On Assuming the Stupidity of those who Disagree

I find that, as a general rule, arguments that imply that the other side is stupid and has missed something incredibly obvious somehow tend to not be very impressive. I’m thinking that this might be a good rule of thumb.

You see, there are many unresolved debates in the world obviously, with philosophy and/or science experts taking both sides of the field. So, when someone says, “My belief is correct because ,” the only thing I can think when I see that is, “Well fuck, if you really thought about it you might realize that the obvious fact is FUCKING OBVIOUS! And perhaps the other side, those that disagree with you, aren’t stupid enough to have ignored something FUCKING OBVIOUS! And so maybe, just maybe, that obvious fact isn’t actually enough to prove or adequately defend your side, because maybe the other side thought about it and rejected it.”

Eg Chester’s recent thread, in which he says that Free Will is proven by the fact that we can think of things that aren’t true/don’t exist/whatever. When I read that, I just think:

The fuck? Do you not think that determinists realize that people can think of things that don’t exist? Do you think determinists are so retarded that they haven’t noticed their own ability to think of counterfactual situations? DETERMINISTS HAVE BRAINS TOO! I obviously am aware of my ability to think of things which aren’t true. If that was enough to demonstrate free will, you’d think most people with half a brain cell would already believe in free will…but they don’t, so…maybe, just maybe, it’s not enough. Maybe if you spent some time thinking about it, you might come up with some potential reasons why it might not actually be sufficient for free will. Is that hoping too much?

And this is the rule of thumb I’m suggesting: If you have some obvious fact that you want to state as proof of your position, you have to think really really really carefully about why the other side might not see that obvious fact as proof of the position. Because the other side isn’t stupid in all likelihood. They see obvious facts too. If those obvious facts weren’t enough to convince them already, you pointing it out again isn’t going to be enough, is it? So, yes, think of your obvious fact, and then think of why that obvious fact might not be interpreted as proof of your position. That way you can make more robust posts than, “This obvious fact proves I’m right,” which, while assuming the other side is stupid, has the reverse effect of making you look stupid.

I don’t think you’re stupid, I just think that you’re attached to a faulty dogmatic idea . Sometimes it’s hard to see the argument from the other side…especially if you really want to believe in your version of things…and we’re all guilty of that. :smiley:

My experience is all I have to go on, and it tells me something utterly different to what you say is the case.

I’ll be honest with you, I feel very uncomfortable with praise so I kind of like you and volly having a go at my ideas/me. :smiley:

Yes, I know that it’s sometimes hard, and what I’m saying with my OP is that one good, one REALLY GOOD hint that you’re not seeing the argument from the other side is that your argument implies the other side is stupid, you see?

If your argument depends on the other side being stupid, you’re probably not understanding something, and you should take your time and think some more, at least until you come up with an argument that doesn’t depend on the other side being stupid.

This point, which is a good one to raise, would eliminate almost every thread here.
I don’t see much new being presented on a lot of issues. New as in, not part of debates out there in the philosophical world, but rather a new angle that might really surprise people. Like Chester, for example - may simply have hit upon this angle himself. It was new for him. It seemed at least partially self-evident to him. He may not realize you have mulled over this argument - and done this well - and for good reasons rejected it. I think that covers a lot of threads here. Perhaps that makes these threads silly. But I don’t think so. I think people come here to work out their arguments, meet resistance, see what happens, learn to better formulate, generally as amateurs. We can’t take all these threads as insults to the intelligence of the other teams.

It would be like going to a chess website, finding yourself facing an opponent who chooses a very poor opening and deciding they are calling you stupid.

What I don’t like about this analogy is that it makes it seem like I am saying Chester is a weak ‘chess’ player. He might be. He might be on this specific issue. IOW he is overestimating the uniqueness of the argument. On the other hand perhaps it has been rejected incorrectly. Perhaps there is a nuance in this or his version that should not be rejected. Perhaps the rejections were weak. Another possibility is that while it has been rejected for good reasons, you FJ, will find it hard to formulate the argument. Perhaps your argument against it actually has gaps. This doesn’t make Chester’s idea correct, but it makes the thread potentially useful for you, especially if a 3rd party can point out those gaps.

Last, people do, I mean whole groups of experts, miss the obvious sometimes. That doesn’t mean they are stupid.

