Saturday, July 9, 2011

"I came in here for a good argument!"

So, after having a no-fun-at-all argument with a pro-choice ... person yesterday, I managed to post about it, heckle New Atheists and poke fun at myself. Got it all out of my system.

No, I didn't. Otherwise, I wouldn't be up at 4:18 am with a stomach churning like an overloaded washing machine and a back too tense to sleep.

At the end — and, believe me, it was neither pretty nor one of my best performances — I countered her dismissive, snide "Study embryology" with a snap: "Study the philosophy of science, and actually engage arguments instead of trying to insult them away." Her reply? "You've got to be joking. Philosophy is just a bunch of people's subjective opinions."

Now, realize that this ... person has also been trying to discuss morality and ethics with Stacy Trasancos and others, misusing the words abominably, not to mention using subjective to mean alternately "personal" and "skewed and boneheaded". Half of her arguments weren't arguments at all; they were an attempt to re-create Al Jaffee's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions ... a failed attempt. (If you don't remember Al Jaffee from MAD Magazine, all I can tell you is that you missed a golden era of satirical humor for the immature ... though he still does the fold-in back cover.)

So when she wrote three thousand years of search for truth, meaning and reality off as "a bunch of people's subjective opinions, I simply signed off: "*sigh* Yep, that's what I thought you'd say. I'm out."

What I wanted to say was this:

Yep, that's what I thought you'd say. Of course, you don't realize that, because YOU DON'T KNOW JACK ABOUT PHILOSOPHY, you just wrote off all the fundamental assumptions of science as "subjective opinion". And, because YOU DON'T KNOW BUBKES ABOUT PHILOSOPHY, you don't realize that you just wrote off all your own belabored arguments about ethics — A BRANCH OF PHILOSOPHY — as "subjective opinions". (By the way, "subjective" is NOT synonymous with "personal" or "false"; "ethics" is the theoretical study of principles of right and wrong, while "morality" is the study of their practical and cultural application. If you wish to be understood, you will PLEASE USE WORDS AS OTHERS USE THEM.) 
And, because YOU DON'T KNOW DIDDLY-SQUAT ABOUT PHILOSOPHY, you don't know HOW you just rendered every argument you've made so far incoherent, with a statement that — ironically — you intended to assert your intellectual superiority. Guess what? FAIL.
Argument can be enjoyable even if agreement never follows. But between your mule-headed dogmatic pronouncements, your snide slanging and your philistine dismissal of anything you can't or don't want to understand as "subjective opinions", it gives me no joy whatever even to tell you that YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. I repeat, STUDY THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. You may not end up agreeing with us anyway, but AT LEAST YOU'LL KNOW WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. I'm done.
 Now I feel better! And, believe me, that was the charitable version!

Actually, the whole sordid affair reminded me of this classic sketch: