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How to not Take Ad Hominem Attacks Personally


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15 replies to this topic
-50 This post by FireShield is below the user reputation threshold. View it anyway?

#2
Wesley

Wesley

    Self-Excavator


  • 1232 posts

Is there any good way for me to avoid doing this? I've basically been avoiding debating with people to stay away from this, but I want to be able to debate anyway, for the sake of potentially changing people's minds.

At risk of stating the obvious, you could not leave comments on liberal YouTube videos.

 

That is not exactly the best proven way to change people's minds, as you have evidenced.

 

You can try a different method.

 

However, this makes me think that you may subconsciously be inviting the attack and that is why you keep doing it and then taking it personally.  This is a bit of a shot in the dark, but I am curious if I might be onto something or if I totally missed.


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#3
Wuzzums

Wuzzums
  • 225 posts

An ad hominem is code for "I have no retort to your argument and must concede but because you made me feel stupid and because I want to save face I shall insult your character". This can be used to your advantage because people that aren't worth the time of day readily identify themselves by using ad hominem attacks. Nobody that's willing to listen to another's point of view will use such a tactic. You're probably better off debating with a chair.


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"My common sense is tingling."

 


#4
dsayers

dsayers

    man in a pink bunny suit


  • 1334 posts

Listen to a few FDR call in shows. You might be amazed how much anti-social behavior directly stems from abuse. Ad hominem attacks are (to me) very easy to deal with because I understand that it's not at all about me.


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I am interested in the truth. I welcome all corrections and critiques.

 

dsay's audio reprocessing service


-50 This post by FireShield is below the user reputation threshold. View it anyway?

#6
dsayers

dsayers

    man in a pink bunny suit


  • 1334 posts

I understand that consciously, but subconsciously they hurt me so much.  That's my main problem with my emotions: I consciously understand that they're often irrational (like my social anxiety), but they still have a really strong effect on me.

 

I can certainly relate. Not to project my own experiences onto you, but I was buried in irrationality as a child. I have no doubt that my amygdala is overdeveloped, leading to a higher susceptibility to being in a fight or flight mode.

 

In keeping with the suggestion above that youtube isn't the most likely place to convince others of the truth, I do find that it does have one advantage: It's text based. What this means is that there is a delay between when you're provoked to reply and when the reply is made. Just be aware that this passage of time is not useful if you "stew in it."

 

So walk away. Count to 10. Do something you enjoy. That way IF you reply, it won't even be for the purpose of addressing the attack. Doing this, you might even find you don't end up replying at all. And if you do manage to either not reply or stay on topic and not dignify the attack, you'll actually be reinforcing this and in time, there won't be as much of a need to walk away.

 

I hope that's helpful.


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I am interested in the truth. I welcome all corrections and critiques.

 

dsay's audio reprocessing service


#7
LovePrevails

LovePrevails

  • 1382 posts

you probably take it personally because it triggers reactions to previous abuses and name calling in your past IN MY UNPROFESSIONAL OPINION

 

if that is the case then the work to be done is self-work, having thicker skin will be a biproduct of that - there is no "thick skin" magic wand


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#8
Prairie

Prairie
  • 121 posts
It's text based. What this means is that there is a delay between when you're provoked to reply and when the reply is made. Just be aware that this passage of time is not useful if you "stew in it."

 

This is very interesting. As a child one was demanded of to give an immediate response to authoritarian parents, or be punished. It's not the case here and there's nothing at stake if one completely ignores the posting (but hopefully explores the internal response). When this happens to me the hook is that it's all happening again and I need to give a response immediately or it's just going to continue indefinitely, because not fighting back has been my approach and look where it's gotten me. In that light these triggering messages in YouTube comments are a golden opportunity to practice showing oneself that they don't matter, that they are purely catalysts.

 

[...] having thicker skin will be a biproduct of [self-work] - there is no "thick skin" magic wand

 

Thick skin, at least to me, implies insensitivity, both to attacks and everything else. I think of the important growth as being able to see reality and that there was nothing threatening in the first place when someone made a personal attack; it's as irrelevant as someone on TV looking out of the screen and berating the viewer. Way back it couldn't be ignored because it signaled that the adult oppressor was going to hurt you if you didn't do what they demanded. Now the threat is no longer and it can be seen simply as a roundabout way for the attacker to express what's on his/her mind.


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#9
LovePrevails

LovePrevails

  • 1382 posts

 

Thick skin, at least to me, implies insensitivity, both to attacks and everything else.

