1432: "The Sake of Argument"

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1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby Freiberg » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:19 am UTC

Image

Alt Text: " 'It's not actually ... it's a DEVICE for EXPLORING a PLAUSIBLE REALITY that's not the one we're in, to gain a broader understanding about it.' 'Oh, like a boat!' '...' 'Just for the sake of argument, we should get a boat! You can invite the Devil, too, if you want.' "

I always figured that "for the sake of argument" meant roughly "for the sake of the argument you're going to have with somebody else and will be unprepared for unless you practice with me". I didn't realize it had anything to do with the argument you're having now.

just adding quotes to the title - Angua

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Envelope Generator » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:21 am UTC

You may think it's ponytail girl but it's in fact WHG in a tight-fitting beaver hat.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby rhomboidal » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:31 am UTC

But to be fair, "for the sake of argument" sounds so much better than "for the sake of stupid."

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby HES » Fri Oct 10, 2014 4:34 am UTC

I thought it was "I'm going to introduce this point, in order to illustrate the argument we're currently having. You may disagree with the specifics of the point but that doesn't matter because its the other point we're arguing about"

For example:

A- There are 4000 drivers on the tube. Introducing driverless trains will lay-off 4000 people.
B- But there are only 3000!

A- For the sake of argument, there are 4000 drivers on the tube. Introducing driverless trains will lay-off 4000 people.
B- Not necessarily, they can take on other roles within the company.


But that may be my fundamental misunderstanding of the phrase.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Mikeski » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:05 am UTC

No, it's due to a seventeenth-century Russian philosopher, who said all useful communication is confrontational. Vladimir Seikov. We've just started misusing it; the same way people who say "for all intensive purposes" and "it's a mute point" do.

It's actually... "for the Seikov argument".
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:06 am UTC

For the sake of argument, I agree with all of you 100%, in this thread only.

Also, song lyrics:
"For the sake of argument /Say Jerry Springer were the president"
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby jano » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:12 am UTC

So "the sake of argument" is not the sake used in the argument?
On the other hand, the Devil's advocate is a lawyer that argues against the canonization (sainthood) of a candidate, therefore opposing God's advocate.
Spoiler:

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby bachaddict » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:32 am UTC

Considering the threads of the previous two comics, I feel like Randall could have been visiting the forum before writing this.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby da Doctah » Fri Oct 10, 2014 5:45 am UTC

HES wrote:A- There are 4000 drivers on the tube. Introducing driverless trains will lay-off 4000 people.
B- But there are only 3000!



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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby JimsMaher » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:11 am UTC

Hypothetically, let's say that "for the sake of argument" is an implicature reminding the interlocutors of the virtues of debate. Invoking the divine powers of disagreement, much in the manner of casting a spell or reciting a prayer to lesser gods, allows all parties to all-at-once be able to discuss things that they don't necessarily accept. Hypothetically speaking of course, but in reality that's all bullshit, as it's much more like conducting a mad science experiment. There's no need to summon demons into the conversation.

Here are some demons to help further conversation:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_(thought_experiment)



^note to admin: the auto-link truncates the close-parenthesis from the address, have to add the URL tags ... manually^
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Siankir » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:15 am UTC

Envelope Generator wrote:You may think it's ponytail girl but it's in fact WHG in a tight-fitting beaver hat.


When I checked the forum page for this comic, I was specifically looking for a post saying this.

Has any member done a check on the number of WHG comics and other strawman comics to see when this trend started? It feels like it began very recently, as in after I first started following the comic, but that could be personal perception.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Vanzetti » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:19 am UTC

Is it just me, or is Randall starting to exhibit the symptoms of the SJW-plague? I don't want XKCD to go in the direction of Sinfest...

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby thearbiter » Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:52 am UTC

Ugh - I really don't agree with the sentiment behind this comic. Debate can be as much as a hobby as golf or Skyrim or whatever the cool kids are getting up to nowadays, and if the person you are with knows that you are engaging in debate for the intellectual fun of the thing there is no problem. "For the sake of argument" is a good way to probe the other person's views without giving off the false impression that you actually disagree with the other person or hold the viewpoint that your line of questioning might suggest.

