Fundamentalist on Others’ Behalf

Click here for the Finnish version: Fundamentalisti toisten puolesta

Yet another one of these… I don’t know what to call them. I’d like to say “internet fallacies”, but that wouldn’t be quite correct.

Sometimes people blame those they disagree with for not having as extreme opinions as the accuser would like. I’ve seen this at least in the context depicted by the following example, though I am reasonably certain it shows up in others, too:

Annoying atheist: Christians are crazy. Do you really believe that god killed almost everyone in a flood and someone gathered all species of animals in one ship?

Less annoying Christian: No. It’s a story that is a product of its time.

Annoying atheist: What! It’s your holy book! You should believe it!

In other words: Why aren’t you a straw man! Or: Why aren’t you more stereotypical! Or: Why aren’t you stupid! Or: Why aren’t you like I thought you were because I don’t actually know anything!

This complaint is nonsense. If it’s so stupid to be the way you think someone else is, isn’t it good if they’re not? Isn’t it justified for just the same reasons? On the other hand, if you go on to give reasons why they should be as you thought, why were you complaining about that in the first place?

It’s not someone else’s problem if you are a fundamentalist about their views. (Which you don’t even hold. So why would you be? Probably because you’re being obnoxiously intolerant.)

Maybe it’s true that your “opponent” is wrong about the thing you are fundamentally disagreeing with them about. For example the existence of god. But then, that’s not about the thing you were talking about any more, is it? Just admit defeat for the part that the other’s opinions weren’t so crazy in the way you were suggesting. Don’t complain about the other not being an easy enough target. That’s pretty pathetic. No-one has an obligation to be dumb just so that you can mock them.

See also

Sama suomeksi.

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