Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.
Since skeptics like me love to point out logical fallacies, the woos are starting to shout out names of logical fallacies without any understanding of them. One of the fallacies most commonly abused in this manner is the ad hominem. Most people think that any insult of any sort qualifies as an ad hominem. Not true.
It's only an ad hominem if your argument relies on it. Examples: "You're just a paid pharma shill, therefore any data you use is biased!" is a real ad hominem. "You're relying on an absurd redefinition, you've taken a single data point out of context, and you're an idiot" is not an ad hominem. The last bit is entirely unnecessary, but its presence does not magically transform the previous two points into invalid arguments. And that's why it rocks.
So, when a woo abuses ad hominem in this manner, they're essentially saying, "You threw in a side insult, therefore I'll ignore your real arguments and verifiable data!"