Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't say people are scared to believe the things you do

I love debates. I just love them. Debates pit 2 world views against each other and no matter whether you're a debater or a viewer: you'll get to contemplate arguments in favor of a thesis that you don't support. Exposing yourself to such contradictory arguments is a path to uncovering more truth.

But there's a lot of bad arguments and shameful tactics. One of them is the "Scared Argument". It is a form of "ad hominem" attack where one of the debaters claims that the other one does not share his view because he is scared.

People who believe in UFOs, astrology, homeopathy and all sorts of crazy things claim that people are scared to admit the reality of such things. Religious people say that atheists are scared of letting go of whatever. And I've also seen the reverse: atheists claiming that religious people are scared of letting go of their religion.

In some cases, it might actually be true that the other person is scared. But this is never an argument that alone keeps a person from changing her opinion. People stick to their opinion because they're dishonest. Or because they're too uneducated to be able to assess 2 propositions and judge adequately of which one has more merits.

But claiming that a person sticks to an opinion because she's scared is not a good argument. It is a lame argument. It is an ad hominem. So if you ever hear someone using this argument, whether in favor of your opinion or against your opinion, ask them to not use this tactic and stick to more rational arguments!

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