Monday, February 2, 2009

Megan McArdle: 'The madness of crowds'

Wise words from Megan McArdle:
I have a general rule for debates: he who loses his temper, loses. His supporters see him as righteously inflamed by the moronic arguments of the other side. But the rest of the audience sees him as bully with a case too weak to be made without screaming.

I've been pondering recently how this applies to blog discussions. Just as with live debates, losing your temper and fulminating about the many character deficits, general stupidity, and probable misbehavior of the target is perceived by people who already agree with you as the natural reaction to an opponent so morally bankrupt and thoroughly stupid that there is no point in wasting further time actually arguing with them. But how does it play to the rest of the audience?
Remind you of anything?


  1. I'd argue that applies equally to, say, lawyers who nitpick rather than actually address the key issues... but, you know...

    Actually, to be specific, I'd say that it applies more to people who set up rules after a debate that automatically declare themselves a winner. To me, it's quite clear that those people can't win on the actual arguments, and have to come up with false metrics.

    I certainly don't agree with Ray on everything, and his attacks on you were definitely quite lame. But to keep holding him up as some sort of example because he lashed out at you is pretty childish. It's certainly not taking the high road.

  2. I fear both sides have representatives that resort to this kind of thing.

    "Effluviati" anyone?


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