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Friday, August 05, 2005

Logic Deficit Disorder 

This article by philosopher Allen Snyder describes Logic Deficit Disorder as epidemic among the regressive right. I think its something we all have to watch out for, left or right, though at this point in time, the righties do seem to be at greater risk.
Diagnosing LDD is straightforward -- if you see one or more of the following symptoms in any news story or opinion piece, you're being exposed to LDD: false dilemmas, straw men, ad hominem attacks, groupthink, or the slippery slope.
First, the false dilemma - ". . . presenting two positions on an issue as though they're the only two, exclusive of all others. It's wildly popular with one-dimensional non-thinkers who parse the world into neat, simple, and easily recognizable bits like 'all good stuff over here' and 'all evil stuff over there'."
Second, creating 'straw men' to make your opponent's position look ridiculous "A straw man is an inaccurate representation of an actual argument that, thanks to its new straw form, is much easier to destroy than the original . . . when Karl Rove says liberals wanted to coddle terrorists post-9/11, he attacks a straw man since he knows no liberal ever said such a thing. When regressives oppose evolution because 'humans didn't come from monkeys', they attack a straw man since no evolutionist has ever said such a ridiculous thing."
Third, the ad hominem attack. "This gem means 'against the man' and occurs when BushCo, instead of defending themselves against someone's accurate portrayal of some war crime or internal scandal they're involved in, smears the accuser instead. This happened with Paul O'Neill, Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Joe Wilson and many others. BushCo says they're all lunatic liars. Never mind they were right . . . This nonsense is then dressed in patriot garb and trumpeted across the land . . . they succeed in tarnishing the reputations of truly heroic public figures to cover their criminal asses. Why discuss facts and make cogent arguments when it's far easier to get the angry white pinheads out in hate-radio-land to froth at the mouth like Pavlovian dogs by feeding their obsessive hatred for things they don't understand and blaming evil left-wingers, gays, feminists, and anti-war peaceniks for all their troubles? Once that gang of nitwits are good and whipped up, the truth becomes irrelevant."
Fourth, promoting groupthink ". . . the robotic obedience and blind devotion of hoards of wannabe Nazis at those scary old rallies at Nuremburg. It is borne out of ethnocentrism, the universally erroneous notion that ways of life can be ranked on scales of moral superiority, and the belief in the infallibility of one's own nation, government, and all the actions taken in its name . . . the message that we're killing them (whoever 'they' may be) for their own good assuages many a troubled conscience."
Fifth, the smokescreen device, by which "the American public has been kept distracted by such nonsense as the 'runaway bride', Michael Jackson's trial, the second-by-second coverage of the Pope's death, and the latest hurricane or baseball 'scandal' . . . "
Sixth, the slippery slope argument -- "Can't legalize pot. Next thing you know, everyone's a junkie, or worse, hooked on pain pills. Can't legalize physician assisted euthanasia. Next thing you know, we'll be handing out morphine ODs to Grandma, the Crazy Guy on the Corner, and the helmet-wearing lunatic in the institution."
Snyder continues "Then there's the steepest slippery slope the regressive right has - that all progressives policies and all secular government will lead to the downfall and humiliation of the American Way Of Life. This one keeps the gullible and thoughtless nice and fearful so they won't notice what's happening right under their noses. How, by making corporations and the filthy rich pay their taxes, having national health care, feeding and housing the poor and hungry, returning religion to the privacy of homes and churches, butting out of others' affairs, supporting trade unions, and reducing our military spending the world will come to an end and America will cease to be is completely beyond me.
"But, then, I haven't been drinking my Kool-Aid."
As for LDD, I am not sure how contagious it is, but progressive Americans better not take any chances. Move to Canada before its too late!

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