Name That Logical Fallacy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009
Recently President Obama was making some remarks in Turkey, and made the following statement:
I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is — although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population — we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.
Needless to say, the right wing nutbars have lost their damn mind, which brings us to another game of...Name That Logical Fallacy (Or Obfuscation)! It's easy to play - simply read the short essay linked above, and identify as many logical fallacies or obfuscations as you can. The commenter with the most hits wins a special, special prize - either Liberal Jam (made with left-wing love) or Agnostic Knitwear (created using evolution's mysteries), winner's choice.

Get ready, get set...GO!

21 comments:

Carol Elaine said...

I wasn't going to click on the link because, well, I like my head non-explodey, but you had to go and offer jam?

I'll be back later. I just hope I can count that high without resorting to an abacus.

Carol Elaine said...

BTW, I don't have to dive into the comments, do I? Because that kind of stink never washes off.

John the Scientist said...

No, no, no, no, no. You are not doing this to me again.

:p

Carol Elaine said...

I know others can state the following points more eloquently than I, but here’s what I came up with in a quick dive into that putrescence:

1) […] he spent twenty years' worth of Sundays at an anti-white, pseudo-Christian hate group instead of going to a real Christian church - Why does this dicksmack get to define what a “real Christian church” is? Didn’t Jesus preach love? What’s with the hate?

2) […] the majority of Americans, myself included, do consider this to be a Christian nation. – Any objective polls/surveys to back this up (ie, ones that weren’t commissioned by churches)? Where did his numbers come from? Just because you say it doesn’t make it so.

3) This country was founded by Christians seeking religious freedom and Christian principles shaped our founding documents and our culture. - Yes and no. While the Puritans did flee England due to religious persecution, the Founding Fathers, while theists, were strongly against a national religion. So much so that it’s in the First Amendment of the Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Emphasis mine.)

4) This nation would not be a great nation without Christianity and it will not remain a great or moral country without the majority of its citizens remaining Christian. - This presupposes that only Christians can be great and moral. Aside from this asswipe proving that is not the case, the instances of Christians doing immoral things are too numerous to count – massacres, child molestation, discrimination, etc. This is not to say that Christians are immoral as a group. This is to say that Christians are human and are subject to the same human evil as any other group of people. Calling oneself a Christian does not automagically confer greatness or morality upon a person. To wit: George W. Bush, one of the least Christian (in action) people I’ve ever seen.

5) That's not to say that there aren't great or moral people of other religions or even great or moral people who have no religion at all, but what's true of individuals, isn't true of nations. We've seen that played out in Western Europe, which is in a rapidly increasing state of decay and we're seeing it here in the U.S. as the number of Christians decreases. - I sense a bit of, “Oh fuck, I’d better do a little dance here or I’ll be toast,” in the first part of this paragraph. Again, where did he get his “facts” that Western Europe “is in a rapidly increasing state of decay?” Things are bad for many countries at the moment, because of the economic issues we’re all facing. That has nothing to do with a loss of Christianity.

So, I count five logical fallacies/obfuscations. Did I miss any?

(I know Eric [and several other UCFers] can do this sort of thing in his sleep - and way better than I can - but I thought I'd give it a shot. In the name of LIBERAL JAM!

Janiece Murphy said...

John, don't be a wussie.

You know you want to.

kimby said...

Um....maybe I am wrong (or haven't been paying attention in Reformation History) but weren't the majority of the founding fathers Deists? OR at least leaned more towards the Deist way of thinking?

Also, while I know that Pennsylvania and Maryland were formed by Religious groups seeking safety from the persecutions of Europe...were ALL the states formed that way? I don't think so.

Also, there is this little thing about separation of Church and State, and nowhere does it say that the country was formed on Christian principles in fact I do believe they went out of their way to make sure that No One religion had power over another.

But what do i know. It isn't even my country. Now, i have to go get ready for Church. (seriously)

kimby said...

Hey Janiece, can the next post be something about Romans? Reformation Exam comes AFTER my Roman history one...and if you guys are going to help with this extra thought stuff, could we stay on the right topic?

:)
(How long before JtS caves and posts? You know he wants to!)

