Re: MEMES: Pigeon-holing your opponent

From: Bryan Moss (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 12:37:37 MST

Harvey Newstrom wrote:

> [...]
> I swear that for every valid disagreement I have had on this
> list, I have been attacked 10 more times for views that I
> never espoused. I don't know how to prevent this. As you
> will soon discover, in response to your question above, that
> your claims will fall on deaf ears. People will try to
> justify their representation of "your" position and will
> even argue with you about what you "really" believe!

If you carefully spell out the logic of your position and I
disagree then what other choice do I have but to think your
logic is flawed? If I think I have identified the flaws in
your logic, shouldn't I point them out? And if you deny my
allegations, aren't you just being arrogant?

> Let me know if anybody has any insights on this problem or
> knows a way out of it.

I think one major insight is: generally, both parties feel the
same way. I don't think it's a case of one person pigeon-
holing the other - it's more like argument entropy: You slowly
pigeon-hole each other until you end up arguing with yourself.
(I'll admit that, personally, I sometimes find bits and pieces
of another person's argument that I find compelling and attack
those rather than what the person is saying. So, in effect, I
end up arguing with the wrong person.)

Take your own post for example: You probably just saw an
example of an argument that reminded you of this phenomenon
and compelled you to post about the general case. However, it
could quite easily be taken as an attack on those defending
Microsoft, who, upon reading this, might think you're accusing
them of using rather underhanded debate tactics. In other
words, your own email could be seen - from one point of view -
as pigeon-holing your opponents. (For example, your first
paragraph was spent defining the tactics of "them" and by
quoting Samantha - who in turn mentions "Eugene and others" -
you have effectively defined "us".)


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