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Monckton tries to censor John Abraham

Posted on 15 July 2010 by John Cook

A few months ago, John Abraham from St Thomas University produced an excellent rebuttal of Christopher Monckton's arguments. Monckton's initial response was extraordinary - as well as likening John's presentation to Nazi propaganda, he accused Abraham of ad hominem attacks while mocking his accent and personal appearance (comparing him to an overcooked prawn). Abraham's response to this personal attack was professional and commendably stuck to the science. Now Monckton is trying to censor Abraham - urging Watts Up With That readers to pressure St. Thomas University to take down Abraham's presentation.

John Abraham's presentation is vital and important as it explains in clear and accessible language the many falsehoods and misrepresentations in Monkton's arguments. St. Thomas University needs to understand the importance of Abraham's work. Hopefully they already do but if there is a flood of WUWT readers sending them angry emails, a reminder wouldn't hurt. Rather than flood the University with even more emails, the New Zealand website Hot Topic has created a Support John Abraham page.

Here, they propose that anyone who supports John Abraham's efforts to leave a comment with their name, location and academic affiliation (if any). Comments from academics are especially welcome. Gareth at Hot Topic has been in touch with John Abraham and the St Thomas University and knows they are watching the comments thread. So I urge anyone who wishes John Abraham's presentation to not be removed from the University website to go to Support John Abraham and post a comment.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 70:

  1. Someone should also start a facebook community.
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  2. Over to you, Tenney!
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  3. Monckton disgusts me.

    Please show your support for Dr. Abraham and St. Thomas University.
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  4. I supported Abraham. His presentation was great, I hadn't seen it before. Thanks for letting us know just how desperate Monkton is.
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  5. It just occurred to me that a university should investigate things themselves and adjudicate based on more than angry denier emails. Hopefully they do and come to realize that, to stir up such a hornet's nest, Prof Abraham has done an excellent job.
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  6. With "Climategate" now little more than an embarrassing failed misinformation campaign, the denialosphere has begun a co-ordinated attempt to chill academic freedom.

    We know from "Climategate" that they have no shame, but it's increasingly clear that they should be ashamed.
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  7. Has someone started a facebook group? I can do so if no one else has
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    Response: Sounds like you the man, Dan.
  8. Lucky Dan.
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  9. This is so typical.

    Monckton'antics, however, are becoming so extreme that they have a good chance of backfiring.
    This might actually be quite useful in attracting to Abraham's pieces the attention of that part of WUWT's readership that is not really acquired to any "cause."

    In any case, it brings to perfection the ridicule already established by the rest of Monckton's "work."
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  10. So much for the people who were whining about "blacklists" only a short time ago.

    A scientist give them the straight story, and they can't take it.
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  11. I actually emailed John in support when his presentation first appeared, before you chaps discovered him, so there!

    I think if Monckton was really interested in science, he would just get on with the debate, the one he keeps saying that the scientists don't want.

    He is of course displaying double standards by trying to use law to close down a debate.
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  12. It's pretty typical denier behaviour, actually - in any field, not just climate change. Throw out spurious or fallacious arguments, and when someone points out you got it wrong, do everything you can to get them shut down.

    The curious part of this? Well, I'm sure you've noticed how the climate deniers (including Monckton in his 'rebuttal' of John Abraham's presentation) keep likening AGW proponents to 'communists' and 'socialists.

    The first time I saw these "shut them down" tactics expounded clearly, was in some material a friend at university got from the International Socialists when he went along to a meeting. The IS doctrine was along the lines of "if you let your opponents speak, you might as well agree with them, so don't let them speak".

    I find that immensely amusing, that 20 years later the only people I see using that tactic are the more right-wing folks who are always jumping at "reds under the bed"...

    Anyway, heading to the page to add my message of support.
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  13. I'm confident that St. Thomas University will behave as any other Academic institution would do in cases like this, the unacceptable threat will be ignored.

    Then, the problem is not this particular incident but if the habit of legal threatening will prevail in some quarters. It would be an attack to the very foundations of science as a whole, an attack to which the scientific community as a whole should respond promptly and strongly.
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  14. And now Anthony Watts is in full-on stalker mode by tracing the IP address of critical comments in the above thread and publicly revealing information such as their place of employment.

