Running common among luddites, conspiracy theorists, and anti-science culture is the quick-draw to cry “shill!” That is, to accuse someone of taking a cash payment to espouse views that are not their own. Any statement made by the crier o’ shill’s opponent must be invalid, because they’re in the pay of the imaginary demons (big whatever, Monsanto, the Government, reptile aliens) who are trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. How is this proven? By the fact that they oppose the crier o’ shill, of course.
I wonder sometimes if criers o’ shill even know why they’re reaching for this tautology as a conceptual shield. It may seem like a strong tactic to the person using it, because it feels useful to knock down any argument against them. But it’s merely a paradox–an unfalsifiable loop.
- Now that the cryer o’ shill has invalidated anything the ‘shill’ says, that person can no longer defend themselves, because they could be lying about not being a shill. Why do they lie? Because they’re a shill.
- The “evidence” for the person being a shill is the fact that they have a stance against the crier o’ shill. Calling someone a shill with no proof to back it up, is the logical equivalent of saying, “You are wrong, because I am never wrong.“
Not only is the shill argument empty and sad, it’s one of the most common mistakes made by people in any argument. It’s a logical fallacy, known as an ad hominem. (Against the person.) The crier o’ shill is attacking the person making a statement in an attempt to render that target’s argument invalid, rather than demonstrating any falsehood in the argument through attacking the argument itself.
Of course you would say there’s no scientific proof that GMOs are dangerous! You’re getting paid by Monsanto!
Not only is the crier o’ shill refusing to address any argument their target makes with a statement like this, they are usually doing so, as I said before, on the evidence that the target opposes them, leaving no room whatsoever for the crier o’ shill to be wrong.
This is what it means to be “unfalsifiable”. Being unfalsifiable doesn’t mean the crier o’ shill’s argument can’t be false. It means their accusation is automatically meaningless, because there’s no way for anyone in the situation to show that they definitely are not a shill, as crier declares. The crier o’ shill might as well just put their fingers in their ears and go, “LA LA LA LA LA!!!”
The only thing the crier o’ shill proves is that they don’t give a flying fuck about having an actual discussion, about hearing any viewpoint but their own, or about any reality outside of the one they’re already convinced exists. Saying, “I’m right, and that’s that! Neener!” is good enough for them.
But not for anyone who knows better. : )