The plank in the eye is blinding

I find it sadly “funny” that extremists don’t see themselves as extreme, whether Muslim, Christian, or political.

From Erick Erickson, the “most powerful conservative” in the country as deemed by Fox News — here is what passes for logic by this Tea Party Patriot:

A publisher published something that offended. It mocked, it offended, and it showed the fallacy of a religion. It angered.

So the terrorists decided they needed to publicly destroy and ruin the publisher in a way that would not only make that destruction a public spectacle, but do it so spectacularly that others would think twice before publishing or saying anything similar.

The terrorist wants to sow fear. The destruction of an individual is not just meant to be a tool of vengeance, but a tool of instruction. It shows others what will happen to them if they dare do the same. It is generates self-regulating peer pressure. Others, fearing the fall out, will being to self-police and self-regulate. They will silence others on behalf of the terrorists. Out of fear, they will drive the ideas from the public square and society will make them off limits.

It is not because the ideas are bad, but because the ideas offend a group that can destroy and tear down.

So when a publisher published something that mocked and offended a group prone to offense at such things, something had to happen.

The terrorists did what had to be done to publicly destroy and ruin the offender.

So they demanded the Mayor of Atlanta fire the Chief of the Fire Department for daring to write that his first duty was to “glory God” and that any sex outside of heterosexual marriage was a sin.

And the terrorists won in Atlanta.

Notice, he sets a powerful stage provided by the tragedy in Paris; he raises a specter of extremism and imposition of extreme views on a society. Then he points to a religious zealot in a public job trying to create what the Fire Chief believes is a righteous atmosphere and equates that to the monstrous picture he just painted.

This is type juxtaposition is done by demagogues to make connections as though they were comparable similarities, no matter how thin. It’s the fallacy of False Comparison. It illustrates perfectly how low is intellectual bar. Critical thinking be damned — it’s for the “elite,” or at least people who don’t want to be conned.

This political leader is the same intellectual powerhouse that tweeted

Given how many people are raped in college, I’m amazed the President wants to send more people there.

Granted, he characterized this as a “joke” and told people who were shocked to “get over it.”

When a glass is jostled, whatever it is full of splashes out. This “leader” has no filter (or splash guard, as it were). And to dismiss a comment as a “joke” when really it supports a characterization he wants to make of someone (Obama), it’s insidiously funny. Insidious being the operative word here.




Fallacy can make for bad signposts


The assertion that the Bible got something “wrong” is a pre-assumed conclusion using our modern-day perspective on slavery. I think it is better to assume that a journey toward the divine starts off with infancy and continues to mature (which is what so many Christians have “wrong” themselves thinking nothing can change).

That the Bible addressed the mores of its time does not mean the practice was condoned, but rather it was an attempt to find the spirituality available in the moment.

It’s also a fallacy that is used by Christians and non-Christans alike to say what wasn’t condemned was therefore condoned (as easily as what was mentioned is all there is).

Schizoid Logic

I’ve just recently returned from a business trip where huge amounts of brain power and logical thinking are required in concentrated doses.  I like those … a lot.  But this trip taught me something that has been taunting me from the outskirts of my consciousness for a long time, something about myself that I should have seen and (maybe) corrected long ago: I think linearly, but I explain laterally.

Wassup wi’dat?  Instead of trying to draw what I mean with words, I’ve drawn a picture.

Lateral logic approaches a linear progression laterally, or from the side.

I love lateral logic.  Sometimes it’s called fuzzy logic, but I don’t subscribe to the implications of fuzzy.   I would posit that it’s only “fuzzy” to people who aren’t used to making lateral associations to a progressively building argument.  And since I live in a Western culture where linear rules, it’s no wonder that people look at me with confused looks or their eyes glaze over when I launch myself into an anecdote to illustrate point of logic.

Fuzzy, though, really refers to inference.  You’re given a few dots with other dots missing, and you’re expected to fill in the missing dots to complete the foundation for the conclusion.   In logical analysis, it’s thought of as approximative in the sense that .7 + .59 = 2-ish — degrees of truth.  Or more precisely, it is “to arrive at a definite conclusion based upon vague, ambiguous, imprecise, noisy, or missing input information.1”  In the logic of  human philosophy, tho, it’s more like making strings of comparisons of one thing to another in order for a definite super “thing” to emerge as truth. (For those who read the Bible, the Eastern practice of lateral logic is a salient feature of the Psalms.)

