I have a little ranting to do.
While it is no secret that I lean to the liberal side, in general, I tend to avoid political discussions and other hot-button topics when reading & responding to comments online. However… lately I’ve been noticing a lot of really illogical memes and discussions. (Not that this kind of thing wasn’t always there.) I started thinking back to my college Logic class and have been revisiting some of the things I learned.
Indulge me while I ramble on the topic for a while. Mostly, I’m just saying this to get it off my chest but I’d like to talk about logical fallacies.
Definition time. A logical fallacy is the use or poor or invalid reasoning in a discussion or argument. And, yeah, it isn’t surprising that they’re all over the internet and Facebook. Here are a few that are currently annoying me.
False dilemma, also called black-and-white thinking, is presenting an “it’s one or the other” argument when the reality is that there are multiple options available.
First, let’s take a look at the below graphic that has been all over Facebook since the death of Cecil the Lion. Following Cecil’s death by the hand of an American dentist, there was all sorts of outrage. It is a terribly sad story, really. If you’re not familiar, here’s the Reader’s Digest Condensed version. The lion, a favorite with locals and tourists, was lured out of a protected reserve. He was shot by bow-and-arrow by an American recreational hunter, who stalked him for the next 40 hours before he was killed with a rifle. He was skinned and his head was removed, leaving his body behind. His GPS tracking collar had been removed. Much outrage followed.
It didn’t take long for the below graphic to start to circulate. Cecil’s death was awful. Children starving to death is also terrible. Does one really have to win? Does one cancel out or detract from the other? No. Absolutely not.
Moving on. Following Caitlyn Jenner’s appearance appearance at the ESPY Awards to accept the Arther Ashe Award for Courage, this stated to circulate.
Again, does anyone need to win here? No. This isn’t a contest.
I will say that I’m not a fan of the whole Kardashian-Jenner circus. But do I think that it took courage for a 65-year old man who was arguably one of the most famous and accomplished athletes of the 20th century to come out to the world as a trans woman? Damn straight I do.
Whatever anyone thinks about Caitlyn Jenner, her courage and presence absolutely does NOT take away from anyone else’s. A high school friend of mine was one of the people who posted this graphic. Her dad had been in Vietnam and suffered from Agent Orange exposure, which eventually contributed to his death some 40 years later. I think it is regrettable that she came across this image, mostly because I believe that nothing can take away the legacy that her father left for her and her family. I hate the fact that this brought up those kinds of emotions for her. It is apples-and-oranges and comparing the two situations just stirs up bad stuff. Such a disservice to both veterans and the transgender community.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof lies with the person making a claim. Period. Want an example? Have you ever seen someone post something online and, when asked for sources, they refuse to provide them and tell you to do the research yourself? Yeah, that’s the one.
You might get a giggle out of the below. This is a quick exchange I had with someone online a few weeks ago. Now, Assholio McDickhead isn’t this guy’s real name. I just think it is fitting because I found his last statement to be really obnoxious and condescending. Anyhoo, the exchange took place on a post that a Facebook Friend made about the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling. My point is this: If Assholio was going to claim that the ruling was more about increasing taxes than marriage equality, it is up to him to prove it and provide sources.
And, as a side note, being an asshat is never a good way to make your point.
Ah, well. It is late and my rant is running out of steam. I’ll leave you with this, my favorite non-sequitur. (Unless, of course, the argument actually is about whether or not a cat can push a watermelon out of a lake.) I mostly just find this example funny. It is a cat. Pushing a watermelon. Out of a lake. And what a determined little guy he is, too.
It is, however, a good example of this logical fallacy. The argument could be either true or false, but the reasoning is fallacious because there is no connection between the two.