27 September, 2016

Fallacious Politics: Ten Common Logical Fallacies the Media Uses to Silence Us

When media anchors claim to be impartial, I always ask a very important question: Are they logically and intellectually honest with themselves? If there's anything that counts as evidence of bias, it's fallacious logic. If the media were truly unbiased as they claim to be, then they would know better than to commit these ten egregious logical foibles, but do they refrain from doing so? The answer to this question may surprise you, and per my examinations, it's a big fat 'NO'.

1. Quote mining

In June 2015, Donald Trump made a bunch of statistically valid remarks about illegal immigration: Despite liberal claims to the contrary, the ratio of criminals to good people is much higher among illegal immigrants than among both legal immigrants *and* people who stay in countries like Mexico. How did Trump get painted as a racist, therefore? This is how: the media harped on "they're sending rapists… they're sending drug dealers…" while completely ignoring "and some, I assume, are good people". That last sentence is something called a context clue: it provides the entire context of what's being said. Quote mining is exactly this: placing quotes outside of their surrounding contexts and attacking people over them. Why is this number 1 on my list, you may ask? Because it applies to this blog post as well: *Any* quote of the following parts of this post that is in any way snipped and placed into a context different than that which its surrounding text already places it in will make you guilty of committing this fallacy.

2. Ad hominem

"Racist". "Sexist". "Homophobic". "Xenophobic". "Islamophobic". "Basket of deplorables". Should we go on? These have absolutely nothing to do with the topics, the ideas, the key problems that this country has faced since Obama took office. Instead, they're all about attacking people personally. They're a distraction: instead of going after the issue, they're attacking a person's character directly and going off topic in the process. Yup, that's exactly what the definition of ad hominem is, and you wonder why in the world these people who claim to be the logical, reasonable ones are committing it.

3. Association fallacy

Just because someone supports an (allegedly) divisive candidate does not under any circumstances mean that the person in question is also divisive even by the same definition. Accusing people of being racist or sexist merely for associating with people, even if those people actually are, is called the association fallacy, and applying it towards people is ad hominem on top of the association fallacy. This is aside from the fact that when talking about Trump in particular, the alleged divisiveness is a false accusation that one needs to commit fallacy #1 in order to support.

4. False dichotomy

"I respect you as a human being, but don't agree with you on [name key issue]." "Homophobe!" "Transphobe!" "Woman-hater!" "Evolution-hater!" (thank you, my good friend and mentor Sean McDowell, for that one). The assumption in this accusation is obvious: it's that anyone who disagrees with you hates you. Irony: notice how the person responded with name-calling? That makes the liberal twice as hateful as the conservative in this case! If calling someone a f****t or t****y is hateful — and it is hateful indeed, even by my own conservative standards — then calling someone a homophobe or transphobe is equally hateful. A false dichotomy, by definition, is assuming that there are only two options when there are in fact more than two. In this particular case, you have complete agreement at one end of the spectrum, total hate on the other, and tolerance in the middle — three options, not two.

5. Poisoning the well

The fallacy of "poisoning the well" is a fallacy in which irrelevant (and abusive) information about an opponent is presented with intent to distract an audience. Since fallacy #1 (quote mining) is the fallacy that the media used to give people the impression of Trump being a racist, this fallacy was something that the media has been guilty of right from the get-go, and the "basket of deplorables" remark would also qualify as this. So, accusing Trump of committing a hasty generalization, are we? You're committing this fallacy by doing so.

6. No-true-Scotsman

This fallacy is something that secularists obsessively attack Christians over when they try to distance themselves from people who engage in violence in the name of Christianity (which, mind you, is at best Judaizing because A, none of the Old Testament punishments are ever repeated in the New Testament, which makes them descriptive of ancient Israel, not prescriptive for modern Christians, and B, it is completely contrary to the teachings not only of Jesus but of Paul, Peter, John, and all other New Testament writers as well). You'd think, therefore, that the Godless Left, which is loaded with far more atheists and agnostics than the right, would know better than to commit this fallacy, right? Wrong! When someone responds to issues like Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration with "not all Muslims are terrorists" or "not all Mexicans are drug dealers," respectively, they are doing exactly this: claiming to not be a true Scotsman. The statistical realities are that the majority of post-9/11 terrorists are Muslims and that the ratio of criminals to good people is higher among illegal immigrants than among legal immigrants, but liberals love to simply ignore statistics and reverse them thinking that we can take the bait. No, it won't work here.

7. Straw man

Before one attempts to smear an opponent for saying, doing, or wanting to do something, one must always ask oneself if that's exactly what that person said. Simply injecting words into an opponent's mouth without thinking — essentially lying about what an opponent says — is called creating a straw man, and it's a Logic 101 fallacy, as is most other stuff here. This is something that Trump himself actually took to Twitter to condemn, and rightfully so, because of just how fallacious it is.

8. Hasty generalization

This one is related to the false dichotomy and association fallacy, but worth noting. Yes, there are indeed some right-wing nutcases who are just as extreme as some factions of the left, and members of groups like the AoG and Westboro are denounced by the vast majority of us. Trump has denounced David Duke numerous times. He also denounced other members of the KKK that expressed support for him, and to boot, the KKK's main "Grand Dragon" ― Will Quigg ― endorsed Hillary for the presidency, which means that any KKK member who supports Trump is actually rebelling against his own hate group. Does the left care? Unfortunately not. They adhere to the blatantly fallacious view that adherents to these extreme factions somehow apply to the right wing as a whole, when they're really just the right wingtip feathers.

9. Ad populum (bandwagon fallacy)

Is it popular? Yes. Is it a good thing to believe? Not necessarily. When people fallaciously think that what's popular in parts of the country that have the highest population densities is what's right, they have committed this logical blunder. Back home in the UK, prior to colonizing what would eventually become the early United States, the Founding Fathers' ancestors were victims of so-called "parish pump politics" where small areas could use high population density to push local ideas on the rest of the country in a politically corrupt manner. The electoral college solves this problem by giving states with small populations a fair say in who gets elected, thus using geography as a "check and balance" if you will against small areas with high population densities and agendas that people in areas with less population density oppose. Electoral college abolitionism is therefore a commission of this fallacy, because without the electoral college we'd have the very "tyranny of the majority" that the Founding Fathers railed against.

10. Circular reasoning

When the left tries to attack us, do they even think about it? Unfortunately not. When the premise and conclusion are the exact same thing, that's called circular reasoning. Some examples are to the effect of "Christians are dumb, because… Christians are dumb," "DNA and homology point to Darwinism and not to OEC because… DNA and homology point to Darwinism," "Trump supporters are racist because… Trump supporters are racist", or, for an example that goes contrary to forensic evidence, "People who think Christianity is objectively true are closed minded… because <repeat>". Failure to use anything other than circular reasoning to defend a position makes you the closed-minded one.