Thursday, October 10, 2002

CalPundit has an interesting critique of fisking, a technique common among warbloggers. (Click here if you need a definition of fisking.) Fisking usually entails breaking down a commentator's arguments point-by-point, so the liberal CalPundit cleverly makes his point by breaking down the Gettysburg Address. His conclusion on fisking:

Childish, petulant, ignorant, and willfully trying to miss the bigger point. Almost autistic in the certainty that their hyper-rationalism has dealt a devastating logical blow to their safely-out-of-sight opponent.

Folks, there's a reason you don't see "real" pundits do this kind of thing in the New York Times, and it's not because of liberal media bias. It's because it's stupid. Knock it off.

I do think a good point is made of about missing the bigger picture. The context and underlying principles of an argument can be more important than the evidence that is suppose to support the context and principles. This can be especially true in newspaper and television commentary that have space or time constraints. A great example of missing the big picture is misguided critiques of the U.S Constitution by those who do not understand the context and principles of the entire document, the American form of government, and natural rights.

In defense of fisking, I find it to be a logical and speedy way for someone to break down another's arguments. Most bloggers are not being paid for their blogging activities, have limited time to write, and the commentary is time sensitive, so fisking works well within these constraints. In addition, many of the stars of blogging are lawyers and picking apart arguments in a logical fisking manner comes natural to them.

I don't think I've actually fisked anyone on my blog. I do break down news articles, not commentary, for bias and to note the different points being made. I pick out a few relevant sections, but usually not all, and intersperse the sections with my commentary. My homeschooling article critique from today is the closest thing to fisking, but again this was a news article, not someone making an argument.