 

to you, but how about you stick with what I mean by what I say rather than how you interpret my choice of words.

 

What I am saying is through self-work/self-knowledge one will have a clearer picture of who they are and find it more difficult to be knocked off centre by other peoples projections.


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#10
Prairie

Prairie
  • 121 posts

Thick skin, at least to me, implies insensitivity, both to attacks and everything else.

 

to you, but how about you stick with what I mean by what I say rather than how you interpret my choice of words.

 

Thanks for the feedback. I understand that you found my response an attempt to appropriate what you said. I do sense some of that in my message and I apologize. Perhaps I could have explained myself as I'm doing now.

 

I took "thick skin" to mean insensitivity (basically, lacking sensitivity, not being affected by things one might be affected by) because that's how I've heard it used in general discussion. "You shouldn't let that bother you; you need to get a thicker skin!"  "Oh, that's just a minor thing. Don't have such a thin skin."

 

The way I understand it, ad hominem attacks bother a person because they are a catalyst for something unresolved. Being bothered is a symptom. If the symptom is seen as the problem itself, the solutions might simply hide the problem. One common approach is to mentally imagine negative things about the one attacking you, so that you consider them sub-human and therefore don't value whatever they say. Another is to learn to not feel the effects of their attacks, which I took to be what you were referring to as thick skin (which you've now made clear is not what you meant). I wanted to simply call attention to what I see as a danger with this approach, whatever we want to call it, whether or not it was actually being advocated (if it wasn't, then I was simply calling attention to its dangers, out of the blue).


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#11
dsayers

dsayers

    man in a pink bunny suit


  • 1334 posts

to you, but how about you stick with what I mean by what I say rather than how you interpret my choice of words.

 

What I am saying is through self-work/self-knowledge one will have a clearer picture of who they are and find it more difficult to be knocked off centre by other peoples projections.

 

Aren't these conflicting ideas? I'm big on language so self-work/knowledge to me includes choosing my words so that there is less room for misinterpretation. This is a particularly important lesson for me because I grew up with a father who would intentionally speak in roundabout ways so that he could use my lack of frame of reference as an excuse to attack. Not saying that that's what you're doing here, but those two ideas you stated seem to conflict.


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I am interested in the truth. I welcome all corrections and critiques.

 

dsay's audio reprocessing service


#12
Kevin Beal

Kevin Beal

    :)


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I would submit that this is an enormously difficult process that takes a whole hell of a lot of work to stop.

 

It may be the case that this isn't actually what's happening though, and I actually suspect that it is not.

 

These are just my theories and could totally be speaking out of my armpit. For whatever reason I feel very confident expressing them (rightly or wrongly).

 

 

Many people are really shitty people to have around you

 

Alternately, what can happen is that you are experiencing all the feelings implicated in surrounding yourself with the kind of people who would rather just call you names rather than show you how you're wrong. You're feelings in that case are telling not that you are a bad, dumb, immature or whatever, but rather that you need to get yourself away from people who actually are immature and dumb and bad. You feel what they choose not to feel.

 

It's painful to be around people who attack you for telling the truth. As it should be. It would be a problem if it wasn't.

 

 

The way to not take shitty things personally

 

If rather the problem is taking things personally and finding it difficult to feel a sense of certainty about what is valid feedback or not, the solution is both very simple and very difficult. It's living a strictly principled life.

 

What you base your own sense of self worth on are actually valid principles that you've reasoned through and accept with certainty because you've practiced living them in your own life. That's how you've been relating to yourself, with reference to good values.

 

 

The pretenders to the throne

 

I think we all kind of know this deep down, because there is a tendency for many people to fake like they are already at this point, like those people who pretend to be above it all. What they are really doing is they reactively reject things that make them feel bad and then invent some reason why they should reject it after the fact. They are not actually basing their own worth on principle, but pretentiously invoking principles to shut you up.

 

Also, these types of people tend to attack others who are actually demonstrating an understanding of living in accordance with principles because they know deep down in contrast that they are lying to themselves. And they use that after the fact justification machine to maintain their own narcissistic bubbles to attack the truly principled. And worse, always under the pretense of virtue (that they actually lack).

 

People who don't know enough about virtue, and those people who use similar justifications can end up idolizing these fakers. And that's why politicians and priests can have power in this world.

 

 

There is no silver bullet

 

You and I and everyone else I know of (save for a tiny few) have been abused or neglected as children, and (I believe) we will always be susceptible to things that would serve to trigger the complexes around our traumas. And people who come up with shitty ways of defending themselves and attacking others seem to be great at finding something that'll hook into you.

