May 2008

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lisa levy

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Very nice


Wonderful article, many thanks

Jinjer pars

The type of argument style that is used by most people under the guise of "logic" or "being clever", is to replace the syllogism with fallacies, as in the case of your Jack the Ripper example. It's a fallacy to assume that because one thinks doctors are positive role models, and Jack is a doctor (for the sake of the argument), that one would automatically approve of EVERYTHING Jack the Ripper does

Lazy Boy

Scott that way of thinking has a name: Sophism.

Logic and rhetoric should be mandatory studies for anybody getting a post secondary education.

Its not a mental flaw, it's an education flaw. How can you expect people to come to the right conclusion if they don't understand the basic fuctions of a syllogism. Let alone not understand why an argument is invalid or pernicious.

Everybody would gain by revisiting Aristotle once in a while.

Lazy Boy


Joining these comments late, so this has prolly already been said but...

The reverse is also a common tactic. If you oppose an action by (insert so-and-so good guy) then you must support (insert so-and-so bad guy that they oppose)!


My first reaction: he he he.

but seriously, the form of rehetoric you describe is not actually a mental illness, it's just plain and simple stupidity. The only thing these people suffer from are low IQ's and the sooner we become the ruling class and make them our minions, the better.

Good game hunter

I'm pretty sure this type of thinking was mentioned in the book "Influence." If my memory serves me right, there's a whole psychological explanation that the author feels is the main cause behind this mentality.

I think....^^


Every time I see "Bob" in your example above, I read it as "josh B". Weird.

Adrian D.


1 A
2 B
3 skipped per instructions
4 B
5 B
6 A
7 B

How good was your guess?


Allow me to recommend the book "I am RIGHT. You are WRONG," by Edward de Bono. The author puts forward some *very* interesting ideas. I don't agree with them all; but they are interesting.



The arguments types you used as an example in your blogs are not mental illnes, but simply sloppy logic. It's also a rhetorical trick used by many lawyers, politicians, and salesmen.

An argument (in the logic sense of the word) goes "If A, then B, if B then C, so if A, then C), where A, B, and C are replaced with conditional statments.

The type of argument style that is used by most people under the guise of "logic" or "being clever", is to replace the syllogism with fallacies, as in the case of your Jack the Ripper example. It's a fallacy to assume that because one thinks doctors are positive role models, and Jack is a doctor (for the sake of the argument), that one would automatically approve of EVERYTHING Jack the Ripper does. Not necessarily so, in fact, seldom is it so.

This style though, sadly, is what passes for political discourse these days, especially on the left and right wing (and I stress "wing") blog sites. I tried both. In one I was a traitor and terrorist-in-training, in the other I was a Nazi sympathizer and a Bush book-licker.


Given the huge percentage of the population who makes this kind of fallacy, it might actually be those of us who think *correctly* who have the mental problem.


I'll give you a great example of abuse of logic.

Sunday my daughter called me to tell me a woman who lives in our building came to the door and started asking her 20 questions about my boyfriend and his truck. Someone hit her car and took off w/o a note. His truck is white and it has an impact on the rear bumper ... so logically it was him right? She was just "certain" that he was the culprit and she told her to tell us the police would be knocking on the door.

Besides the fact that the impact on his truck could not possibly have made her dent unless he was levitated at the time, the impact on his truck is over 6 months old. He also has the name, address and phone number of the uninsured great grandma who bashed him in broad daylight in a parking lot. Pah ... details details. Who needs em right?

Did she bother to ever come up and talk to him or me about this ? No (Let's just intimidate the teenage daughter when she is home alone). Did the police show up yet ? No (They probably looked at his truck and her car and laughed at her). Did his brake line get maliciously hacked just 2 days after this accusation? Yes.

He worked on his brakes 2 weeks ago and inspected them thoroughly. So this had to happen in that time. No it's not a mechanical issue. He and my brother verified that by observing the lines where it occurred. The plier marks and filing are also a dead giveaway.

And just Saturday we took my 10 year old son to the top of a Mountain for a hike. I guess you could say we were all pretty damn lucky that day huh?!?!

But don't get me wrong ... I'm not accusing anyone without the facts. That wouldn't be logical.


