Friday, May 26, 2006

Comment Type #22


There is such a thing as proper pride, in feeling good about one's accomplishments in the innocent way a child is delighted when you like something they have done. But the more common kind of pride is self-gratifying and unattractive. Pride can take on a character of egotism and arrogance, which is certainly unwelcome in a person.

This kind of attitude can find its way onto a comment or message board entry, often by the same person again and again. It can be bragging about accomplishments or personal attributes, it can be a claim to some deed or action that few can match, it can even be the pretence of being something that a person is not. Gaming boards such as for World of Warcraft (WoW) or Everquest are full of this kind of comment.

The WoW database site Thottbot has shared information about various quests, locations, creatures, and such from the MMORP. Some of the more difficult quests or dungeons have tips on how to accomplish the task, with notes about how challenging it is. Inevitably someone will chime in with how very easy it was and how he did it alone (soloed it) with x or y character.

Such a post does not add a thing to the site, and is usually met with disdain or dismissal. It may have been intended as a joke, or it may have been an honest post of some astonishing deed, but nobody gains from such a comment except the person's ego who posted it.

Other boasts usually involve personal abilities such as athletic or monetary. Jobs making giant amounts of money are claimed, the kinship or friendship of famous people, personally being famous is occasionally attempted. Often claims about personal attributes are claimed, saying someone is so vastly attractive that they have to chase off women with a broomstick, and so on.

A third kind of boast is the kind used to give an argument credibility or weight by the respectability and experience or expertise of the person arguing. This will take the form of someone claiming to have served in the military and thus their viewpoint on the army is more valid than someone who has not. Or that they are have a doctorate in economics, so one must heed their wisdom. This may or may not be true - one need not have served in the military to understand something about it, and one may have a degree in an area and still be quite wrong.

not meIn general, the more someone boasts about themselves in an anonymous setting, the less one has cause to believe them. It is easy to claim anything whatsoever about one's self where there is little to no way to verify their position. I could claim to be Brad Pitt, and while nobody would believe me (for good reason) as far as a casual reader could tell it might be true. On the other hand, why would anyone believe me to be someone as successful and busy as Mr Pitt when clearly I have a lot of time on my hands and live in Oregon?

In logic, there is a kind of fallacy - an error - called ad hominem that is often used when sheer logical and rational power does not carry one's point. A form of ad hominem is called "appeal to authority" in which one either rejects a argument simply because an authority says otherwise or insists on their point by claiming authority. This is a fallacy because rather than arguing the case with logic and pointing out it's validity by reason, one is simply insisting that the point is true based on the experience and training of someone. As pointed out above, merely having expertise and a degree does not make one infallible or accurate.

Ultimately the internet is the test of Dr King's dream where a man is judged by the content of his character. Boasts and bragging claims have little weight but the way you act, react, write, and read all have much more significant impact. Don't be a braggart, and don't feel compelled to boast. If you are someone of character and wisdom, of intelligence, experience, and thoughtful ideas, then people will notice without your needing to point it out.

You'll find this is true in real life as well.

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Muslihoon said...

I am God. Just sayin'.


I like your commend about ad hominem and why it's a fallacy. It becomes difficult, though, to separate the words from the speaker. If someone I like says something, I'd be more inclined to accept it than if someone I didn't like said the very same thing.

Unknown said...

I read that last post in 30 seconds I AM THE KING OF READING!!!!!!

Christopher R Taylor said...

I am not worthy

Anna Venger said...

Q: If the same person who says "I did [this]" is quick to say, "Oh, man, I messed [that] up so badly" is he still a braggart or is he someone who is honest about his failings and strengths?

As for the picture of Brad Pitt, while he is probably capable of making a heart skip a beat, if his character is not good, that could be enough to make the blood go cold. Looks really aren't all that impt in the long run and avg by definition is where most of us reside. Yeah, initially a beautiful person can attract attention, but that beauty can wear off fast if what's under it is ugly. So, I don't know how far anyone would get with that on the net esp where there's no face to face interactions.

Christopher R Taylor said...

As far as ad hominem and trusting authority, it's only a fallacy when you appeal to it in the place of logic. If you have logic and an authority or someone you trust, then that can help carry the day. Ad hominem arguments are only fallacies if you do so instead of a real argument. If all things are equal, an ad hominem attack can be proper to show the error.

For example, if two people argue a point well on either side, but one is known as a rascal and liar, while the other is an honest man of integrity, then it's most reasonable to believe the honest man.