    You see it time and time again with assorted crackpots - the less convincing their arguments are, the dirtier their tactics become.
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  15. @Riccardo: if it weren't so expensive the phrase "sue and be damned" would come to mind. Monckton's rantings on this are so absurd, and John Abraham's responses so measured, that even a judge would be able to see it.

    @John Cook: please can I suggest use of the "nofollow" tag for WattsUpWithThat and other similar sites? In a small way it avoids giving them extra google rank and denies them the oxygen of publicity.
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    Response: Re nofollow, I do that when I can be bothered and remember - getting both to happen at the same time is a rare occurance, unfortunately :-(
  16. Is there a case to be made in the courts?
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  17. Wow - some of those posters on WUWT are just amazingly...uninformed.
    Not only do they still seem to believe that 'An Inconvenient Truth' has been condemned by a British court as 'fiction' (or that there could have been a lot more 'errors' shown up but the court 'didn't have the time to go through them all properly'), but they seem to think that it can't be shown unless 'counter claims' are also given.

    They are also still relying on the 'emails' for their opinion, especially of peer-review. All those enquiries might just as well have not happened in denial world.

    They even still seem to think that Monckton IS actually in the House of Lords.

    Finally, for some of them to constantly write about AGW as a 'religion' which is only accepted by 'true believers' who follow blindly, and then, in the next sentence, fawn and tug their forelocks before the wisdom and greatness that they see in Monckton...well, you have to see their comments to believe them. It seems that some Americans are still bowled over by an English title, especially when the person connected to it actually talks to them and is on their side.

    Incredible how the propaganda, deceptions and half-truths of denial are so successful among a certain percentage of the population. We all have to make sure that ordinary people don't get sucked in and deluded too.
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  18. Oh, the fool I am, I just visited wuwt and tried to read the condensed version of his Lordships rebuttal of Abraham. What a load of old cobblers. Hilariously funny are the adoring comments of his litter-bearers.

    Much as I try and make light of it, it is very depressing that Monckton so strenuously and viciously attacks reasonable objections to his talk. Far worse that he tries to pressure Abraham's employer. His behaviour is contemptible. It would be nice to just ignore him, but then he'd say that no one could address his arguments. But if you do address his arguments, he tries to assassinate you. What do we do?
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  19. Monckton’s document
    makes for interesting reading. Most of it is a gish gallop of questions aimed at Abraham rather than a rebuttal of any particular point. The claim is made that Abraham’s attack “was malicious and relentlessly ad hominem, when a more measured consideration would have been expected from one who was representing himself as an academic with relevant knowledge correcting an allegedly untutored layman”.

    Hmm. Does this mean that Monckton considers he should be treated an “untutored layman” so that he can get away with treating Abraham with contempt?

    On the issue of ad hominem – Monckton’s attack is filled with it. I can’t see how anyone could consider that Abraham had been anything but reasonable.

    I recommend checking Monckton’s response for yourselves. It is a classic.
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  20. Petion signed - it's telling the way that Monckton, Watts, MacIntyre and their cronies are reacting to reasoned scientific argument. They react by attempting to bully people into silence using mob 'justice', which is the absolute opposite of of all sorts of freedoms, scientific included. We need to ensure that University of St Thomas and other institutions under such attacks get as much support as possible.
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  21. Signed!
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  22. done... and a couple of people have mentioned facebook...let us know when that happens too.
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  23. Signed!

    Lord Monckton appears to be an undercover supporter of AWG, I believe this individual has single-handedly done more damage to his "cause" in the last few months than any proponent of AWG.

    You couldn't make it up... wait a minute his lordship does make it all up, and his lordship is still making it up.

    Well you just keep it up your lordship, as every time you behave like a two year old and throw your toys out of your pram, attacking respectable qualified individuals such as Professor John Abraham, in vain attempts to censor and suppress a legitimate scientific rebuttal the more members of the public will see through you and your FUD allowing them to understanding what you really are...

    Sigh!
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  24. Everyone please remember the rules of this game.

    Monckton doesn't care if he's proved right or wrong, shown to be a thug, etc., as long as a lot of people are talking about him and the "controversy". The overwhelming majority of voters in places like the US and the UK have no idea who Monckton or Abraham are, yet they're the audience Monckton is playing to. As long as this continues to be a big deal, right up to the point where Monckton is so thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the media that he's openly mocked the way the moon landing hoax crowd and those who deny there's an HIV/AIDS link are, then he's winning.

