Comment by Belle Rose on June 20, 2014 at 2:46am
Informative!
Comment by Dr. Bob on June 20, 2014 at 11:03am

I'm interested in why "explains why it's mistaken using quotes" has a higher spot on the pyramid than "backs it up with reasoning and supporting evidence."

Doesn't quoting-from-authority seem like a lower level response than one with sound reasoning and supporting evidence?  Isn't that typically a fundamentalist Christian response?

Should this really be a pyramid?

[Looking up online...]  Ah, OK, this is just something from an essayist writing out of field, not from peer-reviewed psychology or behavioral research.   Pop-culture fluff.  Have at it!

Comment by Physeter on June 20, 2014 at 1:03pm

Bob - It means using quotes from the original statement, not quotes from someone else about the topic. In other words, the "Refutation" level means you've found a logical or other obvious internal inconsistency in the person's argument. The "counterargument", the one with evidence, means the statement is internally consistent, but you have evidence it is untrue.

In other words, the lower one shows evidence it is not true, the higher one shows logical proof that it can't be true.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 20, 2014 at 1:38pm

Okay, dear readers. Bob has just supplied several "in the wild" examples. Let's go through them one by one.

I'm interested in why "explains why it's mistaken using quotes" has a higher spot on the pyramid than "backs it up with reasoning and supporting evidence."

Here, Bob opens with a strawman fallacy. Bob's quoted phrases above actually omit several words from the descriptions on the pyramid and thus misrepresent its meaning.

The pyramid puts "Refutation: finds the mistake and explains why its mistaken using quotes" above "Counterargument: contradicts and then backs it up with reasoning and/or supporting evidence."

Bob is doing the latter. He's presenting a counterargument to the pyramid's argument, but he's not backing it up. How so? His reasoning is fallacious (a strawman), meaning it's unreasonable. Bob continues below and presents a counterargument to an argument the pyramid simply does not make.

Note also, what I did in my opening. Refutation: I found Bob's mistake and explained why its mistaken after quoting the relevant passage of his argument. This is what the pyramid specifies.

Doesn't quoting-from-authority seem like a lower level response than one with sound reasoning and supporting evidence?

Here, Bob continues (and extends) his opening strawman fallacy.

The word Bob omitted to misrepresent the pyramid is the most important one. Refute means "to prove wrong by argument or evidence, show to be false or erroneous".

Bob takes the fiction a step further by substituting "quoting from authority" for the pyramid's actual position. (The pyramid refers to argument and evidence directed at the quoted passages which one is refuting, not to refutation based on quotes from authorities.)

Note also, what I just did again: refutation. I found Bob's mistake and explained why its mistaken after quoting the relevant passage of his argument.

Isn't [quoting from authority] typically a fundamentalist Christian response?

It's clear at this point that Bob just keeps doubling down on the same strawman fallacy. The pyramid advocates argument and evidence, not argument from authority (which is a logical fallacy indeed favored by fundies).

Note again, I did another round of refutation using reason and evidence (Bob's quoted statement above).

And now Bob begins his descent to the bottom of the pyramid. Bob did not present a valid counterargument or refutation, so essentially...

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 20, 2014 at 1:38pm

Should this really be a pyramid?

...Bob starts at Pyramid level 4.

Note that Bob uses simple contradiction here. Contradiction is fourth from the bottom on the pyramid: "Contradiction: states the opposing case with little or no supporting evidence".

There's no need to refute Bob's content-free suggestion that the pyramid is invalid: he provides no reason or evidence to refute. Now, Bob's descent continues by skipping Pyramid level 3...

[Looking up online...]  Ah, OK, this is just something from an essayist writing out of field, not from peer-reviewed psychology or behavioral research.

...to sinking right down to Pyramid level 2.

Bob uses an Ad Hominem here, which is second from the bottom of the pyramid. "Ad Hominem: attacks the characteristics or authority of the writer without addressing the substance of the argument." This can be dismissed out of hand: there is nothing here to refute.

Nevertheless, consider that if peer-reviewed research by subject matter experts is the only valid information, then essentially everything that Bob (or anyone else) has ever written aside from that is "pop-culture fluff". This includes sources like newspaper articles.

And with that, Bob plunges...

  Pop-culture fluff. 

...to the lowest point on the pyramid. "Name-calling: sounds something like, "you are an ass hat".

Here, Bob dismisses the "essayist writing out of field" and his work as "fluff". Fluff means inconsequential: illogical, irrelevant, without significance, unimportant, etc.

In Graham's hierarchy, articulate forms of name-calling ("The author is a self-important dilettante.") are no different from crude insults. A comment akin to "[The essayist writes] pop-culture fluff" is reasonably applicable.

Have at it!

Thank you, Bob, for volunteering yourself for another good thrashing. If anyone is interested in reading Graham's essay about the most convincing forms of argument, it's posted here.

