Wrote a lengthy piece, so I dropped it on a separate page:
There's one particular method of conversation that can be annoying as hell, if you do not understand it. I call it "debugging", as I seem to most hit it in the technology-savvy crowd. It also seems to be the weapon of choice in many net conversations, especially in the USENET.
The typical debugger views a stated argument as a true/false statement - either it's completely true, or completely false. It is only true if all of the sentences in that statement are verifiably true, and therefore it is okay to attack the weakest link of the sentence, because if that can be proven false - or even uncertain - the entire argument collapses like a flan in a cupboard.
It's just like software: a single flaw in an otherwise perfect algorithm will render it useless - or even dangerous. That is why it is important to find the flaw, and not concentrate on the bits that already work. This is the strange dualism of computer programming - in order to make the whole fun ...