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BS Spotters Guide

Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009, at 1:12 PM

(Photo)
Have you ever looked at a spotters guide? Maybe you've never heard of one, or wonder what they really are? Spotters guides are available for lots of things. There are storm spotters guides that show pictures of cloud formations to help the observer determine level of danger for example. There are train spotters guides that show different railroad equipment, locomotives, and cars as some people are really into trains. There are Jeep spotters guides for those that want to know the subtle differences of vehicles manufactured under the greatest name in 4 wheel drive (my opinion). The same is true about aircraft, plants, and animals, though the last two mentioned are usually included in what is commonly called a "field guide".

With the intense political debates going on, I offer the following BS spotters guide. I'll preface by saying I've cherry picked terms and information in an effort to get you to investigate for yourself, and hope you will keep them in mind with any debate...

Ad hominem abusive - This tactic is frequently employed as a propaganda tool among people who are attempting to influence voters in their favor through an appeal to emotion rather than by logical means, especially when their own position is logically weaker than their opponent's.

Faulty generalization - A mode of thinking that takes knowledge from one group's or person's experiences and incorrectly extends it to another

Fundamental attribution error - Cognitive tendency to predominantly over-value dispositional, or personality-based, explanations. You can think of personality made endorsements as an example.

Genetic fallacy (not what you may be thinking) - May help illuminate the reasons why the issue has assumed its present form, but is irrelevant to its merits.

Guilt by association - Attacks a source because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument.

Hasty generalization - Often used by basing a broad conclusion upon the statistics of a survey of a small group that fails to sufficiently represent the whole population.

Inverse ad hominem - Praises a source in order to add support for that source's argument or claim.

Slippery slope - Argument states that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom. The fallacious sense of "slippery slope" is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B.

tu quoque - "You too" - Claim that the source making the argument has spoken or acted in a way inconsistent with the argument. "x" did it, so it's OK for the "y" to do the same. It seems reasonable, but does that make it right?

There's a lot more out there to consider when listening to or reading information, but being aware of the tools used to influence us is a good start at getting to the real truths that are almost always buried somewhere below the surface of the rhetoric. I forgot to mention the above terms were found on wikipedia.com


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Another one for you Brian:

Circular Logic - this involves supporting a premise with a premise rather than a conclusion. In layman's term. A student argues that they can't get a C on test because they are an A student.

-- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Wed, Sep 23, 2009, at 2:45 PM

SLICKER,

Another technique in great vogue these days.

THE POLL.

Saw one just a few minutes ago, from a "Citizens' Group" on the current national political world.

With as many as six multiple choice selections for each item -- there were no selections indicating anything but some level of support for the Anti-Pres. Obama positions -- and no selections in opposition to the that "Anti-O" position.

You can bet poll results will be posted as representative of the national electorate.

Saw the President's speech before the U.N. General Assembly this morning.

Prior to this, I believe I've witnessed every televised appearance and speech before the U.N. since Eisenhower. Only read about Truman, did not get to see him.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions -- find that speech on the internet and listen to exactly what the President of the United States said.

I don't believe any American can object to a single word.

That was as blunt, as direct as it could have been. No pussy-footing, straight talk.

Pragmatic and pretty doggone conservative regarding the U.S. role in the past and future.

Yes, he was observant of protocol and basic courtesy, and quite proper.

I have almost rabidly liberal friends who are going beserkers because the President has adopted strongly moderate, totally pragmatic approaches.

In the open debate, liberals are asking for their most extreme proposals and are being voted down by their House and Senate colleagues.

The conservatives present their extreme proposals and are being voted down.

The vast majority of Senators and Representatives are now working to deliver a Health Reform plan which will accomplish what is desperately needed NOW, and they are rejecting all extremes.

-- Posted by HerndonHank on Wed, Sep 23, 2009, at 2:36 PM


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