Fallacy #15: The Appeal To Binaries

Today we’ll cover another practical application fallacy, which I’m calling the appeal to binaries. It’s similar to the nirvana fallacy, but operates almost in reverse. Nirvana was about eliminating contrary ideas, binaries is about protecting beloved ideas. Where nirvana was a sword, binaries is a shield. Furthermore, it operates differently, being based upon a different principle.

A binary, of course, is something that divides only into opposites:

    • In data signals, the binary is either 0 or 1; there are no other values.
    • In electricity, the binary is either positive or negative; there are no other charges.

Continue reading “Fallacy #15: The Appeal To Binaries”

Fallacy #14: The Appeal To Diversions

As we did last time, we’ll combine several formal fallacies in this installment. I’m doing this because I think the application of these fallacies has more practical importance than their logical derivations. That is, all fallacies are applied by real humans, against real humans; and so I want to make that the primary focus, not their formal (almost mathematic) explanations.

I have nothing against the formal renderings of these things, in fact I find them necessary, but for application in actual human affairs, usage is more central than analytics.

And so I’m calling today’s fallacy the appeal to diversions. We could include many formal fallacies under this description, but here are the primary types: Continue reading “Fallacy #14: The Appeal To Diversions”

The Great Fear Machine of 2020

The events of 2020 were unique in human history, and so I think it’s important to give them some perspective. What we experienced was the first televised plague. What it spawned was a unique fear machine.

Fear delivery systems go back to the first tyrants, of course, but this one featured a scale and an intimacy that went beyond all others, even those of the vile USSR.

The plague itself, COVID-19, was minor as such things go. The flu of 1919 was far worse, not to mention historical plagues that made this one look like a case of the sniffles. Nonetheless, it was enough to spawn something unique. So, briefly, let’s look at the pieces that came together: Continue reading “The Great Fear Machine of 2020”

Fallacy #13: The Argument From Authority

Our fallacy #4 was the appeal to authority, the claim that being authorized makes things right. We noted a similar fallacy in our #8, the naturalist fallacy, a claim that time creates authority and truth. For today’s fallacy, however, I want to turn these around: Not third parties referring to authority, but authority itself telling us what’s right. And so I’m calling this fallacy, the argument from authority.

The things we’ll be covering in this installment involve well-known fallacies like the argument from repetition (repeating something until everyone just accepts it), the courtier’s reply (claiming that the other person’s argument is wrong because he or she lacks credentials) and the argument from incredulity (“Your argument is absurd!”). All of these work because they come from authority, and so I think it’s better to examine them in that way. Continue reading “Fallacy #13: The Argument From Authority”

As The Oligarchy Creates A New Group of Revolutionaries

As I write this, the Wall Street complex is creating a new group of radicals… a potent new group of radicals. By now, you probably know the outline of the story:

A large number of young people, many of them locked out of work, used their time to poke around the stock market, looking for opportunities; something that micro-trading apps, stimulus checks and the Internet made practical. Soon enough they discovered hedge funds doing the nasty things that hedge funds do… and turned their game back upon them. They crashed at least one of them. Continue reading “As The Oligarchy Creates A New Group of Revolutionaries”

The West That Was, Part 4

America, 1776

The development of the American colonies moved in an arc. They began with a lot of oppression (after the old world model), shook it off as the arc rose toward 1776 and the revolution, then headed slowly back down. My job today is to give you some feel of the times, and I’ll begin with some background.

Perhaps the most important accident of the early America period was a British policy that later became known as salutary neglect. This salutary (healthful) neglect began in 1722, when a Whig named Robert Walpole became the king’s chief minister. The Whigs held what we might call libertarian opinions, and Walpole wanted to govern loosely, to avoid government meddling, and to let natural forces bring prosperity to England. Under Walpole, many of the regulations upon American trade were simply ignored. Continue reading “The West That Was, Part 4”

Are We Still Allowed To Ask Questions?

Aside from a breathless stream of headlines and a few random inputs, I haven’t seen many facts regarding the events of January 6th. Circumstances made things that way for me, and now I’m glad they did, because it set me up for the really important issue: Am I allowed to ask questions about this, or am I not?

Bear in mind that I haven’t voted for or otherwise championed Mr. Trump. (Nor did I support his opponents.) More than that, I really want to know the answers to these questions. Especially given the fallout from January 6th, honest answers to these questions matter a great deal.

So, I’m going to stick my neck out and ask questions about this event that seem pertinent. Continue reading “Are We Still Allowed To Ask Questions?”

Fallacy #12: Correlation Implies Causation

The correlation implies causation fallacy (also called cum hoc ergo propter hoc: “with this, therefore because of this”) is an assumption that one thing caused the other, because there is a connection between them.

We covered some of the basics of this in Fallacy #3, the questionable cause. Nonetheless, confusing correlation with causation is very common, and so I want to give it some space of its own.

Most typically, correlation implying causation is used to shill for governments or other organs of a long standing (status quo) system. The typical argument goes something like this:

Bob: Our democracy is not something to be worshiped. I’m not sure I want to support it at all.

Alice: So, you want to go back to the old days, when babies were lucky to survive four years!?

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The West That Was, Part 3

19th Century America

If we wish to grasp American life in the 19th century, it’s probably best to start by understanding that when America was young, it had no myth. Once we really understand that, the rest falls into place fairly easily. Here’s how Alexis de Tocqueville (in National Character of Americans) described it in the 1830s:

Born often under another sky, placed in the middle of an always moving scene, himself driven by the irresistible torrent which draws all about him, the American has no time to tie himself to anything, he grows accustomed only to change, and ends by regarding it as the natural state of man. He feels the need of it, more he loves it; for the instability; instead of meaning disaster to him, seems to give birth only to miracles all about him.

Continue reading “The West That Was, Part 3”

Cryptocurrency & Cybersecurity Webinar

I’ll be teaching a webinar on Cryptocurrency & Cybersecurity Tuesday evening. The key points will be: 

  • What is cryptocurrency & why cybersecurity is critically important
  • How to make secure investments with your crypto & what to look out for from hackers
  • Ownership & investment opportunities available now with cryptocurrency.

Please join us if you’re interested.

Register Here