    We're fighting for truth, he's fighting to cause delay by sowing the impression that there's a huge scientific debate underway. It's as classic an example of asymmetrical verbal warfare as one could imagine.
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  25. I looked over a bit of Monckton's rebuttal. In it he demands that Abraham answer some 500 questions he poses (many of which are in the "when did you stop beating your wife" category, with implicit and explicit blame pointed at Abraham). Lots of "why did you fail...", "why did you not tell..." questions.

    I believe this falls in to the "bury with bull****" category of debate.

    At the end Monckton demands that the Abraham presentation be taken down from whatever public places it reached (difficult, to say the least), to pay $10,000 to the US Order of Malta for Haiti charity, ensure that St. Thomas University kick in $100,000 for not removing the presentation when requested, and issue a written apology which Monckton has provided.

    Given the enormous insult to our collective intelligence that Viscount Monckton of Brenchley has thrown at all of us, perhaps it would be more appropriate for us to demand that he make large charitable contributions in compensation, and issue a public apology to everyone in the climate debate.
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  26. Not completely on-topic, but still relevant to this thread.

    There's a good article over at the Guardian about swiftboat/swiftack operative Marc Morano: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/jul/13/climate-sceptic-morano-award

    Morano and Monckton are definitely two peas in a pod.

    (H/T to climateprogress.org)
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  27. I have an admission. I've read hundreds of posts which mention "ad hominem". I know it means something bad, because people regularly get accused of ad hominem attacks as though they are something bad. But what are ad hominem attacks? Is it like an attack of sudden diarrhoea? Please enlighten me. Feel free to be ironic.....
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  28. Stuart at 19:27 PM on 15 July, 2010
    And now Anthony Watts is in full-on stalker mode by tracing the IP address of critical comments in the above thread and publicly revealing information such as their place of employment.
    ******************************
    Thanks for the warning, Stuart, I have already been excommunicated from WUWT for making negative remarks about their Lordship.
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  29. Just to remind people, Lord Monckton has previously succeeded in having criticism censored:

    Is the Telegraph censoring criticism of climate-change deniers?

    I think he will fail this time, but if he does succeed it will be a very black day for science.
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  30. JB #28: it's indeed a kind of sudden diarrhoea, but coming from the top vent instead of the bottom vent. The disease may be as old as mankind, with first reports going back as far as 500 BC. The cause is probably viral, but the virus is highly elusive and escapes every attempt to isolate it, if the attempt shows even the tinyest bit of common sense.

    The virus is sometimes airborn, sometimes bodyborn, and can even be communicationborn, which makes it the first disease ever to do so. It's also highly contagious, although there is a 87.6% correlation between immunity and above-average IQ values.

    Sime #23: yes, the thought had occurred to me too. :)
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  31. John Brookes at 01:24 AM on 16 July, 2010

    "But what are ad hominem attacks?"
    *****************************************
    John, "ad hominem" is a Latin phrase which means "against the person". In other words, it refers to personal attacks as opposed to addressing the issue.
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  32. sime at 23:15 PM on 15 July, 2010

    Your remark about 2 year olds matches neatly a domestic discussion this evening. Why??? do toddlers throw tantrums. They know daddy won't allow them to have choc bars while shopping, they know that daddy has the money to pay for such things and they have none. In short, daddy sets the rules and daddy has the power.

    Denialistas have an exactly parallel problem. They have no way to control the ocean, the atmosphere or nature in general. They have no way of doing any real intellectual work to advance their own or anyone else's understanding.

    So they go the toddler route in displaying frustration and anger at their own powerlessness in the face of the world not being as they want it.
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  33. John Brookes - decent question. "Argumentum ad hominem", or more briefly "ad hominem", means "Argument against the person". This is a classic logical fallacy, wherein you dismiss someones argument by stating that perceived personal faults invalidate their reasoning.

    For example:

    "Joe says that the new bypass is too expensive for the supposed traffic benefits. But Joe's an uneducated slob, you can't trust him; the bypass is worth it."

    This is a fallacy because personal faults (real or imagined) have nothing to do with the logical merits of an argument.

    This is but one of a list of logical fallacies that are often employed, particularly in emotionally charged issues. It's worth becoming familiar with these so that you can properly evaluate whether an argument makes logical sense, or is instead an appeal to emotions or just complete b**l.
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  34. John Brookes, 'ad hominem' means roughly 'to the person' in latin. An ad hominem argument is thus one which focuses on the individual making a claim to discount that claim. For example, 'Global warming is a hoax because Michael Mann is a jerk'. It's a logical fallacy... whether Michael Mann is or is not a jerk really has no bearing whatsoever on the validity of global warming.

