Posts Tagged ‘Logic’

Please, Just Sit Down.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.30.47 PM

This showed up in my Tumblr feed. It amounts to a flippant joke about the serious, life-ending procedure of abortion. The responses to this joke demonstrate a tragically shallow grasp of rhetoric and ignorance of reasons for opposition to abortion. I wish we’d start teaching logic in schools again; clearly this was not an argument in any meaningful way and since it ignores opposing views, it isn’t even an adequate way to describe abortion.

The assumption is that abortion is a personal choice just like having children is a personal choice. But in an abortion, someone dies. Every time. I hope I made that point in my comment at the bottom: “Or stand up comedians. But thankfully, we’re not allowed to kill them.”

Logical Gerrymandering

I’m not a fan of Rick Perry and am not posting this in order to defend him in any way. What irked me about the above article is not what it says about Perry, but what it says about our poor grasp of basic logic. If you find this article a compelling indictment of Perry’s hypocrisy or feel it is an embarrassing mistake on the part Perry’s campaign handles, think again. You’re missing the import of a single word: “but”.

I don’t doubt that Perry is opposed to homosexuals serving in the military and that he is for prayer in public schools but this article makes some glaring mistakes in order to make the buffoon look more buffoonish and in turn shows its own buffoonery. As I just mentioned, the word “but” is critical in the quote. The way it stands, it could mean that if gays are allowed the freedom to serve in the military, then school children should be allowed the freedom to pray in schools. In the quote provided Perry is not saying anything anti-gay; he is simply addressing an inequality of freedoms. The word “but” is offering a comparison, essentially “this is allowed but this isn’t” in an effort to point out an inequality, it doesn’t necessarily condemn either position.

But the poor logic doesn’t end at a conjunction, it goes deeper. Apparently they used some music from Aaron Copeland in Perry’s ad. Aaron Copeland was one of the best American composers. His Fanfare for the Common Man and Appalachian Spring are breathtakingly beautiful. He was also gay. The author of the cited article seems to think, and want us to think, that this somehow makes Perry a hypocrite. But stop for a moment. Perry may be saying that it is wrong for gays to serve in the military but that says nothing about it being right or wrong for gays to compose music. Perry’s ad isn’t saying that everything every gay person ever did is wrong but that is the way it is presented. I could be opposed to Islam and yet still appreciate and use Arabic numerals and algebra and not be a hypocrite.

One last twist to wrap the whole mess up in a nice bow. The person who posted the screen shot above has a screen name of “atheism-“. If it is wrong for Rick Perry to use Aaron Copeland’s music because Perry is (presumably) anti-gay and therefore must believe that anything originating form a homosexual is wrong, then the atheist must abandon science. Isaac Newton is, in many ways, the father of modern physics yet he wrote more Christian theology than he did physics. So if being religious means that you’re mentally deficient, and we apply the logical fallacy employed above, then our friend “atheism-” is equally as hypocritical if he or she embraces atheism for scientific reasons.

If you don’t like Rick Perry or his politics, nail him on where he’s wrong. There’s plenty of material there. But don’t launch into logical gerrymandering to make him look foolish. It backfires badly.