Sunday, May 16, 2004

Refuting the Stupid Arguments of Your Wingnut Friends, Part I

I sometimes receive messages from people who have wingnut friends and acquaintances asking me how to respond to certain standard wingnut arguments. For instance, Jeff from Mineola writes:
Dear Goldstein,

Although I am sane, many of my friends are wingnuts, and I mean BIGTIME chickenhawk supporters of Bush's Folly. You and I know we'll never find any WMDs in Iraq, but my wingnut friends always say "hey, we're still looking and we could still find them - it's early!" Well, I have to concede that it's possible we'll find them, isn't it? How do I counter this argument?

Thanks for writing, Jeff. This is a very popular wingnut syllogism because it places the burden on the thinking person to establish a negative, i.e., that stockpiles of WMDs do not exist Iraq. Let me suggest the following gambit, Jeff. Let me know how it works.

I would suggest pausing for a moment after the wingnut challenge and stroking your chin (or affecting whatever mannerism you prefer that signifies that you are seriously contemplating their challenge). Then begin your response with an apparent concession to their specious argument - "well, I suppose those stockpiles could be hidden somewhere in Iraq; I mean it's possible, I suppose." Then continue as follows:
"But you'd have to believe that the same country that couldn't hide a fighter jet in the desert without leaving a fintail sticking out of the sand has somehow managed to conceal vast caches of WMDs without leaving so much as a trace element of any of these highly unstable and volatile chemical and biological agents, substances for which we can test for the minutest presence. Furthermore, thousands of scientists, soldiers and everyday Iraqis who would have been involved in researching, developing, producing, maintaining, transporting and concealing these alleged caches of WMDs would have to be engaged in the most airtight and cohesive cover-up of all time - a coverup they've now maintained for more than a year! Remember, not one Iraqi can point us to these alleged stockpiles or any evidence that the stockpiles even exist, despite intensive interrogation, rewards, bribes, psychological pressure and intimidation. My god, we bought-off half of the Iraqi generals to disappear when we approached Baghdad during the invasion, and now you want me to believe that thousands of everyday Iraqis are concealing information about the location of WMDs, resisting every reward, bribe, blandishment and inducement we can offer. To what end? Out of loyalty to Spiderhole Man? What is it that these people hope to accomplish?

I would continue in this vein until your wingnut friend's cheeks turn rosy with humiliation.

Remember, Jeff, the wingnuts have an inherent advantage in any debate regarding the merits and justifications of this war because they can eschew logical and reasoned argument (if indeed they possess such faculty at all) and thereby render themselves impervious to your arguements. You, on the other hand, are handicapped by logic and reason and therefore reflexively greet their arguments, no matter how stupid, with an open mind. But remember this, Jeff, whenever you encounter a wingnut argument with some meretricious appeal: there are no WMDs, we've never given a crap about freedom and democracy for Iraqis, and the Iraqis want us out. Everything else is just prattle.


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