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Do not consider Dan Brown a great writer? “Then write a better book that sells millions of copies” (like popularity means quality in arts!). Do you think some fighter made a mistake in a MMA bout? “Get on the ring and do it better”

It is easy to see the ad hominem fallacy: one attacks the person and not his arguments. However, unfortunately, those empty remarks are commonly aimed at those who dare to criticize any subject that they do not practice as a profession or hold a specific knowledge about. Nevertheless, incoherently, those same people who usually use this type of “argument” do not hesitate on cursing a striker of their soccer team when he misses an “easy goal”. Certainly, nearly none of them has the ability to play in a professional soccer game. They also justly criticize the mistakes of our mayors, governors and president, without in many cases having the capacity to administrate their own finances or the condominium they live in. In those moments, they conveniently ignore the “go on and do it better yourself”.

It is imperative to say that this does not mean that one should defend that every person’s opinion has the same weight or that there are no areas in which only the experts should be heard. However, there are extraordinary situations, mistake so simple and obvious, in several areas that extrapolate the necessity of an expertise, that even a layman can see. Let’s see several examples.

Generally, only a medical health professional can tell if a malpractice actually happened. However, even a nonprofessional is totally capable of pointing the mistake of a surgeon that forgets a scalpel inside the patient’s body, even being totally incapable of doing the surgery himself.

Only a jiu jitsu specialist (or in graplling in general) can evaluate the better way out of some complex ground position in a MMA fight. However, even a layman can point the mistake of a fighter who foolish drop his guard and exposes his face to his opponent (Anderson Silva against Chris Weidman, for example) or of the one who tries to submit a virtually knocked out opponent (example: Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira against Frank Mir).

Just and specialist on soccer tactics (journalist, coach or former player), in theory, has the capacity to analyze in a convincing way the technical and tactical variations of a team. Nevertheless, even the casual soccer fan (without the need to ever have player the sport) may easily see the mistake of the striker who misses a goal inside the box without a goalkeeper.

Those who study literature in the academy (lots of them never wrote a novel) can successfully demonstrate the influences and idiosyncrasies in the thinking of giants like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and of contemporary masters like the American Cormac McCarthy. Nevertheless, even a casual reader (not needing to have written any books) can tell the difference in depth and complexity between the writings of Dan Brown (author of “The Da Vinci Code”) and Dostoyevsky. The American writes easy to read popular books – great and fun to pass the time, by the way. The Russian wrote books that deeply stimulates the contemplation about human character that makes readers effectively think about themselves and their place in the world.

Therefore, dear reader, if you are in the “do it your better yourself” gang, drop that empty line and realize that you also criticize people who practice activities that you do no master. Gladly you do, because if you were right, we would live in a very dull world, in which only experts could have a say about the most simple subjects. Drop the “ad hominem”. I know it is harder, forces you to think, but it is worth it. Attack arguments and not the person who defends them.

If you disliked this article, write one better yourself then*.

*Just a joke, of course, so you can see how week that “argument” really is.

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