Annoying form of argument

I’m note sure I’ve picked the right forum for this.

I’ve seen this recently on SD, and elsewhere many times over the years. Someone (X) will make their argument with a post that includes points A, B, and C. The points are not well thought out. Others will point out the fallacies. X will reply with a weak defense of their point A, and ignore that their B and C were trash. X will then move on to points D, E, F. These are also taken apart by others, but X will already be moving on to their next sloppy arguments.

They’re sort of moving the goalposts, but what bothers me more is the willingness to post weak arguments, and the ability to move on without any acknowledgement that their arguments were easily picked apart.
I can’t argue that way. I’m embarrassed and a little ashamed when I’ve made a point that turns out to be illogical, or worse, counter factual. Some people can do this easily, and I just don’t get it.


Some might call that a Gish gallop, some might call it a motte-and-bailey approach. It’s distasteful, but the only thing that would dissuade that is some sort of reputational penalty.

On Reddit, in theory, the weakest comments get downvoted off the bottom of the screen. Here there are few accountability mechanisms except to go to the Pit and nail your 95 theses to the door about why poster X is a dumbass. People might read it, or they might not, and they’ll probably launch a 16-page hijack about why you’re only attacking X because you’re biased and You Can’t Handle The Truth.

I’ll add;
Where the critique of A is the weakest counterpoint.

Sadly, the only way I’ve found around his is to pick one point, destroy it with cites and everything, and . . . watch my post get ignored!

People who “argue” this way score themselves by the number of arguments made, not their value. If they can put 10 idiocies on the screen, they have won ten times over. They don’t care if the points are demolished because in their heads the demolitions are fake nonsense by biased ideologues. Facts are not an effective defense. I’d posit that only ridicule is.

A worse variant is far more prevalent on these boards. Instead of going on to D, E, F after the first points are demolished, they go right back to their original claims and repeat them over and over. If you ever see someone make the same delusional point three times, GET OUT. They will continue to make the same delusional point as long as fools keep responding to them. Any further interaction will be costly in terms of your time and your sanity.

DNFTT are words to live by and I can’t understand why so few people understand that.

There is one scenario that becomes apparent when we give X the benefit of the doubt (i.e., that maybe they aren’t debating in bad faith). Not every person who has strong feelings or strong opinions has developed a clear and logical analysis of why they hold the position that they do. So they jump in with “Behavior 12 is bad, mmkay?” and append an indignant sentence or two about “When Behavior 12 exists, we have A, and think of all the dead kittens if A! And what about B, there would be no more mommies! Not to mention C, eventually everybody would be doing Behavior 12 because it would be the only behavior in town!”

A, B and C are not the reasons why poster X hates Behavior 12. They’re more like mirrors into what poster X fears about Behavior 12.

Keep in mind that most of us do not analyze situations using logical constructions stripped of all emotional reactions and assessments and reach our conclusions from what the logical formulation tells us. Nearly everyone has an emotional reaction first, then dissects their emotional reaction to see what it is telling them. Ideally this yields good rational explanations (because our reasons for feeling what we feel are legitimate — emotions are cognitions, not garbage reactions!) but things go awry when people’s reasons for feeling what they feel are tied up in fears and aversions that they aren’t ready to analyze and explore.

But more often than that Freudian shit about denial and avoidance of their real issue, (especially when not in an SDMB-like environment where you’ll be asked to support your position with logical argumentation), folks tend to spew their initial gut-level reaction if their opinion was formed long ago and they’ve never really tossed it up on the intellectual dissection table to discern why they feel that way.

This describes what happened in a recent discussion here about electric cars. I think some dopers have a lot of fears about a world full of electric cars.
I’ve had discussions with my dad that are similar. He’s a retired auto engineer and his arguments vs electric cars are not as well thought-out as I’d expect from him. So maybe he’s apprehensive about the dramatic changes coming to transportation.

The Gish Gallop annoys the crap out of me too.

Candice Owens and Tommi Lauren use this tactic almost exclusively bc they know their arguments are crap.

On another forum I frequent I had exactly this issue about EVs. Most of the “arguments” weren’t even wrong, and it was such a wall of misinformation I had to just stop reading it because I would have spent a week undoing it all. Some battles aren’t worth the effort involved.

Underline, bold, exclamation point. Other than a couple of Reddit boards that are purely factual ( whatisthisbird, whatisthisthing) I have no other message board experience than the Dope and this board is often trolled big time. Page after page of the same handful of posters saying the same things over and over again. It’s like trolls are crack and Dopers are, well, Dopers.

What’s really annoying is that once you’ve disposed of their alphabetical arguments, they move on to numbered ones.