Posts Tagged ‘ad hominem’
So, follow below the fold to find my defense of these three claims:
- Folta is an outstanding science communicator.
- He is being targeted by McCarthy-style attacks.
- The New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education failed to resist the McCarthyism.
Once upon Shakespeare’s time, the art of disagreement was pursued with elegance. Degrees of challenge were measured out by the book, as one of his characters explains:
as thus, sir. I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier’s beard: he sent me word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was: this is called the Retort Courteous. If I sent him word again ‘it was not well cut,’ he would send me word, he cut it to please himself: this is called the Quip Modest. If again ‘it was not well cut,’ he disabled my judgment: this is called the Reply Churlish. If again ‘it was not well cut,’ he would answer, I spake not true: this is called the Reproof Valiant. If again ‘it was not well cut,’ he would say I lied: this is called the Counter-cheque Quarrelsome: and so to the Lie Circumstantial and the Lie Direct.
—As You Like It V.4
Alas, we’ve mostly lost that art, especially in the blogosphere. Disagreements proceed pretty quickly to the Lie Direct. That’s dull! Let’s review the wisdom of Touchstone the Fool to recover more sophisticated practices.
Steve Patterson over at RAIL recently wrote a typically fine piece on How Comments are Killing the Commons. Coming at the subject as a student of public discourse, I find myself a little more tolerant of the blogosphere’s “partisan clowning” etc. I’m more curious about specific communication strategies we can adopt to make comment threads work. Steve McIntrye of Climate Audit recently referenced an essay by myself & Michael Dahlstrom, and my participation in the comment threads gave me an opportunity to observe close up several helpful and unhelpful strategies at work. Here are three things I learned about blogospheric debate, especially in contrast to communication in more face-to-face settings.
Working through the discourse that accumulated while I was reading and listening to what my students had to say, I found a fine post from none other than Steve McIntyre on the Virginia’s ‘fraud investigation’ against Michael Mann, one of his leading adversaries in the Hockey Stick Wars. McIntyre calls out the publicity stunt for what it is–a “repugnant piece of over-zealousness”:
To the extent that Virginia citizens are concerned about public money being misappropriated, Cuccinelli’s own expenditures on this adventure should be under equal scrutiny. There will be no value for dollar in this enterprise….
To the extent that there are issues with Mann or Jones or any of these guys, they are at most academic misconduct and should be dealt with under those regimes. It is unfortunate that the inquiries at Penn State and UEA have not been even minimally diligent, but complaints on that account rest with the universities or their supervising institutions and the substitution of inappropriate investigations by zealots like Cuccinelli are not an alternative….
I intend to write Cuccinelli expressing my disdain for his actions.
Read on to learn how this relates to the previous post.
Here’s a test: for each of the following statements, identify whether it was written by a defender or a detractor of the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
 “The 21st century Goliath is [the forces on the other side from the author]. It is a powerful six-legged monster. In no order of strength, those legs are:…The total financial resources and power structure behind Goliath are staggering.”
 “The [other side’s] forces have owned the media in all but name on this issue, for decades. [The coverage is becoming more fair, and] when you’re Goliath, that kind of trend seems disturbing.”
 “I think that unfortunately this is sort of a classic David vs. Goliath type battle. [My] community isn’t organized — it doesn’t have a single politically driven motive, as the [other side does]. It’s not organized, it’s not well funded in terms of public outreach in the way that [people on the other side] are funded.”