Monday, April 04, 2011

Logical Fallacies 101 (Part 5 Of 6): Argumentum Ad Ignorantium and Slippery Slope Logic

.:Logical Fallacies 101 (Part 5 Of 6): Argumentum Ad Ignorantium and Slippery Slope Logic:.

The idiocy! It’s over 9000!!!

And we cap things off with yet another doozy. Argumentum Ad Ignorantium is when someone doesn’t know enough about something, yet draws conclusions based on it, regardless. Plenty of people form uninformed opinions, and then fall back on the silly catch-all that it’s just an opinion, and opinions are never wrong! This kind of logical fallacy is very dangerous because a lot of people form very strong opinions about things they know nothing about, and then proceed to form their belief systems and rationalizations from this very shaky foundation. This leads to tragic results. Or hilarious results, if you’re the type who loves yourself some Schadenfreude.

People who abuse Argumentum Ad Ignorantium are the people who make you wish that stupidity is illegal. Unfortunately, it’s not. You will see that by arguing from complete ignorance, one ends up becoming wide open to a host of other logical fallacies, such as doozies like jumping to conclusions,, straw-man arguments, and an either/or fallacy.

Precisely because they don’t know what they’re talking about, they then form arguments based on their multiple misconceptions. In this particular example, she starts by making assumptions about the RH Bill without reading the contents of the bill. Pam here is relying on hearsay to guide her opinions, and from that point onwards, everything you say is headed down your very own slippery slope towards stupidlandia. Once you have sorely mistaken ideas to start your argumentation, then the conclusions you come up with are going to be every bit as misinformed as they are passionate.

At no point does the bill say “it’s okay to have sex as long as you have condoms.” In fact, sex education involves making it clear what responsibilities are entailed by the sexual act. Teaching kids about the birds and the bees using age-appropriate material is much better than teaching kids about it by borrowing pron from their classmates, which gives all the wrong ideas about sex.

Every single point she makes is then either an assumption made based on hearsay about the bill, or a slippery slope: a worst-case scenario being taken as the logical conclusion of a specific line of thinking.

For example, a common slippery slope story is “if you wake up late, you will miss class. If you miss class, you will overcut. If you overcut, you will fail class. If you fail class, you will not graduate. If you don’t graduate, you will not find a job. If you don’t find a job, you will be poor. If you are poor, you will die of hunger. So don’t wake up late, or you will die of hunger.”

What she is trying to do here is to talk about how corruption is present, so we shouldn’t make this law happen, without realizing that if we follow this line of thinking, then we should never pass any law that involves public funds, because all of them are prone to corruption. She then compounds this by assuming that making Reproductive Health available would undermine parental authority when it’s pretty clear that parents are at no point emasculated but rather supported through the RH Bill, to begin with.

The worst part is, she assumes the worst in people, and believes that the RH Bill will give people more chances to be sinners, a huge signpost saying, “Look! The Catholic Church has failed to tend to its flock! Now, we must remove choices from our Catholics so that they can’t f**k themselves over! Literally!” The anti-RH advocates assume that people will choose what they (the anti-RH people, that is) merely perceive to be the wrong thing.

And, oh. Her argument about sperm cells = babies is also made of epic fail because this means that even each time you do produce a child, you have killed billions of other “babies”.

By the way, sperm cells, even fertilized eggs, don’t have shoes. So no, I can’t put myself in their shoes. =P

Her conclusion at the end of her looong tirade was: the RH Bill is the death penalty. That, right there, is slippery slope logic at its finest. Where in the RH Bill is that stated, pray tell?

So as you can see, argument from ignorance tends to really cause a lot of unnecessary headaches that could have been solved by taking the time out to do research properly and to not just listen to authorities. After all, what does someone who took a frigging vow of chastity know about reproductive health, of all things? Why are people who have no business in the bedroom becoming the go-to people for questions about what we should do in ours? Doesn’t this strike you as counterintuitive at best, and downright dangerous at worst?

Now, picking up from where Pam begins, how does she expect to even discuss what it means to be a righteous and moral person if she doesn’t even know what it means to be a righteous and moral person, let alone actually be one? If she actually has to run to Wikipedia to define what it means to be a person of great moral fibre, don’t you think she has no business telling us what to do to be a person of great moral fibre? When she don’t even know the difference between a legal issue and an ethical issue, where does Pam even begin to explain the finer nuances of a more complicated ethical or moral issue like, say, the abortion of a child because the mother was a rape victim who got pregnant?

And what makes her think that the conclusions she drew from her limited understanding on the subject matter are conclusions that we should assent to blindly? Who spiked her punch so much that her brain has gotten too addled in her self-delusion to realize that she is a one-legged woman in an @$$-kicking contest?

