Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How To Expose Bad Arguments

I am going to break down this video and point out some logical fallacies made.

A logical fallacy Clearly defined is a error in reasoning used to support or refute an argument, excluding simple unintended mistakes

The first 1:30

Here the argument is made that homosexuals should have the same rights as other Americans and if they are denied marriage then the discrimination is comparable to that of the 1960s and even earlier where black people were not given basic human rights.

Begging The Question

This is where one assumes what it is they are trying to prove. The reason the opposition is even having a debate is over whether being gay is a choice or whether one is born that way biologically. Whoopi starts from the hidden premise that gays are born that way, without addressing the question, are they born that way?

This argument is fallacious because being Black or White is not a choice, a person can not change who they are biologically because it is intrinsic to their human nature. So here they have confused a person’s essence with ones function. A persons behavior is not always a direct result of there nature. For example, some people shoplift, but shoplifting is not intrinsic to a person’s nature, but is an example of how they have used there free will to do a bad act which is a function of there free will.

Another point to be made is that the scientific evidence is far from conclusive that a person is born gay. Of course pursuing the same sex is not against the law, but trying to redefine marriage by marrying the same sex is.

Secondly gays have the same rights as everyone else; they are allowed to get married, just not to the same sex.


Appeal To Pity

An appeal to pity attempts to persuade using emotion—specifically, sympathy—rather than evidence. Playing on the pity that someone feels for an individual or group can certainly affect what that person thinks about the group; this is a highly effective, and so quite common, fallacy.

Nobody on the other side of the debate believes that gays should be lynched or shot in the street; this is Whoopi at her best trying to cloud the argument by appealing to emotions.

What about a Father that wants to marry his daughter who is over the age of 18 and is still married to his wife, should he be allowed? If not why not, who are we to discriminate? If the argument is that we should legalize certain behaviors because people should not be discriminated against, then where do you draw the line? Eventually unless you want complete chaos, then the man that wants to marry his goat is going to be discriminated against, the question is what is best for society as a whole, not the particular individual whose behavior will have an adverse effect on society.


reductio ad absurdum

1. (Philosophy / Logic) a method of disproving a proposition by showing that its inevitable consequences would be absurd

This applies when Whoopi states that “If you do not approve of gay marriage, then do not marry a gay person”.

I wonder what Whoopi would say in the 1800s to a slave owner who told her that he was doing nothing wrong by owning slaves and she should keep her nose out of it, after all, if you don’t like slavery don’t own a slave!

Same thing for drugs or prostitution, who are we to try and outlaw prostitution, if you don’t like it, don’t get a prostitute.

This type of logic is infantile at best. Again as a society we have a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the people.


Red Herring
The red herring is as much a debate tactic as it is a logical fallacy. It is a fallacy of distraction, and is committed when a listener attempts to divert an arguer from his argument by introducing another topic.
When did somebody bring in religion other than Whoopi? One does not need religion or the bible to demonstrate that homosexuality is bad for society and will have negative affects on the society as a whole. Here I will give a few stats from Dr. Frank Turek and Dr. Norman Geislers book “Legislating Morality”

On page 132 of their book they have a chart in which they show statistics taken from Omega Study Results, a study comparing obituaries of 6,737 homosexuals to a sample of heterosexuals, the results speak for themselves ( Note LTSP refers to long term sexual partner)

Married men
The average live to be 75
Percent living past 65 80%

Single or Divorced Men
Average age 57

32% Percentage living past 65

Homosexual Men
Without Aids

Average age 42 and only 9% live past 65

Homosexual Men
Without Aids Average age 41
With an LTSP 7% live past 65

Homosexual Men
With Aids an LTSP Average age 39 Less than 2% make it past 65

The source is Paul Cameron PhD, William Playfair, M.D., and Stephen Wellum, The longevity of Homosexuals: Before and after the aids epidemic,” The Omega Journal of Death and Dying 29:3 1994 249-272

The stats speak for themselves; one does not need to bring in religion or the Bible to demonstrate that homosexual behavior is bad for society.

This brings me to another point. Homosexuality has certainly not been shown to be something biological but a choice. However, let’s say a person is born with certain homosexual tendencies why would that be any kind of argument to promote homosexual relationships? What about those born with a propensity to violence, does the cop let the wife beater off because it was in his genes and he just can’t help it? How bout the person born with a propensity to abuse alcohol, should he be let off if he gets caught driving drunk, after all he was born with the bent towards alcoholism?

Of course not, this in called the Naturalistic Fallacy, that is it feels natural or normal it must be morally acceptable, the reasons shown above demonstrate that even if a person was born as a homosexual ( which the scientific evidence does not support) that still would not be a reason to promote same sex behavior and certainly not marriage.

4:36 -5:00

Begging The Question

Whoopi and her co-host again begs the question, the abortion debate is centered around whether the baby in the womb is a human and if so, those who are pro-life say then it is not the woman’s right to kill the baby. Whoopi doesn’t address the argument as to whether the baby is a separate human in the womb and jumps right to her conclusion that a woman should have the right to do what she wants with her body, but again that is the debate, is it her body? If the baby in the womb is a separate person, then it’s not her body but the body of a separate human that she wants to eliminate and outside the womb there is a term for this, we call it murder.


Whoopi brings in the church and state argument, but as shown above one does not need to bring in the bible nor religion to demonstrate homosexuality is harmful to society, and just as we do not promote drugs and other activities that will devastate a society, neither should we promote sexual behavior that also has bad effects on society. I just showed the stats of the health of those who participate in this, there is so much more on how children are affected without a mom and dad growing up.


Whoopi is right, this issue has many ramifications to come and she should pay attention to the research done and educate herself before arguing from nothing more than “outrage”.


Straw Man Fallacy

A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted. This, of course, is a fallacy, because the position that has been claimed to be refuted is different to that which has actually been refuted; the real target of the argument is untouched by it.

She again confuses a person’s essence with a persons function. Being blond or having white skin is not a choice; neither does it deal with moral choices, sexual behavior does.

Feel free to leave comments

No comments:

Post a Comment