Guest post: Any specious argument or catechism will do

Originally a comment by Holms on Who advocate for their rights or interests.


I just had a TRA tell me that thinking that a child going through puberty naturally […] is the Naturalistic Fallacy.

There seems to be surge in people calling things fallacies without realising a statement needs to meet a certain extremely basic formulation “A because B” in order to be an argument at all; before it can be declared a fallacious argument, it must first be an argument. And so it is extremely common lately for people to declare that any insult in a comment renders the entire comment an ad hominem argument, irrespective of whether the insult was relied upon in making an argument, or if the insulting thing was a conclusion of the argument rather than being a premise of it, or if the comment made an argument at all.

This seems to be part of a broad trend in TRA arguments – words and terms have simply lost their original meanings. Trying to set the record of a conversation straight, regarding who said what and when, with references to comment numbers and direct quotes? Gaslighting. Pointing out someone’s abusiveness? Sea Lioning. Responding to abuse in kind? Ad hominem. Explaining the difference between infer and imply, because someone leapt to an idiotic conclusion and called that lunacy a ‘direct implication’ of what I said? Intent is not magic.

And so on throughout arguments with TRAs on the usual topics… I have been told, in a discussion about the origins of public toilets being sex rather than gender segregated, bringing up the history of toilets is an Appeal to Tradition fallacy. I have been told, in a discussion about the meaning of the words ‘woman’ and ‘man’, pointing out that word meanings in natural languages arise from common use is an Appeal to Popularity. Oh and forget about etymology in a discussion of historical words meanings and their changes, that’s just another Appeal to Tradition.

Any specious argument or catechism will do, if it is convenient in the moment.

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