Debate on Education
I have had the wonderful fortune of having an argument with someone who does not have the slightest etiquette when it comes to formal debate. The numerous and countless flaws of their arguments had forced me to ignore them. One may ask, however, how this is fortunate. The response I give is that now I have material to compose an article that expounds upon the false arguments of this particular friend of mine. The setting is as follows: I had my friend here editing my latest book, A Real Education. Although he seemed enthusiastic about it, after only shortly reading into it, he disagreed with it. He was sending me segments of paragraphs he was editing and asking if the editing was acceptable. So now, I present you the debate in full....
THE DEBATE -- IN FULL
S-Man-1: incoming paragraph btw
This is a Strawman argument. He has distorted my position and then attacked my distortion, thus concluding that my position is flawed. I proposed a voluntary education. S-Man-1 has vainly attempted to try and turn this into "no education."
S-Man-1: We'd all be dead
This argument is an Appeal to Fear. The argument goes: "1. Person A claims X (where X is intended to cause fear). 2. Therefore, claim Y is correct." X and Y do not even need to be related. In this case, S-Man-1 claimed that if my system of education were adopted, then everyone would be dead.
Punkerslut: School shouldn't be mandatory.
This comparison flatly is a Factual Error -- prior to mandatory schooling, prior to the Dark Ages, in fact, learning was not uncommon. Prior to the rise of Christianity, Europe was not constantly in wars. Yet there was certainly no mandatory schooling.
Punkerslut: The purpose of the school is to allow a place for students to learn in fields they are interested in. That is the purpose of a "real education," but the purpose of school today is to make students all-knowing in all-fields (science, math, english, etc.). This kind of routine curriculum only works to desensitize students, and make them abhor learning and education in general. And, as statistics show, most students forget 95% of everything they ever learned in classes that they hated, so such classes were WORTHLESS to begin with.
Although this is not a logical argument error, I fail to see how it is at all even remotely significant to the conversation.
S-Man-1: Okay, I understand.
This is an Appeal to Fear, again. Stating that without mandatory education, the world would not at all be in a wonderful condition is not an effective method of proving your point. If, however, evidence were presented that mandatory education is the sole reason why the world has improved in even the slightest (considering that it was introduced in the 1800's), I would be eager to examine it. However, no such evidence was presented.
S-Man-1: or rather
Although it is interesting that the statistics presented in my book show that Americans are very ignorant of science, that 95% in fact are scientifically illiterate, S-Man-1 retorts by laughing and saying "not even close." This is an example of an Ad Hominem Abusive (AKA: "Personal Attack"). It is a flawed argument because no matter how much you mock someone or attempt to inferiorate them, it does not degrade their position.
S-Man-1: Schools deal mainly with the social development of human beings
Again, another Ad Hominem Abusive.
S-Man-1: first off, everything I meantion is learnt, therefore is education
This argument is an Appeal to Ridicule. An example of such an argument would be, "The campaign reform bill wants to disallow politicians from accepting money to support advertisements. I've never seen anything so ridiculous in my life!" It is not even a well presented Appeal to Ridicule, nor even an evidenced one. The current United States economy is just what S-Man-1 thinks will happen under the system of the new education. To quote Carl Sagan....
Punkerslut: That is what's happening.
Again, an Appeal to Fear -- and, again, without evidence.
S-Man-1: Yes, my point exactly
Actually, S-Man-1's point was: "One thing I could think of is 21 year olds all over the world not knowing their ABC's."
S-Man-1: and your system, would make the problem a million times worse.
This argument is the Slippery Slope argument. It states that something is happening, will happen, or might happen, and therefore concludes that something else will happen. An example of this would be, "If you let someone borrow a dollar, next thing you know they'll be hitting you up for money every two hours!" S-Man-1's version of this is, "If we disband mandatory schooling, it will make the problem of education a million times worse." The argument is flawed, because there is no connection shown between what might happen and what is presupposed to happen.
Punkerslut: I don't think it can get much worse.
Yet another un-evidenced Appeal to Fear.
Punkerslut: It would be unethical to force someone to go to school.
Still, another Slippery Slope and Appeal to Fear argument combined together.
Punkerslut: Absolutely not. You can't force someone to do something just to help the survival of civilization.
