Wednesday, August 5, 2009

World's Oldest Proof

Strained logic appears over and over again in human discourse, especially when passion overwhelms the requirement for proof.

Or, better yet, when passion becomes the proof. This is the flaw in Life, Inc., the book that I reviewed on this site yesterday.

Consider the following additional examples of passionate but faulty logic, culled from history:

Adolf Hitler:
I don't like Jews.
People behave badly.
A lot of people are Jews.
Therefore, Jews make people behave badly.

Islamic Extremist:
I don't like Americans.
People behave badly.
A lot of people envy Americans.
Therefore, Americans are the reason people behave badly.

Naomi Klein:
I don't like Milton Friedman.
People behave badly.
A lot of people read Milton Friedman.
Therefore, Milton Friedman makes people behave badly.

Richard Dawkins, scientist and militant atheist:
I don't like religion.
People behave badly.
People are religious.
Therefore, religion makes people behave badly.

Ben Stein, star of the anti-evolution movie, Expelled
I don't like evolution.
People behave badly.
People are taught evolution.
Therefore, evolution makes people behave badly.

Gun Control Advocates:
I don't like guns.
People behave badly.
People own guns.
Therefore, guns make people behave badly.

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
I don't like meat.
People behave badly.
People eat meat.
Therefore, meat makes people behave badly.

The variations are endless. Perhaps the world's oldest and weakest proof begins with "I don't like..."

On the other hand, it is apparently a very effective way to demonize a race, a nation, a man, a product, or an idea.

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