How to argue badly

David Watson gives a good over view of the bad arguments that happen all the time in the blogosphere. Of course, none of the people who comment on my blog ever do this, and certainly not your intrepid blogger.

David F. Watson

I have to admit something: I have stopped reading comments on sites where my work is re-blogged. On this blog [and its predecessor], folks are generally respectful and engage in helpful dialogue. I really appreciate that. We’ve had some real disagreement without getting personal. Out there in the wild west of the blogosphere, though, it can get pretty ugly. It’s like some of the helicopter scenes in “Apocalypse Now,” just with words instead of bullets.

At times, this has really made me want to withdraw from public conversation altogether. It’s not that I can’t take criticism. If you disagree with me, I want you to tell me. I often tell my students that at least 30% of what I teach is wrong; I just don’t know which 30% it is. I simply don’t appreciate certain ways of arguing. The blogosphere, moreover, generally has no editorial process and no peer-review process. Therefore, anything…

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