S-Man-1 fails to understand that there were stores for centuries, if not millenniums, prior to the establishment of mandatory education (which came in the 1800's and was based on highly impractical principles which could barely constitute education). Furthermore, this is another Appeal to Fear and another Slippery Slope, insinuating that abolishing mandatory education would lead to widespread starvation and turning everyone into uneducated people incapable of growing enough food for everyone, and then further offering fear that I would not be able to survive.
Laughter -- again, an Ad Hominem Abusive (substituting abusive remarks for an argument).
S-Man-1: how would you stop the first rich warlord when he comes up to you, kills you and your family, and takes it?
This is a Red Herring argument. In no way does this even remotely have to do with education. The debate is supposed to be on education; whether it should be mandatory or voluntary. S-Man-1 appears to be arguing politics and government in this question, which is a to draw the current argument of education out of the picture and focus on something different. The fallacy of this argument is that whether or not you are capable of drawing the argument away from the initial topic, it does not prove it right or wrong in even the slightest.
Punkerslut: Heh, you do realize that public schools did not exist before the middle 1800's, right?
This appears to be an Appeal to Fear as well as a Red Herring. S-Man-1 argued that without mandatory schooling, civilization would dissolve into pre-civilization, where farming was rare. I then responded that even without mandatory schooling, which first began in the 1800's, the world was perfectly civilized and fully capable of farming and trade. S-Man-1 responded by saying, "You're skipping an extremely important detail," without even addressing the argument.
Punkerslut: Heh, how does that at all relate to public schooling?
As far as the staple of what makes one person more valuable than another -- Again, this is a Strawman argument. Instead of actually attacking my position of voluntary education, he has degraded it to the position of "no education." In my book, A Real Education, I did not even slightly advocate the abolition of the public learning center. Instead, I advocated the reform of the public learning center, so that it was attended voluntarily and not forced.
As far as the "take a look at every country on this planet..." -- To state that forced education is not found in (assumingly) undeveloped countries is a fallacy of Questionable Cause. The countries that do not have forced education, many Third World countries, I would assume, have starving populations and many homeless people. If schools were erected and people were forced to go to these schools, I fail to see how this would curtail starvation, repair the economy of Third World Countries, or even make the population smarter. (If a population is starving, I hardly doubt forcing them into schools will keep them alive or educated.)
S-Man-1: The problem is that humans, by default, are lazy as fuck.
This is another Strawman argument. I have advocated numerous times that I am not for the removal of education; I am for voluntary education.
Punkerslut: Mandatory education removal.*
Again -- Strawman. I am not advocating "lack of education" or "removal of education." I am advocating voluntary education.
S-Man-1: almost like the chicken or egg dillemma
This argument could fall under one of two categories: either Slippery Slope or Non-Sequitor. To say that if voluntary education were instituted that it would result in parents brainwashing their children is Slippery Slope, and he failed to show a source that this would occur. Of course, his argument rests on what "could" happen -- yet he fails to distinguish the difference between mandatory and voluntary education why it would be impossible in mandatory education. Also, to conclude that voluntary education leads to parents brainwashing children is non-sequitor: the premise does not fit the conclusion.
Punkerslut: Meh, still.... that's tantamount to slavery when you force someone to do something.
This is a Hasty Generalization (or a Biased Sample). Just because I may be smart does not have anything to do with the fact that I accepted mandatory education and worked with it. In fact, personally, I think that if I were allowed to explore the works of Ingersoll and other great authors without being forced to learn things that I find irrelevant, I would have developed into a much smarter, tolerant person.
This is an argument of Anonymous Authorities -- he stated a conclusion without bringing any evidence. (The conclusion was that abolishing mandatory schooling would be harmful to education.)
Just because I do not think that sudden application of a theory would be acceptable, or whether or not I agree, it is irrelevant to whether the theory itself is correct. For example, Marx believed that prior to a full Communist government, there would be Socialism. That does not make his theory of Communism any less credible. And so, even if immediate application of my theory is not good, it does not mean that mandatory schooling should not be abolished as a final reform.
S-Man-1: (Man, I love debating, hehe.)
Argument of False Analogy. S-Man-1 compared his arguments to mine. The difference is that my arguments are backed by evidence while not one of his are supported with evidence.
