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← Two equally bad fallacies

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by Jos Gibbons

Starcrash, you remind me of another little-discussed fallacy I hate, that of assuming that bias is even relevant in a debate. I don't think it is. Either a person's arguments are irrefutable, in which case you must accept their conclusions, or they're not, in which case they may as well have never been made. If you don't know whether it's irrefutable or not you should do some digging round, rather than acting as if the argument's irrefutability is demonstrated by your own ignorance. That was a large point of my earlier comment on this thread. But I've never once seen something I'd call "biased" against my views that didn't turn out to have a real reason it was wrong anyway. I prefer to limit discussions to those.

Incidentally, I've heard French journalists have a different technique regarding bias from that of their American or British counterparts, which is to admit their bias up-front - essentially, it's a stance they hold - then spend the rest of their time making the case for that stance. Admittedly this could easily go into the "rhetoric before validity" style of debate teams (which is why I would never join such activities), but I think in principle that approach is better than the "don't admit a bias, convincingly pretend you don't, but trick people into taking on your biases in subtle ways they don't notice" techniques used elsewhere. (English classes are fascinating for showing you how it's done. Every irrelevant "mother/father of N" or "person, [aged] K" comment really is up to something sinister.) I also don't know how true this "that's how French journalists do it" claim is (maybe someone else here does?), but it's a fascinating idea.

Tue, 31 Jan 2012 07:09:18 UTC | #912965