On Writing

Fallacy Fallacy #AtoZChallenge

6 Apr , 2019  

Two wrongs don’t make a right. But two wrongs don’t necessarily make a wrong, either.

Just because someone makes a poor argument for their proposition does not mean that they are wrong. They may be wrong; they may be correct, but unconvincing. This is where the “Fallacy Fallacy” comes in.

Take a true statement like, “Eating lots of dark leafy greens is good for most people.”

The following statements are also facts:

  • Kale and spinach are considered dark leafy greens.
  • Endocrinologists may advise patients to eat foods high in thiocyanates in moderation, because they may cause hypothyroidism.
  • Kidney specialists may advise patients to eat foods high in oxalates in moderation, as they may cause kidney stones.
  • Eating too much kale may not be good for you, because kale is high in thiocyanates.
  • Eating too much spinach may not be good for you, because spinach is high in oxalates.

Now, if I say, “You can never get too much of a good thing! Dr. Jones says we should be all be drinking a quart of kale juice daily, and eating raw kale at every meal. Eating kale is so healthy. It’s a good thing to put in a salad,” my fallacious arguments – that you can never get too much of a good thing and “because Dr. Jones said so” (our Dr. Jones being a quack with a YouTube channel who failed at being an OB/GYN), and because a quart of kale juice daily seems like an excessively high quantity – do not invalidate the fact that, in moderation, dark leafy greens – including kale and spinach – are generally a healthy thing to put in a salad. Maybe not for you, if hypothyroidism or kidney stones are a special concern, and probably not for most people in super high quantities, like a quart of kale juice every day, but they are usually a healthy diet choice in reasonable quantities, being high in vitamins A, C, K, and folate, minerals such as iron, and are high in fiber. They’ve also been shown to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Just because an argument is poorly made does not make the proposition untrue.

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5 Responses

  1. Two Wrights make an airplane.
    So, again, we venture into the realm of academia. I fondly recall my Philosophy 101 course and all the cursed fallacies we had to memorize, recognize and regurgitate.
    One of the most irritating things to me is to hear a fallacious argument without the ability to pinpoint why it is so.

    Ah well, I don’t argue much, anymore. Too much drama.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  2. Stuart Nager says:

    Kale, garnish at best
    Liven up a salad bar
    Chewy, bitter fad

  3. Arlee Bird says:

    Everything in moderation seems like good advice to me. I love those leafy greens although I’m advised to avoid to much of them because I am on a blood thinner and those greens will thin the blood. I’ve wondered why they just don’t take me off the blood thinner meds and tell me to eat lots of green leafy veggies. Nah, that probably wouldn’t work. I don’t eat right as it is.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    • Harder to regulate with precision. The Theratears supplement I take (fish/flaxseed oil Omega-3) for my eyes is also a blood thinner, apparently. I had to stop taking it for a while before surgery. That was a bitch, because it helped stop my recurrent corneal erosions. Imagine a rug burn on your cornea – that’s a pretty relatable analogy.

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