 

I've noticed that with a lot of work we can become less susceptible over time, but I'm not sure that it ever fully goes away. I don't know...

 

 

This problem is why there is a show like FDR

 

And books like the Psychology of Self Esteem, and lots of other great resources on philosophy, personal freedom and self knowledge. There are so many ways that people have been able to manipulate language and pervert the true meanings of so many of the concepts we use. It's a real battle to be able to combat these things not only in the people in our lives and in society at large, but also within ourselves.

 

Hopefully the pursuit of philosophy should be to gain the tools to enable yourself to be a better more effective person in a distorted and potentially dangerous world.

 

 

I talk a good talk sometimes, but actually living a principled life is super difficult and the people who do that work really impress me, and I can't help but feel respect and admiration for people who do the work.


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"There is no law, no compulsion, no law of physics or man that is preventing you from living the life that you want" - Stef (The Greatest Gift in the Entire Universe)


#13
Kevin Beal

Kevin Beal

    :)


  • 1422 posts

I understand that consciously, but subconsciously they hurt me so much.  That's my main problem with my emotions: I consciously understand that they're often irrational (like my social anxiety), but they still have a really strong effect on me.

Strictly speaking, emotions are not rational or irrational. The thoughts that inform the emotions can be though. And to be even more annoying, if it is part of your awareness at all, you are conscious of it. It hurts you consciously (as it might hurt me as well).

 

Let me know if I'm off base, but the emotion here is humiliation, isn't it? People trying to hack away at your sense of self and self worth. It's a sickening thing to do to someone, but it has a relatively simple foundation that can easily be undone with the proper perspective: it relies entirely on the premise that no one is going to point out "hey, you are trying to humiliate me right now". Because who's going to say "yea, I'm a completely petty loser that gets his kicks by humiliating other people"?

 

That sting, is the bite of an undead lifeless vampire intent on spreading his own sickness to you. Which is the humiliated so often seek to humiliate others.

 

The origins of humiliation are a more complicated matter that this podcast is amazing at explaining:

 

FDR421 - Humiliation

 

I would just say that the emotion is real and appropriate, it just doesn't belong to you. That's someone else's worthlessness.


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"There is no law, no compulsion, no law of physics or man that is preventing you from living the life that you want" - Stef (The Greatest Gift in the Entire Universe)


#14
Carl Bartelt

Carl Bartelt

  • 116 posts

I can't offer much help on how to deal with the emotional aspects of it but I can say that using logical arguments are a complete waste of time with the illogical lot.  You'll probably get better results appealing with a cost benefit analysis type of argument.


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#15
Gunnhvatr

Gunnhvatr
  • 26 posts

FireShield, may I ask for what result you were hoping?  It is very rare for people to admit defeat on the internet, one can only hope that after they feel like they are out of the line of fire they reflect and realize you were correct.

 

An ad hom is about the closest thing to an admission of defeat you will get.  Perhaps you could take it as a sign of your victory?


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#16
Mike Fleming

Mike Fleming

    Atheist Anarchist Determinist


  • 378 posts

I can certainly relate. Not to project my own experiences onto you, but I was buried in irrationality as a child. I have no doubt that my amygdala is overdeveloped, leading to a higher susceptibility to being in a fight or flight mode.

 

In keeping with the suggestion above that youtube isn't the most likely place to convince others of the truth, I do find that it does have one advantage: It's text based. What this means is that there is a delay between when you're provoked to reply and when the reply is made. Just be aware that this passage of time is not useful if you "stew in it."

 

So walk away. Count to 10. Do something you enjoy. That way IF you reply, it won't even be for the purpose of addressing the attack. Doing this, you might even find you don't end up replying at all. And if you do manage to either not reply or stay on topic and not dignify the attack, you'll actually be reinforcing this and in time, there won't be as much of a need to walk away.

 

I hope that's helpful.

 

I agree with this.  I, too, have a hyperactive fight-or-flight. It's interesting, now that I've calmed it down somewhat, how obvious it is to me in others.  When I wasn't self-aware I didn't notice it in other people.  It's a very interesting thing to observe in others and know that it's not just me.  And also, that it can be tamed to a degree, but you have to figure out what your triggers are and ask yourself the question "Is this really that important or am I getting worked up for nothing?".  Breathing exercises and not responding, at least for awhile, are also methods I find useful.  And after walking away for awhile almost every time I don't see a need to come back to the argument.

 

The response will never completely go away because it is physically a part of you but it can be managed.


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