S-Man-1: of course I have
Again -- I brought evidence, statistics, facts. Along with these facts, I created a theory of what a real education is. S-Man-1 responded by theorizing without even a single bit of evidence.
S-Man-1: Have you tested this theory?
The argument present is Anonymous Authorities, as well as an Ad Hominem Abusive. First, he argues against my evidence by referring to it as "a lot of bullshit" -- an abusive remark substituted for an argument. Second, he states that he sees no resources whatsoever, when anyone can look at my book on education and clearly see for themselves the resources I put. Third, he states that he has done papers himself that have reproduced many contrary facts -- without even bringing any of these resources to light.
S-Man-1: Actually, common sense even denotes the contrary
To claim that common sense denotes something -- not to mention without even an explanation -- may be considered an Anonymous Authorities argument.
Punkerslut: I have put sources there.
S-Man-1 should read the statistics concerning what is forgotten by high school graduates. Although I said 95%, it was an estimate. However, 95% of Americans are scientifically illiterate (although this would not constitute everything learned in school).
S-Man-1: since school begins at 5
Non-Sequitor argument: just because people detest school it does not mean that they do not learn outside of school very often. The premise is "People detest school" -- the conclusion is "they must not learn outside of school very often." They do not follow.
Actually, S-Man-1 has thrown in numerous Red Herrings, ignoring the point of debate and -- when an argument is made on my side -- it is tossed over by throwing something else out.
Punkerslut: "Sure, they hate it not because they're going to school, but because they're being forced to learn things they don't want to learn." -- I agree entirely, and that's even probably in my book; but how is that an argument for mandatory schooling?
The real arguments have consisted of Non-Sequitors, Ad Hominem Abusives, Strawmen, and Red Herrings.
S-Man-1: it's that I don't believe your system, if imposed right away and right now, would cause anything but the erosion of the amount of educated people in the world, which although the world is shit right now, it is at least somewhat furhter up the ladder of progression to enlightenment en masse.
Not true at all -- S-Man-1 described the loss of mandatory schooling as thrusting civilization into pre-civilization era.
S-Man-1: when I was describing my proposed immediate changes, I was saying that in the context of a gradual change to the point where society would progress into a people whom craved learning
Ad Hominem Abusive -- substituted an abusive remark for an argument. Why do I even try?
Punkerslut: You referred to my evidence as "bullshit." That's Ad Hominem Abusive.
It has nothing to do with context. It has to do with substituting an abusive remark for an argument. S-Man-1 presented no evidence to his claims while I presented evidence of my claims. His response was to call my evidence "bullshit."
S-Man-1: I also, obviously, forgot that the evidence itself IS you, physically, so an attack on evidence is an attack on you.
Hasty Generalization -- just because I made it out of school intelligent does not mean that everyone will make it out of school intelligent.
Punkerslut: Still, you used Ad Hominem Abusive. Referring to something as bullshit is no argument at all.
Ad Hominem Abusive, again.
Punkerslut: That's it. Fuck this waste of my time.
Shortly after the debate, S-Man-1 sent me an e-mail. I present the e-mail in full...
Listen, first off... I'm sorry I angered you. You can use the Ad Homimun Blah or whatever it is all you want, but the fact is that my calling your evidence bullshit has nothing to do with a personal attack on you.
The definition of an Ad Hominem Abusive obviously escapes the mind of S-Man-1 -- an Ad Hominem Abusive is to substitute an abusive remark for an argument (which, calling evidence "bullshit" would do).
Even further, after I called it bullshit, I went on to explain why.
The explanation was a fallacy of Anonymous Authorities: "I see no source for it whatsoever, and have done papers myself that have reproduced many contrary facts." No evidence was produced from his side, yet countless pieces of evidences were drawn from my side.
And if I'm correct, that circumvents your ability to classify it as any type of abuse whatsoever, as bullshit, in this case, is very easily synonymous with "incorrect."
It has little to do with being correct or incorrect. A false argument that reaches a correct conclusion is nonetheless a false argument. If I state, "I like listening to the radio, therefore the Earth is round," or, better yet, "Your evidence for the world being flat is bullshit, therefore the Earth is round," does that mean that my evidence is correct? It does not.
