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Kostas Oikonomou

Educated people are not rude

There was an article where a scientist expressed the argument that unvaccinated people against COVID-19 provide hospitality for the virus to multiply(in a far greater degree than in a vaccinated person) and therefore pose a greater risk for the virus to mutate into a more dangerous strain. And he accused anti-vaxxers of being "innkeepers of death" and that they don't care about the well-being of others, by providing appropriate conditions for the virus to spread and mutate. The response was:
"Educated people with concern for the common good have a kind speech which promotes unity and they have empathy. It is until you (i.e the scientist and all the people who agree with the scientist) understand that, that something will improve in this grim world".

The basic argument here is "Your words are harsh, and since your words annoy or insult me, you cannot claim to be educated(because educated people have a kind speech), therefore I also doubt that your argument is educated".   

As I see it, the core of the fallacy is in the belief that "educated people speak in a non-insulting manner= if you are rude you are not educated". And I know there have been fallacies based on other false beliefs such as argument from age ("aged people know best"), argument to the purse ("rich people know best"), appeal to novelty ("novelty knows best"), appeal to celebrity ("celebrity knows best"). Should we name a fallacy for "rude/insulting/offending people cannot be right"(something like "argument by offense/impoliteness"? Or is there already one that covers this? 

asked on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 05:09:26 AM by Kostas Oikonomou

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Answers

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Rationalissimus of the Elenchus
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Should we name a fallacy for "rude/insulting/offending people cannot be right"(something like "argument by offense/impoliteness"? Or is there already one that covers this? 

This is known as the tone argument, and it is a relevance fallacy. The offensiveness of an opinion, or conclusion of an argument, should not be considered when judging its validity or soundness. Offense is taken at the words, or way, an argument is set out, which is separate from the underlying logic or facts used to piece the argument together. There are objective facts, but because we use subjective words to describe them, it is possible for denotation (implication, or literal meaning) and connotation (implicature, or what the word 'brings to mind' in the reader) to diverge from each other.

It is also a non sequitur to argue that someone cannot claim to be 'educated' (as in, formal, exam-based education) because they are rude; personality and credentials are two different things.

Now, it is true that you can often spread your message better by avoiding offensiveness. But if avoiding offensiveness requires one to be sparse with truth, it might not be worth it after all. Some people are simply upset by reality.

answered on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 05:28:41 AM by Rationalissimus of the Elenchus

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Bo Bennett, PhD
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I would sum up this exchange as follows:

Scientist: anti-vaxxers are killing people.
Anti-vaxxer: Well, you're a dick, and that's a bigger problem / also a problem.

I wouldn't say that the anti-vaxxer is suggesting that the scientist is wrong because they are rude or offensive. The main fallacy here is that the anti-vaxxer is not addressing the argument—a red herring . One can also argue for an ad hominem (abusive) , although if we go with the red herring, the abuse (suggesting the scientist is not kind and is not showing empathy) is relevant to the argument the anti-vaxxer is making.

answered on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 10:08:11 AM by Bo Bennett, PhD

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Rationalissimus of the Elenchus writes:

I wouldn't say that the anti-vaxxer is suggesting that the scientist is wrong because they are rude or offensive.

Fair point, I think what I addressed is a possible implicit assumption that the scientist's tone indicated that the conclusion they reached was incorrect. But your answer is accurate also.

posted on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 11:17:17 AM
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Dr. Richard
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The Tone Fallacy relies on style over substance. It is an ad hominem attack.

answered on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 12:02:57 PM by Dr. Richard

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