Ad hominem:

Definition Example
When the person is attacked instead of the argument. What would you know about economics? You filed for bankruptcy last year!
“Ad hominem” means “to the individual”, and is often used as either a distraction from the main argument, or as a hostile emotional release against an opponent. This does not invalidate any argument it accompanies, but is generally considered poor form.

When ad hominems are intentionally introduced as a way to turn the audience against someone, they are a form of “poisoning the well”.

Case Study One

Calling someone “racist” does not invalidate their argument, even if they are indeed racist.

Case Study Two

Some Christians respond to the arguments of non-believers by calling them “fools” (as does the Bible), presumably believing the ad hominem somehow defeats the arguments.

Keep in mind that a fallacious argument does not entail an erroneous position.

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