you personally. That's the spirit
of Usenet in many other groups. One just helps out, and often the reaction is a
"thank you" instead of an ad hominem attack (as with Steve Holden) or, as in
your case, faked quotes and general lies, which is border-line ad hominem.
Anyway, please stop post faked quotes and general lies, as you do above.
Cheers & hth.,
From: Steven D'Aprano on 10 Feb 2010 09:16
On Wed, 10 Feb 2010 09:13:22 +0100, Alf P. Steinbach wrote:
>> dismissed at least one of my arguments with a simple hand-waving of,
>> "That's invalid, cuz."
> That is not a quote of me. It is a lie.
Alf, although your English in this forum has been excellent so far, I
understand you are Norwegian, so it is possible that you aren't a native
English speaker and possibly unaware that quotation marks are sometimes
ambiguous in English.
While it is true that quoted text is officially meant to indicate a
direct quote, it is also commonly used in informal text to indicate a
paraphrase. (There are other uses as well, but they don't concern us now.)
Unfortunately, this means that in informal discussions like this it is
sometimes difficult to distinguish a direct quote from a paraphrase,
except by context. In context, as a native speaker, I can assure you that
Stephen Hansen's use of quotation marks is a paraphrase and not meant to
be read as a direct quote.
As a paraphrase, it's not a *lie* -- it should be read as Stephen's
*opinion* of your actions, not a direct quote. Stephen might, or might
not, be *mistaken*, but it's unlikely he's actively lying. Arguing
pedantically that you didn't write those exact words won't win you any
friends or supporters.
You can choose to defend yourself against a gross misrepresentation of
what you actually said; or you can accept that it captures the spirit
(but not the letter) of your words; or you can choose a middle position,
and accept that even if it is not a 100% accurate representation of your
statements, perhaps it is 90% accurate, or 10%, or 50%. The exact amount
doesn't really matter, and will be subjective, and frankly I don't care.
But whatever degree you choose to accept, it is obvious that a number of
people are not just being annoyed by your behaviour, but they are annoyed
enough to publicly chastise you for it. That includes Steve Holden, who
is usually far more even-tempered than (e.g.) me.
Without necessarily suggesting that you are 100% to blame for the
antagonism, its unlikely that so many disparate individuals are all 100%
mistaken. As you say, the public record is there for anyone who wishes to
read the history.
Believe me Alf, the fact that people are taking the time to try to argue
with you instead of just kill-filing you is a compliment.