After my post semi-defending the use of the word “stupid” in arguments, I feel obligated to say that after thinking about it a bit more, I think “silly,” “absurd,” and “ridiculous” can mostly do the work of “stupid,” without the unfortunate baggage. I’m not promising to absolutely never use the word “stupid” in arguments again, but I’ll try to ask myself if one of those other three words might work better.
I don’t see this as a civility issue. Calling someone’s argument ridiculous isn’t terribly polite. It’s just a word choice issue, an issue of picking the word that says exactly what I want to say and not something else. What other such substitutes can you think of?
Also, I feel somewhat odd that apparently some people saw my post as anti-Dan. I actually wrote it largely because he managed to convince me that the problems with the word “stupid” were more serious than I had previously realized, even though I didn’t agree with his position 100%. I’ve often thought about the absurdity of seeing the need to sort people into clear “teams” in internet debates, and this is a good example of that absurdity.