Re: Taking the billion? Re: Gedankenexperiments

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From: Gordon Mohr (
Date: Thu Aug 17 2000 - 00:36:00 PDT

Jeff Bone writes:
> Gordon Mohr wrote:
> > Jeff Bone writes:
> > > The point --- really the only point --- that I've been trying to make in this whole
> > > shebang is this: it's awfully amusing and pointless for any of us to say "there's more
> > > to life than money" (assuming money == uberwealth) because, AFAIK, none of us on the
> > > list are billionaires.
> >
> > That's just silly, a sophist's trick for excusing oneself from criticism
> > by declaring us all incompetent in the matter at hand -- a degenerate case
> > of an appeal to authority.
> One last bit for the night, in line with the implicit metadiscussion on how to win an argument.
> Please note that it's always good to pepper your counters with terms like "silly," "sophistry,"
> "excuse," "incompetent," and "degenerate." "Absurd" is also a good one. Now, for the bonus
> points: can we define "hyperbole?" "Invective?" "Misdirection?" "Misrepresentation?"
> "Strawman?" How about "rhetorical shystering?"
> ;-)

I stand by every word of my assessment of your "point".

You keep coming back to, essentially, "I'm not listening to anyone who
isn't a billionaire talk about the value of money."

That is...

  (1) SILLY. If we held all of our conversations to a such a
  standard, we'd always talk past each other. "I'm not listening
  to you anymore about arguments, you're no Gerry Spence!"

  Many have suggested flaws in your conception of money's
  value. By, retreating, repeatedly, to -- "you're not a
  billionaire, what would you know?" -- you avoid addressing
  the content of their critiques, instead turning the discussion
  back to your strongly held but unverifiable beliefs about
  the exceptionalism of the billionaire experience.

  defined competence on this topic as "having a billion dollars",
  and called the opinions and reasoning of people who don't
  meet this standard to be "amusing and pointless". Well,
  though I trust you when you report that *you* can't imagine
  what it would be like to be a billionaire, note that others
  feel up to the task. There's enough information available on
  real-life billionaires, I know enough about my own preferences,
  I can both extrapolate and predict where extrapolation wouldn't
  apply. Of course, there would be surprises, but not so many
  that discussion is "pointless".

  pointing out any specific authorities, or claiming yourself
  to be an authority, you've asserted that the number of
  trustable authorities present is "zero", so we can erase
  everything inconvenient that's been said. That's "degenerate"
  like a mathematical function with a zero factor.

I wasn't rhetorically gaming, and my words weren't chosen as
potshots -- they were just an accurate description, in my view,
of your insistence that only a billionaire's perspective is valid.

Separately, Jeff writes:
> Okay, to clean up my act, here's the summary:
> The proper formulation of my position (for the purposes of this discussion) is as follows.
> The only obvious way to disprove the assertion "there's nothing in life that money can't
> buy" is to be offered a counterexample by someone who was for all intents and purposes
> financially unconstrained.

Ask Ross Perot how much the U.S. presidency costs. Or better yet,
the constitutionally disqualified Rupert Murdoch.

Approach a billionaire and ask him if all his money can bring back
a beloved dead parent. (Be ready to be punched.)

- Gordon

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