Mr. Ad Hominem

by The Madison County Record |
May 7, 2011, 7:25am

Do law students take courses in basic logic anymore? Or has professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr. been replaced by lawyer-trained pragmatists who advocate gaming the system with fallacy-fueled emotional appeals to judges and juries?

Surely there are a great number of individuals in our judicial system who can recognize, and object to, an ad hominem argument

Hominem? That's a word that sounds like another word, but means something different.
Hominem is almost a homonym for homonym.

An ad hominem argument is one made against the person who testifies. Instead of attacking the testimony – which might prove difficult – one attacks the person, giving the impression that the individual is so tainted by personal or professional biases or shortcomings that nothing said can be credited.

"You can't believe him. He beats his wife. He repeated the third grade," is an example of an ad hominem argument.

It seems that whether or not any given testimony is scientifically sound or corroborated by other authorities, it now suffices for some to cast aspersions on the testifier.

Stephen Tillery must have missed Professor Kingsfield's classes. In any case, he's becoming adept at ad hominem attacks and guilt by association rather than pain-staking rebuttal.

Recently, in his long-running suit against the makers of weedkiller atrazine, Tillery and his firm charged that Syngenta paid the Heartland Institute "to generate false studies and to plant sympathetic editorials in an effort to sway public opinion concerning the effects of atrazine."

Syngenta has the right to make its case in the court of public opinion as well as in a court of law. If Tillery suspects that the Heartland studies are false, let him duplicate their research and produce the results.

Show us the proof. Back what's alleged with facts and corroboration. That would be the logical way to respond.

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