A Common Fallacy
Logical thinking is seldom taught anymore and rarely seen on social media. (The first article in this series can be found on my blog at PeelLawFirm.com and we covered Ad Hominem [attacks against the man] as logical fallacies). Be reminded that fallacies are errors in logical reasoning. See if you see any in the Responses.
ARGUMENT 1: “Since have armed guards at government institutions like Fort Knox, Military Bases, Social Security offices, and Federal Reserves; why don’t we use armed guards, and allow trained staff to carry, to protect the much more valuable children at public schools?”
RESPONSE A: “So, unless we want to turn our schools into prisons and armed camps, we have to just watch kids get slaughtered?” or
RESPONSE B: “Since you are for staff with guns in schools, you want to require every teacher to carry a gun when they cannot even afford paper and pencils?”
The False Dilemma/False Dichotomy is very common. Once you train yourself you will hear it all the time. It also known as the “either-or fallacy,” or the “black-and-white fallacy.” It limits the to two choices (usually extreme ones) a whole range of options might be available.
For example, I had once had a client spend his whole settlement check on an extremely expensive vehicle. He had no other income. When he asked what I thought, I said it sounded like a bad call. He claimed, “But I have to go to my doctor visits! You don’t want me to miss medical care!” We all know it did not take an $80,000 car to go a doctor. That is a false choice.
So, in Response A, she equates having “armed guards at schools” with a very extreme example—you pick either a prison atmosphere; or just let kids die. This ignores the multiple other options. (Also, it is not logical to assume the places we all go that have armed guards feel like prisons. This week, I have noticed them at a bank, a shopping center and a courthouse.)
In response B, she mischaracterizes the “allowing trained staff to be armed” argument to “require that teachers” be armed. This is not what was argued. And, the poor financial support given to our teachers can be a “straw man fallacy” as well. In the straw man fallacy, someone attacks a position the opponent doesn’t really hold, like a scarecrow isn’t a real man. In this fallacy, the author puts forth one of his opponent’s weaker, less central arguments forward and destroys it, all while acting like this argument is the crux. You can see how strawman fallacies, false dichotomies and ad hominem fallacies can all occur together and hurt an opponent.
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.