Category Archives: Humor

If I suggested you read this, it is because you used “ad hominem” wrong

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The term “ad hominem” means directed against a person.

If you are a racist, and I say you are a racist, then my statement is ad hominem. Note that the statement may be technically correct. I’m saying something about you, and you really are a racist, so my statement is correct. On the other hand, if you are not a racist, and I say you are a racist, that is an incorrect ad hominem statement. My statement is incorrect. Either way, I have not committed an “ad hominem fallacy.” I’ve simply made a statement about you, that may or may not have been correct.

So, what the heck is the meaning of the term “ad hominem fallacy” you may ask? (Note that the term “ad hominem” itself, or “ad hom” for short, has come to imply “ad hominem fallacy.”) In the above example, you might think that if I call you a racist and you are, that I have not committed a fallacy, but if you are a racist, I’ve not. In neither of the above examples, have I committed the ad hominem fallacy.

If I sent you to this post to read it, it is more likely because I think you’ve committed the fallacy of the ad hominem fallacy. This is a meta-fallacy. You have claimed that an ad hominem fallacy has occurred because someone has called someone a racist (or some other nasty thing, I’m using “racist” as an example here, obviously) whether the accusation is right or wrong. But your reference to the ad hominem fallacy is in fact a fallacy because none of that relates to what an ad hominem fallacy actually is.

An ad hominem fallacy is when you are arguing over an issue, like are cats better than dogs, and you go after the person you are arguing with and attack them as a person as part of your argument. That is not the same as the question of whether the person is in fact worthy of this attack.

Let me give you an example.

Me: Cats are better than dogs.

Hitler: No, dogs are better than cats.

Me: No. You are, in fact, Hitler, and Hitler is a total jerk, so therefore, cats are better than dogs.

Here, I am wrong in two ways. First, you can’t say that cats are better than dogs. Or visa versa. Second, I’m arguing that the other guy in this argument is wrong because he is a jerk. I was committing an ad hominem fallacy.

However, I am right about one thing. Hitler is a jerk. So, let’s play it out again from a slightly different angle.

Me: Cats are better than dogs.

Hitler: No, dogs are better than cats.

Me: Hitler, you are a complete jerk, did you know that?

Hitler: So I’ve been told.

Me: In any event, you are wrong. Cats are better than dogs.

Hitler: Really, you can’t say one is better than the other.

Me: You know, you are right about that. You are still a jerk.

Hitler: So I’ve been told.

Hitler is still bad.
Here, our discussion about cats vs. dogs actually came to a reasonable conclusion and, indeed, a consensus. Who knew both Hitler and I could be so reasonable? Also, I made an ad hominem attack on Hitler. I called him a jerk. In so doing, I did not commit an ad hominem fallacy. I made a statement of belief about Hitler’s jerkiness, and very likely, I was right. I did not use Hitler’s jerkiness as part of my argument about cats vs. dogs. Even if I was wrong, and Hitler is a nice guy with a bad reputation, my statement was still not an ad hominem fallacy. It might have been wrong, but it was not an ad hominem fallacy. It was about him, so technically, it was “ad hominem” but not a fallacy.

An ad hominem fallacy is when you use a personal attack on a person in order to devalue or dismiss an argument they are making. It is NOT when you make a statement about the person, which may or may not be a personal attack, in and of itself. I maintain Hitler is a jerk, and I don’t care about cats vs dogs. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but while that is an attack on the man, it is not a logical fallacy. If I say his opinion about dogs vs cats is wrong because he is a jerk, THAT is an ad hominem fallacy.

I sent you here because I think you got that wrong, and I wrote this post because I’m weary of that common fallacy, about a fallacy, being toted out in the middle of arguments.


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Rocks for sale, Seasonality, and Why zat mattah anyway?

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These rocks are for sale up in Maple Grove:

They are described as “Huge rocks” but I question that because they look like small rocks to me.

Their condition is listed as “Used-Like New.” I question that too. This is new rock:

LOL Lavioli.

A typical Minnesota bus stop when the first day of shorts and the last day of coat happen on the same day:

Just in case you haven’t heard, the Wayzata (that’s our school) Science Bowl team won the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP this year. This is not a small feat. The teams that win, and compete to almost the end, tend to be 3-5K science and technology magnet schools. Wayzata is a great school, but it is a general high school for a fairly large district. Wayzata is pronounced “Why Zat Ah” rhymes with “Why’s it matter” said in a thick Boston accent.

An interest in science at high school age is a very healthy thing.

OK, maybe not.

How to write a letter to the editor. This one is a good example. At some point we’ll have a beer and I’ll point out the key features:


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What To Expect With The Super Blood Moon Eclipse

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A lunar eclipse happens only during a full moon. Some full moons happen when the moon is closest to the Earth, and these are called “Super Moons.” Under some conditions, a lot of light gets round the Earth’s shadow during an eclipse, and this is red light. All three are happening at the same time this weekend, which gives us the rare Super Blood Moon Eclipse.

Here are the things to watch for during the Super Blood Moon Eclipse.

  • Since the Moon will be VERY close to the earth, there is a risk of it running into things. For this reason, climbers will be held at mid level base camps on Everest and K2, and observation decks on large sky scrapers will be closed.
  • Since the Moon is a critical part of the Zodiac, a very strong Super Blood Moon Eclipse can rearrange it. This is how we got Gemini — that was originally two separate constellations. Astrologers at the National Observatory are concerned that during this Super Blood Moon Eclipse, Leo may be knocked into Capricorn, which could endanger the goat. If the worst happens, those born between December 22nd and January 2nd will be Sagittarius, and those born between January 3rd and January 19th will be Aquarius.
  • Tides will be affected. Instead of having two tidal cycles a day, the tide will remain high for a couple of days. This will have a negative effect on the availability of clam rolls in New England. The Governor of Massachusetts has ordered taco trucks supplied by FEMA to be deployed around the Greater Boston Metro.
  • Lunacy will, simply put, run amok.
  • Conservators working at megalith sites such as Stonehenge will be on high alert for the arrival of more than the usual numbers of Inferi and Zombies.
  • Black cats will turn a shade of dark greenish blue. It will wear off after a few days.

There will likely be other effects, but Super Blood Moons are unpredictable, and every time one happens, some new thing previously unexpected occurs. It is always a bad thing, so be prepared. Lock your doors and windows, and make sure your Mormon Closet is full of Spam.


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