Emotive Words and False Analogies -
Emotive words can provoke emotion and obscure rationality. They can include positive statements like: integrity, motherland, and honesty. Or they can be negative: rape, cancer, evil, and communist.
Metaphors and analogies can stir us unto a side path.
Al Gore False Analogy
Al Gore elaborated analogy between his sick son and sick country. America was on the brink of collapse after the Bush and Reagan but would nurture back to health by a new administration. That is an example of anecdote, false analogy, or metaphors which do not constitute prove but just represent a tools of rhetoric.
Glenn Beck False Analogies
It is reasonable to examine another case using Glenn Beck, a famous pundit.
In specific terms, I check Glenn Beck statements for validity and clarity of his claims. The talk show host has massive audience and influences minds of tens of millions of Americans so I would examine some of his clams. The website Right Wing Watch attempts to keep track of his statements but I would use their website and make my own independent notes as well.
(The RWW done most of the work on Beck here and they are very professional and thorough)
Saying that the “and so it begins” message he received from God last year was merely a warning that all of the catastrophic predictions he has been making for the last decade are about to come true, Beck said that the world is a like a racer lined up at the starting line, merely awaiting the “ready, set, go” command. “Last year was the ‘ready,’” Beck said. “I believe the Charlie Hebdo [attack] was the ‘set’ and I think the ‘go’ is coming and it’s coming soon ... I warn you and I beg you with everything in me to hear me, please hear me. The world is on the precipice of fascism, communism, anarchy, and theological nightmares. Nightmares!”.
Something to think about
1. Communism, fascism, and anarchy are very broad constructs which are not related to each other in many ways. Anarchists rejected state while statist communists and fascists favored top down control. Such an “isms” have broad definitions and many sub groups studied by comparative historians, economists, and social scientists. These are complex constructs. How can threats of communism, fascism, and anarchism with theological nightmares help to prevent potential terrorist attacks? What is Glenn Beck hypothesis and how is he going to test it? He seems to project emotive statements for his extremely religious public who would associate fascism, communism, and anarchism as ‘inherent evil. Term ‘theological nightmares’ has no operational definition as well but creates emotional impact on certain audiences. Another case should be recalled. Al Gore uses term ‘sick planet’ which has no operational definition but has emotive impact.
When dealing with global problems, are there inadequacies?]
Problem Solving Inadequacy
a. Form a hypothesis and look only at examples to confirm it
b. Do not seek evidence to disprove hypothesis
c. A very slow to change hypothesis even if it is wrong
d. If information is complex adopt a simple hypothesis
e. If no solution is found form hypothesis about coincidental relationships
I used some concepts from Michael Shermer book ‘Why people Believe Weird Things” to examine logic. In a nutshell I would be skeptical of pundits and read books by scholars which are parts of my goals for the next few years.
What can be done to confront pundits like Beck making logical fallacies addressing big issues and pandering to his pious audience?