Karl Popper, one of the grandfathers of the philosophy of science, popularised the concept of falsifiability to define the inherent testability and, by extention, validity of any scientific hypothesis.
Semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used “to tell” at all.
In other words, as far as language, information and communication goes, there is no such thing as “neutrality”1. There is only true or false. It is not possible for true to ever be false, but false more often than not attempts to masquerade as true – whether it’s conscious deception or the full blown cognitive disorder of the true-believer, the falsehood remains false and even the worst perpetrator, deep down inside, has the knowledge that it is false. Those that choose to disturb the voice of the conscience inside the minds of those that wish to believe falsehoods to be true run the risk of unleashing quite a demonic level of hostility. And we’ve rather had our noses rubbed in all of that lately…
So when Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina and cohorts utilise language and communications to create reality distortions, deceptions and manipulations on such a grand scale that it would make Joseph Goebbels blush, it is positively an invitation, and duty, to expand our own vernacular in countermeasure. Sophist waffle needs to be defined before it can be apprehended, and without definition, it is all the more easy for these stage magician tricks to ensnare the unwary. So for the sake of extending our language in this semantic arms race, here are a few new terms for the self-defense arsenal0.
Definition: Argumentum ad himinem is an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it. Closely related to ad hominem, literal Latin “to the man”, this is instead “to the male” and removes gender ambiguity. It is however equally applicable to females who inexplicably defend argument as though cum testiculis, or seek to defend indefensible and erroneous male perspectives. Antonym to ad feminam.
There are two primary flavours –
- Abusive ad himinem (also called personal abuse or personal attacks) usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to attack his claim or invalidate his argument, e.g. you are insecure and have a tiny penis.
- Circumstantial ad himinem points out that someone is in circumstances such that he is disposed to take a particular position. Circumstantial ad himinem constitutes an attack on the bias of a source, e.g. you are male, white and probably old and rich
- Abusive ad himinem, “and this issue got blown up by lunatics who felt their manhood threatened and who exaggerated the situation to an absurd degree…” — PZ Myers.
- Circumstantial ad himinem, “Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man!” — Rebecca Watson
Reductio ad Watsonum
Definition: This is a kind of logical fallacy used for the purposes of derailing discussion using the premise that any opponent could not seriously disagree with the protagonist on any reasonable grounds other than their natural bigotry – in this case, anyone that argues against a position proposed from a feminist perspective is only doing so due to their inherent sexism and misogyny.
This is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context; closely related to ad hominem, ad himinem, reductio ad Hitlerum and reductio ad absurdum.
The suggested logic is one of guilt by association, that only rapists are capable of thinking in a manner such as that of the target of the fallacy, therefore the target must be a rapist or a rape apologist.
The reductio ad Watsonum tactic is often used to derail arguments, because such comparisons tend to distract and anger the opponent.
Example: “I figured I should post this for the record: yes, Richard Dawkins believes I should be a good girl and just shut up about being sexually objectified because it doesn’t bother him. Thanks, wealthy old heterosexual white man! … So to have my concerns – and more so the concerns of other women who have survived rape and sexual assault – dismissed thanks to a rich white man comparing them to the plight of women who are mutilated, is insulting to all of us…” — Rebecca Watson responding to minor criticism from Richard Dawkins on Skepchick.org
Definition: Corollary to Godwin’s law. “As an online discussion involving Skepchicks and males (or phallophilic females) grows longer, the probability of conclusive, irreproachable evidence involving sexism or misogyny being introduced approaches 1 (100%).” In other words, given enough time, in any online discussion with these participants – regardless of topic or scope – a phallophobe will inevitably criticise some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by sexists and the misogynists2.
Examples: Fuck. Just stick +watson +dawkins +elevator into google.
There you go. It’s a living language. Breathe it. Savour it. Use it. These very serious creatures are easy to confuse, so enjoy.
0 – With mucho paraphrasing and direct lifting from the cesspit of lies.
1 – “Truthiness” is one of the most recent ways to describe efforts to build a bridge between the false and the true, or what you want to believe and actually is believable, in order to fabricate the semi-plausible and convince the stupid of your argument.
2 – There is also a 99% probability that the charge of “rape apologist” will also be invoked.
If you’ve read this far, here is a special bonus vid from the Amazing Atheist, just released and highly pertinent. Caution: NSFW language. Oh, and buy his shit. Call it the Skepchick defense fund or something.
And if you’ve plowed this far, here’s a second bonus vid – Becky’s Dating Tips. This doesn’t deserve any standalone status – just a marginal footnote. Her intro –
A lot of people who viewed my previous video have asked for dating advice along the lines of “Well if we can’t corner women in a hotel elevator and ask them back to our hotel rooms before we’ve said anything else to them, how are we ever going to get laid??” So I’ve decided to offer some advice in that regard.
We know we’re in familiar territory. Repetition ad barfum of being “cornered!” in an elevator (like it’s some Linda Blair women-in-prison flick); multiple emphasis in demarcating “normal” (whatever that is) guys from the rest of us (I guess sub-normal brutes that jerk off at snuff films); and the last ¾ is aimed directly at a) how we can’t get laid, b) how we are insecure over threatened masculinity and c) how we are sexually dysfunctional (and probably have tiny penises), and offers some helpful advice on maybe getting sex dolls, or plastic vaginas instead, “y’know, something that will lie there and not talk back”. The standard ad himinem dreck.
Of course, being stupid, I can’t see or comprehend any of this from Becky’s perspective. All I see is –
“this is a cry for help”.
Becky, I really don’t know how much lower you, or PZ for that matter, can really go. Your posts now have that kind of morbid attraction to curiosity that car accidents have. I suspect even you are now suspecting that your world may be shrinking, that many people are no longer as foolish is you assume them to be. This is all good. You have to remember, there is only so much mileage you can extract out of hate politics. It is a finite world. It is a world that depends on constant spectacle to maintain bloodlust. It cannot be sustained forever. You are merely a speed bump. You may have caused a temporary disruption to our community, but people are tiring and soon they will show you the door.