Ad Hominem

This is post number 2 in a five part series on logical fallacies. The first one was last week and was on tu quoque. In the coming weeks, but not necessarily in succession like this one was to last week, I will explore three more logical fallacies: strawman, burden of proof, and the Texas sharpshooter.

When someone presents an argument or a point with which you disagree and instead of addressing the point you attack your opposition’s character or personal traits in order to undermine their argument, you are committing ad hominem. This is a logical fallacy.

I was able to witness ad hominem recently on a thread from a friend’s Facebook post recently. A friend cited an fact checking article from the Washington Post that showed the former president had lied on a few topics. This was followed by an attack on the character of the owner of Washington Post, suggesting that this owner hated Donald Trump and thus, the fact checking article couldn’t be trusted.

Regardless of whether or not there is any merit in the owner’s hate toward Donald Trump, the logical fallacy is in the implication that this somehow hinders the article writer (who works for the owner) from her journalistic integrity and ability to fact check a claim.

Again, I find it best to walk away from this type of fallacy. It will do no good either to point out the fallacy to the individual, nor to continue engaging in argument.

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