Saturday, December 30, 2017

When 'Slippery Slope' Isn't a Fallacy

Casual logicians often parrot the assertion that "Slippery Slope" is a logical fallacy. It must be... they read it on the Internet. However, repeating what you've read doesn't substitute for thought and proper application, and a Slippery Slope is only a logical fallacy under specific circumstances; those being when the conclusion doesn't follow from the facts. As a fallacy, I'd say it's a special case of non-sequitur (disguised by a series of weak links instead of an immediately stated conclusion that doesn't fit the facts).

At other times, it's no fallacy at all; and that's when the chain of events to the conclusion do follow from the premise... and moreso, when the conclusion is actually demonstrated.

For instance, look at this faulty description of a "Slippery Slope" argument:
"If we allow gay marriage, the next thing we know, people will want to marry their dogs, or their cats, or what about their pigs?"
The problem here is that those -- exactly -- do in fact happen. Here's one website that describes twelve cases: marriage to dogs, cats, horses, cows, goats, a dolphin, and even frogs. You can google more on your own.

Those who employ this particular example are engaging in a more egregious example of their own: the "Suppressed Evidence" fallacy. Because the hard evidence doesn't support their own conclusions, they simply choose to pretend that it doesn't exist. They reject objective reality and substitute their own.

This segues nicely into the topic of dysphoria, which takes us to this article in the National Post:
Becoming disabled by choice, not chance: 'Transabled' people feel like impostors in their fully working bodies
Here we have examples of people who now claim to be "trans-abled"; and who then have elective surgery performed, or mutilate their own bodies, to better fit their self-image of being disabled... lame, blind, etc.

This is a type of delusion: somatic, which is a delusion that the person has some physical defect or general medical condition.

Other examples are those of people who claim to be trans-species, or trans-age.

To be clear, such people are mentally ill. Keep in mind that calling this a "delusion" has nothing to do with fear or hatred. There is no emotion in the recognition of facts. A delusion is readily defined: As phrased by Wikipedia, "a delusion is a mistaken belief that is held with strong conviction even when presented with superior evidence to the contrary."

Superior evidence could include the following:
  • You have a full set of working limbs; therefore you are not a paraplegic.
  • You are a human, right down to the DNA; therefore you are not a cat.
  • You have an X and a Y chromosome; therefore you are not a woman.
Delusions are often harmless. A person with delusional disorder can be high-functioning; holding down a job, paying bills, socializing normally (except for their sometimes quirky idosyncracies). They shouldn't persecuted, because persecuting someone makes you a dick. But being free from persecution doesn't mean they're not still delusional. Nor does it mean that it is "the right thing" to force other, non-delusional, people to enable their dysfunction. I'd say "the right thing" is self-evident: to help them over their difficulties, if possible.

No, I'm not a psychiatrist. You don't have to be a psychiatrist to recognize dysfunction when you see it, or to employ logic, or to to recognize the difference between a person's claims about their "identity" and the overwhelming physical evidence to the contrary. And as psychiatrists go, I think you'd have to be a pretty damned poor one to ignore that evidence yourself. And let's look at those claims, please... although every strand of DNA in a body shows the person to be one thing, this is discarded in favor of a pattern of behavior. Get that? Rather than conclude that the pattern of behavior is the issue, the conclusion is that every cell of every organ in the body is wrong. That's not even rational.

And while there are cases where hormonal imbalances exist, and other organs play a part; the conclusion drawn by enablist psychiatry is that the behavior is the deciding factor. Once this decision is made even once, and because the initial step itself ignores overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it's not possible to justify a distinction between one kind of dysphoria (which is "ok") and other kinds (that are not). Hence, the slippery slope is real, and we do see people marrying their pets, and we do see people cutting off their limbs, and we do see medical professionals who stepped onto that slope not merely rationalizing mutilation and bestiality; but performing mutilations themselves; and we do see people who want this "normalized".

A "Slippery Slope" is not a fallacy when it's the news.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Junk Science Alert

I haven't posted about junk science for a while, so I went looking for some... and I found it! An English author, Graham Hancock, has written a couple of books -- "Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization" and "Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization" -- in which he attempts to fill Erich von Daniken's shoes.

Fortunately for me, I don't have to debunk these, as Skeptic magazine is doing a fine job. So I'm just going to lay this link down here for your perusal:

An Analysis of the Claims Made by Graham Hancock in Magicians of the Gods

Göbekli Tepe (megalithic site in Turkey)
Photo by Rolfcosar via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, December 21, 2017

"But he hasn't got anything on!"

My favorite author of all time is Hans Christian Andersen (and it pained me to see "The Little Mermaid" bastardized by Disney). 

As evidence of his prophetic genius, I present for your consideration "The Emperor's New Clothes", a story of a multitude of "wise" people who proclaimed the existence of things not in evidence and spouted utter bullshit in the face of plain and obvious truths, simply because it served their vanity to do so. 

And though these views were popularly accepted by an easily manipulated public, eventually a younger generation saw the truth... that despite the impassioned claims of those who thought themselves enlightened and learned, there was in fact nothing there. 

I leave it to you to ponder the applicability of this morality tale.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

A Cure for Hiccoughs

Hiccoughs (aka "hiccups") are funny, but can be embarrassing and annoying. Most of the folk cures for it (scaring the victim, breathing in a bag, drinking water, etc.) are obtrusive and do not work.

Here's a cure I developed many years ago. It's simple, it's imperceptible to those around you... and thus far, it's always worked. There are a few steps, but they're easy, easy, easy.

  1. Close your mouth. Make sure that your upper teeth are touching the lowers, but do not clench your teeth. Simply close your jaw and your lips.
  2. Place the tip of your tongue against your upper teeth where they meet the gum.
  3. Flatten out the front of your tongue against the roof of your mouth so that your tongue is touching the roof of your mouth and all of your upper teeth. It doesn't hurt to suck in the back of your tongue just a little. This should be comfortable. Do not press hard.
  4. Breathe in and out a few times through your nose. Do it naturally. Don't force your breath, and do not hold your breath either at the exhale or the inhale. Just let the air flow in and out.
That's pretty much it. It usually takes about three or four breaths for the hiccoughs to disappear, but you may have to do it a little longer if your timing was unfortunate and you had a nice big "HIC" early in the process. Again, do not force, clench or press. This should be totally relaxed and natural. I used to have frequent hiccoughs, but for years I've simply held my mouth that way when not talking or eating, and I rarely if ever get them any more.

I could go out on a limb and give you some theory as to why this works, but it would be bullshit. The fact is, I have no idea why it works. It just does; and not just for me. So far it's worked on practically everyone I've shown it to. I was in a pharmacy one day, and met a little girl, about 10 years old, and her mother. The girl had chronic hiccoughs. I coached her through this exercise, and they disappeared, at least for the remainder of their visit. And if they ever came back, this is such a simple, easily remembered exercise that she could always apply it again. Her mother was flabbergasted. Maybe it was just my coaching technique, but "Mom" asked me if I was some kind of hypnotist. Nope... just observant.


Since you've gotten this far, here's a bonus "cure", for gag reflex, particularly effective for denture wearers.
Blow your nose.
That's it. When you feel your gag reflex, close your mouth and snort. If you're congested, you'll probably want a tissue or handkerchief, but most of the time a good sharp exhale through the nose will cause the gag reflex to instantly abate.

Again, I don't know why this works. It just does.