Eric said...

Not nearly as funny as his post on liberals being commies, wherein he asks "... if Fidel were our President, how different would his actions be from those Barack Obama has taken so far?" (I dunno--prolly be more executions, but at least you'd be able to get decent cigars? Is this going to count against our final grade?).

The biggest problem in his Christian country post, of course, is that it's basically a long argumentum ad populum: the majority of people believe this is a Christian country, therefore it must be true. Yes, because if the majority believes a thing--the world is flat, vapors cause disease, Jimmy Fallon is funny--it must be true. (Okay, the last might be a bad example: I'm not sure anybody actually thinks Jimmy Fallon is funny. I'm not sure Jimmy Fallon thinks Jimmy Fallon is funny--it's possible he always starts snickering in the middle of his own lines because he's scared he's going to pee himself on national television.)

Argumentum ad antiquitatem (thanks for the Latin, Wikipedia!), the argument from tradition, is also spurious. Not bathing was a tradition, too, as was slavery.

This is the part where I had a really nice bit about how the Puritans were fleeing religious freedom, when I realized I was proving too much: the right-wing nut probably would have fit in with the Puritans pretty well, sadly enough. And my lunch is over and I have to get back to work. So I'll leave it at those two bits and I'm off.

Carol Elaine said...

[...]but weren't the majority of the founding fathers Deists? OR at least leaned more towards the Deist way of thinking?

D'oh! You're right, Kim. I used the wrong word, although it appears that the Founding Fathers were Deist in philosophy and Theist in the general definition of the word. (See page 11 of the PDF.)

Jim Wright said...

Janiece, do you just go looking for these people? Now you know what's going to happen here, right? This right wing Rush wannabe is going to show up and the next thing you know he'll be posting some bit about how the UCF is a nest of satan worshiping liberals who eat tofu and fart communism or some damned thing.

His entire post, and all his posts so far as I was able to read them (yuck) are Arguments from Fallacy. He makes a false assumption or assumptions and simply proceeds to rant from there - i.e. he's a Neocon. I'm surprised Palin hasn't offered him a job.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, they actually find me. I'm so lucky.

he'll be posting some bit about how the UCF is a nest of satan worshiping liberals who eat tofu and fart communism or some damned thing.

As long he doesn't mention THE COMPOUND.

::wink, wink::

vince said...

Janiece, you're evil, just evil to make me read that ignorant, unwashed, putrid, illogical piece of crap.

Just evil, I say.

Not even a clue-by-four would get this person's attention.

John the Scientist said...

Kimby, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was also a religious refuge, albiet one formed by people who tended to become as bad as those they were running from once they got into power.

Janiece Murphy said...

Bwahahaha!

Nathan said...

I was waiting to see which one of you was going to jump all over this story. You should have seen the folks on Fox pissing their pants this morning. They were so frothy they could barely string together a coherent sentence. (OK, bad example--nothing new there.)

Mummy Grabill said...

I can't play - I started reading the article and started throwing up. Sorry - me no likey the yucky things this poo-head has to say . . . :-)

Eric said...

...he'll be posting some bit about how the UCF is a nest of satan worshiping liberals who eat tofu and fart communism or some damned thing.

Yeah! I rarely eat tofu! Pretty much only when I get Thai, or maybe if I get miso soup at a Japanese restaurant!

...the Massachusetts Bay Colony was also a religious refuge, albiet one formed by people who tended to become as bad as those they were running from once they got into power.

John, the case can be made that the Puritans were as bad to start with: as you're probably aware, they originally ended up in The Netherlands, but fled because, among other things, they though the religiously-tolerant Dutch were a bad influence on their kids. When we talk about the religious persecution of the Puritans, it's in relation to their treatment in England, where they refused to attend Anglican services (which were mandatory, the CoE being an official state religion at the time); what usually gets lost in that is the fact that the Puritans refused to attend because the Church Of England wasn't strict enough for their tastes.

