Category Archives: Logic

Fallacy Exercise

Alright readers of the NonSequitur, I have an exercise for you.  John and I have had a few laughs with the following form of joke: employ a fallacy in giving an argument against using that fallacy.  It's funny.  Here are a few examples:

Agree that ad baculum arguments are fallacious or I'll punch you in the face!


If you don't stop using tu quoque arguments, you'd be such a hypocrite!


If we don't stop using slippery slope arguments, we'll become sloppy arguers, and if we become sloppy arguers, we'll become sloppy people.  And if we become sloppy people, flies will land on us.  And if flies land on our sloppy bodies, they'll lay eggs. And then we'll be sloppy slippery slope arguers covered in maggots… that's what we'll be!

See?  Fun!  Give it a shot in the comments.


UPDATE: John reminded me that the NS did the exercise back in 2008.  Check the entries out here.

Credibility Problem

I should keep up on these things, but April 22nd was the sixth anniversary of the following remark by one of our favorite commentators, Charles Krauthammer:

Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.

That was 2003 (Thanks Crooked Timber).  At that same event, Krauthammer also said:

I want to talk about the meaning not just of the war in Iraq, but of the war on terrorism. There was a book written about 40 years ago by a man called Joseph Jones, who was in the State Department in 1947. He wrote a book called "15 Weeks." It was the 15 weeks between the day on which the cable arrived from London saying that the British had given up on Turkey and Greece and were pulling out and the announcement that the Harvard commencement by George Marshall of the Marshall Plan.

Those 15 weeks, in 1947, redefined the world, redefined American foreign policy, began the policy of containment, and stand as one of the great sort of intellectual revolutions in modern diplomacy.

I would argue that we have now lived through the 19 months, which stand on an equal plain in their audacity, success and revolutionary nature. The 19 months, of course, are from September 11th, 2001, to April 9th, 2003, a period which, in responding to an attack out of the blue, this administration has redefined the world, reoriented American foreign policy, and put in place a profound new approach which I think will stand with the 15 weeks in history as one of the more remarkable achievements, both intellectually, militarily and diplomatically, and done by a foreign policy team, national security team, which I believe is the most successful and the most impressive since the Truman-Atchison-Marshall team and the others of the late 1940s.

The war in Iraq is simply a battle in this larger campaign and then this larger conceptual structural, and it was characterized by the immediate understanding by the administration in 2001, after 9/11, that the successor to the great ideological wars of the 20th century had presented itself to us, that just as communism was the successor to fascism, in terms of the Cold War being a successor to the second World War, the war on terrorism was now the successor to those great ideological struggles that the 10-year period of the hiatus, the dream sleep that we had in the 1990s had evaporated, and we were in a new world.

And it correctly understood that the struggle was against terrorism in the context of weapons of mass destruction, that the war on terrorism had been entirely misconceived as a war on individuals, a war involving law enforcement, that it was seen as a matter of policing, and trials.

What was understood was the war on terrorism is a real war, and the war had to be taken to the enemy, and it was a war that involved states, that terrorism can only live among states, can only be supported by states and that the distinction had to be made between states which were supporting terrorism, which would inherently be our enemies and states which were not. The war in Afghanistan followed. The war in Iraq has followed.

It's new to me that wars have "successors" in anything but an accidental historical sense (one event or period following another).  Here's the more basic point.  We can all be wrong about predictions.  I've been wrong on occasion–this is going to be the best taco ever! (I've learned to withhold judgment on taquerias).  But Krauthammer is still employed by the Post.  If there going to continue to employ him–seems they will as pundit tenure is better than actual academic tenure–perhaps they (he if he were honest) ought to remind readers of his record as a prognosticator.  


Again via Crooked Timber, here is a very worthwhile site: