[Python-ideas] Retire or reword the "Beautiful is better than ugly" Zen clause

Franklin? Lee leewangzhong+python at gmail.com
Sun Sep 16 13:32:26 EDT 2018

On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 4:14 AM Antoine Pitrou <solipsis at pitrou.net> wrote:
> Yeah, right.
> You know, when I was pointing out Calvin not being very brave by
> attacking a bunch of people without giving names, my aim was to merely
> point out how dishonest and disrespectful his attitude his.  *Not* to
> encourage someone to turn his post into more of a clusterfuck of
> personal attacks.

Please give an example of an attack I made above. I see accusations,
made against adults, regarding actions.

On Sun, Sep 16, 2018, 05:45 David Mertz <mertz at gnosis.cx> wrote:
> You have missed the use of *reductio ad absurdum* in my comment and several others. This argument structure is one of the fundamental forms of good logical reasoning, and shows nothing dismissive or insulting. The specifics book titles I used were carefully chosen, and you'd do well to think about why those specific books (and read all of them, if you haven't).

Reductio ad absurdum and mockery are not mutually exclusive. Mockery
can be thought of as a natural (though often fallacious) form of
reductio ad absurdum: the position (or person) should not be taken
seriously because the consequences are absurd.

The examples I chose were not simply coldly rational arguments, so we
can look at the extra choices made. I'm sure you can see the
difference between these two logically-equivalent arguments:
- "Assume there is a largest prime. Then we can construct a large
number which is not divisible by any prime. But that's impossible, so
there is no largest prime."
- "Since you believe there is a largest prime, we have a large number
not divisible by any prime. I'll start on that pull request to change
INT_MAX to the largest prime."

For granularity, let:
    "disrespectful" := Negative respect, such as an insult.
    "unrespectful" := Without proper respect, but not as bad as "disrespectful".

Other than mockery, there can be disrespectful argumentum ad absurdum.
Often, the difference between a respectful and an unrespectful
argument is how much logical effort is needed to reach the absurdity,
because that is the effort that wasn't put in, or incorrectly put in.
(Thinking off the top of my head, a slippery slope argument is often

While people often make small logical mistakes when new to a subject
or idea, or miss immediate consequences, there are many cases where
the person has clearly thought about their position before, and a
logically-obvious one-line counter is an insult to their effort, if
not their intelligence. If you do think you have an obvious one-line
counter, even after considering whether you misunderstood the original
argument, then putting it as a question is more respectful than
stating it conclusively, which is more respectful than making it

More generally, a respectful argument aims to convince your opponents,
while an argument made with the audience in mind can be unrespectful,
and an argument which mostly appeals to those that already agree is
usually disrespectful.

In your specific case, you used sarcasm, a one-liner argument (listing
a few titles without elaborating on their relevance), slippery slope,
talked about book-burning when the OP was suggesting a change for
future work, and focused on the word "beautiful" where the OP focused
on "ugly". Was your post crafted to convince the OP, or for the sake
of a laugh? Do you believe that your post could convince any of your
opponents? Would you have said it that way in a room where no one was
already on your side?

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