Saturday, October 04, 2014

Spot The Fallacies This Political Season

As we move into election season in the United States, not only is my blood pressure going up, I'm finding new ways to flex my intellectual muscles.

The other night, my wife was watching TV, and a political commercial came on.

I work very hard to avoid commercials. I tend to go to Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube for my entertainment. If I absolutely must watch a show on Comcast, I use On Demand. I consider commercials an intellectual wasteland not worthy of my time. Occasionally I will see a commercial that is amusing, but I'm more likely to see a unicorn surfing a rainbow. And even the rare amusing commercial gets incredibly old.

One problem I have with Hulu is you have to watch commercials, but Hulu is where South Park currently resides, so I endure. At least when watching On Demand, you can fast forward. Not so on Hulu. So, I use the mute button. There is one commercial on Hulu about Buick. People keep saying "That's a Buick? I can't believe that's a Buick!" to which I shout at the TV "It has a Buick logo, you morons!"

So back to the commercial that inspired this blog post. It was for a hot button political issue that I will anonymize, because this post isn't about that issue; it's about the underlying logical fallacies the commercial committed.

The portion I overheard, which caused me to look up from the book I was reading, was "<certain political party> wants to overturn <certain Supreme Court decision>." The rest of the commercial talked about how bad this could be and why the other political party MUST win to keep this Supreme Court decision and the perceived benefits to society intact.

Since my rants often amuse my wife, I shouted out "Are you that f'ing stupid, or do you just think the people watching the commercial are? Congress and or the President cannot overturn a Supreme Court decision!"

I identified this as a Category Error fallacy. I believe it also fits into the "Appeal to fear" fallacy. Perhaps even "Appeal to consequences of a belief." Other fallacies it touches on are "appeal to emotion", "slippery slope", "ad hominem", and "composition".

I believe it's also ignorant of history. This certain political party has had control of the Presidency and Congress (hell, they both have, and seriously, what has actually changed?) many times since that Supreme Court decision, and that decision has remained intact for many decades. I don't think the people who believe this Supreme Court decision was the best thing to ever happen to mankind have anything to worry about.

I must redouble my efforts to avoid commercials until well after the voting day. Or maybe I should make a game out of spotting the fallacies. It's a good intellectual exercise.
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