Sunday, October 27, 2013

Yes! The full logical conclusion of the "You aborted Beethoven" arguement in video form!

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about the stupid anti-abortion arguments about how the world could have lost some influential figure had they been aborted. One of the big problems with such arguments is that there's no clear reason why these can't be applied beyond just the topic of abortion and also apply to getting pregnant in the first place. How many influential figures would we have lost had their parents not had sex? Well, now we have a video that includes the sad story of Oliver who wasn't born because his parents didn't have sex (starting at the 0:21 mark).

(Via Friendly Atheist)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Logical Fallacies - A fallacious argument does not make the conclusion false.

This post is used for reference to my breakdown of the book "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist." Related posts can be found by clicking here.

One thing that I need to make clear is that, when I point out a logical fallacy, it does not mean the conclusion is necessarily false. Looking at my various breakdowns of the book IDHEF, I have pointed out numerous strawmen or arguments from ignorance in their "proofs" for god. The fact that these arguments for god are fallacious does not then mean that there is no god. There could be a god but that these are just bad argument. The key point is that there is no reason for me to believe there is a god via such arguments. Essentially, seeing a fallacious arguments can at best lead to the statement, "Your argument is fallacious, therefore I cannot accept your conclusion as true." It does not lead to the statement, "Your argument is fallacious, therefore your conclusion is wrong." Such a statement is itself a logical fallacy known as the "fallacy fallacy."

I bring this up because I have started to get annoyed with the authors' "Roadrunner tactic" that was introduced in Chapter 1. This tactic is occasionally committing the fallacy fallacy when it is used to essentially dismisses any claim out-of-hand due to some perceived flaw in the argument. Worst of all, sometimes the flaw is not in the argument itself, but in a shorthand of the argument. In Chapter 7, they point out that saying "One must never say 'never'" (p173) is flawed because it involves saying "never." Twice, actually! But "never say 'never'" is really just catchy phrasing to make a concept easier to remember — a concept that is saying it is unwise to say "never" because it is impossible to truly know that something can never happen. (Or for whatever reason one might say "never.") To know this would require absolute knowledge, and I would think the authors of IDHEF would agree that humans have no such knowledge based on statements made in Chapter 2. So for them to blindly dismiss this concept because they don't like the phrasing is borderline absurd.

It's one thing to point out argumentative flaws. I'm fine with that as I've done so myself. But concluding that a person is false due to bad arguments is incorrect. This started happening a lot in Chapter 7. Essentially, they point out people making bad arguments for a relativistic morality and conclude that morality cannot be relativistic because of these bad arguments. Sorry, but the best conclusion that can be made when exposing a bad argument is that the argument was bad.

Monday, October 7, 2013

If you'd been paying attention, you'd have known the shutdown was going to happen

I'm a little behind on posting this, but I must say I was just a bit bothered by a comment that was apparently left on the Facebook page of a local news station. The comment was in regards to a question about what concerns people had about the potential government shutdown (as this was on the Monday morning prior). The comment was read on-air and said something about how a deal had been reached last minute the last few times, so they were sure the same was going to happen this time.

To me, it was obvious that either this person wasn't paying close attention or that they don't have a good understanding of the state of politics in this country. It should have been obvious to just about anyone paying the slightest attention by Monday morning that the shutdown was going to happen as there weren't even talks about having negotiations! So how could a last minute deal even be made if no one was trying to reach a deal. That would seem to be a crucial prerequisite.

I would also say that events like Ted Cruz's fake filibusterer should have been a good clue that this was really going to happen this time. Then again, as Rachel Maddow discussed on her show last week Monday, many Republicans campaigned back in 2010 on the idea of shutting down government.

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So even with Cruz's dog and pony show, nothing really seems too different than two years ago. So what has changed? I'd suggest that Republicans could back down from a shutdown because they used to have fallbacks. One was the 2012 election where they could potentially gain more negotiating power. Ultimately, they I think they wanted to take back the presidency, but even more control of the Senate was likely in their sights. With more power, they could perhaps get their way while avoiding a shutdown. But they didn't gain power after that election. They actually lost a bit of power. 2014 isn't looking too bright (plus, the presidency isn't an option) and 2016 is too far away. The second was the court system. But that too was lost with last year's decision. (EDIT: Oy! I forgot to mention that this was in reference to the case over the Affordable Care Act.) Now there are no fallbacks that I can see. Shutdown is now the primary option. Hopefully this can be settled before the debt ceiling becomes an issue again!