Maybe I’m simply illogical operating under the delusion of being logical.  I think I’m logical when inside my own head, but when the resulting thoughts get exposed to the air (other people’s ears), how illogical I am becomes apparent.

In any case, when I reflect on past attempts to explain things, my sense is that I’m looking for a short-cut: some way to explain a logical flow by encapsulating it into a story or example without exposing every point of logic that would go into a thorough (or even adequate) exposition.  So my anecdotes are comparisons presented with the expectation that people will accurately infer the point I’m trying to make.

They didn’t call me the “mad scientist” for nothing.  I’m pretty sure that I appear ‘mad’ to most people.  And inference is not one of the three Rs. (Infer from that, why don’t you!)

The Problem of Fault in Dogs

The other night, I was having a conversation about a couple of dogs that had attacked my little puppy while he was on leash and the attackers were not. During the course of the conversation, we used words like “fault” and “responsibility,” which turned the conversation decidedly philosophical.  What is “fault” and “responsibility” as it applies to a dog?  One end of the continuum would say that no dog is at fault — only the human (owner) is, because the human is supposed to be the Alpha (dominant ranking) of the pack that includes this dog and, therefore, the human establishes the pack parameters.  Apart from a dog having an owner, how does “fault” and “responsibility” shake out, if it can — is it true “no dog is at fault”?

I like philosophical questions, especially for matters that I know will come up time and time again. And while I can’t hold a candle to one of my favorite theologians, C.S.Lewis (with particular relevance to his book, “The Problem of Pain”), let the exploring begin!

We’ve got the following elements all mashed together that we’re trying to sort out:

  • Nature of dogs.
  • Individual dog personalities.
  • Human affect on dogs.
  • What is an environment.
  • Reasoning, free will, and responsibility.

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Maine GOP Platform: a case study in Straw Man fallacy

The following paragraphs are ones I wrote in response to a thread analyzing the Maine GOP Platform (May 8, 2010).  I’m only posting it so that I can refer to it in other posts, such as the very next one on this site.

I hope these comments aren’t too far off topic (making the Constitution mean what they want it to).

The first thing that struck me in the preamble was the setting up of a straw man that starts with a philosophical “conversely”(1) statement.  Not that the statement itself constitutes setting up a strawman, but rather it is stated as something of a justification: It firstly asserts that the enemy exists and identifies what intent of the enemy is, namely to “throw off the shackles of restraint” in order to take control of the people.  (Actually, if the straw man isn’t a distortion of an actual position, but rather the invention of a position with its attribution to your opponent, that’s not Continue reading

Poisoning the Well: Freedom of Speech without Consequences

The other night I listened to a clip from a Sarah Palin speech where she said we had to “hold the press accountable when they’re making things up and not telling the truth.”  In another speech, she says, “They talk down to us. Especially here in the heartland. Oh, man. They think that, if we were just smart enough, we’d be able to understand their policies.”

Before that, I listened to Dr. Laura tell the networks that she wants to “take back” her Second-Amendment Rights to free speech that have been “hijacked” by the likes of Media Matters. This, after she machine-gunned an African American caller into her show with the ‘N’ word.

One of the things I try to do on a regular basis is review logical fallacies and try to identify what it is that I sense is going on in even up-beat sorts of rhetoric. When I consider the tactics that these two women are employing, it occurs to me that some sort of poisoning the well, among other fallacies (such as ad hominem),  is occurring.

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No true Scotsman … er … dog-lover

The other day, we were at a restaurant with our little dog, Picasso. While there, a couple of ladies sat down next to us with their own dogs — three of them. Not a problem. However, during the course of our visit and meal, there were occasions when then dogs barked.

This rankled me somewhat, and I made a comment that I think it rude for owners to subject others in a closed environment like a restaurant where dog-barking is not a distraction that is expected or appreciated. Serious conversation ensued:

– Dogs (like humans) need to be put into the environment about which you want to train them.
– Fair enough. But maybe something like the environment without imposing on people around you?
– But how would that be an authentic context?

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