the shocking correlations between ice-cream, drowning, aliens, and sequined leisure suits

I read this today at Bridge Out:

From a “straight” point-of-view, why can’t homosexuals equally wake up? Why do you keep thinking that your life styles need to be recognized, accepted and legalized?

As a person or human being, you are already enjoying all the rights afforded each and everyone of us. Yet, when it comes to unnatural acts, don’t expect to be hugged and kissed and accepted. Your ways are your own and God alone will deal with you on the day of judgment.

Imagine alcoholics demanding similar rights! Or drug addicts or child-molesters or whatever you may think of? What would happen to our society? It will return to the dark ages and to terror and violence. We will become small enclaves of armies fighting for their rights!

What gays homosexuals do is unnatural and the argument presented on the link within your post is ludicrous! God’s message to mankind is for ANYWHERE and ANYTIME. Otherwise, the message(s) can and should be rejected since we live in different times! […]

Likewise, God did not address smoking, drug dealing or legalized prostitution in the Bible. God gave us the big picture from which we choose to follow or to reject. If we follow His commands, we will enjoy success and a Heavenly and eternal life. If we reject the truth, then we should suffer the consequences. With all that, God kept the door open: He asked us to walk towards Him so that He may run towards us! His Mercy is abundant for those who revert to Him.

I remember a discussion once with a homosexual co-worker. I asked how he became a homosexual. His response was amazing! He said he used to be normal (his words) and dated girls and all. At 14, he noticed that he would get aroused by pictures of half-naked men or even models in magazines. He began exploring and decided to “try it out.” He liked it and chose to be homosexual!

More amazing is the way homosexuals act! Why do some of the men act feminine or speak with a certain tone of voice? Or why do the “men” women dress more masculine or choose unfeminine clothing?

[…]

It was a part of a lengthy comment, attempting to “argue” against gay rights and gay marriage. I only sighed there, but despite my weariness at the notion of responding to such drivel, I have to, out of a sense of academic responsibility, respond to the annoyances known as terrible inferences that are commonplace among anti-gay thinking.

So, be warned. Here comes the philosopher, doing a little basic logic analysis that any Critical Thinking 101 student could easily undertake after only a single semester.

  1. Fallacy. Called “Begging the Question” or “Petitio Principii.”  The problem is that the conclusion being “argued” for is presumed true in the premises. Note above, homosexuality is argued to be unnatural and immoral because, well, it’s unnatural and immoral. Petitio Principii!

  2. Fallacy. Called “Poisoning the Well.” This is a tactic used, most commonly, at the beginning of an argument, involving emotionally charged language to bash a position before arguing against it. Example: “My opponent cannot accept the truth, so after I make my next point, she will firmly protest it!” Thus, regardless what the opponent says, the arguer can claim to have “evidence” that the opponent is wrong. The tactic is to avoid reasoning with evidence by way of appeal to emotional images. The fallacy here? Comparing gays to alcoholics, child molesters, and drug addicts. An image is drawn with no justification offered for its legitimacy. Poisoning the Well!

  3. Fallacy. Called “Slippery Slope” or “Domino Argument.” Position p is objected to on the grounds that it will set of a chain reaction leading to trouble, but no reason is given as evidence supporting the supposal that the chain will occur. Dark ages! Mayem! Terror! Violence! Give gays rights and it’s all inevitable! Domino!

  4. Fallacy. Called “Weak Analogy.” An analogical argument is presented but the analogy is not strong enough to support the conclusion. The analogy falls apart on the basis of too many disanalogies or on the basis of characteristics that the primary and secondary analogates have are too dissimilar to warrant the conclusion presented. Homosexuality is like child molestation. Disanalogy: gay relations are between consenting parties, of equal power capability and intellectual capacity. Adult-child sexual relations are based on imbalance of power and intellect. Disanalogy: gay relationships are about as similar to drug addiction as straight relationships are. Sure, some are dysfunctional and emotionally dependent, but so are some straight relationships. Love and addiction have too many disanalogates to be credibly compared. Weak Analogy!

  5. Fallacy. Called “Appeal to Ignorance” or “Argumentum ad Ignorantium.” The claim is argued to be true simply because there is no evidence that it is false. Grossly, once can argue for the claim that Elvis was abducted by aliens for a season, and that was what led to his later predilection for sequins. How can we know this is true? Well, it hasn’t been proven false! The commenter says that the Bible says nothing about homosexuality, but it says nothing about smoking, drug dealing, and prostitution (again, poisoning the well). And since it cannot be proven to support the denial of the claim that gays are evil evil evil, it must be the case that they are evil, that gay behavior is sin! Argumentum ad Ignorantium!

  6. Fallacy. Called “Circumstantial Ad Hominem.” The idea runs thus: Person X cannot argue for issue p credibly because X stands to gain from the truth of p. The inference is a fallacy of no evidence because it looks not to the evidence supporting or refuting p, but to the relation between the message and the messenger. The supposition of the entire comment is this fallacy. You’re gay, so what you have to say is wrong. On the other hand, this site I cite is not gay, so its claims are credible. Circumstantial Ad Hominem!

