Thursday, April 20, 2006

Amit Varma commits four logical fallacies in a two-paragraph long post

"What is the role of logic in an argument?" asks Amit Varma.

Well, I'll demonstrate it my way.

Read this post by Amit. It's so short I'll paste it here:



Pointless pontification

"Do we really need 24/7 rolling news?" goes the headline of a piece in the Hindu by Hasan Suroor. I find that a rather strange question. Who is "we", and what is meant by "need"? If there is a market for 24/7 news, then it'll exist, as it should. If not, it won't.

Mr Suroor seems to be trapped in the socialist mindset in which the state is mai-baap of everyone and decides what is right for its subjects, as its intellectuals pontificate self-importantly on these matters. Well, none of the major 24/7 news channels spend tax-payers' money, nor do they infringe on anyone's rights. Whether they deserve to exist or not will thus be decided by the people -- or, to use the term the Left uses as a pejorative, by the market. That is how it should be.

(Link via email from MadMan.)


I'll respond to Amit's post in two ways: with and without logical fallacies.

a) With logical fallacies:

1) In the first paragraph, Amit dwells only on the headline and completely ignores the content of the article. By doing so he is committing the logical fallacy of cherry picking.

2) nowhere in the article is Hasan Suroor arguing that 24x7 news channels use tax-payers' money or that they infringe upon anyone's rights. He is not even saying that the market should not be allowed to determine the existence of news channels. In implying so you are building a strawman here. Strawman means, "Present a misrepresentation of the opponent's position, refute the misrepresentation, and pretend that the opponent's actual position has been refuted."

3) By alleging a "Socialist mindset," Amit is indulging in an ad hominem attack.

4) He is also committing the logical fallacy of non-sequitir. Just because Suroor think we don't need 24x7 live news on TV, it does not follow that Suroor has a Socialist mindset.


b) Without logical fallacies:

Dear Amit,

I think you are being a little unfair to Hasan Suroor. He's simply arguing that 24x7 news channels are unnecessary and sensational - that is indeed the consensus amongst media critics throughout the world today. He's saying that we don't need them 24x7, live, because almost no events happen in the night, for instance. It is true, though, that he should realise that people may want to watch TV news after a hot session of sex! Nowhere is he saying that news channels should be nationalised the way Indira gandhi nationalised banks. If he was arguing that it would have been fair to allege that he has a Socialist mindset. But so long as there is no Socialism, I can't see how Suroor has a Socialist mindset. In fact in the end of the article he admits that 24x7 news may have some uses. In a sense Suroor is just being a critic of television news.


*

Now Amit, which response do you prefer. You can take both if you want. But I prefer the second one because I think it is better at furthering the discussion on the subject of the nature of TV news - which is what Suroor wants to talk about.

20 Comments:

Blogger Patrix said...

This is a kinda extreme fisking trying to point out fallacies. I rather agreed with Amit's reasoning here and the assumptions he made regarding Suroor's opinion are perfectly valid, logically or otherwise.

April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IT: I see you have made sure that you will have a infinite supply of statements to pick on. Good going here!

Me, I don't fancy logical fallacies and have no intention of going around the blogosphere looking for them but since you asked, here's an obvious one in one of the Blog Police posts you have linked to.

Amit says in the Chintoo Mintoo post that "All free-market supporters, he points out, believe in the importance of the rule of law". How about the fallacy of generalization here? Unless he is claiming that the esteemed men of Enron who are in court currently are not free-market supporters.

April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with agreeing with Amit's reasoning, Patrix. The whole thing is that you can find falacies in anything if you look, and that if that's all you're doing, you dont get any discussion going. These Amit and Gaurav types, that is all they do.

April 20, 2006  
Blogger Illogical Truisms said...

Patrix: I agree with you. Suroor's article is rather naive indeed. But that's not the point, as this second anonymous points out. The point is to show the stupidity of using logical fallacies. I am just showing them the mirror as far as logical fallacies are concerned.

April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hats off to you! Good going here.

April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illogical truisms, nicr try. But Amit commits none of the logical fallacies you accuse him of.

First, his comment on the headline is just that: a comment on the headline. It doesn't purport to be a comment on the article. So where's the cherry picking?

Second, Amit doesn't claim that Suroor said that the 24/7 channels use taxpayers money or infringe on anyone's rights. Instead, he makes that statement to point out why, given those two things, it is nobody's business whether 24/7 channels should exist or not. Those are two separate statements, and it is you who commit a non sequiteur by connecting them. Amit decidedly does not build a strawman there.

Thirdly, in an ad hominem attack, an argument is dismissed solely on the basis of the person making it. Amit isn't doing that, but is stating his argument clearly.

Fourthly, the non sequiteur you are accusing him of comes from an inference on your part, not on anything he is saying.

So the fallacies, you see, are committed not by him but by you.

April 21, 2006  
Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Ah, here come the libertarians. Or one of them.

Anonymous of "nicr try", two comments above this one: who you truly are would be easy to find, accept that I am not interested in doing so.

