Another Fallacy? What We Don’t Like to Hear

One business strategy today is to tell people what they want to hear and that will make money and garner attention for oneself. Using that strategy being loud, flamboyant, outrageous are more influential than reason. It relies upon the emotional and those who for whatever reason lack the knowledge to discern for themselves.

Has discourse become a lost and forgotten endeavor? In all the toxic smoke spread by the rhetoric and partisan pits of fire, the focus has become preserve agenda using any means and for whatever reason we the people are losing our ability to care. Perhaps the old fashioned face-to-face communication is becoming a lost art.

It’s sad. Perhaps sadder is that we then attempt to defend or justify the wrong but not through civil dialogue. We create straw arguments, red herrings, resort to ad hominin attacks, and construct any number of misconceptions. (The Writing Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an introductory handout discussing some of the most common logical fallacies here).

Let’s consider the cases of two teenagers, one in Texas and the other in Georgia.

Some will ask why I defended Ahmed Mohamed and not young Mr. Pearson. It’s a fair question, and my concern in Texas focused on the fact that once a teacher confiscated the clock school personnel did not undertake any precautionary measures as they would if they perceived a bomb threat. Yes one can argue the hoax bomb law, but I have yet to read of a report where Ahmed Mohamed tried to pass off the clock as a bomb or of the device ever being away from his person where it may have resulted in conclusion. I do not fault any teachers being concerned, the school principal taking actions, or the calling of law enforcement to question the student.

The manner, however, of removing young Mr. Mohamed from a classroom by the officer only ignited an additional fuse.  Then the questioning without first contacting the young man’s parents or allowing Mr. Mohamed to seek legal counsel was irresponsible. Yes some will argue that he was not under arrest at that stage. Some will argue that Miranda is not applicable, but at what stage prior to being cuffed and led from the school did the young man receive his rights as an American citizen?

On the other hand it appears that CJ Pearson fabricated stories. He tasted the sweetness of prominence merely from a verbal attack of President Obama and desired more attention.  Whether or not he committed any crimes is for others to determine. Personally I believe that he only discovered and put into practice the methods used by others. Too many people will not take the time to verify. Too many of us will only see, hear, and believe what we want.  In that manner, young Mr. Pearson is an entrepreneur marketing a product that is in ample demand.

I’m not criticizing either of these teens.  My critique is upon those of us who should have the experience to know better.

When looking at our society, the selective incorporation and double standards are sad.

For example Ben Carson has raised millions in donations following his statements about a Muslim as President. Regardless of exact wordings which differ depending upon the time of his initial or subsequent avowals I personally do not think he intended to argue for religious testing as a qualification of office. In my opinion he gave an opinion to which he has every right.

Still the argument is based upon a belief that a Muslim will have a law that is greater than the Constitution. Isn’t that the same position taken by Kim Davis for her refusal to perform the duties of her job?  How is one incorporation of that idea acceptable and the other not according to a number of people?

Another example is Hillary Clinton. Benghazi was a tragic event that resorted in the loss of life. It’s true that there were similar attacks during the Bush administration and previous ones for that matter. That does not make the events at Benghazi or those lives any less relevant. The talking points at the time and immediately following, however, are irrelevant. They’re irrelevant because divulging the facts may have endangered more innocent lives. We might not like being told a lie about videos but our desire for immediate disclosure should not exceed the necessity of safety for others. Investigate if any systemic breakdowns resulted in the attack. Prosecute anyone guilty of a dereliction of their duty before or during the attack. Figure out what went wrong and work to solve that issue to limit the possibility of future attacks.

The email server and the security of State Department communications, however, are separate issues which need to be investigated further. Guilt or innocence is yet to be determined, but regardless a lack of common sense seems apparent. This issue goes beyond Benghazi and involves not just the former Secretary of State but of departmental practices as a whole regardless of who hold the Cabinet position.

As an academic I think that we all need a refresher about vetting and citing sources. As a history professor I know that con games and swindles which can lead to that proverbial 15 minutes of fame or to vast financial riches are nothing new in our country’s history. If the name is unfamiliar, do a digging to read about a man named “Jubilee” Jim Fisk of the Gilded Age time period.

I can’t say if technology is a factor in making us lazy or careless. I do know that technology allows us access to knowledge that once even in my lifetime seemed impossible to access because you could not travel to the location.

The problem of fallacies influences are thinking may only be magnified by technology.

It scares me to think that hatred, fear, or jealousy whether we acknowledge it or not may be a root of our willingness to accept what we want to believe.  If President Obama is dividing the country, it means that we ourselves and as a nation are no longer strong enough or willing to be united. One individual doesn’t have that power. Small groups, however, seem to be preying on enforcing and increasing us versus them mentalities.

When will we discover that we have too much hate, envy, and jealousy and that a number of people are profiting from spreading those ills?

If you chose to read the above, my hope is that the fallacy Ignoratio elenchi has not become even more entrenched.

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