  7. Fallacy. Called “Hasty Generalization.” Found in statistical generalizations. The problem is too small a sample size, or, more carefully drawing a generalization about a group on the basis of observing an unrepresentative sample of the group. As in the discussion mentioned above, the story of a single individual does not supply adequate evidence to draw a larger conclusion, let alone a universalization. It is a well-supported fact that only a small percentage of gays live “out of the closet.” Hence, it is a problem to infer even from a significant number of uncloseted gays that all gays are a certain way. All we could thereby infer would be that it is probable to a certain degree (supported by the sample size) that a certain percentage of out gays are a certain way. One robin does not a summer make. Hasty Generalization!

  8. Fallacy. A kind of “False Cause” or, more specifically, “Non Causa Pro Causa.” The problem is inferring a causal relation that is unfounded, either by sloppy correlation or by oversimplified claims of causation. Consider. I know more than one hetero couple wherein the wife is what some might consider more “masculine” (according to US customs of gender behavior) and the husband more “feminine” (again, by US understanding, though certainly not by, say, certain Mediterranean standards). Thus, the stereotypical behavior need not be caused by one’s orientation. Indeed, many straight women are more macho, many straight men more fragile. The behavior need not even be related to one’s orientation. Here’s the standard non causa example: at ocean beaches and lakes there is a correlation between ice-cream sales and drownings. The months with the highest ice-cream sales also have the highest numbers of deaths by drowning, and the lowest numbers of death by drowning correspond neatly with the lowest ice-cream sales. Thus, one might conclude that ice-cream sales cause drowning or drowning causes ice-cream sales. The comment about gender behavior is drawing on this inferential structure. In the ice-cream example, clearly the two statistics are related, but by virtue of a third factor—the presence of sunshine and warm weather. But even so, it seems odd to conclude that sunshine and warm weather cause an increase in drownings or ice-cream sales. The overall causal structure is far more complex: people need to have a like of ice-cream, the means to buy ice-cream, etc. And the role of sunshine and warm weather is only a small factor in the complex cause of death by drowning (human carelessness, or other such things are clearly more causally effective here). So it is with behavior patterns and orientation. Non causa!

Other fallacies are not so overt herein: but the notion that the writer’s interpretation of Christian scripture is the correct one (“the truth”) and any other is incorrect is presumed, with no evidence offered for such a presumption. This fallacy is called the “Appeal to Questionable Authority” or “Argumentum ad Verecundiam.” Not demonstrating that this particular understanding of Christian doctrine (held only by American Christians of a certain bent, only since the late 1800s) is the authority over how scripture should be interpreted is the fault here. An authority needs to be established as such before appealed to, especially one in the interpretation of Christian texts that has been around for such a tiny percentage of the religion’s history and in such a small part of its influence.

Finally, the writer offers another spectacularly unsupported inference. If people obey God, then things go well. If not, they suffer. Tell that to Paul, who pleaded for the thorn to be removed, who was stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and beaten. Tell that to Stephen, Peter, Silas, Barnabas, and John. Tell that to the Diaspora who were flogged, tossed in prisons, and hated. Tell that to Jesus himself who taught that his disciples would be hated and abused no less than he. Tell that to the dozens of martyrs Foxe records in his tome. Tell that to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the uncounted devout Christians tortured and murdered under Nazism. Tell that to the Christians tortured in Stalin’s USSR and Mao’s China. Tell that to the Christians in Darfur.

The fallacy of such thinking comes from, I believe (though I’m certainly not sure), wishful thinking. We want to believe that good behavior is rewarded. But the Bible is full of good people being tormented (Job, anyone?), abused, disbelieved, hated, scorned, and murdered. The inference is unsupported. The evidence, in fact, shows the contrary.

If the commenter (who implies s/he speaks for all straights but certainly does not) is truly one who believes what Jesus said to be truth,  and if the commenter wishes to be following the truth and living in the truth, then the conclusion that those who follow Jesus will “enjoy success” must be retracted as utter falsehood.

If the commenter wishes to be a paragon of faith and truth, if the commenter wishes to present Christianity as a path worth pursuing, then the call to love God with all one’s mind should be remembered and pursued alongside that to love God with all one’s heart and strength.

“Come let us reason together,” the prophet recorded God as saying. Here’s suggesting it’s a good time to start.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “the shocking correlations between ice-cream, drowning, aliens, and sequined leisure suits

  1. flayed Hypatia Post author

    …oh, and regarding whether gays have “all the rights afforded each and every one of us” (as humans)—suffice it to say that this is not a fallacy but simply a wholly unsupported assertion that demonstrates the writer’s ignorance (or dismissal) of all evidence to the contrary.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s