Lore Sjöberg over at Wired just laid out the ground rules for winning an internet argument. I thought y'all might like to know. Full article here.
* If you say something along the lines of “the moderators might ban me for saying this, but…” then you lost.
Anyone who says “well, ban me if you want to, but…” is actually saying “in the name of a loving God, please ban me because I am losing this argument so badly that my only hope of escaping it with a shred of dignity is if I can make myself out to be some sort of martyr to free speech.” You asked for it, you got it, Troll-ota.
* If you claim to have supporting evidence available online, but instead of linking to it you say “Look it up yourself,” you lose.
Similarly to the banning thing, “look it up yourself” clearly means “please please please don’t look it up yourself.” It’s an admission of failure.
* If you invoke Occam’s Razor, or “the burden of proof,” you lose.
If you think Occam’s Razor is a way to prove something is true, you don’t understand Occam’s Razor. Occam merely provided a way of choosing among hypotheses to test, not a way of avoiding testing them. And in an online argument, the burden of proof is upon whomever most wants to convince the other guy, end of story.
* If you invoke the name of a logical fallacy without explaining its relevance, you lose.
Logical fallacies are not Harry Potter spells. You don’t just get to shout them out and wiggle your wand to make magic happen. Plus, there’s a logical meta-fallacy: Just because someone’s making an error in reasoning doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
* If you claim to be winning, you lose.
This should be self-evident: If you’re so desperate that you have to tell someone you’re winning, you’re obviously not.
* If you make a reference to Honey Boo Boo, you lose.
There’s no rhetorical basis for this, I’m just freaking tired of hearing about Honey Boo-Boo.
[born naked, helpless and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg overcame these handicaps to become a logician, a magician, and a patrician.]