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Ad hominem attacks are signs of victories of reason over unreason
Let me briefly pick up the issue about ad hominem attacks mentioned at the end of my last post. One of the most striking feature of the debates about alternative medicine is, in my experience, the fact that, whenever the defenders of the indefensible ran out of rational arguments, personal attacks are rarely far. Personal or ad hominem attacks are fallacious arguments directly directed at a named individual which serve as substitutes for that individual's arguments. In football terminology, they play the player instead of the ball. After many years of being at the receiving end of this phenomenon, I have grown to be amused by it, not just amused, I have slowly started to appreciate it. Strange? Let me explain. Initially, I have to admit, I was annoyed, sometimes livid when someone hurled a personal attack in my direction. At one stage, I even investigated whether my university did not have the obligation to legally protect me in such situations. Predictably, the answer was negative.