Tuesday, December 20, 2005

All Hail the Fallacy Meister

In today's Australian Phillip Adams manages to pack seven fallacies into a single short sentence. The sentence: My generation grew up believing we wouldn't grow up (see link above for full article).

If we play "spot the fallacy" with this sentence, we can make the case that is contains (in context) Factoid Propagation, Observational Selection, Popular Opinion, Simple-Minded Certitude, Special Pleading, Stacking the Deck and Unfounded Generalization.

Phillip seems to be getting more adept and skilled at generating fallacies as he ages. In decades past, a tally of seven fallacies on a "spot the fallacies" bingo card would not be reached until towards the end of one of his columns, and even a few years ago, at least a paragraph of the Master's text would be required. The question arises: "How is it possible for a single person to be so prolific in generating fallacies, and further, how can he become even better with advancing age?"

The answer I think lies in Phillip's increasing self-obsession and ego centrism. To Phillip, his own experience is the experience of all others, and his own views about anything and everything are the only views which could possibly be held by any right-thinking person. So he feels that he merely has to assert a belief, and that is the end of argument. By definition he is right. His beliefs are truths. So if he says that his generation grew up believing that they wouldn't grow up, then it is so. Others of his generation who don't have such a recollection are deluded, or they are liars. Phillip has written, and it is so.