Quote Of The Day

Arnold Kling, on the “gotcha” mentality of partisanism:

If your goal is to accumulate a fan base and fire them up, then of course calling intellectual fouls on the other side is the way to go. However, I claim that if your goal is to contribute to a discussion in which fair-minded people will consider changing their minds, then calling the other side’s intellectual fouls does not get you very far.

It’s easy, and sometimes feels good too, to blast your opponents when they do something particularly egregious. But it doesn’t accomplish much.

  • Dr T

    “It’s easy, and sometimes feels good too, to blast your opponents when they do something particularly egregious. But it doesn’t accomplish much.”

    Neither does ignoring their stupidities or their conspicuously bad actions. That’s especially relevant when your opponents will never reciprocate if you are polite and civil, will never respond logically and reasonably to your fact-based arguments, and will never admit that they are wrong. In such circumstances, showing others how bad your opponents are is the only way to benefit.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Doc T,

    To be fair, there are two types of “gotchas”. One is showing, and it can be done with extreme prejudice, where your opponents are factually or logically mistaken. I view “calling fouls” on things like logical fallacies to be entirely valid, because you are on the battlefield of ideas, where these things should be fought.

    Where I draw the line is the sort of thing like the left blasting Limbaugh for making a stupid comment about Sandra Fluke and saying that therefore conservatives hate women and want them barefoot & pregnant in the kitchen. Then Hilary Rosen makes a stupid comment about Ann Romney and conservatives claim that liberals don’t value the hard work of motherhood and raising a family because “it takes a village”. At the end of the day, these intellectual fouls are not based on ideas, they’re simply a way to extend the line between “us and them” politically.

    I try to avoid the “liberals are bad, envious people who are just jealous of those with money” arguments and focus on the “liberal policies have bad outcomes and I’ve got better policies” argument. Focusing on the first strategy would probably get me a lot more readers. But I focus on the second, because I much prefer the company of the fewer readers I’ve got.

  • tkc

    I was looking at your ‘homework’ response and was thinking of the exact same thing you brought up here, namely, Limbaugh/Rosen. This sort of ‘gotcha’ thing doesn’t help much. For the left, if they’re listening to Rush, chances are it is because they are looking to be offended. Rosen sticking her foot in her mouth is the same sort of thing.

    Profound disagreements aren’t ‘gotcha’ material. Manufactured/partisan hack disagreements are.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    Exactly. The media loves manufactured/partisan hack disagreements. So do most of the public, as there’s no real barrier of entry or thought required to pick a side.