Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bad Logic

I have been giving this a lot of thought, and by putting it out there I know that I will potentially get some interweb hate over it, but this has been bugging me for a while now.
Different groups like to point out that all white people, all black people, all women, all men are... , and then make snarky sarcastic comments when someone refutes that not all (group/gender/denomination) do whatever action is offensive. It took me a while to figure out what it was about these that pissed me off. All of the -ists and -isms have a point. A lot of bad things are done to people by other people. But when you make a broad sweeping statement that includes all members in a group, you’re making the fallacy of composition. If anything is going to piss me off, it is using bad logic in an argument.
The attempt at a reasoned discourse is made moot by using bad logic. I am all for a good argument, but when you use semantics that encourages faulty logic, you are doing your argument a disservice. To make the argument valid, you just need to use that nifty adjective some. That one little word makes all the difference between a valid and an invalid argument. All white people hate minorities = Not true. Some white people hate minorities = true. All minorities hate white people. = Not true. Some minorities hate white people = true. Some jocks hate nerds = true. Some teens are homophobic douche bags = true. Some pop stars are bits of anthropomorphic smegma brought to life by record executives to get as much profit from them as they can before they reach puberty and their voices change = welllll. Some porn stars become successful because their greedy mothers take advantage of their “fame” to launch a reality show empire and a shitty line of clothing at Sears = ok this is true.
If you want to make a good argument, think about using qualifiers before you make a broad statement about a group. Are there exceptions to the statement? If so, then you must exclude those exceptions. Failing to exclude those exceptions weakens your argument and potentially alienates members of the group that may have agreed with you.

But, if the whole point of the “argument” is to get someone to reply "but not all (group/gender/denomination)", so you can come back with a snarky zinger then well done. Everyone who does this is a douchebag.