Monday, March 12, 2012

Tweedledee to the Rescue -- Part 11 in The Twelve-Part Program for American Recovery

As I watch and often take part in discussions about the ills of modern American society I am often struck by the bizarre feeling that I’ve whizzed down the Wonderland hole and am staggering around with Alice trying to find something that makes sense. Instead, I find Mad Hatters, crazy Queens, and stoned caterpillars none of which seem able to offer a rational argument and all of which seem hell-bent on turning any discussion into an emotional rant. Right now I’m listening on the radio to a young man whose logic is just dripping fallacies and he’s so excitable he doesn’t want to allow a complete discussion. We desperately need to understand logic and how it gets twisted and why. What follows is a quick tutorial on some of the most egregious fallacies so we can all stop these sneaky arguments in their tracks. So…..

Tweedledee to the Rescue    

In Through the Looking-Glass Lewis Carol has Tweedeldee say, “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.” And right he is – perhaps we need to take lessons from this sensible pot-bellied sage. In 21st century America logic is cowering in a closet aware that he is no longer socially acceptable, the party has run amuck, and we need him to come out.

Most of the devastating national policies that undermine our republic are the result of faulty logic, on the part of the people proposing the policies, on the part of those reporting on them, and on the part of those reacting to the news. I can even present the problem in an algorithm --- Logical Fallacies + Propaganda (Media Complicity + An Unthinking Populace) = The Fall of a Nation.   

And we are falling – fast.

You and I are not in Congress, and we’re not in the media, but we are part of the populace and we can start thinking. One of the best ways to do that is to brush up on the logical fallacies that so permeate our national airways.  We don’t have to be putty in their hands -- we can fight back with reason.

You see, logic doesn’t change any more than God does. Logic is His gift to us; -- “In the beginning was the Logos…”  It is as fixed as the stars, as much of a scientific law as gravity. Anyone proposing an illogical policy must  shove reason in a hole and hope no one notices. But we’re noticing.