Mystery of the Missing Mask
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by Hans Bluedorn

Apart from logical fallacies, there are other underhanded methods of convincing others. One of these is propaganda.

Propaganda is anything spread through a media for the purpose of convincing. It can either be true or false, but it is often one sided.

Here is a example of propaganda.

"Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, addressing the annual dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that some have attempted to minimize the role of firearms in tragedies such as the murders ... of seven people in a church in Fort Worth, Texas and the suicide of the alleged gunman.

"Of course something horrible happened to that man's heart when he walked into that church in Texas. But we cannot use that as an excuse," Clinton said.

He asserted that the solution is a sharing of responsibility and a refusal to duck facts, not a search for scapegoats or an attempt to blame all gun murders simply on human evil.

"The NRA (National Rifle Association) and that crowd has got to stop using arguments like this to avoid facing our shared responsibility," the president said." – from an article entitled "Clinton cites guns in spate of murders" on the MSNBC website


Two methods of propaganda are used.

The first one is Repetition. As Abraham Lincoln once said "if you can tell a lie long enough and hard enough sooner or later people will start believing it" (or maybe that was Adolf Hitler). Repetition is where a message is repeated loudly and very often in the hope that it will soon be believed out of default.

Our President, and everyone else, knows that human evil is, and can be, the only cause for human evil. But if guns (or more principally our environment) are said to be the real force that causes us to commit crimes, and if this is said often enough, sooner or later people will believe it.

The second, a very old propaganda technique used with great success by the Soviets, it is one of masking faults. If I accuse you of the very thing I am guilty of – preferably, before you've had a chance to accuse me – then people will be less likely to look to me as the real culprit.

"The NRA (National Rifle Association) and that crowd has got to stop using arguments like this to avoid facing our shared responsibility,"

Clinton is quite clearly saying that guns are the real responsibility for these mass shootings. Man's depravity and the depravity of our culture is considered to be merely secondary.

Of course the reality is that our "shared responsibility" is not guns, it's the fact that our society is in such a state morally that people will go around shooting each other. It is THEY who are avoiding facing our shared responsibility, by trying to blame it on the guns. A very clever and bold attempt at propaganda.

To: Logic Loop

Subject: Clinton & the Puerto Ricans Clemency


I am new to studying Logic and was my first day to get a

message from the Loop. Anyway, could you describe all the fallacies in Clinton's clemency towards the Puerto Rican's. To me it is all Orwellian doublespeak: He is for Gun Control, but releases these men, apparently because they signed off on if criminals honor laws or any documents they sign. Clinton talks big about respect for all human beings....what about the victims in those bombings, even if they were years ago. What does this clemency say about our justice system. I live in Oklahoma neighbor was killed in the bombing here....a cousin was injured....why is it right to offer the FALN clemency but not McVeigh or Nichols? Clinton, just like during the Impeachment hearings, is assaulting our judicial system, our morals, our honesty, our Christianity. Hope you will respond and post your thinkings on the Loop about Clinton and clemency.....and not to mention that it looks very political for Hillary. This Presidency is simply about " in your face, and what are you going to do

about it?"....and not much at all is done.



To help keep you up to date on this, here is an excerpt from an article on the MSNBC website dealing with the subject.

Eleven [FALN] were freed [Sep. 11] after some 20 years behind bars....

They were serving sentences of up to 90 years in prisons from California to Connecticut on charges of seditious conspiracy and possession of weapons and explosives.

None of those offered clemency was directly responsible for deaths or injuries. Fourteen of the 16 Puerto Ricans eligible under Clinton's offer – which required that they renounce the use of violence and adhered to other restrictions on their travel and association – had accepted the deal by Friday....

...The act invited new criticism of Clinton, jeopardized his wife's nascent run for the Senate and underscored the complicated relationship between Washington and the island some still call a U.S. colony. Critics have said Clinton was being soft on terrorism: the prisoners [members of FALN, the Puerto Rican independence group] were convicted of sedition and illegal possession of weapons in connection with 130 bombings in the 1970s and 1980s that killed six people and maimed dozens....


Clinton's reasons for granting these terrorists clemency, at least from what I can figure out, seem to stem from the idea that they signed a statement renouncing the use of violence, and therefore are now safe citizens.

I think this is an example of Special Pleading – closely related to Red Herring. This is where special benefits are given or taken away from someone or something for an unrelated reason.

Example: "I get to stay up past nine o'clock because I'm older than you."

Of course the question that asks itself is "what does that have to do with anything?" Whether or not they signed a statement renouncing violence really has nothing to do with whether justice is carried out. A double standard is being held here. Why not grant clemency to any other terrorist that promises not to do it again? You made a good point about the Oklahoma city bombing. Why not release Terry Nichols? There is obviously other political motives involved here (think Hillary).

As I already said, the best way to answer this is to ask what that has to do with anything.

Hans Bluedorn

What is the fallacy?

Last time at the end of the loop I printed portions out of an article that linked this decade's declining crime rate to the rise of abortion in the 1970's. I asked you to name a logical fallacy that was used. To date, there hasn't been a single response, not a peep. And I even gave you several to pick from. I am left here wondering whether you are all dreaming or just didn't read it. But since I'm very patient (and even more hungry for responses), I will reprint it and still entertain responses.

This quote was taken out of "The Christian Science Monitor" from an article entitled "A Jarring Theory For Drop In US Crime" by Abraham McLaughlin.

"A controversial thesis from a pair of respected academics claims to have solved the enduring riddle of this decade's fast-falling US crime rates...

...Their rationale is this. After the US Supreme Court's 1973 decision legalizing abortion, the number of abortions exploded. This reduced the number of "unwanted" children, particularly those who would have lived in less-than-ideal homes filled with poverty, neglect, or abuse.

The authors, citing other studies, say such children are more likely to turn to crime. And those kids would have hit their prime crime-committing years – ages 18 to 24 – in the early 1990's. But since they weren't born, the authors argue, crime came down.

They note, too, that the five states that legalized abortion before 1973 – Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York, Washington – all saw crime rates drop before the rest of the country did (see chart).

And they observe that places with high abortion rates in the 1970's saw greater drops in crime in the 1990's – even after many other factors are accounted for."

To help you out, here are a few fallacies to choose from

Fallacy of Hasty Generalization. This is an argument based upon an inadequate sampling of instances. Also called "Jumping to Conclusions."

Example "I bought a Goodstone tire once and it went bad. I'll never buy another Goodstone tire."

Example "Homeschooling is bad. I knew a Homeschool student who used poor grammar."

Example "Homeschooling is great. I knew a Homeschool student who memorized Shakespeare."

Fallacy of Division. Arguing that individual parts of something have the same quality as the whole thing.

Example "If this school is so good it must also have good janitors."

Example "This kid is gonna' give us trouble, he comes from the bad part of town."

Fallacy of Composition. Arguing that the whole possesses the qualities of its individual parts.

Example "This will be a very good pie, I used only the best ingredients."

Example "This team has very good players, its bound to be a good team."

Fallacy of False Cause (Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc). Arguing that something happened "after this, therefore it happened because of this."

Example "My brother sucked on his thumb until he was ten years old, and now he is a serial killer. Never let your kids suck on their thumbs!"

Example "Our rooster crows every morning just before the sun comes up. Now do you understand how important roosters are?"

Example "I hate Friday the 13th, that day is unlucky. My uncle fell off of a tight rope last Friday the 13th."

Hans Bluedorn

Copyright October 21, 1999, all rights reserved. 5789 views

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