Friday, January 18, 2013

The Argument from Passive-Aggression

  • I will be using this recent conversation to highlight what I would call the "Argument from Passive Aggression." It is a common technique, while it is easy to deconstruct analytically... it is a serious issue psychologically and socially to deal with.  The one-two punch of arguing from popularity, authority, and finally ignorance can turn a crowd against you and is very effective at making YOU look like the asshole.

     If a person gives you the "passive aggressive" technique, and you also care about the person, then STOP THE DEBATE IMMEDIATELY. 


    Let's just discuss one topic at a time so we're on the same page.
    I skimmed the Gaede article from Aperion. I found some introductory facts, but its an article making arguments of semantics of words, while making sweeping generalizations in the realms of physics and presumably inept physicists.
    Here is an adequate definition of object:
    I recommend looking at the definitions of mass and matter for a deeper understanding.
    I'm confused on the issue of turning concepts into acting objects.
    Are you talking about physical objects or objects that do something or something else?
    Forces and fields are not physical objects, but are representations of the interactions of objects being discussed. For instance, you push a book on a table. As a result, the book moves. There is a equilibrium of forces. From the 3rd Newtonian Law, we know that you apply a force F on the book, and the book does the same in equal magnitude of opposite direction. (not really, but let's disregard friction)
    The force does no work. However, the amount of work (W = Fxd) is determined by the force applied by you. The force is not the acting object. You are.

    [V started the debate out honest enough. He had no qualms with openly copy+pasting the wikipedia definition instead of reasoning his own... he also had no problem identifying ineptitude  which is very important!

     However, he also admitted that abstract concepts like "forces" are not acting objects in reality. A great step.  However, upon further research into the Wikipedia article he provided, I found that the definition he provided was not rational...]
    • Mike Huttner

      I agree, so let's first agree upon a definition of object. The definition you provided is irrational.
      From wiki: "In physics, a physical body or physical object (sometimes simply called a body or object) is a collection of masses,"
      If you define mass as "quantity of matter (syn. object)" then the definition is circular. Saying that an object is a collection of objects obviously does not define the term object.
      However, if you define mass as the dynamic concept of "inertia" then you are invoking a moving object, which is equally circular and irrational, providing no definition of the term object.
      "I'm confused on the issue of turning concepts into acting objects.
      Are you talking about physical objects or objects that do something or something else?"
      First of all, physical, entity, medium, body, ect are all synonymous with object, and I only use the term for one meaning: that which has shape.
      And what I mean is using abstract concepts as objects. Such as when you say that an object is a "collection of masses", you are subtly performing a verb (to collect) upon a concept (mass- quantity of matter).
      The difference b/t concepts and objects is clear: it is the difference between love and a heart. Objects have shape, concepts are relations b/t two or more objects... objects are visualized, concepts are understood.
      "Forces and fields are not physical objects, but are representations of the interactions of objects being discussed."
      Precisely my problem with them being called "Theories". A theory is an explanation. When Feynman says "a magnetic force *holds* the magnets together" he is telling you that an abstract concept is reaching out and physically grabbing onto an object in reality!
      If you disagree and think that forces can perform verbs such as "to hold" then please show me a picture of "a" force.
      "However, the amount of work (W = Fxd) is determined by the force applied by you. The force is not the acting object. You are."
      If a person pushes a book, then there is surface to surface contact and I can understand how the book was moved, what I cannot understand is how to apply "a" force. On one hand you say that I am acting on the object, but then you say that I am applying "a" force to the object. This is the equivocation I am talking about. In physics, force is a verb.
      • Thursday
      • V:

        I don't consider myself qualified to answer these questions. However, to give you another perspective, I recommend you watch this video by prof Kaku.

        [Now THIS was a frustrating reply.  Can you imagine? After writing up such an essay I got nothing but a damned MICHIO KAKU video linked back in return?

        Why is it that only AFTER I refute his definition he feels "unqualified" to discuss matters of physics?  What changed? He MUST HAVE thought he was competent enough to understand physics before because he advanced a definition for object in his first message.  Did he feel he was able to discern rational from irrational before, but no longer?

        But he is not backing down! He won't even admit the SLIGHTEST of doubts about his previous "understanding". This is a feigned death of the argument where HE wants to slip in the last word with his Michio Kaku "perspective".  He can't even define the meaning of the word "thing"     (syn. object) yet he wants to think he can understand the "Physics of Everything"???]
        • Mike Huttner

          These aren't perspectives, they are theories and definitions. Kaku is not saying that this is "how he sees it" he is saying that "this is the way it is."
          If you have a brain then you are "qualified" to conceive and understand concepts, i.e. you have intelligence. There are no limits to intelligence:
          If you want to understand any theory on physics then object, concept, and exist are three fundamental terms which require definition.
          Even the theory you have advanced, the "Physics of Everything" requires this step. The Physics of what? What is a thing, object, entity? Before we can talk about the physics, or motion of it, we have to define what it is we are talking about. What moves? There is no movement, no physics, without objects.
          • Mike Huttner

            But at soon as object is defined, many of these theories fall apart. Space-time, electromagnetic "waves", "point" particles, ect. That is why the definition of object is so crucial.
            • V:

              I see your point. I still don't believe I am qualified to answer your question, but I wish you luck in your quest for knowledge.

              [The passive aggressive arguer always keeps his cool, because that's how he has been told he wins arguments. There is a step by step method to this madness which is designed specifically to hold radical, revolutionary ideas at bay and it goes like this:

              1. I'm smart enough to know I know nothing. (Begging the question. Understanding your own propositions has nothing to do with "knowledge"...)
              2. This is the theory all of the "experts" agree on. (Popularity & Authority)
              3. Who am I to disagree? (Implying: who are YOU to disagree?)

              For the great many who subconsciously feel low self-esteem/intelligence/efficacy, this argument is an incredible relief. It makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside because they are "strong enough to be 'humble', they are wise enough to be 'faithful in experts' and they are cunning enough to shut down an argument without admitting defeat or even admitting that he DISAGREES! It's the ultimate high ground.

              Not only that, but if you assert "I AM qualified to answer these questions and so are YOU! This is a cop-out." Either your interlocutor or the crowd can easily turn on you. The requests for PhDs and Nobel Prizes will pelt you to the floor and while you crawl around looking for an escape, they spit at you with accusations of arrogance and hubris-  What a tactic!]
              • Mike Huttner

                Thanks but, just to be completely clear I'm not looking for knowledge, I am looking for understanding. People like Michio Kaku get paid a whole lot of cash and I think it's absolutely necessary to be able to determine if what they are saying is rational.
                I hope you realize one day that you are qualified to understand reality and that NOBODY has some kind of special brain that allows for secret understandings that nobody else can comprehend.
                • Today
                • V:

                  Thanks man. I hope so too.

                  [He hopes that one day he will REALIZE that he is qualified to UNDERSTAND REALITY? Do you see the madness? This is the hope and dream of a mentally ill patient who is locked in a padded cell, not a university student who is studying Science! He knew he was in over his head from the second I contradicted his wikidefinition of object. Before that he was all swagger! He could point out ineptitude like the palm of his hand but as soon as he was presented with rational arguments then qualifications suddenly became important! The arguer from passive aggression is a saddest debater you will ever encounter. Good luck with them if you ever find one!]

                1 comment:

                1. This is also kind of like an "agree to disagree" fallacy. V is acting as if you've both come to an impasse and V's "lack of qualification to answer these questions" means you will just have to tolerated each others views. "I'm not qualified to answer so just listen to science man!" It's common thought-terminating cliché used in politics to derail the conversation.