Thursday, March 16, 2017

I had the Matt Dillahunty experience

Who's Matt Dillahunty?  A skeptic/atheist/secular/whatever who can barely write, think, or speak, yet who considers himself a great debater.  Hate to be so rude about it, but he was rude to me, so, nyah.

My encounter with Matt lasted a fraction of a second--just long enough for him to access his app, or whatever you do with apps.  (Seriously--I don't know.)  Activate it, whatever.

At Youtube, he has a video in which he blathers about ontological arguments from philosophy. We'll start with the verdict of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on ontological arguments:

"Critiques of ontological arguments begin with Gaunilo, a contemporary of St. Anselm. Perhaps the best known criticisms of ontological arguments are due to Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason. Most famously, Kant claims that ontological arguments are vitiated by their reliance upon the implicit assumption that “existence” is a predicate. However, as Bertrand Russell observed, it is much easier to be persuaded that ontological arguments are no good than it is to say exactly what is wrong with them. This helps to explain why ontological arguments have fascinated philosophers for almost a thousand years."

Yeah, well, Matt is hardly fascinated by them.  Then again, Matt's not a philosopher.  I don't know what he is, actually, since his Wikipedia entry (you have to be pretty important to have one of them) doesn't so much as mention a high school diploma, let alone a degree in anything.  And, since I'm being a dick in the best cyber-atheist tradition (why should they have all the fun?), let me direct you to a pathetic piece of writing by Matt.  I, and a lot of other folks I can name, sounded more intelligent in sixth grade.

So, after watching Matt behave like an expert on everything (an especially pretentious expert on everything, at that) in his YouTube video, I commented, sarcastically asking what qualifies him to take on geniuses like Rene Descartes, especially after he assured us  he wasn't going to take on the great thinkers.  Saying you're not going to do something, then proceeding to do it, is one of cyber-atheism's special perks.  It's slick sleight of hand, by their standards.  By anyone else's, it's clunky and presumptuous and less than smart.

Matt's response popped up before I could count to three:

"Favoring ad hominems with appeals to authority instead of a substantive response or any attempt at an actual argument. It's nice when you make yourself so irrelevant, so quickly. Surely you're an amazing thinker. Keep it up, you're doing great!" (Matt)

More Matt-level punctuation, there.  ("Favoring ad hominems?"  WTF?  Maybe he meant "flavoring"?)  Ooooo.  Matt owned me!  Oooo, I am so owned.

So, here's the thing, and I think I've mentioned this before.  Cyber-atheists act like every exchange in the world is a debate in progress, and that's what Matt is doing here--a textbook example.  Dig the "any attempt at an actual argument" criticism.  Yo, Matt, I'm not making an argument--I'M ASKING A QUESTION.  Namely, who is Matt to take on some of the greatest thinkers in human history, especially after he promised not to?  That's an appeal to authority?  An ad hominem fallacy?  Uhh, no.

Here are my exact words:

"Descartes vs. Dillahunty. Wow. The Father of Modern Philosophy vs. a guy with no degree listed on his Wikipedia page. Gosh, Rene, you've met your match. I'd ask if Matt has ever considered becoming a comic, but clearly he's one already." (Me.)

Rude? Absolutely. An ad hominem fallacy? No way. I'm not making an argument; I'm making an observation. Did I say, "You're wrong because you have no degree listed on your Wikipedia page?" Nope. I did, like a good skeptic, question the probability that someone without a degree has the expertise necessary in the area of philosophy to tell Rene Descartes where to get off. Looking critically at someone's creds is RULE NUMBER ONE OF BEING A SKEPTIC.

I took no position on ontological arguments, except that they must be pretty damned brilliant to still rate as a topic after ten centuries. I think that's a reasonable conclusion, don't you? But I neither agree nor disagree with the arguments. (Philosophy goes beyond the realm of Agree/Somewhat Agree/Maybe/Slightly Disagree/Strongly Disagree.) But Matt's a psychic, I guess--he knows what I think. Glad someone does.

Anyway, let's say I declare Einstein's theories--all of them--to be malarkey. Someone's bound to ask me how I'm qualified to do so. If I say, "Hey, wait--that's appeal to authority. No fair," will anyone have any reason whatsoever to take me seriously?

So, I have no obligation to take Matt seriously. Do I have a right to call him out? Yes. And I just did.


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