It is perfectly legitimate to challenge someone's views even if you agree with them. This is a huge part of academia *and* scientific research and I'm completely astounded that Randall would rubbish it. Would he prefer a rephrasing?: "What would you say if someone disagreed and thought that..."

xkcd is so influential and now this comic is going to be posted on discussion boards all over the world by people who don't want their views challenged. Sorry - I hate it.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby RAGBRAIvet » Fri Oct 10, 2014 8:05 am UTC

Another phrase we could do without is "It goes without saying".
So then why are you saying it?

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby eidako » Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:11 am UTC

There actually are some good points in favor of the Devil.

(This thread will now devolve into the oldest flame war known to the Internet. I did it for the sake of argument.)

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby Klear » Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:39 am UTC

RAGBRAIvet wrote:Another phrase we could do without is "It goes without saying".
So then why are you saying it?


That goes without saying, really.

Also, there's a "the"? I thought the phrase was used for intimidation in the middle of a converstaion:

"Forsake the argument!"

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby orthogon » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:01 am UTC

I'm not sure what the point of this one is, for the reasons set out by thearbiter. Assuming something for the sake of argument and playing devil's advocate are useful techniques in debate or discussion.

However, the word sake is interesting. It's bothered me for a while that I would have difficulty defining what exactly the word itself means in isolation, but this spurred me to look it up. It turns out that all the senses are obsolete, the word surviving only as part of the phrase "for the sake of X" or "for X's sake". It's thought to have derived from a sense that meant "lawsuit" or "cause". So I suppose it means something like the "interests" or "benefit", except that "sake" appears to be something more important than mere interests; the implication is that neglecting somebody's sake puts their very wellbeing in peril. (Maybe "wellbeing" is a better synonym, but that doesn't really work when the sake's owner is an argument).

Of course, much more of this and sake is going to totally stop sounding like a real word.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby da Doctah » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:16 am UTC

orthogon wrote:Of course, much more of this and sake is going to totally stop sounding like a real word.


You need to relax and chill out with some hot rice wine served in a square cedar cup.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby armandoalvarez » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:20 am UTC

Perhaps this is why lawyers developed the phrase "assuming arguendo"-to confuse people with Latin and prevent this kind of discussion.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby JeromeWest » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:21 am UTC

thearbiter wrote:Ugh - I really don't agree with the sentiment behind this comic.


Imagine the guy on the right has just taken his black hat off for a minute, and the comic becomes far more palatable.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:27 am UTC

I always took it to mean "for the sake of avoiding argument" when you're laying out your premise.

ie, you're tring to make a point about something else, someone keeps picking at your premise, so you say "for the "

"OK, so you've got a 2000kg hippo-" "I don't think hippos get quite that big" "for the sake of argument lets just say you've got a 2000kg hippo"


ie: "the thing you're picking at isn't central to my main point, for the sake of avoiding argument about details just take this as a premise and you can decide later if it really affects my point"
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Carteeg_Struve » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:45 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:the same way people who say "for all intensive purposes" and "it's a mute point" do.


Who says "for all intensive purposes"? Isn't it "for all intents and purposes"?

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:49 am UTC

Vanzetti wrote:Is it just me, or is Randall starting to exhibit the symptoms of the SJW-plague? I don't want XKCD to go in the direction of Sinfest...
Yeah, because if there's one thing plaguing the Internet these days, it's definitely a desire for too much justice.

Like, do you not get how much it sounds like you're setting yourself up as some kind of comic-book villain? When you start referring to a group of people as literal Warriors for Justice and then you oppose that group?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby orthogon » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:50 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:I always took it to mean "for the sake of avoiding argument" when you're laying out your premise.

