I like feeling good, and it feels good to think that I am right. And when I think I am right I want everyone to agree with me. True, I do appreciate strong and challenging arguments, but at the end of the day it is nice to be able to settle in with people who share my position on the issues that I spend so much time thinking about.
As much as we hate to admit it, our emotions play a role in our perception and certainly in our rhetoric. The question is not whether or not it is there, but how much is there and how it plays out.
While I have been critical in regard to Answers in Genesis (AiG) and specifically in regard to Dr. Jason Lisle, I think that he is dead center in his argument regarding emotion. In his post on the Fallacy of the Question-Begging Epithet, he talks about how some people use emotionally charged content in a seemingly intellectual discussion, which in essence serves by undercutting the character of the other person.
There certainly are people on both sides of any argument who use this strategy, so we all may have something to learn. However, many are quite aware of this as an issue and I appreciate when they do temper their own emotion when they are holding a conversation on something that they are obviously passionate about.
Unfortunately, as an illustration, Dr. Lisle used a cartoon that definitely appears to include a characterization of PZ Myers who lead the trip to the Creation Museum last month. Admittedly, I would agree about some of Myers’ tactics, but using such an example is in some ways engaging the epithet itself.