The rhetorician spends more time invested in Nelsonian ‘not understanding’, clouding with non-sequitur, and shifting the topic at hand to ‘you’, than they do actually studying the subject.
Structurally, these are all actual garbage arguments which I face each day on Twitter.
Rhetty: “Your contention is conspiracy theory babble, and purposely confusing. I am trying to understand it, but cannot. Can you re-state it in English please.”
TES: “2 + 2 = 4”
Rhetty: “Your words are purposely confusing. Your graph is nonsense and babble. If you cannot put this in everyday English, then you do not understand it.”
TES: “OK, if I take two of something, and add two more of that same something to the set, then I have four of that something in the final set.”
Rhetty: “You are purposely using overly complex words to confuse. You must be hiding an agenda. ‘Something’ of what? Beans, balls, pencils? The term ‘set’ only means something to you. The word means to ‘put something down onto a surface.'”
TES: “Set of anything. What ‘something’ is, is not material to the argument at hand. ‘Set’ is the correct term here.”
Rhetty: “Of course it is material. Why didn’t you label what ‘something’ was? And of course you, as always, failed to cite your recitation source. Plus you flowed your math to the right, when you should have had it flow downwards and put a line under the second ‘2’. And then you did not label the number 2 with the word ‘two’ on your graph, so that we could know what it was. By being enigmatic with your words you are being purposely deceptive.”
TES: “It is not a ‘graph’, it is a chart. I’m not in high school. There is no single ‘recitation source’ – this is a derivation of my own work, through standard math practice. Math is only required to flow ‘down to a bottom line’ in accounting and the third grade. We are at the Bridgman Point here, this cannot be simplified any lower.
Rhetty: “None of the axes are even labeled. What is the x-axis? Is it time? And there is no zero on it. Are you claiming that zero does not exist? What is the y-axis? Without these things the graph is totally nonsense.”
TES: “The entire description of the chart is in the title “Adding 2 (two) and 2 (two) to get 4 (four) – How to Add Numbers Along an X-Axis”. Did you even read it? No, the x-axis is the counting numbers. That is where the math occurs. Zero was just unnecessary on this simple a chart. There is no y-axis. Again, this is a chart, and not a graph.
Nevertheless, why don’t we do this. Why don’t you explain the equation back to me, in your own words. Just to see if we are talking about the same thing.”
Rhetty: “I can’t repeat back babble. These made up words only mean something to you. Plus you didn’t label the x-axis. Where do I even find it?”
TES: “No, the replies indicate that over 100 people understood the entire chart, and responded to it by asking the logical next question. Perhaps you should actually read down in the thread where I answered intelligent and honest questions about the chart. That might help.”
Rhetty: “You did not explain (every single thing about) this chart (and its implications in one single 280-character tweet). I don’t need to read further because I stopped at ‘no y-axis’ and said ‘this is bullshit’ (and because stopping with one tweet was advantageous to my argument, because my argument gets stronger the less information I have).
Anyway, here are my questions, which you abjectly refuse to even answer. There is no proof that 2, even multiple 2’s, is actually 4. And your use of confusing graphs and fancy diagrams no one can interpret shows that you are trying to spin conspiracy theory.”
TES: “So now we are shifting into refutation and delivery? I thought you said that you did not understand it?”
Rhetty: “I understand that this supposed math is an assumption on your part.”
TES: “No it isn’t. It is based upon well-vetted tenets of maths, numerals and addition. 2 + 2 = 4. It is inference, not assumption.”
Rhetty: “‘Well-vetted’ bunk. You made the claim. You have the burden of proof. Prove it.”
TES: “2 added to another 2, is 4.”
Rhetty: “I need a peer reviewed study with a retrospective meta-synthesis, a meta-cohort analysis, and a confident interval with lots of Cochrane p-values, forest plops, and such – or you are full of shit.”
TES: “OK, the primary, but not only, resource I used for my work is at the link here. The work is mostly deduction and merely one calculation, so it does not require any of those trappings. In fact, knowing when you don’t need these things is a measure of competency… hint, hint.”
Rhetty: “Well someone is wearing the tin-foil hat now. That’s old and debunked information. Everyone knows that JoHaG is no longer a credible scientific journal (since it published something I did not like). Scientists have raised doubt about this ‘extra twos’ business and the consensus is that it’s a conspiracy theory.”
TES: “‘Scientists’, have not even spoken with you. You don’t know what they think. Can you falsify the mathematical formula? …and do you even understand it?”
Rhetty: “Here, I used multiple 2’s in a graph I drew and came up with 8 as the outcome. This is proof you are wrong. Another time I came up with 14. So, you have no basis to say that multiple 2’s result in only 4. That is stupid.”
TES: “Two ‘2’s’, not ‘multiple 2’s.”
Rhetty: “You are cherry picking.”
TES: “No I am not, the whole context of the argument is one specific circumstance to begin with. I am not cherry picking through a murder’s life by citing the days in which they did the murders. Besides, it would be special pleading, not ‘cherry picking’.”
Rhetty: “You are ignoring the entire realm of possibilities. You have not considered all the options. It could be 16, or 6 or 12.”
TES: “This is deduction, not induction. All the possibilities are already falsified, by the equation itself.”
Rhetty: “Show me the peer reviewed studies which falsify that a multiple set of twos can end in any even number. And there are an infinity of them, so the odds of the answer being just ‘4’ are very low.”
TES: “I don’t have to, because ‘other even numbers’ are not salient to the argument to begin with.”
Rhetty: “Look in the graph I produced (crayon drawing), most every combination of multiple 2’s ends in something other than 4. Therefore, 4 is merely an assumption and bias on your part.”
TES: “It is not an assumption, it is an inference. And your ‘analysis’ is orthogonal to my argument.”
Rhetty: “You claim that multiple 2’s are 4, and are avoiding my questions through lots of hand waving.”
TES: “That is a straw man. Why do you insist that I defend your made up version of my chart? I have sincerely answered every single question you have asked so far.
Tell you what, what is your argument then?”
Rhetty: “That you are ignorant and imbecilic, for missing that multiple ‘2’s’ can end up in multiple outcomes besides 4, and for avoiding my questions about bullshit graphs. Only a complete idiot thinks in conspiracy theories – and you are the biggest idiot I have seen lately.”
TES: “So your argument is that I am an ‘imbecilic idiot’? And ‘2 + 2 = 4’ being wrong, was merely your working example of that argument then?
Rhetty: “You are a working example of a conspiracy freak. Imbecile.”
TES: “OK, let’s sum up. You lied when you said that you needed this ‘stated in English’ and that you had ‘Questions’ – then you went personal. Maliciousness and dishonesty are not a great way to start a dialogue which is supposed to be about maths. Rather ironic in fact. This discussion is ended.”
Rhetty: “A block, of course! I triggered him! He refuses to answer my questions despite my repeated asking!”
The Ethical Skeptic, “A Dialogue in Rhetoric”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 14 Dec 2021; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=58559