“Fractally wrong”

21 02 2008


The perils of engaging the fractally wrong . . .

As heard on a recent episode of The Non-Prophets podcast:

fractal wrongness

The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. That is, from a distance, a fractally wrong person’s worldview is incorrect; and furthermore, if you zoom in on any small part of that person’s worldview, that part is just as wrong as the whole worldview.

Debating with a person who is fractally wrong leads to infinite regress, as every refutation you make of that person’s opinions will lead to a rejoinder, full of half-truths, leaps of logic, and outright lies, that requires just as much refutation to debunk as the first one. It is as impossible to convince a fractally wrong person of anything as it is to walk around the edge of the Mandelbrot set in finite time.

If you ever get embroiled in a discussion with a fractally wrong person on the Internet–in mailing lists, newsgroups, or website forums–your best bet is to say your piece once and ignore any replies, thus saving yourself time.

(Keunwoo Lee)

Hmmm . . . maybe I ought to have heeded this advice when engaging Saved Sinner’s tortured reasoning at Oz Atheist’s blog. I just read this to my girlfriend, and she remarked that all those atheist podcasts I listen to seem to be one long exercise in wasting time on fractally wrong people. Perhaps she’s right–but then again perhaps, as Paula Kirby’s exquisite demolition of the “fleas'” arguments demonstrates (well worth the read, lengthy though it may be), it is a necessary evil.




3 responses

29 02 2008

Funny read and makes some good points. However if everyone followed this “to the letter” knowledge would not spread. My current state of mind is the result of dozens of people tirelessly bludgeoning me over the head with knowledge. I wouldn’t be the good anti-establishment atheist I am today if it weren’t for those brave souls.

God bless them.

4 03 2008


However if everyone followed this “to the letter” knowledge would not spread.

Could you clarify?

29 05 2008
The Bill Muehlenberg Trophy: Iftikhar Ahmad « Five Public Opinions

[…] As for the notion that it is in the public interest for governments to finance these gated communities; to endorse with the taxpayer’s largess the idea that “There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school;” to expect non-Muslim taxpayers to foot the bill for state institutions that will discriminate against non-Muslims as employees, and non-Muslim children as pupils, purely by virtue of the fact that they are not Muslims–something no other state institution would be allowed to do . . . well, that’s not just wrong. That’s fractally wrong. […]

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