Why Bad Arguments Are So Persuasive

"Sixteenth-century scholar Richard Hooker saw this problem unfold in his time over a question of governance for the Church of England. In his work, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Hooker explains the kinds of arguments made by his contemporaries in this debate, while shedding light on why bad arguments manage to persuade large numbers of people." - Intellectual Takeout

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Aaron Blumer's picture


I'm not persuaded that these arguments persuade at all. What they do, at best, is provide people who have already decided with rationalizations for their view. They're rationalizations because the person using them doesn't really care to know or think through the options. They aren't interested in reflection, much less debate (in the sense of a focused exchange and examination of supporting arguments). They've already decided -- for reasons independent of supporting facts and reasoning... and cherry picked "facts" and sloppy "proof" are just weapons for the shouting match.

It would be refreshingly honest if more people just said "I just feel like A is true and you're wrong, and I'm not interesting in thinking about it." ... and recognize that there is nothing at all persuasive about that.

Persuasion happens when someone who is thinking encounters reasons to change his mind, considers those reasons, sees their merits, and changes his mind.