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Innuendo

by Hans Bluedorn

First, as promised in the last loop, here is the logical fallacy behind "Ten Reasons To Believe in the Bible: #2," taken out of Campus Journal, Sept/Oct/Nov, 1999 (For "Ten Reasons To Believe in the Bible: #1," see loop 11).

Quote "Reason #2: Its Preservation. In a cave by the Dead Sea, a 2000-year-old copy of Isaiah was found that is essentially the same as the book of Isaiah that appears in our Bibles. God preserved His Word from error." –

Here, the essential argument is: The Bible is true because it hasn't ever changed (after all, truth never changes).

This would be the FORMAL fallacy of "Affirming the Consequent" (sometimes called substituting the converse for the proposition). Formal fallacies are different from informal fallacies. Formal fallacies are plain mistakes made in syllogistic reasoning, and informal fallacies relate to whether the propositions have any bearing on the case at all.

"Affirming the Consequent" goes like this:

"If you wash the dishes, then you may eat some fried liver and onions."

"You are eating fried liver an onions"

"Therefore you washed the dishes"

The conclusion does not follow from the premises.

Now applying it to our quote: If something is the truth, then it will never change, does not necessarily mean that if something never changes, then it is therefore the truth. Things like Darwinism and communism have lasted for quite a while. In fact the lie of Satan has been around for even longer. That does not make these things the truth.

Our quote put into a syllogistic form would be:

If it is the truth, then it will never change. (this is not stated but inferred)

The Bible never changes.

Therefore, the Bible is the truth.

This clearly represents faulty reasoning. For example: If I were to say that you could drive my '69 Ford Thunderbird next week if you paid me $50,000 by Friday, that would not necessarily mean that if you were seen driving around in my Thunderbird next week I was $50,000 dollars richer. You might have stolen it. [By the way, I don't have a Ford Thunderbird made in 1969 or any other year; I hate Fords.]

Like we said last time, while the conclusion may be correct, the way you got there certainly wasn't right.

What is the fallacy?

Last couple loops, I printed a fallacious quote from Governor G. Bush and another one concerning the expelling of several high schoolers from a Decatur, Illinois school. I was astounded to actually receive responses to both my questions (printed at the bottom of this email). After recovering from the initial shock and retrieving my fallen mouse I quickly searched around for another problem to feed your apparently hungry appetite. Can you tell me the fallacy used in this quote? The fallacy used is/was covered on this or one of the past loops

"As the nation approaches a new millennium, what are the most important priorities facing our next president?

1. Saving Social Security, strengthening Medicare, and paying on the debt

2. Or implementing (Texas Gov.) George W. Bush's $1.7 trillion risky tax scheme that overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy?" – Questions from a weekly Internet poll on the DNC website.

(By the way, the risky plan of G. Bush's won).

Responses

Well, to those of you who wrote back about the quotes I gave you on G. Bush and Jessie Jackson: good job, keep it up!

Without further ado, here are the reprinted quotes along with the responses I received::

"Bauer asked the Texas governor [Bush] whether he'd name as a running mate someone who was opposed to abortion. In reply, Bush swatted Bauer away rhetorically by saying it would be "incredibly presumptive for someone who has yet to earn his party's nomination to be picking a vice president." Bush said the main criterion he'd use in choosing a running mate would be whether the person was capable of being president." – From the MSNBC website, describing an Iowa debate between Republican presidential hopefuls

Dear Bluedorn,

This concerns the first part of the e mail. The first thing I noticed about Bush's response was that he did not answer the question directly. A simple yes or no would have done the job. I am getting the impression that he doesn't want to take a stand on abortion for fear of losing votes or at least he doesn't want to touch the subject. Whatever fallacy he is committing, it is a fallacy of relevancy. I don't see how it would be presumptuous to tell us whether he would pick a pro-choice or pro-life running mate. These are my initial observations. The second statement makes things even more messier. What a mess! It reminds me of what Christ said :" Let your yes be yes and your no be no". Keep it simple. One thing I learned here is that incorrect thinking complicates things.

I would like to see more fallacies that are committed by christians. I know there is an abundance of them in the christian chat rooms. Well that's all I have for now. I am gonna think about the rest of this e mail.

Thanks Louis A. Bacio

Hans,

I believe that Governor Bush was employing a "red herring." This means that he gave a conclusion based on a unrelated fact. You could also call it avoiding the question. grin My Bob Jones Speech textbook gives a classic example of this fallacy: "How can you give me a failing grade on the test when I have two sisters at home starving?"

Amy S.

Hans

Bush is simply avoiding the question. He never answers the question posed to him.

Randy,

I guess you guys are getting the same impression I have of G. Bush – he doesn't like to talk about abortion.

Hans Bluedorn

P.S. If you find fallacies committed by Christians, then by all means, send me them.

From a former loop:

I can't remember where I found this, but it is talking about Rev. Jessie Jackson's recent protest at a Decatur, Illinois high-school over the expulsion of several black youths for causing and participating in a fight. See if you

can find the fallacy(s) or propaganda technique(s) in this quote.

"While Jackson emphasized from the start that the dispute [over whether to allow the youths back in school] was about "fairness" and not race, some of the protesters Sunday and at a smaller demonstration at Eisenhower High today noted that all of the board members who voted to expel the students were white and the only dissenting vote was from a black member, Jeffrey Perkins, who contended that school officials were too quick to equate rowdy behavior by black youths with gang activity. The school district is 60 percent white and 39 percent black." – Unknown Source.

Note: The fallacy(s) or propaganda technique(s) in here was/were covered on this, or one of the past loops. Hint: Focus in on, "some of the protesters Sunday ... noted that all of the board members who voted to expel the students were white and the only dissenting vote was from a black member."

Responses:

Hans,

Sorry I didn't respond to this earlier; I intended to do it "next time" I read my mail but apparantly "next time" didn't come. I think they are using the propaganda technique called "innuendo" because statements are being used to benefit the Rev. Jessie Jackson's position, which is to find racism where it doesn't necessarily exist. Until he appeared on the scene, there wasn't a problem with the decision of the board and it was in fact accepted by (both colors of) the community. Perhaps "Fallacy of Division" or "Fallacy of Composition" is also being used here? If all the whites vote for expulsion of the black students but the lone black board member votes against the whites and for the blacks, then there is clear division along racial lines here. I'm not sure about this.

Craig & Jinnine Nitschke

Besides innuendo, don't forget to mention "Abusive ad Hominem" – they expelled the kids just because they were white – and "Appeal to Authority" – the black man is obviously an authority because he is free from the ties of racism.

You're right, there is clearly a division along racial lines, but I don't think that calls for a Fallacy of Division or Composition. Division is where the parts of something are thought to possess the quality of the whole thing (all the parts of the car must be good because the whole car is good), and Composition is where the whole assumes the quality of the individual parts (the whole car is good because all its parts are).

Copyright February 02, 2000, all rights reserved. 7521 views


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