Comment by Dr. Bob on June 20, 2014 at 5:15pm

So @Gallup, when someone posts that they're "interested in why" something in a model is the way that it is, and it "seems" (to them) that two items in the model are reversed, do you really think they are making an argument?  I'm asking because the grammatical form would seem to be that of a clarification question, not an argument. 

It seems to me that @Physeter's response was the rational and correct one to the question. He responded with clarification to a question asking for clarification. I think his response is accurate.  It also has the advantage of being brief, to the point, and courteous.

Models in science should be demonstrated to be predictive or at least thoroughly descriptive; since you often extol the virtues of science I just assumed that this model was a product of some research somewhere, rather than just web surfing.   The reason I was asking about it as a pyramid, though, was that generally when one models a phenomenon as a layered pyramid, one is implying a numerical distribution within the population.   There should be a lot more of the thing at the base of the pyramid, and very few of the thing at the top of the pyramid. 

Do we actually believe that in this case?  What evidence can we point to that the distribution really corresponds to this model?  That was the point of my question about whether this should be a pyramid.

As an aside, there is a real literature out there on argumentation and theories of argumentation, which tend to be discipline specific to a considerable degree.  Rather than hang your hat on this thing you found on the web, why not consider reviewing the peer-reviewed and evidence-based literature instead?

Comment by Physeter on June 20, 2014 at 5:39pm

There should be a lot more of the thing at the base of the pyramid, and very few of the thing at the top of the pyramid.

Show me one blogger making a thorough and well-thought point, and I'll show you a thousand commenters screaming "Asshat!"

And I like how the pyramid starts dull, and blunt, at the bottom and becomes sharper and pointier towards the top, until you reach the strongest, sharpest, most cutting form of argument.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 21, 2014 at 1:18am

So @Gallup, when someone posts that they're "interested in why" something in a model is the way that it is, and it "seems" (to them) that two items in the model are reversed, do you really think they are making an argument? I'm asking because the grammatical form would seem to be that of a clarification question, not an argument.

Given that you claimed to have read it, then essentially declared it was worthless nonsense because it's not peer-reviewed research? Yeah Bob, that's an argument. A claim. A position. A declaration. That's not "a clarification question".

Note how your "grammatical form" below indicates that you researched it ("Looking up online"), understood it ("Ah, OK"), issued several judgments ("this is just..."), then dismissed it ("Pop culture fluff").

"[Looking up online...]  Ah, OK, this is just something from an essayist writing out of field, not from peer-reviewed psychology or behavioral research. Pop-culture fluff.  Have at it!" -Bob

It seems to me that @Physeter's response was the rational and correct one to the question. He responded with clarification to a question asking for clarification. I think his response is accurate. It also has the advantage of being brief, to the point, and courteous.

Let me see if I understand this, Bob.

The eloquence of a 78-word diagram escaped you. You looked it up, but still couldn't grasp it. So you asked clarification questions, while simultaneously dismissing the essayist's work as useless nonsense akin to fundamentalism. You know, before anyone could answer your questions about it.

Sure, Bob. Whatever you say.

My impression: that I posted it here implies that I assign some worth to it, so you (being a big fan of mine) just had to condemn it as worthless.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 21, 2014 at 1:18am

Models in science should be demonstrated to be predictive or at least thoroughly descriptive...

It's not a scientific model and nobody presented it as one. It's an image from an essay about the most convincing forms of disputation.

...since you often extol the virtues of science I just assumed that this model was a product of some research somewhere, rather than just web surfing.

It's a product of a millionaire Harvard PhD named Paul Graham based on his observations of disagreements in online communities. But that doesn't matter. Even if it had been the product of a pauper high school dropout named Billy Bubba Goofball: the value of an essay is based on the merit in what it says, not on who wrote it. 

The reason I was asking about it as a pyramid, though, was that generally when one models a phenomenon as a layered pyramid, one is implying a numerical distribution within the population. There should be a lot more of the thing at the base of the pyramid, and very few of the thing at the top of the pyramid.

Graham didn't imply it's "a numerical distribution within the population" or anything remotely of the kind. It's Graham's attempt-- that's what he calls it-- at placing the most convincing forms of disputation into a hierarchy. You did say you looked this up, remember? Or are you still claiming Graham's short essay is flying over your head?

As an aside, there is a real literature out there on argumentation and theories of argumentation, which tend to be discipline specific to a considerable degree. Rather than hang your hat on this thing you found on the web...

I didn't "hang my hat on this thing". I posted an image file. 

...why not consider reviewing the peer-reviewed and evidence-based literature instead?

After all the "personal feedback" you just delivered in the 'terrorism' thread on the importance of short posts and that you refuse to click on links? Please. Do your own homework, Bob. Once you've mastered the concepts in the little pyramid above, maybe you'll be ready for something more in depth.

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