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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Name-Calling


Though easy to confuse with the logical fallacy of ad hominem attacks on a person’s level of knowledge or ability, name-calling is a slightly different concept. Listen, stupid, and see if you can understand why this form of argumentation isn’t all that helpful.


According to one source, “Name-calling is a fallacy that uses emotionally loaded terms to influence an audience. Also called verbal abuse.” As an example, my intentionally ironic use of the word “stupid” when referring to the reader is a form of name-calling or labeling.


Per a separate source, “The fallacy occurs only if personal attacks are employed to devalue a speaker’s argument by attacking the speaker; personal insults in the middle of an otherwise sound argument are not fallacious ad hominem attacks.”


To better understand the difference between ad hominem characterization and name-calling attacks, consider the following:


Ad hominem – Person X wants me to believe that drinking 15.5 cups of fluids per day is healthy. However, person X probably got that information from an internet search when using her smartphone while sitting on the toilet, so the only information to consider from person X is whether or not she understands proper hand sanitization!


Name-calling – Person X is a moron!


Both the ad hominem and name-calling fallacies in this example are meant to dissuade an interested party from considering person X as a reasonable source of information. Still, name-calling is a quicker route to the realm of uncharitable argumentation.


To further illustrate how name-calling works, consider the 2023 Israel-Hamas war that is currently taking place. Online, I’ve observed numerous people who’ve criticized the Israeli government’s response to Hamas being labeled “anti-Semites”—people who are hostile to or prejudiced against Jewish people.


Regarding this sort of name-calling, one source states:


It cheapens the concept of antisemitism – a real global curse – for defenders of the Israeli government to pretend that it is somehow antisemitic to hold Israel to the same standards of international humanitarian law as we use to assess Hamas’s conduct. A war crime is a war crime.


I concur. Criticism of a government isn’t synonymous with name-calling of an entire group of people. Even as one source proclaims, “Supporting Palestinian rights is antisemitic because Israel wants it to be,” the term “Israel” relates to the authority and not the populous.


Name-calling isn’t all that helpful, because it serves as a disingenuous tactic to shut down meaningful discussion. If you disagree, then you’re just a big ‘ol poo-poo head!


(See what I did there?)


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW



References:


Gutman, A. (2021, May 27). Supporting Palestinian rights is antisemitic because Israel wants it to be. NBC Universal. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/how-jews-can-support-palestinian-rights-condemn-antisemitism-ncna1268680

Hollings, D. (2023, October 15). Ad hominem. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/ad-hominem

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2022, November 10). Labeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/labeling

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Water: How much should you drink every day? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

McGreal, C. (2023, October 10). US opinion divided amid battle for narrative over Hamas attack on Israel. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/oct/10/hamas-attack-israel-us-opinion-divided

Nordquist, R. (2020, February 19). Name-calling as a logical fallacy. Thought Co. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/name-calling-fallacy-1691413

Wikipedia. (n.d.). 2023 Israel-Hamas war. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_Israel%E2%80%93Hamas_war

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Name calling. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_calling

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