A Lament for the Stupid & Some Advice for the Rest
So many people think they are right in their own minds when the fact is they couldn’t be more wrong as a result stupidity is at a premium.
We see the stupid on display all over social media day-in and day-out but there are studies that prove this turn for the worse; I.Q scores have been in decline for a number of years now with an individual’s environment thought to be the main cause of the decline in intelligence in western nations.
Environment issues can be something like an individual’s upbringing but that’s just a small part when balanced against weightier factors like the educational system and cultural values.
The conclusion; not even the advantage of an inherent high I.Q. is strong enough to withstand the environment onslaught; because the bad news is; poor environment cancels out high intelligence every time.
Lesson I; don’t mentally assent to guff because it’s all downhill from there.
HOW TO ARGUE
While the current plague of stupid has many causes when they are lined up in a row and tallied you can sum it up as; the death of reason by a thousand cuts.
So it is with critical thinking; the logic that is, not to be confused with the philosophical kind by the same name; tip; don’t even go there.
It took a while to get to a place where logic is seen as the enemy as well as a tool of oppression but here we are.
The thing is academic pedigree has nothing to do with critical thinking skills and the accumulation of wealth has zero connection with intellect.
Consider this gem of a statement; you can’t argue with science. I’m quoting science so that’s a fact whereas you are quoting an opinion.
Scientists understand theoretical knowledge doesn’t necessarily fit with evidence and that science is, and has always been an evolving field.
But it’s in the political and social fields where critical thinking skills are critical tools in the hands of people who need to separate the big lies we’re bombarded with on a daily basis from objective reality.
Forget ‘the woke’ they’re the walking dead they just don’t know it.
Now let’s take a look at how NOT to argue.
Sentimental Appeals use emotion to distract the audience from the facts.
Example: The thousands of baby seals killed in the Exxon Valdez oil spill have shown us that oil is not a reliable energy source.
Red Herrings use misleading or unrelated evidence to support a conclusion.
Example: That painting is worthless because I don’t recognize the artist.
Scare Tactics try to frighten people by threatening them or predicting dire consequences.
Example: If you don’t support the party’s tax plan, you and your family will be reduced to poverty.
Bandwagon Appeals encourage an audience to agree with the writer because everyone else is doing so.
Example: Paris Hilton carries a small dog in her purse, so you should buy a hairless Chihuahua and carry it in your Louis Vuitton.
Slippery Slope arguments suggest that one thing will lead to another, oftentimes with disastrous results.
Example: If you get a B in high school, you won’t get into the college of your choice and won’t have a meaningful career.
Either/Or Choices reduce complicated issues to only two possible choices. Example: The patent office can approve my generator design or say goodbye to affordable energy.
False need arguments create an unnecessary desire for things.
Example: You need an expensive car or people won’t think you’re cool.
An Appeal to Authority asks audiences to agree with the assertion of a writer based simply on character or their authority or that of other persons or institutions.
Example: My high school teacher said it, so it must be true.
Guilt by Association calls someone’s character into question by examining the character of that person’s associates.
Example: Sara’s friend Amy robbed a bank; therefore, Sara is a delinquent.
Dogmatism shuts down discussion by asserting that the writer’s beliefs are the only acceptable ones.
Example: I’m sorry, but I think penguins are sea creatures and that’s that.
Moral Equivalence compares minor problems with much more serious crimes (or vice versa).
Example: These mandatory seatbelt laws are fascist.
Hominem arguments attack a person’s character rather than the person’s reasoning.
Example: Why should we think a candidate who recently divorced will keep her campaign promises?
Strawman’s arguments set up and often dismantle easily refutable arguments by misrepresenting an opponent’s argument.
Example: A: We need to regulate access to handguns. B: My opponent believes that we should ignore the rights guaranteed to us as citizens of the United States by the Constitution. Unlike my opponent, I am a firm believer in the Constitution, and a proponent of freedom.
Hasty Generalizations; draws conclusions from scanty evidence.
Example: I wouldn’t eat at that restaurant — the only time I ate there, my entrée was undercooked.
Faulty Causality (or Post Hoc) arguments confuse chronology with causation: note one event can occur after another without being caused by it.
Example: A year after the release of the violent shoot-’em-up video game Annihilator, incidents of school violence tripled — surely not a coincidence.
A Non Sequitur (Latin for “It doesn’t follow”) is a statement that does not logically relate to what comes before it. An important logical step may be missing in such a claim.
Example: If those protesters really loved their country, they wouldn’t question the government.
An Equivocation is a half-truth, or a statement that is partially correct but that purposefully obscures the entire truth.
Example: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” — President Bill Clinton.
Begging the Question occurs when a writer simply restates the claim in a different way; such an argument is circular.
Example: His lies are evident from the untruthful nature of his statements.
A False Equivalency is an inaccurate, inappropriate, or misleading comparison between two things.
Example: Letting prisoners out on early release is like absolving them of their crimes.
This example is pretty tame considering the real plums regularly pushed in arguments which reduce reasonable claims to absurdity; reductio ad Absurdum.
A better example of the absurd would go something like this;
One might say that the more sleep one gets the healthier one is,
By the logical reductio ad absurdum process, someone would be sure to point out that, based on such a premise, one who has sleeping sickness and sleeps for months on end is really in the best of health.
Knowing when this tactic works is pivotal and too many don’t because they can’t break down let alone follow the logic so they miss the point by a mile.
Many go straight to what they think is their reductio without considering if the claim itself implies absurdity or is absurd.
Stacked Evidence represents only one side of the issue, thus distorting the issue.
Example: Cats are superior to dogs because they are cleaner, cuter, and more independent.