I thought of it more as "for the sake of continuing the argument" rather than avoiding it, the problem being that if you can't agree on some point of fact then you can't make any further progress.
HungryHobo wrote:ie, you're tring to make a point about something else, someone keeps picking at your premise, so you say "for the "

"OK, so you've got a 2000kg hippo-" "I don't think hippos get quite that big" "for the sake of argument lets just say you've got a 2000kg hippo"


ie: "the thing you're picking at isn't central to my main point, for the sake of avoiding argument about details just take this as a premise and you can decide later if it really affects my point"


Or the other way: if it doesn't affect your main argument, you might even temporarily concede the point, as in "ok, for the sake of argument let's say it's a 1000kg hippo", without prejudicing your right to come back to it later once you've had a chance to check the Internet and discover that older males can reach 3200kg.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby cellocgw » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:01 pm UTC

Wow, this far and I'm the first to wonder how they managed to find the Argument Room without first blundering into the Contradiction Room?
(for the sake of argument :twisted: we'll assume they didn't get waylaid in the Insults Room)




Carteeg_Struve wrote:
Mikeski wrote:the same way people who say "for all intensive purposes" and "it's a mute point" do.


Who says "for all intensive purposes"? Isn't it "for all intents and purposes"?

Well, duh, Captain Obvious Grammar! Do you really not know the difference between 'mute' and 'moot' ? Tho' by now that may be a m[a-z]{3} point.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Klear » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:02 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Vanzetti wrote:Is it just me, or is Randall starting to exhibit the symptoms of the SJW-plague? I don't want XKCD to go in the direction of Sinfest...
Yeah, because if there's one thing plaguing the Internet these days, it's definitely a desire for too much justice.

Like, do you not get how much it sounds like you're setting yourself up as some kind of comic-book villain? When you start referring to a group of people as literal Warriors for Justice and then you oppose that group?


I had to look up what this is about, but aren't you overlooking a heap of irony in that name?

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby wolfticket » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:19 pm UTC

It feels like the alt-text would normally be the punchline.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:23 pm UTC

I get that anti-SJ whiners intend for it to be ironic, but from observation it rings pretty true that what they really want is the ability to keep being assholes. When reactions to "meanieheads gone too far" include JonTron moaning because he was asked not to use "retarded" as a synonym for "shitty", or lots of white people whining that all the meanieheads want to make Mike Brown's murder about race as though that's some kind of unjustified leap, it's clear that what people actually want is for no one to call them out on their bullshit.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby Kit. » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:23 pm UTC

Why is Cueball against Reductio ad absurdum?

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the square root of 2 is rational...

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:25 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Vanzetti wrote:Is it just me, or is Randall starting to exhibit the symptoms of the SJW-plague? I don't want XKCD to go in the direction of Sinfest...
Yeah, because if there's one thing plaguing the Internet these days, it's definitely a desire for too much justice.

Like, do you not get how much it sounds like you're setting yourself up as some kind of comic-book villain? When you start referring to a group of people as literal Warriors for Justice and then you oppose that group?


Names mean little. Lots of terrible actions are done by groups or movements with good-sounding names.

Leaving aside the question of if Randall is this, for the moment...yes, there is such is such a thing. Desire is a motivation that needs to be balanced.

After all, if someone's desire for justice results in them taking up the life of a vigilante in real life, well...maybe that's not such a great idea. In a comic book, it makes for a great story, but vigilantism in real life has significant dangers. Desire for wealth isn't inherently bad, either, but it doesn't excuse all possible actions taken in pursuit of that goal.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument

Postby Kit. » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:35 pm UTC

Vanzetti wrote:Is it just me, or is Randall starting to exhibit the symptoms of the SJW-plague?

Social Justice???

Am I missing some context for this comic?

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby Burton » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:42 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
Vanzetti wrote:Is it just me, or is Randall starting to exhibit the symptoms of the SJW-plague?

Social Justice???

Am I missing some context for this comic?


I think a lot of people are interpreting the comic as Randall saying that using "for the sake of argument" is somehow bad, rather than just the guy on the right having fun and annoying ponytail girl. I for one found the comic very funny. My favourite one in a while.

