Ron Rosenbaum

"A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense"

I think I’ve found the solution for the (thankfully few) who attempt to post abusive, bigoted or sadly witless comments on this blog and haven’t read my repeated posts about my comments policy.

It’s a book called %%AMAZON=13978185322 A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense%%. It’s by Normand Baillargeon, a professor at the University of Quebec and is available from Seven Stories Press, translated from the French by Andrea Schmidt.

Many would-be commenters on this and other blogs–and indeed many bloggers would profit from it. I know I have. It’s about how–and how not–to make arguments. I was particularly drawn to his “Rules of Argumentative Decorum” which I will try to use as a guide in moderating comments. Particularly Rule 4 which is the one most often violated by the abusive commenters:

Rule Four states: “You can only defend a thesis with arguments that are related to it.”

This basically rules out those who are intellectually incapable of addressing a subject without employing childish insults. Oh, I guess I need to explain “ad hominem” to these people. It means you don’t address the argument or the opinion, but instead resort to attacking the person making the argument. Usually because they are unable to mount a substantive defense of their opinion, or it’s based on factual (or general) ignorance. I suggest those whose comments aren’t posted get yourself a copy of Prof. B’s book and it will help you on an exciting voyage of self discovery.