Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fallacious Arguments

Stop dicking around and answer me directly!

First in a series of posts about how to answer logical fallacies and all sorts of fallacious arguments. First person writing will come later on.

"If you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide."

Explaining the fallacy: This is based on a fallacy known as affirming the consequent as well as the false dilemma fallacy:

Affirming the consequent:
- If X is true, Y is true
- Y is true, therefore X is true

False dilemma:
Either you're with us, or you're against us.

- If you have done something wrong, then you have something to hide (True, generally)
Thus if you have something to hide, you have done something wrong. (Affirming the consequent)
Either you have something to hide, or nothing to hide. (False dilemma)
Therefore if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.

Why this doesn't work: To put it simply, people have things they want to keep private. That's why there are privacy issues. Just because you haven't robbed a store, doesn't mean you want the whole world to know what you do in your free time. There's a reason you don't spill your life's story to every person you meet.

In addition, it is likely you have dirty laundry - i.e. you have done something wrong. It's just unlikely that it's related at all to the issue. For instance, if you're discussing having your gear searched for a cellphone you didn't steal, and you happen to have copious amounts of drugs in your backpack, you aren't likely to let anyone rummage through your stuff. Just because you haven't done something wrong related to the situation doesn't mean you haven't done anything wrong, or that you should be willing to let them nose into your private affairs.

How to poke holes through it:
- Offer to be searched only after you have searched through all the private material of the other person. This should stop them in their tracks as they realize why. If they answer with "I asked you first, therefore you should be searched first" or something along those lines, see future posts poking holes in that. If they right out refuse without considering facts, stop talking to them. They're not just ignorant, but unwilling to check themselves.

In the off-chance that the person is a person of authority, and you can't just walk away, bring up the 5th amendment and if they request to search you, ask for their search warrant. Likely if they had a search warrant in the first place, you wouldn't be having this argument.

- Point out their fallacy. If they are logical at all, they will find another path of attack or drop it altogether. Otherwise, see above.

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