EDIT: And going by the title text, it looks like the guy on the right really is just being intentionally pedantic and having fun. Ponytail girl tries to explain that she is just trying to get him to better understand her position, while he uses that to start talking about boats. I don't think the author is trying to say anything about using "for the sake of argument" (not to mention that taking "devil's advocate" literally is quite obviously absurd).
Last edited by Burton on Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:48 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby RandomMarius » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:43 pm UTC

This:
Freiberg wrote:Alt Text: " 'It's not actually ... it's a DEVICE for EXPLORING a PLAUSIBLE REALITY that's not the one we're in, to gain a broader understanding about it.' 'Oh, like a boat!' '...' 'Just for the sake of argument, we should get a boat! You can invite the Devil, too, if you want.' "


Reminds me of:
Tom Stoppard wrote:Guildenstern: You can't not-be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I've frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no, no--what you've been is not on boats.


See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosencrantz_and_Guildenstern_Are_Dead#Synopsis

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:48 pm UTC

It's possibly tied to the fact that "meanieheads" occasionally point out that "playing devil's advocate" is often used as an excuse for espousing shitty irrelevant pointss in order to derail a discussion that needs to be had.

Like

meaniehead: We need to stop victim blaming people who were raped while unconscious.
Anti-SJW: Look, just playing Devil's advocate here, but for the sake of argument what if someone has previously told their partner that they think it would be sexy to be fucked while unconscious?

That, or Vanzetti didn't know what thread he was in. (I initially responded thinking it was the marriage discussion, for instance. And while it's not terribly on-topic there, either, several other people have already set a precedent by complaining that Randall is shoving his politics down our throat and alienating homophobes or whateverthefuck.)
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:06 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I get that anti-SJ whiners intend for it to be ironic, but from observation it rings pretty true that what they really want is the ability to keep being assholes. When reactions to "meanieheads gone too far" include JonTron moaning because he was asked not to use "retarded" as a synonym for "shitty", or lots of white people whining that all the meanieheads want to make Mike Brown's murder about race as though that's some kind of unjustified leap, it's clear that what people actually want is for no one to call them out on their bullshit.


As with all groups, you can categorise the sets of beliefs which members hold into things which are Obviously Reasonable, Currently Controversial and Obviously Unreasonable.

When their group is criticised people, like yourself above, try to imply that their group is only about the Obviously Reasonable things.
The people who oppose them of course, will also have sets of beliefs which can be categorised into Obviously Reasonable, Currently Controversial and Obviously Unreasonable.
In order to discredit the other group, you of course try to imply that they're all about the Obviously Unreasonable things.

http://squid314.livejournal.com/326267. ... ad=2549371

What exactly what is meant by "straw men" in this context? Does it mean a belief which literally no one holds? Probably not. There are few beliefs so horrible that someone somewhere has not held them, and horrible beliefs vaguely related to feminism are no exception. There really are a tiny minority of people who say All Men Are Rapists. There really are a tiny minority people who believe Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was pro-violence and phallocentric. There really are a tiny minority of people, I hope to God a minority of one, who will listen carefully and politely as you explain that some men can also sometimes be victims of domestic violence, then kill your dog in retaliation for departing from the party line.

But these people are, indeed, a tiny minority. So by a charitable interpretation, Straw Feminism is the unfair and politically motivated tendency to hold up fringe beliefs as representative of the feminist movement. Such beliefs are either very rare, or at least held by a handful of people but definitely repudiated by the average feminist. Therefore, when people bring these up as an argument against mainstream feminism, they're doing it as a sneaky trick in order to discredit it, even though the beliefs mainstream feminists actually hold may be valid.

Frequent readers of this blog will recognize this as The Worst Argument In The World, ie that we must treat all instances of an artificial category the same way based on some archetypal case even when in fact they are obviously different. If you haven't read that article yet, you probably should, since the rest of this post will make very little sense without it. But basically, the opponents of feminism are trying to make the archetypal case of feminism something horrible like "all men are rapists". If they succeed, they can WAitW feminism by tarring any reasonable feminist proposal with "But that's feminism, and we already know feminism is horrible!"


"meaniehead" tends to be used to refer to the fringe nutters of the more reasonable Social justice movements. Look at "Stormfront or meaniehead" for particularly bad examples. (where people post excerpts from rants with keywords removed and people try to guess whether the person was a meaniehead shouting that all cis-hetero-male scum should be rounded up into camps and killed or a stormfronter saying the same thing about brown people)

The fringe nutters in all groups can end up looking very similar to each other.

