Archive for January 8th, 2010

at least three times in the past couple days i have seen people take a quote, change the meaning, then argue against it. in all three cases the changing of meaning was in extent. a person made statement of possibility or probability or limited in scope. this was then turned into an all inclusive universal truth and argued against.

for example, the original comment may have gone something like this;
if you hike to the bottom of the grand canyon you may fall off a cliff and die

to which someone responds:
what do you mean hiking the canyon means i’ll die! i’ve known plenty of people who have hiked the canyon and lived…

i’m not sure why this happens. maybe it’s sloppiness and haste, maybe it’s just expecting the worst of people, maybe it’s just the heat of rhetorical battle, maybe it’s just easier to argue against absolutes as opposed to nuances.

the problems are:
it is disingenuous to change the meaning of someone’s comment by pouring obviously unintended meanings into them – then countering the argument no one made in the first place.

it serves to elevate the angst and anger as people try and point out the error… and tempers flare.

it also serves to foster needless tangential discussions.

so, for the sake of time, effort, peace, and accuracy… before responding in disgust or disbelief, please take a moment to discern that you have; a) accurately interpreted and quoted the source, and b) you are countering an argument someone actually made.

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