Q&A: Scuttling your own Argument

So, before we get started today, we don’t usually respond to every misogynistic shitpost that hits our inbox. So, let’s turn this garbage into a teachable moment.

Women have a lower reaction time than men, this has been proven. How would this affect combat?

There’s a couple problems with this. I mean, there are many flaws with this question, but I’m going to focus on two.

The first: As we’ve said many times, “bold claims require strong and convincing evidence.” This may come as a shock, but, “this has been proven,” does not count as a citation.

We live in a world where people actually argue that the planet is flat because they cannot physically see the curvature of the earth. Keep in mind, we’ve been to space.

We live in a world where people are more inclined to believe in ancient aliens than accept the idea that the non-European civilizations were able to construct great architectural works.

This is before we get into examples like Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield falsified his research on MMR vaccines in the late 90s. He claimed he’d found a link between the MMR Vaccine in common use, and incidents of autism. Except, his entire goal was to capitalize on the resulting vaccine scare, making money off of a new market for diagnostic kits, and a “replacement MMR vaccine.”

“This has been proven,” doesn’t mean a thing without a citation.

Now, what has been proven is that the author of this question is an idiot, and the evidence is in their text.

Women fight all the time. You only need to look as far as your local police blotter to see evidence of that, in case you’ve somehow never observed this personally.

Beyond that, many armed services include women, including in combat roles. The most famous example is the IDF, but Germany, France, Australia, the UK and US all train and deploy women in combat roles. Russia is often also held up as an example, and during the Second World War, they fielded female snipers, though, as far as I know, they don’t currently allow women in combat roles. In the case of the US, there are women in the SEALs and Rangers, which seriously undermines the idea that they’re somehow unfit for combat. Seriously there are female Special Forces Operators. (There may also be some women in the British SAS, I’m not 100% sure, though the Service is not gender restricted.)

Also, those militaries conducted extensive testing to determine if they found women eligible to serve, and before you hop on an unfounded argument of, “political correctness skewed the results,” it’s worth remembering that military testing often skews hard to support the status quo. If your claim had any merit, you could be assured that various militaries would have been proclaiming it from the rooftops as the reason they couldn’t accept women into combat roles (or, why they should be blocked from military service entirely.)

So, I said the author was an idiot, and I’m not basing that on their unfamiliarity with military service demographics. When you’re writing an argument it is very important to chose your words carefully. The way you phrase things can shape, or undermine, your argument.

In this case, it’s his question: “How would this affect combat?”

The choice of, “would,” assumes a false variable. When you’re asking a question where all of the components of an argument are true, you ask, “how does this affect combat?”

For example, after a technical discussion of the internal workings of the AK47, you would not ask, “how would this affect the rifle’s performance in combat?” You would ask, “how does it affect the rifle’s performance?” If you were speculating on changes to the design, then, “would,” would become the correct term.

(Also, “would,” is the correct term in the previous paragraph, because you are not asking those questions.)

The two variables in the author’s question are their reflexes assertion, and whether women fight. They probably assumed women do not fight. (I can only assume this is because they didn’t do any research, and apparently, have never met a member of the opposite sex.) However, once you establish that women do fight, “would,” dictates that the other variable must be false. Meaning, they have just unintentionally stated that their reflexes assertion is untrue.

What I can’t prove is that they’re misreading early neuroplasticity studies. If you’ve never looked into it, neuroplasticity is a fascinating subject. Your brain is a remarkably adaptive organ, and this can result in significant neurological differences between individuals based on their experiences. Neuroplasticity can affect reflex time, and it is probably why martial artists who get their start as children have significantly faster reflexes than those who start as adults. Your brain is far more plastic (meaning adaptive) during childhood. Plasticity does remain in adulthood, but your brain loses adaptability as you age. However, if that is the case, it’s important to understand that these differences are the result of experiences and activities, not gender.


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