DH1. Ad hominem.
DH2. Responding to tone.
DH6. Refuting the central point.
So some social justice warrior calling James Damore a dick-bag would get a “DH0”. An in-depth, rigorous refutation of each point of Damore’s memo would get a “DH5”. I would follow that account.
But here’s the mistaken assumption that I make, and I believe Paul Graham made when piecing together his hierarchy: thinking that refuting the central point is the same as gaining an advantage in a debate. As Venkatesh Rao pointed out in Portals and Flags:
“The point of complex debates is not to prove your side right and the other wrong. Smart people make this mistake most often, and end up losing before they ever get started. The point of complex debate is always seduction: winning-over rather than winning. You do this not through logic or even novel insight, but by demonstrating a more fertile way of thinking. One that promises to throw up an indefinitely extended stream of surprises within an ever-widening scope.”
Naturally, such a truth can be and is exploited for profit and gain. I’m not condoning that. What I am saying is that once you realise that effectiveness and rigor are not the same thing, once you see that there’s a difference between winning and winning-over, it allows you to be ensnared less often by the purveyors of effective but non-rigorous arguments. It allows you to move through the world with less chance of being burned by the constant flame wars over the latest cultural taboo. Mind you, it still means others will be hooked by effective, non-rigorous arguments. But I don’t know exactly how we can begin to change that. Any ideas?