Tempest in a Teapot

One of the most amusing pastimes I’ve come across in social media is to drop in, unobserved, like the proverbial fly-on-the-wall, on an ongoing argument.  On Facebook, everyone is a pundit.  Some choose to pundit-ize by reposting the punditizings  of others.  Some make up their own.  In either case, from time to time, we come across “the “hijacker!”  The highjacker is easily offended.  The highjacker sees the teapot, and thinks it’s an ocean.  One of my favorite quotes on blogging (and social media is blogging-lite), comes from a demotivational poster, and reads, “Blogging: Never before have so many people, with so little to say, said so much, to so few.”  The hijacker, of course, does not understand this.  Hijackers feel it is their right and duty to correct you.  They feel they must proselytize their point of view.  Everywhere.  All the time.  

Hijackers can be liberals, conservatives, patriots, communists, new-agers, atheists, christians, muslims, hedonists, bigots, conspirators, hempers, truthers, or Barney-bashers,  I’ve noticed they tend to get “unfriended” a lot.

I usually find it quite entertaining.  Almost as amusing as the point/counterpoint name calling that escalates into long diatribes meant to convert the legions(?) of grateful(?) readers, is the cacaphony of specious logic people use to prove their superior positions.  Nothing could better explain what I love about non-viral social media than the following list of Proofs, taken from the SpecGram newsletter (http://specgram.com/CXLVII.3/09.seely.rhetoric.html).

Enjoy.

  1. Proof by Intimidation 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: That’s silly!
  2. Proof by Loudness 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: That’s VERY SILLY!!!
  3. Proof by Impressiveness 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Well, I’m very smart, very well known, and respected, and I know much more than you, and I think you are silly.
  4. Proof by Obfuscation 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Well, X is related to Y, Y is related to Z, and Z is often confused with W, which is considered to be very similar to Q, which is silly.
  5. Proof by Over-Running 
    A: What do you think –
    B: About X? Well –
    A: No, Y. What about –
    B: You mean X. Well –
    A: No, Y and Z!
    B: But X is silly. Did you have another question?
  6. Proof by Ignoring 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Don’t be silly. That’s not really related to my topic. Next question.
  7. Proof by ‘Obvious’ Generalization 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Point Y, though very small and seemingly trivial, counters X. Obviously there are many others, thus you are silly.
  8. Proof by Bifurcation 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: There are two interpretations: one that says X is the ideal counterexample; another is that X, if we close one eye, stand on our heads and squint, looks fine. The first option is silly.
  9. Proof by Name Dropping 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Well, BigNamei, BigNamej, and BigNamek agree with me. LittleNamei might agree with you, if only they were that silly.
  10. Proof by Absentee Belittlement 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Person C, who is not here to defend themselves, thinks that. They are silly. You are silly.
  11. Proof by Humility 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: You state that so forcefully. I could be wrong. You seem so sure of yourself. That is silly.
  12. Proof by Humiliation 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Have you read Book Z, or Book Y, even Book W?
    A: Well, no.
    B: That explains why you asked such a question. Sit down silly person.
  13. Proof by Extremeification 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: That is an extreme case. Extreme cases are silly.
  14. Proof by Hypocritical Intuition 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: My position is intuitively obvious.
    A: But what about X?
    B: Can you explain X better?
    A: X is intuitively obvious.
    B: Intuitive obviousness is silly.
  15. Proof by Ignorance 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: I don’t understand X.
    A: Let me try to explain X…
    B: That doesn’t make sense to me. Please explain. What is X?
    A: X! X! It’s very simple! X!
    B: I don’t understand. You must be silly. Next question.
  16. Proof by Nit Picking 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Could you expand on X1 and X2.
    A: Okay, X1 and X2 are like this…
    B: Could you expand on X1a, X1b, X1c, X2a, and X2b.
    A: Okay, I’ll explain…
    B: Could you expand on X1ai, X1aii, X1bi, X1bii, X1biii, X1ci, X1cii, X2ai, X2aii, X2aiii, X2bi, X2bii, X2biii, X2biv, and X2bv.
    A: Never mind.
    B: Silly, silly.
  17. Proof by Notation of Death 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Well, we must first introduce seventeen special symbols and make recourse to the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets. Are you silly enough to make me do all that? I will, you know.
    A: Okay, okay, I give.
  18. Proof by Untranslatability 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Do you know Spanish?
    A: Más o menos.
    B: Do you know German?
    A: Jawohl.
    B: Do you know French?
    A: Un peu.
    B: Do you know Guaraní?
    A: He’ē.
    B: Do you know Hawaiian?
    A: ‘Ae.
    B: Do you know Polish?
    A: Tak.
    B: Do you know Chinese?
    A: 是
    B: Do you know Italian?
    A: Sì.
    B:Do you know Esperanto?
    A: Jes.
    B: Do you know Portuguese?
    A: Sim.
    B: Do you know Arabic?
    A: مؤكد
    B: Do you know Cherokee?
    A: .
    B: Do you know Old English?
    A: Sōðlīce.
    B: Do you know Gaelic?
    A: Which kind?
    B: Irish?
    A: Tá beagán Gealige agam.
    B: Scottish?
    A: Tha beagan Gàidhlig agam.
    B: Manx?
    A: Ta beggan Gaelg aym.
    B: Do you know Hopi?
    A: Well, no, I don’t.
    B: Well, the Hopi Language has a great word for my answer, but it doesn’t translate well. Silly of you not to know Hopi, you know.
  19. Proof by Very Big Words 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: If we take the quasi-isomorphic tangential nucleotide sequence correlating asymptotically to the inverse pulmonic schizo-phrenicality index of that question, the answer is obvious.
    A: Huh?
    B: Silly person.
  20. Proof by Coma 
    A: What do you think about objection X?
    B: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Oh, you’re unconscious. Silly you. I win.

http://specgram.com/CXLVII.3/09.seely.rhetoric.html