Okay, so this is getting way too heavy now. Can you just go back to being funny, please? Thanks.


I find it disturbing that so many people who post seemingly intelligent comments have such a terrible time at grammar and basic knowledge of the English language and spelling. I can accept simple keyboard mistakes (and foreigners) when one is typing feverishly, but to mix up the use of "They're and Their and There" is inexcusable. I am not an English genius and I do not think I am "above" anybody, but common mistakes like this are so prevalent that it makes me wonder what in the hell all of you were doing during English class.

why don't you people "expand your barins" and do a spell/grammar check occasionally

here are some more gems

"thoughs" who like a good laugh
"your" stupid
a very logical and articulate response that has generally "mist" the point

Matthew Kovich

The war between cognitive dissonance and cognitive autonomy continues to wage.

I hope our side wins, Scott.


It's interesting seeing the various responses that come out on this blog. It would probably be a great source for research if each individual poster could be contacted and polled with a few basic questions.

Some questions that I would ask are:

1. What is your primary source for news?

A) Mainstream sources, such as CNN, FOX News, PBS, ABC, Newsweek, Time etc.

B) Foreign media.

C) Independent media - typically found on the internet.

2. Do you listen to talk radio?

A) Yes

B) No

3. If you answered No to question 2, skip to question 4. If you answered Yes to question 2, answer the following question:

Do you ever allow talk radio to be a source for news or information that influences your opinions?

A) Yes

B) No

4. Do you believe that the US federal government is

A) generally controlled by the consent of the governed.


B) generally controlled by the interests of a small private (non-government) minority.

5. Which is more important for the longevity of a representative republic during a time of crisis:

A) Assuring that publicly expressed opinions are not contrary to the will of the government.


B) Assuring that all opinions may be freely expressed, especially those that question the motivations and actions of the government.

6. Do you believe that there is a high level of propaganda in the US?

A) Yes

B) No

7. If you answered Yes to question 6, do you believe that your opinions have been influenced by propaganda?

A) Yes

B) No

That would be my poll. I'm relatively certain that I could answer most of the questions correctly for many of the individuals here, based solely upon their comments.


Mental illness?

Yelling 'FIRE' in a crowded room then criticizing how people react to the 'joke'.

Now thats sick - isn't it Scott.


Interesting that there are at least two people (me and somebody else) who reads both your blog and Figaro's....


Unfortunately, apathy and laziness do not rise to the level of mental illness. Far too many people just don't put in any effort to try to understand the complexities of world or even local problems. So, they end up with simplified reasoning and arguments that lead to the cognitive dissonance that sounds like insanity.

In nature, animals tend to appear lazy, but it is just their natural inclination to conserving as much energy as possible between uncertain meals in order to stay alive. Humans, unfortunately, have the same natural inclination, though we overcome it in many ways. But, for some reason, a large number of people, all over the world, let that natural laziness manifest itself in their political thinking and let themselves believe the most simplified arguments, no matter how idiotic.


This all reminds me of the scene from The Holy Grail ...

you must realize that witches burn. What else burns? Wood does. And since wood floats, and ducks also float, if a woman weighs the same as a duck, she is in fact a witch. At that point you may burn her without fear of recriminations.

Sir Mike Tallon

I never had an official name for it like "ripperitis", but I referred to them as people who take everything to the extreme: "I don't like Metallica."
"Oh, so, I guess all rock music sucks and you hate metal? You don't like absolutely any rock music that exists?"
Just because ONE THING isn't, doesn't mean the extreme of it always is. Most of the time, there's an infinite variety of beliefs you have over everything, not absolute extremes in all categories. All these people who do it are the poorest debaters, so I usually laugh in their face and stop talking to them.

Adam Williams

Its not a disease, and it already HAS a name. Its called 'stupid'.


Scott, please help.

After, reading these comments I need some sort of pill to help me to feel life is worth living.

Even when you explain yourself coherently as I feel you have, people still misinterpret and send you burn-mail. Why? And how are non-nuts people supposed to cope?

Where is the love man?


Could you post these two link on your main page?They contain the transcripts of what was said. I think a lot many people dont know what they are talking about. This could shed some light..assuming they are intelligent enough to understand what is being said.

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