Obvious is not something that can be objectively measured. Obvious to you may not be obvious to someone else. And given this is philosophy, then we are dealing with potential culture level blind spots. I think its a jump to assume that if I am pointing out something I think is obvious, it means that I think those who disagree are stupid. Nor does it mean that one should not present the line of argument and see what happens. Just to use an example from science: for a long time stating that animals had emotions, intentions, desires, etc. could actually damage your scientific career. This was considered a kind of pathetic fallacy, though potentially correct, nevertheless mere speculation. What was obvious to animals trainers, pet owners, etc. was taboo in formal scientific circles - though I am sure at home many spoke and acted just like the confused lay people. Of course to say that animals had minds and were experiencers would not have been a surprising assertion to any scientist. But arguing from animal similarity, etc., was considered not remotely enough. The times changed and while no research demonstrated that animals have inner experience, the bias in the scientific community shifted and what was obvious was now accepted by everyone as obvious. In the transition period people had to make what would surely seem today like rather obvious statements and arguments about why the assumption they are like us, in broad strokes, is a better default position than assuming we cannot assume this.

I also find it a bit difficult to add to things on the forum. I think it is a good sign to find philosophy as if you already knew it. That means you have learned. Many have not learned much yet, or what they do know has not been refined.


This was your response in Chester’s thread:

You made reference to a thread that Chester hadn’t participated in, and probably hadn’t even seen… and then condescended on him like the twit that you are. You’re basically a hypocrite, and it’s hard to see you as doing anything other than quacking loudly here.

For the record, I think Chester is one of the best philosophers on this website.

He made a strawman argument. I linked to a thread about strawman arguments.
He said he feels sorry for me like a twit. I said I feel sorry for him like a twit.
Idk why that makes me a twit and him a great philosopher. I think you’re a twit.

And I don’t really care that you think he’s a ‘great philosopher’ for the record. That affects me absolutely 0 to read that.

I don’t agree that most threads on here argue that their side is true based only on obvious facts. At the very least, it’ll be based on an obvious fact but dependent on a moderately novel interpretation of that fact, not just a statement of obvious fact and then “therefore I’m right” as in Chester’s thread. He didn’t even have anything new to say about the obvious fact, it was just, “, so I’m right”. And this is what I’m saying you should take note of when you’re doing: if you think an obvious fact alone is enough to prove decades and decades of great philosophers wrong, you’re probably missing something in your thinking, or at least insufficiently communicating what you’re thinking. If an obvious fact points to the correctness of your side, the post should at least be in the form of “, , therefore I’m right”

I just reread his OP. He did not use the word ‘obvious’ once. I can understand that his saying ‘people did not grasp it’ when he brought up this argument before might imply it is obvious. It might not also. I didn’t quite take it that way. I took it more as a statement of his own certainty and that perhaps it was not the most obvious thing. Though he can grasp it and is proud of that.

A fact is a single assertion. Chester made a short argument.

I agree, now, with what you are arguing in this thread. I am just not sure the example is a good one.

I agree that stating a single fact. Like ‘Imagination gives us free will.’ then adding ‘this is obvious’ is a poor OP. But he put a few ideas together. I think one could even put it in syllogism form.

Of course you may know chester better than me and are interpreting his people not grasping it comment precisely correctly. I can’t be sure of that one.

i think a lot of threads, most of the atheist/theist ones, the free will vs. determinism ones, the critiques of scientific empiricism or the use of it to dismiss the possiblity of this or that phenomenon, and more in other forums here, have OPs that make perhaps more fleshed out versions of single syllogism ‘proofs’ their positions are correct. And these arguments have been running around in these types of discussions for decades at least. They do not as a rule say that the argument is obviously true, but it seems pretty implicit as things unfold.

That someone asserts their short argument is the case and this short argument has been encountered elsewhere does not translate into ‘you are stupid if you don’t agree’.

Frankly, I haven’t heard Chester’s take on ‘why we have free will’ very often. Much less often than the arguments in most of the threads here.

I didn’t say that he said the fact is obvious. The fact IS obvious. I think it’s pretty obvious that humans can think of things that aren’t true, don’t you? We thought of unicorns and witches and orcs, etc. I think it’s a pretty obvious fact.

FJ, you don’t believe in free will. Your reasons for not believing in free will are based, as I understand you, on causality which is scientific, for you, rather than philosophic (if you think of philosophy as abstract thought.)

