[hackerspaces] Sigh -- I'm not helping with Maker Faires this year.

Matt Joyce matt at nycresistor.com
Thu Apr 5 07:20:50 CEST 2012

A Critique of Will Bradley's email by a Troll

On Wed, Apr 4, 2012 at 8:19 PM, Will Bradley <bradley.will at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dale posted a reply* on this topic, but his argument amounts to "the ends
> justify the means."

Will's opening statement does frame his argument well.  And his choice
of argument is exceptional.  Anyone with an even rudimentary level of
knowledge concerning the schools of thought in modern sociology would
know that different schools of ethics view "the ends justify the
means" in different light.  Thus arguing from this point you are
already discounting a number of folks perfectly valid ethical views
while providing an implicit support of others.

That being said I would have taken this chance to poison Dale's
decision to address the issue.  One way to do this would be a simple
if by whiskey, however I'd prefer something more subtle like a veiled
reference to a seemingly altruistic motive that I can pervert later to
my own ends.  All in all not a bad start but it could be better.

> He ignores objections to the military-industrial
> complex, instead assuring us with talk of open-source.

I don't believe Will realizes how much fun this particular sentence
is.  But I enjoyed its depth unintentional or not.  He promotes the
idea that Dale is purposefully refusing to address his objections to
the military industrial complex and refuses to elaborate on that
instead assuming the role of the vox populi and making his own views
yours.  I like that a lot.  It's a great way to pick up some support
from dumber readers and rally people who already have beef with the
vaguely defined military industrial complex.   What's important to
realize here is that very argument is a straw man in and of itself.
Because the state of the "military industrial complex" is not at issue
here or relevant to Make in the least.  But it is a topic that might
push some buttons on some folks.  So well played William.  This is a
text book use of the straw man in the first part of the sentence.

The next component of the sentence is a complete non sequitur in
logic, that seems to denigrate the possible future contributions of
people on this list.  Or at least serve a base to introduce a
subconscious bias against a range of possible arguments.  I like the
attempt but the execution was over reaching and not very elegant.

> Why should the military be funding education when military spending has been
> astronomical and education spending has been strangled for the past decade?

This is another straw man argument.  The structure is textbook, but
the choice of components is poor.  The link between military funding
being high and the the ethical concerns related to military investment
in education is tenuous at best.  In fact William has left his straw
man open for use by his opponents.  Now I am willing to accept that
MIGHT be baiting to force them down a line of argument's that's built
on the sand of a straw man argument but... I doubt it.  It's too poor
a choice of elements for that strategy to be effective here.  All in
all, I'd say this is a major mistake in Will's effort.  I also don't
like stylistically that he reused a fallacy so quickly.

> A principled person would advocate adjusting the budgets of the DoD and DoE
> instead of siphoning military money to education.

I like how he immediately implies that to be principled you MUST agree
with the next part of his statement.  It sets up a conditional state
that's false.  But ultimately it's another straw man argument.
Obviously attempting to build on his previous failed attempt to push
military funding into the argument set he's again beating on the
strawman fallacy.  It's getting fairly tired now.  An if by whiskey
would have worked very well here.  Alternatively an argument from
ignorance could have done wonders.  I want to be wowed.  This is the
meat of your opening argument.  Show me some creativity.

All in all.  I'm underwhelmed by the quality of trolling now and many
readers have likely already been shaken loose from the original hook
of the email.  Some will take the bait still but it's possible you've
hit critical mass in people that will openly discount your continued
contributions.  That's dangerous to the troll's effectiveness.

> The ends don't justify the means.

> Education is failing partly because teachers are making less than bus
> drivers yet expected to buy 50-student-classrooms full of supplies; just
> follow the money (or lack thereof.)

We could have seen a really delicious argument from authority here.
No effort was made.  I am saddened by this.  But maybe Will will read
this and take some time next time to look through his arsenal and use
some of the other tools he has available to him.  Or maybe he left
this as bait and has a full battery of arguments from ignorance to
bludgeon to death the way he bludgeoned the straw man fallacy to
death.  I cringe at the very thought.

> * http://blog.makezine.com/2012/04/04/makerspaces-in-education-and-darpa/

Link back.  Nice.  Gives it the feel of a citation and formal
argument.  Had you used an argument from authority or ignorance you
could have footnoted the arguments to supporting stats / etc.  And
then possibly baited some folks into a correlative fallacy.  You
missed an opportunity earlier, but the framework at least was in place
to capitalize on it had you not done so.  As a rifle instructor might
say.  You are terrible, but you don't have very many bad habits.  You
can be trained.  I hope you take this email to heart when you are
constructing future trolls.

Good luck noble troll.


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