Category Archives: Fallacies of weak induction

A bad analogy is like a slacker boyfriend

Check out the report on the new conservative women’s movement, or conservative feminism at AmSpec.  The best part was that they thought the best way to reply to the Republican war on women meme was to analogize the Obama Presidency to a bad date or an unreliable boyfriend.  That’s, by the way, not a way to relate to women in a way that will undo the thought that the Republican Party doesn’t take them seriously.  See the video:

Slippery slopes… to rationality!

It’s slippery slope week at the NS.  Here’s a humorous slope argument at The Onion.

Condemning the decision as “dangerously reasonable” and “beyond level-headed,” vocal opponents of same-sex marriage strongly cautioned that this morning’s Supreme Court rulings supporting gay rights could put the United States on a one-way, slippery slope to rationality.

Ha! Well, you know, the acceptability of a slippery slope argument depends on how likely the consequent is made by the antecedent.  Not seeing that, really.  There are lots of bumps on that staircase.  Mostly comprised by the voting decisions of the denizens of Texas, Utah, Alabama, and so on.

Slip’n’slide, with beastiality at the bottom

Huffpo’s got a nice review of how “the haters” are “freaking out” about DOMA being struck down by the Supreme Court.  Got a nice shot of a tweet from Bryan Fisher, from the American Family Association, with the classic slippery slope on homosexuality.

The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time.

Do you like slippery on your slope?  Inevitable. Of course, the fact that two of these four involve entities that can’t give consent doesn’t prevent Fisher from lumping them all together.

The NSA knows about your analogy and slippery slope

In response to challenges to the legality and morality of the NSA’s surveillance program, President Obama said we should have a healthy debate about it (video HERE).  This occasions George Neumayr at the American Spectator to make this comparison:

He is open to a “healthy” debate about it. Holder and Obama are like drunk drivers who cause a pile-up and then stroll back innocently to see if they can “help.”

And when President Obama makes it clear that the content of the calls is not monitored, Neumayr sees a slope looming:

In a few years, the line will move to: yes, we are listening to your calls, but we are not recording them; yes, we are forcing you to pay for abortion but we are not requiring you undergo one.

The trouble is that in both the analogy and in the slippery slope, we have Neumayr assuming that the harm is already in the surveillance as it is.  Notice that both of the Obama replies to criticism has been to challenge that thought — the harm of surveillance would be on content.


Be prepared … for that slippery slope

Mark Tooley objects to the Boy Scouts no longer discriminating against gay scouts.  He sees it as a trend of the emasculation of male culture, a kind of conformity to the kind of society “determined to echo the preening voice of the sort of nagging school guidance counselor whom every adolescent boy dreads and seeks to avoid”.  Yes, Tooley is analogizing contemporary politics to high school boys and their attitudes.  The point for the NS readers is that he’s not just got a concern about the reasons, but also a concern about the consequences.  He sees larger trouble brewing, and more than just the fact that BSA scoutmasters will likely be gay, too:

[It is not yet clear]what this policy means for transsexuals. Cross-dressing Scouts? Only one of countless issues that inevitably now will arise under the rubric of protected “orientation or preference.” For a more likely scenario, how about teenage Scouts wanting openly to celebrate their pornographic interests?

Yes, so Tooley’s mind has run from the question of whether there should be no prohibition on gay scouts to whether if they let them in, whether they’ll have to let them wear, you know, Priscilla Queen of the Desert wear for the backpacking trip.  Or whether their interest in pornography will be allowable and protected.

It’s really two slopes, and separate ones.  The ‘transsexuals’ line is an error for the simple reason that if there’s a uniform, there’s a uniform.  So the same reason why Johnny can’t wear his All-State football jersey on the backpacking trip is the same reason why Sam can’t wear his sundress.  Done.

The pornography issue is, again, simple.  Exposing the boys to sexually explicit material, even if they do it themselves, isn’t lawful. What does Tooley think? That once you let the gays in, you might as well fire up the film projector for the stag films?  (I suspect that it’s a background equivocation of protecting the boys’ interests — what if they’re interested in porn?, he asks.)  He even thinks it’s “more likely”!  More likely than what?

