Argument From Intimidation Reveals Intellectual Impotence

"The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence." -- Ayn Rand

Intellectual impotence is a dysfunction suffered by many these days. But truth be told, the most affected ones are the leftists and the pro-Palestinian activists.
The Art of Argumentation is beautiful and it requires not only discipline (and self-control) but mainly knowledge – you have to possess enough information (on history, law and current political issues, for instance) otherwise failure is guaranteed. Being proficient in the Art of arguing also implies identifying the snake oil salesman (i.e. that individual who seems intelligent and talks fast to intimidate, conceal his insecurities and his lack of information – i.e. facts).

What is the argument from intimidation that Ayn Rand spoke of? It is “a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent’s agreement with one’s undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure . . . [It] consists of threatening to impeach an opponent’s character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate.” (in Argument from Intimidation, Lexicon)
Surely, those who are politically active – online and offline – recognise this type of argument. I know I do and that is why, this week, I will share the best examples of argument from intimidation that my team has come across in 2014:

Example A
Hayley Nagelberg (17 years, from New Jersey): “But by the time it was known that it was four Israelis and two Palestinians, it was known that there were meat cleavers and stabbings involved. Why couldn’t you call it an ‘attack’?”
Richard Davis (the Executive VP of News Standards and Practices for CNN): “You’ve got to be kidding me? One word? Are you brain dead?” (source here)
Mr Davis attempted to intimidate an intelligent teenager by using a tone of  “scornful or belligerent incredulity.” - Dick Davis publicly confessed he is an intellectual impotent.

Example B
An exchange on Twitter (here):
Max Coutinho: Get your facts straight [concerning the history of Israel] and then get back to me
Sumol67: only if you live in an alternative Universe!
Max Coutinho: ah, so you don't have the facts! If you need help let me know. I don't fall 4 leftist propaganda; I know how to seek info by myself.
Sumol67: Max am actually quite on the "right" as for "facts" we all have them, knowing history/situation something else!
Max Coutinho: (..) Facts, in this case, = history. And Hx is truth: Palestine is National Homeland of Jews.
OccPal-Gaza: And the stipulations of that were the indegenous[sic] pop would be allowed right. See Mandate Art's 9 & 15
Max Coutinho: not indigenous pop, but pop of different religions. Read it again.
OccPal-Gaza: Ah, you think Jews can be indigenous but Palestinians can't. Bigotry much?
Max Coutinho: (..) So, I'm a bigot cause I disagree?
Sumol67: No Max cos you contradict yrself on my political leanings & no need to be personal. I hvnt w u.
Max Coutinho: political leanings do not impede one from thinking. And personal? I don't know you, so nothing personal here.
Sumol67: And that's here your messages contradict themselves. No prob. take care.
(another example of Twitter Intellectual-dysfunction Here)
Again, in the above exchange of words, a tone of scorn, belligerence and pretentious superiority was applied in a poor attempt to intimidate and discredit me; but when challenged my interlocutors had no arguments “no reasons, no ground to stand on” and therefore “their noisy aggressiveness served to hide a vacuum—that the Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.” (idem)

Example C

The intellectual impotent individuals in the above threads made sure they'd use words like “white supremacists”, “retarded” and “censorship” obeying, thus, to the pattern of argument from intimidation where they try to portrait their target as morally unworthy – to impeach the adversary's character. 

I could go on and on with the examples, however I believe my dear readers got the general picture. Regardless of the theme, when discussing with leftists (and some right wingers) it's easy to identify the pattern employed against their opponents - “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”(idem)

2014 was a very busy year for us: we covered a wide range of issues, we welcomed a new dissector (Stephen Cheney) and started a new segment (the Club of Shadows). Dissecting Society would like to thank our amazing Honorary Dissectors: your comments enrich our pieces. 
May 2015 be even more interesting. 

Happy New Year!

(Image: Ayn Rand, Wikipedia)


  1. The right wing nuts also intimidate us! They can't have a sound debate without rolling their eyes and calling us ridiculous! The examples you gave of course show that these people don't know how to discuss stuff and obviously are confused about what bigotry really is but hey, we can argue that argument from intimidation is a method used by all sides!

    1. Hi Celia :D!

      You will note that I actually wrote:
      'Regardless of the theme, when discussing with leftists (and some right wingers) it's easy to identify the pattern employed against their opponents - “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”(idem)'
      As you can see, I did mention the right wing intellectual impotents; nevertheless, the prevalent class of this method of argument is the left wing and the Pro-Palestinian camp. It's undeniable.

      Happy New Year.

  2. But Max, can you show me your official license to employ "facts"? ;) It is my understanding that "facts" are a strictly regulated commodity governed by the United Nations Commission for the Certification of Facts. Otherwise, there is no telling what deranged people will come up with!

    This reminds me of a "debate club" at the high school where my kids went. It was one of the best in the country, based on their performance in debate competitions. The 16 to 18 year old kids would blaze through a "debate" invoking all kinds of "facts" about, say, the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Inquisition, as if they had actually learned something about the subject. As a practical matter, they would be simply restating the leftist talking points from earlier generations which they had erroneously thought were "facts". To correct one of these "facts" would require more time and energy than the entire debate, while these kids were programmed to talk first, and listen only to the extend needed to identify a technicality that wasn't addressed in their opponents argument, which would then be the basis for the next series of authoritative statements.

    1. Hi Looney :D!

      LOL right? ;) The UN only certifies deranged people, period. From the moment that we start ignoring history, legal documents, documented facts (cause if there's not documentation to back up a claim, then the world just deems it false even if it may not be so), then we breathe, think, talk, and act upon counterfeited data, i.e. lies. I reject that.

      My understanding of Debate Clubs is that they only serve to teach kids how to be snake oil salesmen: facts are usually irrelevant, emotions in Apollonian measure are vital, and confidence is paramount. But when a kid is naturally gifted in dialectics (which requires the necessary amount of information/knowledge): God help his/her interlocutors.

      Looney, thanks for your super comment :D.
      Happy New Year.

  3. Replies
    1. Abelle, ma belle :D!

      Happy New Year to you too, darling. Thanks for dropping by :D.


  4. Frankly Max, you have such a patience with those people! If I was in your shoes I'd tell them to go **** themselves, all of them! And that goof ball who doesn't know what bigotry means, I swear our countrymen promised God they'd embarrass us for the rest of their life! Anyway, that 17 year old girl is mighty intelligent and she got spunk too: love her already! Great job, darling and I'm sharing this.

    1. Hi Cêcê :D!

      lol it's not a question of having patience; I'm fighting for Israel. Well, that's not my style, you know that.
      LOL LOL when some people get all riled up, they lose focus.
      Thanks, darling :D.

      Happy New Year.

  5. Wishing you Max a wonderful, fruitful and a purposeful New Year ahead and your intellectual thoughts shine as ever. As regards to this beautiful post I'll just put one poem by Tagore for all the pseudo leftists:

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
    Where knowledge is free
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
    By narrow domestic walls
    Where words come out from the depth of truth
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
    Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
    Where the mind is led forward by thee
    Into ever-widening thought and action
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    1. Hi K :D!

      Same to you, my dear friend. Ah, one of these days you'll make me blush *bowing*.
      I absolutely love Tagore's poem: right to the point. Yes, "my Father, let my country awake" - love this part.
      Thank you for your super comment, Kalyan :D.

      Happy new year.


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