If for some odd reason you mistook the context, please excuse me. Next, since you signed off, I didn't even get a chance to let you know that your "95% statistic" didn't even exist inside your document.
Allow me to easily quote my document, then: "95% of Americans are 'scientifically illiterate.'" [Chapter 1] Furthermore, the 95% I said of information forgotten was an estimate.
I've read it from cover to cover twice now, and even just went back to make sure again. The real statistics for what graduates forget, based on information deemed "necessary" (it includes basic math, basic science, basic english, etc... just the stuff one needs to know to operate on the level expected by the fucking school boards), was more like 22%. You can find that, as well as shitloads of other education statistics here: http://nces.ed.gov/edstats/.
Although I scowered through that site multiple times, I only found statistics relating to students who are still in high school college or right out of high school or college.
On a personal note, I am sorry that I cannot keep up with you logically. It's not in my blood. However, I am not a fool. I may not be up on your level, but that does not mean that I am easily dismissible when it comes to debating. You tell me that my references to well-known history and psychology, things that are so common in knowledge that they are no longer even referenced in most works, are... well, let me quote you: "not one iota of evidence."
Again, Anonymous Authorities.
You use these types of references all the time in your other works, and if anyone should know it would be I. You don't even proof-read your writings, so I'd probably know on a level even greater than your own. I am really fucking tired of this feeling of underestimation coming from you, whether it is reality or not.
Still, to push the argument of Anonymous Authorities is still an argument of Anonymous Authorities. State your evidence for claims or do not make such claims. If you declare that you've read much about something, that's simply an Appeal to Authority.
And here's another thing: I am your friend. Do not treat me like shit by giving me a childish "fuck it" and signing off. You took whatever went on way too fucking personally. If something else is bothering you, talk to me about it... because I am damn sure you are not this easily heated.
The Ad Hominem Abusives, the Strawmen, the personal attacks, among other things, were what I would call not only bad arguments, but also a bad method of treating people. The only possibly negative thing I said during that whole conversation was "That's it. Fuck it." I then blocked him. The reason I could not stand to even talk to him was because he had angered me incredibly. I am not an easily angered person, and I do not even expect such low and fallacious debate tactics like these from a friend, who makes countless personal attacks and Appeals to Fear. (As one person who read the debate lamented, "His primary argument is, 'Do not get rid of schools, or we all is dead!'" Or, as another person said, "That didn't even seem like a debate. It looked like he was trying to get in as many hits as possible.") The reason I was so angered was because of this man's blatant insensitivity. When I told him that his arguments were abusive, personal attacks, his first remark is to laugh at such a claim. I remember this person reading "Worth And Humanitarianism," an article where I professed to believe, "Every moment paused for a kiss, a touch of affection, is still a moment paused for the sake of brightening another's day; every advance in science is still progression that will make life easier; and every sentence of every book, every stanza of every poem, is still written with the hopes of the making hearts soar." S-Man-1 enjoyed the article, but from the way he acts, he certainly does not believe it in one slight bit, nor does he endeavor to accept any of the principles contained therein. It bothers me, to a certain extent, that someone can profess to believe in compassion and affection, and then engage in a reckless, unfeeling war of inhumanity.
And even further, if my attacks on your writing bother you, that is ridiculous. You should know by now you only get constructive criticism from me.
This argument is factually incorrect -- the criticism given to me was not constructive in the slightest, unless calling someone's resources "bullshit" and then explaining by appealing to Anonymous Authorities is "constructive."
The only two major flaws you have in your writing are a lack of self-correction, and a lack of the ability to explain yourself fully. If you didn't mean for this to be a direct application, for it to be gradual, you should have mentioned that, or at least hinted at it. This book needs a reorganizing, some additions (like the one I just mentioned), and a final editing. Once those are complete, it will be probably one of the most informing and powerful pieces of work I have ever seen.
If you're too pissed off to even talk to a friend, that's fine. I've got a lot of work editing ahead of me anyway.
There you have it: an examination of an argument. S-Man-1's arguments mainly consisted of distorting Voluntary Education into "no education" and often making appeals to fear that -- without "modern schooling" -- we would all be dead or starving. I was quite displeased with S-Man-1.
Learn more about false arguments here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/
[Special Thanks: To Detached and Javaripped for helping me examine some of the arguments S-Man-1 brought up.]