The single absolute stupidest argument you've ever seen online

Anyone who’s read message boards, usegroups, blogs, etc., for any amount of time, has seen an incredible number of truly idiotic and wrong claims. But is there one that sticks out at you as the absolute pinnacle of idiocy?

For me, it’s one from VAXNotes at Haverford College back around 1993 or so. VAXNotes was similar to Usenet, but it was local to just Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, of course, is a women’s college, so discussions of women’s issues and feminism were always common.
So, the conversation went like this (paraphrased):

Some Bryn Mawr Student: Hey, I just read this quote from Margaret Atwood that I really liked… “Man fits women like a hook and eye… a fishhook and a human eye”.
Me: Heh. That kind of reminds me of “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”.
SBMS: Huh? How are they at all similar?
Me: Well, the first one, you think she’s talking about a “hook and eye” fastener, so you think she’s saying that they DO fit, much like in the second one, you’re expecting to hear “a fish out of water”.
SBMS: I’ve never heard of a “hook and eye” fastener, I don’t think that has anything to do with it
Me: Well, clearly that’s what Margaret Atwood had in mind. What would be the point of it otherwise? It wouldn’t be even remotely clever or meaningful if she was just proposing a gory image and making a pithy statement about it.
SBMS: I don’t see how you can claim you know what Margaret Atwood was thinking when she wrote that.

The absolute stubborn ignorance there has caused it to stick in my head clearly, 15 years later.

That’s pretty bad!

There are far too many for me to remember, but many years later there’s one that still amuses me. A Doper started a thread about how evolution can’t be true, because the fact that every species on earth has a drive to reproduce could not be mere coincidence. To his credit, he saw the light by about post #5.

The anecdotes one drive me crazy.

Like when a new study comes out showing that exercize is good for the heart or that formula feeding reduces IQ or wearing a seatbelt increses the odds of surviving a car crash. Inevitably someone will come up with the story of the runner who had a heart attack, the formula fed baby who was brilliant or the man who was ‘thrown clear’ of a crash because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

And then they’ll assume this PROVES that running is bad for the heart, bottle feeding makes babies smart and seat belt will kill you.

Any of the “We did not go to the Moon” arguments are good fodder for “Stupidest Argument.”

I’ll give you two, and you pick which one is stupidest.

#1: The fact that people eat meat proves that God doesn’t exist. Because why would a loving God create one sentient being and allow it to be eaten by another sentient being? :smack:


Some Anti-Palin Wacko: When she was mayor of Wasilia, Alaska, Sarah Palin tried to ban Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s on this list of books she tried to ban.

Some Palin Apologist: That list can’t be true; a lot those books, including HPatSS weren’t even written when Palin allegedly tried to get them banned.

SAPW: Well, that doesn’t matter. The fact that there’s a list of books she tried to ban is still cause for concern about her. :smack:

Only one stupid argument here on the good ol’ SDMB has ever made me put another Doper on the ‘ignore’ list. It was about Roman Polanski, and the Doper was arguing that since the woman he raped when she was an underage teenager has forgiven Polanski, then there’s no crime. :eek: Yeah, because our justice system is based on whether the victim forgives you or not.

A Bryn Mawr College student had never heard of a hook and eye fastener? Bra burning must have been more popular than I thought.


huh. that argument in the OP seems even weirder to me because both quotes are wrong. The fish/bicycle is from an early feminist and it goes “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” The Atwood quote is a poem and was relating to a specific relationship, not men and women in general. It is in its entirety:

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye
A fish hook
An open eye

So yeah, the arguement gets even stupider. :wink:

A few years back, in, a poster named Zoe (but thankfully not OUR Zoe) insisted for weeks on end that it was possible to divide by zero.

There words: Jack Dean Tyler

Thank you. I was hoping someone would beat me to that.

Now I try very hard to pass the stupid by when it’s obviously going to be an exercise in banging my head against the wall … but sometimes it’s almost impossible, like when some miscreant posted “This band sux, that guy is SO GAY” about (wait for it) … Queen.

It was hard to figure out which part of the statement was the most egregious. Where do you start? In case it’s not obvious, “gay” was not being used to mean homosexual, but rather in the 3rd grade sense of pathetic or stupid.

Well, she was right. Sort of. Division by zero isn’t impossible, it’s merely undefined in our commonly-used mathematical framework.

Well, bear in mind that I was paraphrasing from memory from something that took place in the early 1990’s. As far as I know, the poem was quoted correctly then. I still claim that that poem consciously references the concept of a “hook and eye” fastener, however :slight_smile:

However, the fish/bicycle thing makes far more sense to me as “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”, because then the parallel construction would make sense if instead you went the “obvious” place and said “A woman without a man is like a fish out of water”. Or maybe “like a fish needs water” used to be a more common version of that phrase?

As we’re discussing arithmetic, which is a human construct, I don’t see any real difference. In what mathematical framework can one divide by zero and get a useful and non-stupid answer?

You could try reading the article I linked to, which answers your question.

Long ago, in a Usenet science newsgroup, I saw somebody argue that faster-than-light travel is possible, because the have it on Star Trek, and that is usually based on real science.

I don’t know if this qualifies as an argument in the way the OP asks, but today someone gave as one of the reasons they were voting for McCain as “With age comes wisdom. Nobody pays attention to old people anymore.”

I did glance at the article you linked to, and I just now read it more; you are now responsible for any flashbacks I have to Differential Equations (which is where I hopped off the higher math train), so if I go into a rage later and beat anyone to death with a calculus textbook it is your fault. I’ll concede that there are maths in which division by zero is non-zero. But take my word for it: Talk.Origins Zoe is a moron (as opposed to SDMB Zoe, who is not). Go to google groups & search for "Zoe divide zero " and you’ll see what I mean.

Oh, I have no doubt. I was just pointing out that in and of itself, making the statement that division by zero isn’t necessarily stupid. It’s still clearly possible to go about defending that statement stupidly.

Sorry about the math flashbacks. If you’re ever in town, dinner’s on me. Never let it be said I inflict math on people without consequence.