So be charitable, when someone uses the term "meaniehead", rather than assuming they're referring to the person who just thinks women should have rights, assume they're talking about people like the fringe nutters who can be seen here working hard to make a religious, male, feminist, sexual abuse survivor, veteran suicidal for the sin of saying that "Jesus would have been pro-feminist."

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby thevicente » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:24 pm UTC

It seems Randall lost an argument recently and was pissed

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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:36 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:So be charitable, when someone uses the term "meaniehead", rather than assuming they're referring to the person who just thinks women should have rights, assume they're talking about people like the fringe nutters who can be seen here working hard to make a religious, male, feminist, sexual abuse survivor, veteran suicidal for the sin of saying that "Jesus would have been pro-feminist."
So you're saying I should assume Vanzetti was suggesting Randall believes we should round up all cishet white dudes (of which he is one, btw)? And you're saying that interpretation would be charitable?

I think there are at least a few words there that you aren't using the same way as anyone else I've ever tried to communicate with.
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Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby Invertin » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:39 pm UTC

Okay first of all let's put our wild accusations and assumptions down and realize that Randall is making a joke and is not trying to tell people that arguments aren't being done correctly. NOR is he suddenly advocating crazy people.

To be clear the only people who actually use the term Social Justice Warrior and are totally serious about it are the crazy sorts.

Warrior implies martial might but also a sense of freedom or a lack of discipline. So basically the phrase has nothing to do with advocating social justice by it's own definition and is an attempt by the meanieheads to feel like heroes, because warriors is a heroic thing to be, where Advocate or Supporter or Ally are all non-combatative phrases that aren't interesting or 'cool' or even slightly odd.

Warrior? Are you fighting a battle? No, most Social Justice Warriors are not fighting a battle, they are sitting on the computer, whining about how they were offended because someone didn't use the proper invented pronoun of 'xhiar' for their personal madeup special snowflake gender without actually telling anyone that Xhiar is the pronoun they prefer until AFTER they are allowed to be offended by the muggles getting it wrong.

I'm not against actual social justice. But the people who call themselves Warriors take the definition of 'lack of discipline' and 'violence' and apply it thoroughly in their behaivour by latching onto the idea that anything normal is inherently tyrannical and evil and must be destroyed via constant, unending harassment. The only thing that meanieheads actually do in regards to social justice is become a strawman for actual anti-social justice people to show around as an example of how crazy and unreasonable social justice is, by forcing themselves into the group of people who actually do good for equality by giving themselves this label, they are making every supporter of equality look like a crazy person.

Even Social Justice is kind of a silly term, like the title of an educational comic. By labeling themelves as social JUSTICE WARRIORS it's like they're trying to say "we're basically superheroes". Being an advocate for equality shouldn't be about wanting to be a hero or about wanting to look cool or wanting to be 'different' and unique it should be about being a decent person and meanieheads simply do not understand that.

Now that the ASIDE is out of the way, let's just enjoy a comic where stickmen make fun of eachother. This forum sometimes...

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:44 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:So you're saying I should assume Vanzetti was suggesting Randall believes we should round up all cishet white dudes (of which he is one, btw)? And you're saying that interpretation would be charitable?

I think there are at least a few words there that you aren't using the same way as anyone else I've ever tried to communicate with.


There also happens to be a subculture around such fringe groups which uses specific patterns of rhetoric.

Styles of argument used to shut down any possibility of disagreement that look a lot like in the comic.

I took it as him saying that Randal was starting to talk like some of them. (though I don't agree randal is, plus, it's a joke) Not that he was one.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

ctdonath
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:40 pm UTC

Re: 1432: "The Sake of Argument"

Postby ctdonath » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:52 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:if it doesn't affect your main argument, you might even temporarily concede the point


It's a rhetorical tool for really destroying someone else's contention, amounting to "even if you're right about X (which methinks you're not), your point is still wrong because of Y." It's a way to deal with a point the other person won't concede, so you set it aside so you can get on to something else to win the argument on.


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