Philosophy - Do nonsense statements work
Joe Carter over at Evangelical Outpost has in interesting post on the bad logic over at Huffington Post (a leftist group blog filled with Celebrities and serious bloggers). It seems however that Joe has no need to refute the drivel that some of the bloggers there spout because Eugene Volkh (part of the Huggington post himself) has already done it.
Joe however, seems to be under the impression that it is best to just let irrational rhetoric be heard as listeners will automatically understand how foolish the stated position is. Joe explains it thus
Since the invention of democracy in ancient Greece, it has been a common practice for political opponents to shout down each other, attempting to rebut an argument by drowning out the opposing view. This is a regrettably common feature in political discourse. But not only is this method contrary to reasoned discourse and the free exchange of ideas, it's almost always ineffective. Sometimes the best way to crush an argument is simply to let its advocates present it for themselves. Instead of shouting them down, it can be more beneficial to get them a megaphone.
A perfect example can be found at The Huffington Post....After reading that paragraph you may be asking yourself, “Did a UoC law professor just equate the morality of abortion to eating pork?” The answer is “Yes, actually, you did.” That is why Stone not only needs a megaphone but deserves his own show on CNN. I can’t imagine a better advocate for the pro-life cause then to have this law professor making such absurd statements in a public forum rather than on a overhyped blog that no one will read.
All I can say is that I hope Joe is just using this as a rhetorical trick as history is replete with stupid ideas getting strong support after being heard unopposed in a major forum. One just has to look at the bad logic in most of the pro-abortionist arguments (We have to allow abortion on convenience because some women may have been raped) or even communism (People will become naturally good and altruistic if given the right environment so we should kill all those who represent bad environments) to see what a bad idea it is to expect irrational rhetoric to be a witness for the opposite side. Part of this is due to the simple fact that at least some people are easily swayed by propaganda and rhetoric.Part of this is also due to the fact that other people do not necessarily have the same presuppositions as myself or Joe. As such, they may not see a problem with the irrationality. Joe seems to assume a common ground with the viewer that I don't think it wise.
Whilst I don't advocate drowning out the opposition, I certainly don't think that providing a megaphone for an irrational view point opposed to what I believe is a great way to get support for my beliefs.