Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Faux Logic, Part III

When I was in 6th grade, one of my friends used to think it was uproariously funny to ask people "Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?" It took kids a moment to get it - that the two possibilities weren't mutually exclusive. It is called a False Dichotomy, and if you give them a moment, 12-year-olds can see through it.

But apparently some commenters on my favorite blogs had their intellectual development arrested at age 11.

old man, over at Dr. Sanity's
Yes, we were victims on 9/11. What does it mean for the world's most powerful country to be a victim? What privileges will we claim with our victimhood?

-That we are not in any way responsible for what happened to us?
-That we are always morally right?
-That we are not accountable to anyone for anything?
-That we are forever entitled to sympathy?
-That we are always justified in feeling moral indignation for being wronged?
-That we never have to be responsible again for anything?

E. Nonee Moose, over at GM's Corner:
Should American corporations and our government continue to import cheap labor rather than offer protections for American workers?

It is a common type of argument these days. Helen Thomas and Dan Rather use it. If you question their statements, well then you're in favor of a government-controlled media! If you think going into Iraq was justified, you must think it's just fine for the US to invade anyone it wants for any reason, and believe whatever Bushitler tells you!

The most common form is this exagerrated choice. Either you support legislation X or you want women to go back to being barefoot and pregnant (when exactly was that, BTW?). Or you want Big Pharmaceuticals to be able to do whatever they want. Or you're racist. This should be the easiest of the three to see through so far, but it persists nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

And, of course, those who point out the false dichotomy are immediately accused of Avoiding The Question.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should bring up Big Pharma--on a bulletin board i belong to, I just made the point that Big Pharma is NOT Teh Evil, but a business like any other, etc. etc.

While I really like these people (in general), it never fails to amaze me how they won't let facts get in the way--even when shoved down their throat.