Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Hate Contrived Arguments

I wrote this draft last year, and never posted it. It's a point I wanted to make but lost track of. Sometimes I'll update an old draft to allow for the length of time that passed from the time I originally wrote it. I won't bother this time. Let me repeat that this post has NOTHING to do with politics. It has NOTHING to do with the issue behind the email I'm referring to. It is only about contrived arguments and leading poll questions.


The following poll question is from an email that I got today. I have no desire in this blog post to get into the politics surrounding the issue. They’re beside the point. Look at the following question:


Now, all politics and beliefs aside, can you tell which of the two answers you should choose based on how the question is asked?

I don’t think it’s an honest poll when the questions are this leading. I don't care what side of the issue the poll is on. This is like asking:

Choose one of the following:

1) I like red cars

2) I’m a complete loser who sleeps with his mommy

Not much of a choice, is it? Also notice that it totally leaves out plenty of other reasonable choices, like “I like green cars.” “I like blue cars”. “I like purple cars”. “I like to walk”.

I don’t like it. Even if I bothered to read any farther through this email, which I won’t, I’m not convinced that I’ll expect any better argumentation or reasoning from an email that starts off with this. Even if I agree with whatever point is being made in this email, I don’t trust it because it starts off with such a leading question. I’ve gotten other emails from this group before. I usually just delete them, but this time I’m unsubscribing from their email list.

Look around you, in advertising, on the news, or on your favorite TV shows. How often are you confronted with a choice between two options that are this leading? When you’re confronted with something this leading, stop and ask yourself if you’re even being asked the right question. Trust me, this is key. You don’t want to travel too far down a road that goes in an unproductive direction (I carefully did NOT say the wrong direction).

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