Sunday, October 28, 2012

Word of the Day: Ad Hominem

Given the nature of Bite My Book it is important every once and while to give out advice on writing. Today's tip is something to avoid in your writing, the ad hominem attack. Ad hominem (latin for "to the person") is when you try to discredit an argument by making a personal attack against your opponent; an attack that has nothing to do with the argument at hand.

An example of this would be to accuse a supporter of Marriage Equality of being communist. Even if the claim was true, being a communist has nothing to do with the argument that everyone should have the right to get married. This is an attempt to poison the well against the argument by linking the issue to the character of the person and then destroying said persons character.

ad hominem (ad ho-mi-nem) \ad Hom-uh-num, -nem, ahd-\, adjective;

1. Appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect.

2. Marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.

Hopefully this tip will help you construct a much strong argument in your writing. Instead of making using an ad hominem, personal attack, you can now focus your attention on meat and potatoes of your opponent's argument. Make sure to point out to your friends when they making this logical fallacy, and please leave us an example of an ad hominem attack. Thank you.

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