Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Doggerel #176: "Low-Hanging Fruit"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

For every woo that believes there might be people able to telekinetically move a penny, there's some genuine nutbar who thinks Egyptians built pyramids with their minds. The former is embarrassed by the latter, and that's quite understandable. They don't want to be associated with those extra-crazies, and complain whenever a skeptic deals with one of them, saying that we're just going for low-hanging fruit.

Of course, it wouldn't be woo if there was high-hanging fruit. It's always some form of fallacious thinking, lack of evidence, or similar fundamental problems. If they can address those problems, we'll readily accept it. Of course, complaining about us getting a little snarky about a particularly absurd chunk of their woo isn't going to help them out. If you want to present a good argument, present a good argument. Explain your position well and defend it with good evidence.

One similar complaint has been dubbed "The Courtier's Reply," where the religious claim that "real" religious people believe in subtler, more elaborate, more sensible things than the witch hunters and brimstone fundies. Of course, that doesn't help the lack of evidence for their deity, or erase the fallacies they employ. As with the more general sort of woo, they still need to provide good arguments and evidence, not whining.

Among conspiracy theorists, other conspiracy theorists are regarded as low-hanging fruit planted by government disinformation agencies. I've seen it with 9/11 twoofers when I care to laugh at them. Rather than substantiate their claims, they're typically content to bash their equally silly counterparts and admonish us for wasting our time on them.

It really shouldn't be necessary for me to post this entry. If you don't want to be associated with silly people, ignore them and defend your claims. If you've got a defensible theory, it won't matter.

1 comment:

King of Ferrets said...

We could have used this one a while back when I was being annoyed by that... Timothy, I think it was. He kept on saying that only idiots used the God created himself argument.

You're late! =P