My dear, you keep on using these words. Do you even know what they mean? The problem is, if you are arguing your way from ignorance, then it’s highly likely that everything you just said was, for lack of a better term, bullshit.

Argument Ad Ignorantium: because thinking is too hard to do. You may as well feel the truth than actually know it.


Francis Ocoma said...

"The anti-RH advocates assume that people will choose what they (the anti-RH people, that is) merely perceive to be the wrong thing."

Hasty generalization. Not all anti-RH people make slippery-slope arguments.

Similarly, not all anti-RH people make silly "sperm=babies" sort of arguments. In fact, Catholics who say that are contradicting their religion, which teaches that a human being is formed only at the moment of conception and not before.

Not all anti-RH people are against every single part of the RH bill. I, for one, am only against the part where taxpayer money will be used to distribute contraceptives. I am also concerned as to whether the bill has a "conscience clause" for the benefit of public health workers who would refuse to participate in this contraceptive distribution on moral grounds. Other than that, everything else in the bill looks quite promising, if implemented well.

Furthermore, do not assume that all anti-RH bill people are unaware of the arguments for population control, including the various economic theories on population growth. Do not assume that none of us are familiar with at least an overview of the scientific studies both on the effects of local overpopulation and on the effects of various population control methods.

I hope you acknowledge that contraception isn't just an economic or scientific issue, that it is also a ethical/moral issue. And as any decent ethics professor will tell you, the ends do not justify the means.

Marcelle said...

Finally, an exception to the rule!

To clarify, my post was referencing only the specific example at the start of the article, and thinkers of her ilk.

In the interest of intellectual honesty, I am letting your points stand for all to see, because heaven knows there are more than enough walking straw men on the anti-RH side.

I especially like your argument about it being a moral issue, particularly because I happen to have a lengthy background in ethics, and having focused upon secular ethics, even within that framework, the main principles of the RH Bill still appeal to one such as myself.

Marcelle said...

A moral *and ethical* issue, might I add. My apologies. Proofreading isn't my top priority at the moment. Feh.

Marcelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcelle said...

And yes, at the same time, as I said, my posts *will* be every bit as prone to logical fallacies as the best of them. The point of the articles, after all, was to keep people on guard for when they're used, and to evaluate accordingly.

*sheepish grin*

Francis Ocoma said...

Thanks for accepting my comment! Actually, I do appreciate your valiant attempt at spreading knowledge of these logical fallacies. Keep it up!

I have a question. Do you think that an RH bill that does not include government-funded contraceptive distribution will be ineffective or otherwise undesirable?

Marcelle said...

Given that the main aim of the RH Bill is pro-poor in theory, removing the funding of the contraceptives from the law would make it about as ineffectual as the current law in Ayala Alabang regarding having a prescription for condoms.

Both would be bold and pronounced political statements, but toothless laws.

In the case of a fund-less RH Bill, its real target market, the poor, could theoretically have all the appropriate RH education in the world, but if they cannot afford contraceptives, then Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs will dictate that they'll just do it like they always have: get it on and pray for the best.

Once that happens, it defeats the purpose of having the RH Bill in the first place.

Francis Ocoma said...

I see. And, in your own opinion, will a better education not lead to a better over all standard of living for the children of today's poor? Is it your opinion that a future Philippine population that has benefited from educational reforms (and, perhaps, even political and economic ones) will still NOT on the average achieve a level of economic stability where purchasing contraceptives (if they so choose) would be viable?

Marcelle said...

Purely in the realm of hypothetical discussion, yes, a better education will yield a better populace, numbers notwithstanding.

However, in terms of feasibility, properly enacting the RH Bill is both easier and will produce more immediate impact, as opposed to a purely educative approach, which normally takes a whole generation to gain results.

Nonetheless, this shouldn't be an either/or situation, of course.

And now, a further clarification: I'm one of the many pro-RH people out there, but I'm far from an authority in the matter. I'm honestly afraid that if you consider yourself to be an anti-RH resource, I will be woefully unequipped to engage you as fruitfully as others far better than I.

Francis Ocoma said...

Alright, I won't bother you further about it, then. Besides, my debating energy has dwindled somewhat after a heretofore close friend of mine just blocked me on Twitter a few hours ago for being anti-RH. Perhaps I shall take a break for today, yes? :)

Marcelle said...

Eh? To be honest, I don't see you as anti-RH per se. I see you more as someone willing to give RH a conditional try.

And you also actually read the bill, as opposed to the bad examples I have shared in this post, which was really my main target, to begin with.

That being said, sorry to hear that. Always sad to lose a friend, especially when you find out about it online first before IRL.