Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reasoning by Ad Hominem

Scott Johnson recalls a university lecture given by a National Socialist:
George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party who was assassinated by a former follower in 1967. ....I saw Rockwell speak in 1965 or 1966.... He drew a large crowd that packed the house of the University of Minnesota auditorium where I saw him speak. As I recall, he gave a stemwinder followed by a long question and answer period.

One of the students asked him a critical question regarding Hitler's actions, citing William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I vividly recall that Rockwell dismissed the question with the answer: "Shirer is a Jew."

This is an ad hominem argument: attacking a person while failing to respond to what that person said. It obviously is useful to provide emotional comfort and certainty to those whose views cannot withstand logical analysis.

Incidentally, Rockwell as wrong about Shirer's religion.

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