They were kind of horrible people to begin with. When this country was young and looking for its own historic mythology (in the 18th Century, Michelle ;-) ), we downplayed the fact the Puritans were uptight bigots and played up the fact that the CoE was pretty awful to them, because it spoke to our cultural aspiration to be a religiously tolerant society. As mythology, it's great stuff: the iconic black-and-white clad Pilgrim taking his family into the hopeless unknown yonder, abandoning all his worldly things as he pursues the dream of a place where he can be true to his conscience with no criminal consequences. It's not very good history, though: the Puritan's notion of religious freedom was that it was his way or the highway to hell, and he'd rather risk his and his family's lives on turbulent seas in a miserable louse-ridden ship's hold then spend another five minutes with those goddamn clog-wearing Dutch. Once he arrived in the New World, the establishment of a religiously intolerant government wasn't the corruption of power, but the freedom to do what he'd wanted to for years and would have done at home if his creepy retrograde cult had held the majority instead of being a bit of a bizarre fringe movement.

Jim Wright said...

I have to find it, and don't have time to look it up at the moment. But Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin were very specific in the years following the founding of the United States regarding the secular nature of the new country.

Washington said specifically that the United States was not founded as a Christian nation. Washington himself mentioned religion rarely in his writings, and never mentioned Jesus Christ, not once, in writing. He appeared to respect all beliefs and no belief, and attended many different services while president. However in his personal life he did not attend church. When he rebuilt Mt Vernon he invited all faiths, including atheists, to work there - this work order was written in his own hand and is on display in the national archives. Despite a large number of Christian attempts at a deathbed conversion myth, Washington's death was well documented and witnessed and was reported to be a "Death of Civility" and he refused all religious custom at the end. In the decades since, Christians have managed ignore that, painting Washington (and Jesus himself I suspect) in their own image for their own ends. And they repeat it over and over until it is de facto truth. This of course being Fallacy from Repetition.

It should be noted however that Martha Washington was a Christian, an Anglican before the revolution, and an Episcopalian after when the Anglican church was required to swear fealty to the crown. She was a regular church goer and the chapel at Mt Vernon was built for her. Both the President and Martha Washington were entombed there after their deaths. Christian revisionists often point to Washington's burial site as evidence of his Christianity without actually knowing or understanding why he's entombed there or bothering to read his beliefs as expressed in his own writing. And in fact the tomb which was mostly constructed after the President's death is the only religious construct on the estate. There no other religious icons anywhere on the property, with exception of the slave cemetery. Of course you'd actually have to go there to know that.

Christian revisionists like to believe that you can only be moral and upright if you're a Christian. Madison and Jefferson, the two founder most responsible for shaping the new country, specifically crafted a Constitution that did not depend on divine guidance for men and government to behave in a ethical manner - and in fact this was an overriding concern of both men, though they approached it from different directions. However, since Washington was moral, upright, and highly admired (according to history), he must have been a Christian, Q.E.D. Fallacy from False Comparison.

Jefferson was an avowed atheist. He said so numerous times, in writing. He did say that he drew on the bible for inspiration when drafting the Constitution - as well as the Koran, the Torah, and numerous other secular texts including the Magna Carta. Those books are in the library of Congress. But again, revisionists like the dipshit you linked above fail to mention or acknowledge the non-christian influences in the founding of this country - and in fact claim something that is patently false, i.e. Jefferson was a Christian. Which is a Base Assertion Fallacy.

The problem with folks like the guy you linked to is not just that they are deluded, deliberately so, but that they are unable to think properly.

neurondoc said...

I. Will. Not. Play. My head is still hurting from Vuh-jine-uhl the other day, and I just can't take another one. I went there, read it, and just can't bear to dive in. If they come by 'round the rest of us, they can read my nice blog post about the afikomen and ponder my non-Christianity. :-P

Janiece Murphy said...

And the winner is...Carol Elaine!

So what's it going to be? Liberal Jam of Agnostic Knitwear?

Carol Elaine said...

Thank you, thank you!

Such a tough choice. Liberal Jam is so very tasty, but Agnostic Knitwear lasts a loooong time.

Agnostic Knitwear it shall be!

Gotta say, I enjoyed reading the other comments. All things I was already aware of, but written in such a manner that I felt I was learning something new. And liking it!