That said, is it possible to separate ‘truth’ from ‘validity?’ Just recently, a LQG was discovered that defies physical laws.

sciencedaily.com/releases/20 … 092539.htm

So what is truth? Is truth empirical, according to Newtonian physics, or is truth philosophic and empirical according to observation? The philosophic truth debate marches on. Those who participate in it are no more stupid than those who believe in physics.

I suggest you start with that assumption–no one who participates in these forums is stupid. No one is ‘mistaken’ in their thoughts. Differences are expected.

You and Chester try desperately to ‘prove’ one another ‘wrong.’ In my mind, that’s what’s stupid.

Nothing in your post made sense to me. You pointed to a physical fact and said it defies physical laws, so you obviously don’t know what the term ‘physical laws’ means. Your little thoughts on truth tell me that you haven’t read much on epistemology at all, you’re just kinda throwing words together and hoping something sounds wise. It doesn’t.

Nobody said people who participate in ‘philosophical truth debate’ are stupid, so seriously, what the fuck are you talking about?

And to say that no one is mistaken is ridiculous. If I believe X and someone else believes notX, someone is mistaken. The fuck are you talking about?

That’s true. I wandered away from your original point.

But I don’t think his argument is obvious, not compared to arguments in other threads here. I would say it is a not very common at all use of something, sure, people know exists: the imagination. I mean compare it to most of the threads on free will vs. deteminism, theism vs. atheism, etc.

This relates to what I said in my first post about the arguments that would have gone on as the scientific community in the 60s and 70s shifted from we cannot talk about animals as emoters, experiencers, choosers to we can, where obvious things like
we are mammals,
they have similar bodies
they behave in similar ways to us

and a bunch of obvious stuff that scientists knew for a long time, but for reasons of bias were not convinced by.

Those arguments all has obvious facts. They just couldn’t get past a bias science has taken on from Christianity.

He made a 3 sentence post.

The post was of the format, implies . . I explained this a while ago and no one seemed to grasp it.

He didn’t really argue for the statement that the obvious fact implied his conclusion. He just stated an obvious fact, said it implies his conclusion, and then…well, then instead of explaining why, he just did that condescending shit about other people being unable to grasp it.

What I’m saying needs to be done is, maybe change that part to an actual explanation of why the obvious fact implies the conclusion. Instead of just stating it and then saying that if you don’t agree, it’s because you can’t grasp it (god what a dick), you can show why it implies it. Why? Why does imply ? Can you do more than just assert it? If not, then don’t bullshit about peoples’ ability to grasp it. Just keep your thoughts to yourself if you can’t explain why your conclusion follows from obvious fact.

Just a quick side note, a “physical law” is not merely a proposed theory in physics or astronomy.

The “Cosmological Principle” was a proposed theory, widely accepted. That doesn’t make it a physical law.
The CP is based upon some dubious quantum presumptions. But then again, I don’t see how the LQG contradicts it.

Very much agree.

…or wait… does that mean it is stupid… or…? :confused:

And you haven’t gone to the link I provided. You, instead, continue to call me ‘stupid.’ Meh.

If you believe X and someone else believes not X, why is the non-believer in X mistaken? Are you unable to extend yourself beyond your labels? If someone believes Y and someone else doesn’t believe Y, is either at fault in their belief?

Your response is so full of ad homs and accusations, it’s ludicrous. You’re proving your point that you assume the stupidity of those who disagree with you.

That’s what the fuck I’m talking about.

And you haven’t gone to the link I provided. You, instead, continue to call me ‘stupid.’ Meh.

If you believe X and someone else believes not X, why is the non-believer in X mistaken? Are you unable to extend yourself beyond your labels? If someone believes Y and someone else doesn’t believe Y, is either at fault in their belief?

Your response is so full of ad homs and accusations, it’s ludicrous. You’re proving your point that you assume the stupidity of those who disagree with you.

That’s what the fuck I’m talking about.

Liz said that… :laughing:

You have the answers. Why are not satisfied with them or one of them so as to put an end to the questions? One stupid person can ask more questions than a thousand wise persons can answer. If the answers you have received are not your answers, then any question that comes from that is not your question. And you think you are so clever and proud for getting all this knowledge and pouring it out like any computer can do. They are all mechanical questions you are dealing with. You are just a machine, and not stupid.