See the first installment of our favorite game. As is frequent in the evolution of games shows, the set of rules has been simplified.
Itâ€™s time to play everybodyâ€™s favorite game: Spot The Logical Fallacy! Each week (or whenever we get round to it), we pull quotations from popular culture and news reports from around the world which contain logical fallacies. It is your job to spot them.
You could win valuable prizes!
Give yourself 10 points for every fallacy you discover. You must keep track of your own points. Send examples of fallacies to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Carlin Romano, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, opened a piece descrying the lack of book reading among college folk (a state of affairs which we are as concerned about as Romano is), with these words:
“Over the next 10 years, scientific experts will be dealing with ‘extreme weather.’ No one knows how weird and dangerous it will get.”
Hint: this is a variant of Repeated “It’s worse than we thought!” fallacy.
- On one of your host’s endless flights to and fro across this Great Land, while watching the miniature television ensconced in the seat in front, I happened upon a performance of joke teller Gilbert Gottfriend. He was standing in front of a large audience. He spoke of a dream in which he had a conversation with Jesus.
I was talking to Jesus, and I said, “Jesus, I feel like no one will ever accept me.” And Jesus looked at me and said, “You know what my theory is? Accept me or go to hell.”
The audience not only laughed, but applauded vigorously, cheered, and whistled, praise they did not award to any other joke (or attempt at a joke) by Mr Gottfried.
Hint: this one is subtle. Who is making the fallacy? Is this mistake in logic unconditionally a fallacy? Or was the audience’s reaction merely the result of petulance?
- Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), nearly echoing Bill Clinton’s (D) infamous “It depends on what the meaning of word is is”, said he meant to say that he “served during Vietnam” but did not mean to say (as he said repeatedly) “served in Vietnam”:
On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. And I take full responsibility, but I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.
Hint: The discovery of the fallacy comes in analyzing the frequency of statements a person makes which are lies. How low can this ratio be so that that each of the lies are not lies?
- The Pope is visiting England, a, it must be admitted, somewhat mundane event, but one which is causing intense fits of conniption among elite intellectuals of that once great land. One of these intellectuals is a man named Peter Tatchell, who in honor of the Pope’s visit created the television show The Trouble with the Pope.
According to a summary of the program by Frank Furedi”
‘I am shocked that he has embraced Catholics accused of being soft on Nazism’, says Tatchell. Getting carried away with his melodrama, Tatchell warns: ‘This is a pope to fear.’
Hint: Does this classic even need a hint? It is included to show that even the “best minds” are capable of gross idiocy.
- Netflix, a movie delivery service, runs a series of nausea-inducing “And now for the bonus round” radio commercials, in which a smarmy emcee asks a contestant, “Revenge is a dish best served cold. How is justice best served?”. The contestant responds with something logically unrelated: “With a side of fries.” The emcee says, “Correct.”
One to two more questions of the same sort are given. That is, there is a straightforward question followed by a response that is not, in any way, logically related to the question. The answers are always “Correct.”
The emcee’s last question is of the form “What company best delivers movies in the mail?” The contestant responds, “Netflix.” This answer too, is “Correct.”
Hint: What does this final answer imply?