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Ad Hominem is not fallacious if the attack goes to the credibility of the argument.

For instance, the argument may depend on its presenter's claim that he's an expert.

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For example, dismissing a comment with "Well, you're just smarter than the rest of us." (In Britain, that might be put as "too clever by half".) This is Dismissal By Differentness.

It is related to Not Invented Here and Changing The Subject.

" There may be a pretense that the attack isn't happening: "In order to maintain a civil debate, I will not mention my opponent's drinking problem." Or "I don't care if other people say you're [opinionated/boring/overbearing]." Attacks don't have to be strong or direct.

If you wink at the audience, or in general clown in their direction, then we are shading over to Argument By Personal Charm.

Usually, the best way to cope with insults is to show mild amusement, and remain polite.

(That is, the Ad Hominem is undermining an Argument From Authority.) Trial judges allow this category of attacks.

simply attempting to make the other person angry, without trying to address the argument at hand. Needling is also Ad Hominem if you insult your opponent.

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