If My Opponent Believes That, Then I Surely Can’t

Scott Alexander has a wonderful post highlighting ten fallacious ways that people hastily jump from seeing that their opponents think something to dismissing it. All ten are very good observations, with examples provided. Let me highlight three I found particularly amusing and send you to Slate Star Codex to read and bookmark the whole list so you never remember to never engage in these evasive thinking strategies:

2. Argument From My Opponent Believes Something, Which Means They Believe It Is The Answer To One Question, Which Is Kinda Like Believing It Is The Answer To All Questions, But It Isn’t: “Statists believe government can solve all our problems. They need to understand the world doesn’t work that way.”

6. Argument From My Opponent Believes Something, Which Is Kinda Like Hating The People Who Don’t Believe In It, And Hatred Is Wrong: “People need to get over their frothing hatred for euthanasia.”

9. Argument From My Opponent Believes Something, Which Might Suggest A Course Of Action, Which Could In Theory Be Implemented Through Violence, And Violence Is Wrong: “Transhumanists think AI may be dangerous, but this could encourage people to kill AI researchers, so holding this belief is irresponsible.” Or, “Environmentalist condemnations of the oil industry encourage eco-terrorist attacks on oil workers.”

Comment: The underlying philosphy of this argument is Manichaean Dualism. Monotheists in general state that the devil can appear as an angel of light, and that the devil is the ape of God.

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