Pretty in pink

Check out Charles Krauthammer’s downplaying analogy over at the NRO for Obama’s ‘Red Line’ ultimatum with Syria using chemical weapons and what the Right thinks is dithering (or “fudging and fumbling”) in the face of the worry they’ve used them.  The headline:

Pink Line over Damascus

Get it?  Not red, but pink.  You see what he did there? Replaced red with pink. So, it’s like a girl’s ultimatum, which is, you know, not very decisive:

He would have it both ways: sound decisive but never have to deliver.

Yeah, just like a little girl, so pink.  And conservatives wonder why they have a problem with women.

Some analogies are are like propositions that aren’t true

Sometimes when you make an analogy, you really just show how little you understand. Or, perhaps, how little you want to.  Charles Cooke at NRO thinks that taxing ammunition at a higher rate, perhaps at 50%, is not just bad economic policy, but is an infringement on basic rights.  He makes this point with an analogy.

When it comes to our basic rights, the rule of thumb is that as little as possible should be put in the way of their exercise. The Second Amendment is often treated differently from the other component parts of the Bill of Rights, but it damn well shouldn’t be. Unless you consider that the right to bear arms is less important in a republic than is the right to vote — which I most decidedly do not — then putting a special tax on firearms is no less outrageous than putting a tax on voting. Why one but not the other?

Notice, first, that this is an argument that, as we say in philosophy, proves too much.  If we’re really to take the conclusion seriously, then it should be that we shouldn’t tax gun or ammunition purchases at all.  If there’s no taxing voting, then there’s no taxing guns and gun-related stuff.   His argument isn’t one that proves that we shouldn’t tax ammo at a high rate, it’s that we shouldn’t tax it at all.

Second, notice that Cooke thinks that gun-rights are more important than voting rights.  I wonder what he thinks of Canada.  A real democracy? Germany or England?  If you click his link, there’s a paywall for the whole article — but he does answer one question.  With another question.  To the challenge why does he need military style firearms?  His reply is:

A better question: “Why don’t you want me to have one?”

Yep.  His argument is pretty much that his possession of a firearm ensures that his voting rights can’t be taken away.  Seriously, though, who’s he gonna shoot if his voter registration card doesn’t get recognized at the polling station?

Third, and finally, isn’t the difference between voting and buying guns and bullets is that with the latter, you’re purchasing a product?  It’s a financial exchange of goods and money, one that the government can tax as necessary.  It’s not that the argument by analogy proves too much, it’s that the analogy isn’t appropriately framed.

Welcome to the Secular Theocracy

Jeffrey Lord’s post at The American Spectator about the “Theocratic” bent of “The Left’s” obsession with bans on things that are bad for us or are bad for the environment ends with a great flourish.  Lord’s analogy is to the theocracies of old that banned things like subversive books for theological reasons.  But since liberals ban things, they must be like the theocrats, too:

The very people who shriek the loudest about the danger of an American theocracy based on religion — something that has never happened under the Constitution, nor can it — are well on their way to creating the secular version of just that.

Lord’s case:  liberals want to ban sugary drinks, fracking, excessive use of salt in pre-prepared foods and restaurant fare, plastic bags, and the Bible.  What’s weird about the case is that the reasons liberals use to ban these things are reasons that all in the debates can understand as reasons: public health and the shared costs of obesity, environmental health and clean water, more public health, plastic waste and environmental destruction with plastic bags, and separation of church and state.  Those are all bans that benefit all by protecting us from consequences.  Banning books doesn’t do that.  That’s why we use ‘theocracy’ as a bad word for a government.

So Lord’s analogy is silly to begin with.  But to call a secular order committed to public reasons a ‘theocracy’ is simply a manifest contradiction.

A different explanation

George Whittman, at the American Spectator, has a suggestion to Bill Clinton: Stay Home.  Apparently, Clinton makes for accommodationist foreign policy with Muslims. Clinton opined that Islamic terrorism in Northern Nigeria was caused by economic troubles, and he suggested economic development of the North as a means of reducing the trouble. Whittman rebuts Clinton:

Clinton must have known that his statement was a direct attack on Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan who had earlier responded sharply to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour when she suggested poverty and corruption were behind the rise in Nigerian terrorism. President Jonathan had vigorously replied that Boko Haram was “definitely not a result of poverty.…Boko Haram is a local terrorist group.”

Note, by the way, that the form of that explanation is as follows:  q does not explain p, because p.  Apparently, being an Islamic terrorist is causa sui.  Silly Clinton.