The following is based mainly on an essay by Paul Graham, a hacker who can write:
Here are the seven levels at which you can disagree with an argument, listed here from worst to best:
Level 0: Name-calling
Call the author of the argument names:
u r a fag!!!!!!!!!!
You can dress it up:
The author is a self-important dilettante.
But even if true it proves nothing about whether the argument is true or false.
Level 1: Ad hominem
Question the author’s motive, character, authority, education, etc.
For example, if a senator argues for a pay raise you might say:
Of course he would say that. He’s a senator.
But that fails to point out what is wrong with the senator’s argument. Arguments stand or fall on their own merits, not on who makes them.
That applies even to arguments made by authorities and experts. Good ideas often come…
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