Fallacy as tool

In the comments to this post regarding the level of debate regarding climate change in certain circles Pithlord has this to say:
Most fallacies aren’t really fallacies when you reinterpret them as Bayesian reasons to give an idea more credence rather than iron-clad syllogisms. Without [...] the “ad hominem fallacy” [...] you’d give all your money to Nigerian spammers.
That's a very nice formulation of the idea that the "fallacies" of logic are amongst the tools of rehtoric. This is an notion that has fasinated me ever since I first read Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintainance. The rhetorical apporach may not demand agreement (in the way that a sound and valid argument would) but it does tend to persuade. And the answers given by fallacious arguments are not neccessarily wrong, just uncertain.

Many folks in the IT industry seem to want to bludgeon their interlocutors into agreement with something that looks a lot like a proof (mea culpa). As I get older the gentle art of persuasion seems more and more attractive.

1 comment:

richard said...

Hi Keith

It's funny this social protocol stuff having to do with new varieties of message. I sent you a direct message on this on Twitter earlier today. (You may also have seen my tweet on it on Thursday.) It was my first ever attempt to do a direct message to anybody. Nobody has done it to me (is that sob or thank god?) so I have no idea what the 'Inbox' experience is like. So, you've either read it or not seen it, just as it took me almost a month to notice the nice, public @rdrake98 thingie that triggered all this interesting nostalgia this week.

I also don't know if you'll notice this comment on your blog but it seems worth a try because it was only three days ago, you mention Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintainance and that was one of the Why Clublet pages the guy so liked.

The guy being Jonathan Davis, "South African - Irish consultant living in Belgrade, Serbia". To the surprise of many, if only they knew, he loves our stuff. The first page he highlights being your Round The Bend meditations. It's not every decade Why Clublet gets this kind of fan mail but I thought he'd picked up on some solo and interactive material a number of us could justly be proud of.

Sunir's at the bottom of the page saying thanks for the nice words about Meatball too so this may be very old hat to you. But I won't apologise for that - you know I never do that - but wish you well in all your travels and travails.

Meantime, very interested in the current climate change debate and the way it is done, needless to say. But that can wait a little.