    Ad hominem argument is thus considered 'bad' both because it is inherently faulty logic and also rude.
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  35. And I expect shortly that Nova will also employ her vitriolic following to bombard St Thomas University as well.

    The Monbiot article linked at CP is definitely worth the read. George suggests that Monckton exhibits a paranoid personality disorder, and I think he is right on target. When an individual shows such a deep inability to see any of his own shortcomings, and so viscously defends any and every statement they've ever made, no matter how ludicrous (we all say stupid stuff now and again, it's to be human) then that person surely has a serious mental condition.

    Like Carl Jung once said: "Fanaticism is always a sign of repressed doubt."

    The irony of this is, when Dr Abraham put his material up on Youtube he only got maybe 600 views. That's opposed to the 30k+ that Peter Sinclair got for both of the videos that he did on Monckton. But John Abraham set off some switch in Monckton's head and now he wants to bring down the house over it.

    As others have suggested here, I think he is only going to bring the house down on himself.
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  36. Here's a more extensive list of fallacies; each with a brief description and a link to a more extensive definition and examples.
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  37. And don't you just love Monkton's use of ad hom to complain about ad hom that is not actually ad hom?
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  38. Monckton tried but failed magnificently. See the response from the University of St. Thomas:

    "We received your email response to our June 25, 2010 letter. The University of St Thomas respects your right to disagree with Professor Abraham, just as the University respects Professor Abraham's right to disagree with you. What we object to are your personal attacks against Father Dease, and Professor Abraham, your inflammatory language, and your decision to disparage Professor Abraham Father Dease and The Univerity of St Thomas.

    Please be advised that neither we nor the University of St Thomas will communicate with you any further and others rather than to focus on the scholarly differences between you and Professor Abraham.

    Signed: Phyllis Karasov, Moore Costellow and Hart, P.L.L.P."
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  39. John Brooks, here is an example:
    Mr Monckton farts in elevators and scares little children off his lawn, therefore his views on climate are wrong. That would be an ad-hom argument, i.e. attacking the person in order to invalidate their argument. Note that this is logically false regardless of the veracity of the personal allegations. Whether they are true or not has no bearing on the substance of the argument.

    Disclaimer: the personal attacks are for the sake of the example and not based on any actual knowledge of Mr Monckton's habits.

    Here is an example of an argument that is not ad-hom:
    Mr Monckton presents data in such and such way, which does not reflect the full reality because of such and such reasons. His argument is incomplete because of such and such, misleading because of such and such, etc...
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  40. robhon #36: A nice read indeed (thanks for the link!), although the Peter Taylor quote about the healing powers of plutonium because of being "borne of Plutonic dimension" left me somewhat speechless. :D
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  41. NickD

    Where is the USt.Thomas statement posted?

    Monckton did not help his case by called the institution a "Bible college" in one of his earlier effusions.

    I imagine Father Dease as a down-to-earth Irish-American, a rather unlikely stereotype to be impressed by a blustering English Lord.

    It is amazing how the contributors at WUWT really lap up the "Lord" stuff. Watts has done up a condensation of Monckton's screed (a condensation consisting of 99 pages!), but the word "Lord" is repeated about 40 times a page. It's "Lord Monckton this ..." and "Lord Monckton that" - you can almost see the forelock being touched. Some "Republicans"!
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  42. The Catholic Church believes that global warming is happening. They also accept evolution.

    Monckton reminds me of the those charlatans in Huckleberry Finn---Duke and Dauphin. They got tarred and feathered when people caught on.
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  43. To answer my own question, the correspondence between Monckton and the University can be read here:

    http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/monckton/warm-abraham-correspondence.doc

    You can see that Monckton came across as so high-handed that the U had no choice but to give him the bum's rush.
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  44. Toby, glad you found it! Visiting that site makes my head hurt.

