Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bad Politcal Arguments

There are certain classic bad political arguments that are used continuously in American politics.

Here are a few of them:

  1. What you are doing is wrong and evil (but totally different from the near identical things I do).  Jon Stewart makes a living pointing out all the times Fox News does this.  If in fact Fox News stopped doing it, The Daily Show might have to close down.   Fox objects to rappers and Stewart shows them embracing Country singers who basically sang the same lyrics.  Fox objects to liberals using a "victim" card while claiming they are the victim because of this happening.   Democrats do it to, but not enough for a TV show to base it's existence on them. 
  2. The "Amateur" mistake: focusing on unimportant details while ignoring the extremely important ones.  Amateurs do this all the time because they were never taught what is relevant and what effects are minor.  Examples of this are the "Pro-Confederacy" people that point out blacks working for the Confederacy (by working I mean slaves), while ignoring the fact that the blacks were not given weapons and were killed if they objected - or were in fact Union spies.
  3. Ad Hominem : This is mud slinging - when they attack the man's character instead of his politics. 
  4. Exaggerate to silliness.  Sometimes called the Slippery Slope.   The common practice of taking a reasonable idea and exaggerating it and pretending it is the same thing.  As in the arguments that gay marriage will lead to people marrying animals.  Or an older claim that if you give women the vote, next thing you know we will give animals the vote.  Both arguments are moronic.
  5. Irrelevant facts .  Often used with statistics.   When you bring up true, but irrelevant facts that seem relevant.  For example, stating that we need to outlaw violent video games because people have violent thoughts afterward.  It SOUNDS like you are saying the video games turn you violent, but you are not really saying that. Instead all you are saying is that people remember things (as in after they play a violent video game they remember (thoughts) the violent video games).   Turning someone violent means they actually act on their violence - and not in minor ways like hitting a pillow.  As in actually committing violent crimes.   No study has shown an actual increase in violent actions related to playing violent video games.   Studies do show actual increase in a violent actions after drinking Alcohol.  Video games don't show the same increase.  They cause less violence than a 2 drink minimum.
  6. Straw Man  This is when you tell people what your opponent believes in.   Funny how your opponent never believes in good things.   Also funny how your opponent never agrees with your statement of his beliefs. This technique is often used by people that refuse to state what they themselves believe in.  
  7. Quoting someone else's lie.  Here they know (or strongly suspect) something is not true, and they don't want to get sued, so they quote someone else saying it.   All news agencies like doing this, but the master on the right is Michelle. Bachmann.  Her crowning masterpiece was the laughable lie when she accused Obama of spending $200 million a day on a trip to India. Turns out he spent less than 1/20th that much.  It's like spending $4,000 on a business trip and having some jackass from accounting think you spent $80,000 - because of  an anonymous email from some guy claiming to work in the hotel you stayed in.   
We are never going to get rid of all of them.  Mud Slinging simply is not going to go away - despite the fact that people that engage in it come away covered in almost as much mud as their victim.   But you can pay attention to things people say and ignore them when they use these things.   Most of them are fairly easy to detect - with the exceptions of 2 Amateur and 5 Irrelevant, which require some intelligence/experience in the issues.  

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