Sunday, March 29, 2009

Non sequiturs

Contributed by Auggie: Opinionated Curmudgeon at Large

I think it’s time to coin a new phrase called “extreme extrapolation”. This is an argumentative technique employed by people who are desperate, myopic or logically challenged. Here is how it works: A person is unable (or too lazy) to come up with an intelligent, convincing case to support their position, so they argue that if event A occurs (the event they are against), then events B, C and D are the string of unwanted consequences that will naturally follow. Of course, when preaching the projected consequences they ignore facts, logic or anything else that might expose their argument as fraudulent.

A good place to find examples of this tact is the ‘letters to the editor’ section of your local newspaper, especially when a divisive public referendum is up for vote. Let’s say for example there is a referendum to ban baiting as a bear hunting technique. Some dolt will submit a passionate letter crying how the authorities are trying to exert too much control over the common folk, and “they won’t stop there, no, the next thing you know they’ll outlaw bear hunting altogether and then deer hunting, duck hunting and eventually fishing”. These hypothetical events are completely unrelated to the referendum and there is no evidence that anyone against bear baiting wants to protect yellow perch, but it’s bound to strike a chord with Frank’s bait & tackle shop. Assuming Frank is an idiot too. I wonder, since these people are already on the delusion express, why not keep chugging along and pick up a few more passengers? I’m sure that once big brother gets the fishing ban approved, its only a matter of time before mouse traps and bug zappers are prohibited. I’m still waiting for someone on the other side of the argument to use the same tactic, if only to demonstrate it’s absurdity; “Hey listen pal, you’ve already got your duck, bear, and deer hunting. If we keep relaxing the rules the next thing you know we’ll be legalizing pet hunts, and sooner or later you’ll want to hunt humans for sport”.

Now that I think about it, I bet that’s exactly what happened to Jonathan Kincaid


  1. Anonymous4/04/2009

    The next thing you know every guy with a blog is going to put the newspapers out of business and where would we get our trustworthy news as they spout out their unqualified opinions?

    Kudos' on the Jonathan Kincaid-- not many will get that reference. JD

  2. Are you suggesting that people who write letters to the editor are spouting qualified opinions? Or are you suggesting that we get trustworthy news from newspapers? I find a lot of sensationalized stories that are meant to sell papers, and editorials that seek not to educate, but to persuade by using half-truths and limited information. But your point is well taken. I've heard the criticism that some people get their "news" from bloggers who are not constrained by journalistic practices and ethics. But the people who really want the news will get it. If newspapers go out of business it won't be the fault of bloggers.

  3. Anonymous4/04/2009

    I was playing along with my new found term: non-sequiturs. I think it will be your all has to start somewhere. If we let this blog go and keep publishing-- what's next? JD