April 21, 2006  
Anonymous LOL said...

Dilip, you forgot to sign out of your regular blogger ID and sign into the illogicaltruisms one before making the above comment. Such shabbiness isn't expected of you, since you've kept "Purvi A" alive without such slip-ups.

April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicr try dilip. Paranoid lot you are, aren't you? And who all you are is also easy to find out. Unlike you, though, we have lives.

April 21, 2006  
Anonymous theotheranon said...

good luck for your eams, Shivam.

April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh the never ending crappy libertarian double speak!!!(Ad hominem attack :-))


Illogical truisms, nicr try. But Amit commits none of the logical fallacies you accuse him of.

Oh really !!! Nice let see !!

First, his comment on the headline is just that: a comment on the headline. It doesn't purport to be a comment on the article. So where's the cherry picking?


Duh!!! Oh the whole post was about one line and not the content of the article. That, my dear, is the definition of cherry picking. Especially considering that all the answers to dumb questions Varma raised are evident in the article.


Second, Amit doesn't claim that Suroor said that the 24/7 channels use taxpayers money or infringe on anyone's rights. Instead, he makes that statement to point out why, given those two things, it is nobody's business whether 24/7 channels should exist or not. Those are two separate statements, and it is you who commit a non sequiteur by connecting them. Amit decidedly does not build a strawman there.

No shit Sherlock!! You build another strawman. Exactly where did Suroor say that 24/7 news channels shouldn't be legally allowed to exist. Nice try asshat. Try once more.

Thirdly, in an ad hominem attack, an argument is dismissed solely on the basis of the person making it. Amit isn't doing that, but is stating his argument clearly.

All his other arguments are logical fallacies. Given that, this is his only remaining argument it is automatically a 100% adhominem attack. Not to mention that Suroor never claimed to be socialist.

Fourthly, the non sequiteur you are accusing him of comes from an inference on your part, not on anything he is saying.

Duh!! This statement has to take the cake. You have achieved Nirvana. You get the title of complete imperviousness and inertness to strong doses of logic. You must be the crown prince of libertarianism.

So the fallacies, you see, are committed not by him but by you.

Ahh the libertarian is already celebrating victory. Standard asshat libertarian style I presume.

April 21, 2006  
Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

Let me see, did I get this straight? Illogical Truisms is me; and IT is also Shivam; and I am also Purvi A (where did she spring from); so now all that's needed to close the circle is to announce that Shivam is me and Purvi is Shivam.

Right? I think. So let me make the announcement. Shivam, you're me. Purvi, you're Shivam.

Thanks for solving my identity crisis. Good luck to me for my eams.

April 21, 2006  
Anonymous Rohan Pinti said...

Heh. Such fun I tell you!

April 22, 2006  
Blogger Illogical Truisms said...

Amit: Nice try at defending yourself. Doesn't work. I mean, if somebody says we don't need 24x7 news how does that amount to having a Socialist mindset?

To those who indirectly insinuate that I am Shivam or Dilip, you are committing the logical fallacy of assertion. If Shivam or Dilip had the brains to understand logical fallacies they would have exposed the pompous cartellians long ago.

Gaurav: thanks for wishing me luck for my exams. Best wishes for your Pune quiz :)

For all you know, I could be Gaurav Sabnis himself!

rohan pinti: are you rohan pinto's wife?

April 22, 2006  
Blogger Dilip D'Souza said...

If Shivam or Dilip had the brains to understand logical fallacies...

Can you repeat that? I didn't understand. I do resent it, though.

IT, is there a Wikipedia entry for the logical whatever of announcing that all your critics are one and the same person?

Oh, I forgot. You're me.

Dilip, is there a Wikipedia entry for the logical whatever of announcing that all your critics are one and the same person?

April 22, 2006  
Anonymous critic said...

If one were to extend Amit Varma's contention to its logical conclusion, all forms of criticism would be labelled Socialist. Why, I can't write a bad review of a new cellphone; who am I to say that we don't need Nokia 3230; let the market decide! Book reviewers can't write bad reviews. Same for movie critics. hah!

April 22, 2006  
Anonymous National Highway said...

If Shivam or Dilip had the brains to understand logical fallacies...

Whoever you are, good sir, please leave me out of this. You obviously did not envisage that I could have better things to do than to study logical fallacies! I am sick of all this - please leve me alone.

April 22, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone ever seen Patrix telling the cartellians not to indulge in 'weird frisking' when they go about culling out logical fallacies?

April 22, 2006  
Blogger Mridula said...

I am sure of one thing after reading all this, this is me Mridula, writing from my own ID, and no I could have never come up with such arguments or I would have done so when the Pro-market debate was hot.

Hats off to you Sir/Ma'am. And please do not confuse me with anyone else.

April 26, 2006  
Blogger Amrit said...

And I'm Amrit...first time visitor. I liked the discussion for the absolute nihility of it :-)

Amrit
http://www.writingcave.com

April 27, 2006  

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