    It was pointed out by another poster at Rabett's place that part of the response from the University was probably based on things Mr. Monckton had previously said on the public airwaves regarding Father Dease and the University, such as:

    From the Alex Jones show, 24 June 2010 part 5/6 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnQdKDeDjqI)

    "...that, on its own, would be an offense for which he would be dismissed from a real university, but then he only belongs this half-assed Catholic Bible college" (1:10)

    "...but apparently in this Bible college, lying is part of what they regard as their Christian mission..." (2:45)

    "...I want you to email this creep of a President, Father Dennis J. Dease..."(08:30)


    I imagine many more comments like this (such as his Nazi references) will be coming out into the public domain and his claims of being the victim of ad-homs will become evermore ridiculous. He's spent years digging his hole without any serious pushback. Time for him to reap what he has sown.
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  45. robhon at 01:51 AM on 16 July, 2010

    "As others have suggested here, I think he is only going to bring the house down on himself."
    *******************************************************

    Why not help bring down the house upon him?

    I strongly suggest we go on the offensive against Lord Monckton and company instead of just lying still and taking his abuse.

    The obvious has been been brought up on the Support John Abraham site as well as this one, namely, that our 'Lord' has a Narcissistic Disorder. We should study that disorder.

    Knowing his weakness is the first step necessary. Then we must think of ways to flip his lid.

    Perhaps an expose video, calculated to irk him at a critical moment, might help? And/or sending him a friendly e-mail X a zillion?

    This is war. It has been war. We need to treat it accordingly.

    *******************************************************
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652/DSECTION=symptoms
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  46. KR at 01:48 AM on 16 July, 2010
    Thank you for posting that link.

    It seems sometimes in these discussions terms like "straw man", " ad hominem" and others are tossed in without a real understanding of their meaning. In addition an ad hominem is not necessarily inappropriate as there are instances when the persons motives and character do reflect on the argument.
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  47. I saw Monckton on video telling an audience that President Obama was on the way to Copenhagen to help set up a Communist world government.

    He is also on video (I think it is caught on one of Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks) joking about "needing only a freshly minted Hawaiian birth certificate" to become President.

    Monckton clearly studies his audience. I have a small acquaintance with the art of giving presentations, and for all you may say about Monckton, he is a master. He clearly positions himself above the audience, but also seeming to explain clearly some difficult concepts. My guess is that he rehearses incessantly in front of a video camera and strives to set the right tone. Clearly, some of his scientific "facts" are rote-learned and here Abraham has struck a real nerve. Monckton has teh nerve and chutzpah to win debates, but to be challenged in the cold light of day is a different proposition.

    His efforts are primarily sales presentations. Truthfulness and sincerity are not the strong points, nor is modesty. I actually sympathise with some of the rubes at WUWT who have been conned by a master practitioner. Peter Sinclair's two videos are excellent deconstructions.
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  48. Just another thought. We should start saving videos posted on You Tube like the one that NickD mentioned and others where he makes any inane comment.

    The reason is because there's the strong likelihood that they may be removed. This is very likely to happen if our 'Lord' ever gets sued himself and his attorneys advise him to do the George Orwell thing.

    This should be a serious consideration, all the more, if the Oil Companies and their connection to their puppet(s) get any public exposure.

    Furthermore, in view of the way things are going with Global Warming, these videos and other internet archived information will make for good Historical documentation. They could also be used in future Crimes against Humanity Trials.

    Seriously.
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  49. shdwsnlite - "...there are instances when the persons motives and character do reflect on the argument" (emphasis added)

    Well, that's true when what you are discussing is why someone is making a particular argument. A persons motives and character do not, however, affect the validity of their argument. I've heard perfectly valid arguments from homeless drunks, and perfectly invalid arguments from pillars of the community.

    The issue with ad hominem arguments (and other logical fallacies) is that you have to pay attention to discount them. It's entirely too easy to get caught up in these debating tricks and get carried along. These tactics are dishonest - but sadly they are often effective in the public arena...
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  50. Logical Fallacies overview:

    After some poking around I found my favorite link on this (which I keep forgetting to bookmark!).

    Dr. Michael C. Labossiere - Fallacies in logic, via The Nizkor Project

    This is a great set of descriptions of various logical errors, including Strawman, Appeal to Common Practice, Ad hominem, Burden of Proof, Slippery Slope, etc. I highly recommend this or similar sources as basic reading when evaluating the quality of a particular debate, or a collection of a particular debater's arguments.

    As a personal aside, I often see the "Burden of Proof" error committed on the 'skeptic' side when asserting unscrupulous science or data manipulation, such as "All the data has been tweaked to make your conclusion true!".
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