“Who’s the bigger idiot, the idiot or the idiot who gets fooled by the idiot?” — Orson Welles
In our current time, discussing subjects and ideas on Facebook or internet forums has replaced, to a large degree, the interactions that occurred in person. There is still ample debate, discussion and outright arguing a social occasions, by phone, in coffee houses and certainly in facilities that sell adult beverages. It doesn’t have to be one way or another, it is both.
The art of debate, outside of debate clubs is like this open mixed martial arts tournament where people with strong beliefs and little science or logic try to sway mob opinion through logical fallacy and memes. Occasionally someone well researched in their fields, avoids emotion, save for humor, and presents evidence and avoids logical fallacy in this discussion.
There are some fundamental errors in thinking that plague many. I am far from expert, but simply by both engaging and by viewing more masterful debaters,… I’m slowly improving.
Common themes are, as I said above, the use of Logical Fallacy. This is the concept of making an error in reasoning.
Some basic ones are –
Ad Hominem. This is simply attacking the persons character, looks, wealth, etc.
Moving the Goalposts. Changing the rules of the discussion as you lose. Like telling someone you never get beaten at miniature golf. Then when they lose,.. they say, “Oh, I meant, REAL golf”.
Strawman. Creating a separate argument. Politicians do this often on talk shows. The question, “Should guns be outlawed?” Then the politician says, “Well the REAL question is, “How do we deal with the guns that people own already?”
Appeal to Authority. Claiming you are right because you are a Doctor, Lawyer, Cop, Soldier, Scientist, etc.
Rather than make an endless list, this wonderful page exists that is worthy of some study. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Main_Page . It’s quite informative and uses plain English to educate and make us aware.
The real sad part is, that people believe that personal experience or anecdote/testimony has value as evidence. For them if it is self evident, it is therefore the truth. To challenge their experience is personal and they get threatened. They start using statements like, “well, all I know” and “you can’t tell me!”. That certainly seems like a gateway to enlightenment, don’t you think? I mean everyone knows someone who has seen Bigfoot, Ghosts and UFO’s. Not much in the way of evidence at all, but they saw it, so it must be real.
One of the real issues is that many topics or ideas or beliefs are emotionally charged. When they are, the discussions return us to an adolescent thought process of “Black and White Thinking”. It’s the idea of avoiding middle ground and also of moralizing things. We want to apply the religious or philosophical context of morality to things like molecules, food, man made vs natural and so forth. As if there are only two sides. This version of arguing represents a lack of thinking. So rather than source out, study and make decisions based on evidence. You pick a side. Democrat vs Republican, Christian vs Muslim, Black vs White, etc. You literally don’t have to think. It is really efficient. You just pick a side and parrot their answer to everything.
I’ve had several online discussions with medical professionals that I found startling. I’ll be truthful about my educational background. My high school grade point average was 2.8. My education after high school was 21 months of electronics geared at repair of TV’s and 8 track tapes. Computers were new and we were just understanding things like Basic and Cobol language. Neither of my parents finished high school. That was my background and I have no complaints.
One “Doctor” locally in Fort Lauderdale stated that Aspartame was dangerous. He was big on quoting Mercola dot com. That’s the doctor who says that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, btw. However the local doctor made the statement that a metabolic by product of ingestion of Equal/Aspartame was methanol or wood alcohol. I asked him if he knew of other consumables that did the same thing. He replied, “No, Equal is artificial and therefore BAD for the body”. Then I told him that TOMATO JUICE converted to wood alcohol too. It was natural and made by God. Of course he didn’t like that. He said that Equal was indeed, NEUROTOXIC. [citing the website of the guy who said HIV did not cause AIDS]. Then I said, well potatoes are NEUROTOXIC. They contain SOLANINE. In fact, enough SOLANINE can kill you. Well he wasn’t too happy about that. He said I was a shill for the FDA. I can’t be certain of that since the FDA hasn’t been sending me any checks.
Another Physician was saying that in her practice she noticed hormonal changes in women. Those women at times ate CHICKEN. Chicken had hormones. Therefore CHICKEN WAS CHANGING THEIR HORMONES! I wrote the following. She doesn’t like me any more either.
1. Your practice is made up largely of women in Perimenopause or Full Menopause. They are likely to have hormonal issues.
2. Using hormones for chickens is illegal in the United States.
3. If Growth Hormones were used they would be useless. Growth Hormone is breed specific.
4. Oral ingestion of these purported hormones would break down GH. It’s a peptide. That is why we give shots of GH vs pills.
5. Middle aged women often lack in protein consumption and chicken represents an economical, low fat, high protein source.
So after this the Physician won’t talk to me. She’s selling face cream now and iodine at double the price from her office.
Lastly one component of the Black/White thinking is this nonsense of Man Made vs Natural. I strongly feel that this is a byproduct of movies and television. Remember the themes of drama. Man vs Nature, Man vs Man, Man vs Himself, etc. We like the idea of good vs evil. Manmade just sounds PURE evil. ‘NATURAL’ sounds good. From the earth.. better yet, from GOD.
Here is an interesting list –
—- All natural and ALL extremely deadly. These chemicals from nature could kill millions.
- Golden Rice
- Humulin [insulin]
- Humatrope [growth hormone]
—-All are Man Made, GMO’s. These chemicals from man can save millions.
“DON’T MORALIZE MOLECULES” — Tom Furman