Monday, June 27, 2011

A Considered Reponse to Sheer Ignorance?

I have a problem, and I have no idea what the solution is. I don't think I need to define it, because I need to give examples anyway. Hopefully the evidence for all three is unmistakable: 
"Mulloy, however, finds this argument incomprehensible. He did not understand it, therefore the argument is false.

Mulloy tells us:
I found this conclusion without basis and I challenged its logic."
Mulloy's wilful ignorance destroyed Challenger.

"and let’s not forget the anarchistic Sharia:

From Reuters:
“In the latest decree by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group that governs most of southern Somalia"
Did you catch David's error? Rhetorical question: how does anarchistic anything govern or issue decrees?

"Seth – Have you considered another confounding factor that is living in the new city (Beijing) with the worst air quality – bar none?
Additionally, your score is expected to improve over time from repeated cognitive exercise."
Relevant passage from the referenced and linked post:
"Because I’d been doing this for a long time, I no longer improved due to practice. Then, at the end of July 2010, I started improving again."
Secondly, JohnN seems to be proposing that bad air quality can improve cognition.

I have two goals. First, I want to be kind and gentle to the person who just made such a fool of themselves. They just stuck their foot in their mouth hard - they don't need me adding to that. (Also: shouldn't assume that someone who acts the fool once is always the fool. Also: perhaps the original writing was prone to misunderstanding. Also: it's sometimes me who's the fool. Also: et cetera.) However, I also want to clearly (ideally, unmistakeably) demonstrate their error, both to them and to the silent majority.

The simple method is to repeat copies of the relevant bits, but that just seems kind of mean. "You can't read. Sigh. Fine, I'll repeat myself." Also, ineffective. If they just skimmed too quickly, it might work, but if they're doing a full-on Mulloy - which does appear to dominate - it is a waste of time. (As always, tribal signalling argument outnumbers reasoned argument thousands to one.) I seem to have a contradiction on my hands. I feel a response is warranted, but the quality of the comments aren't enough to support serious responses.

I imagine there's quite a few who do just skim, not putting in the effort to read thoroughly, let alone comment, and would find such arguments convincing, and failing to provide quick and dirty rebuttals is effectively to concede the issue. But, this is just imagination. It makes sense, but I have little evidence either way.

Perhaps I won't convince anyone who isn't already willing to read sufficiently carefully. Perhaps my hope that the commentators in fact care at all about truth or logic is actually a forlorn and unjustified hope. But...I want to put away those 'perhaps' before I give up.

Remembering I'm likely to hold the solutions to extremely high standards, do you have anything to suggest?