Human nature to seek bias

A better view to take is that humans reach conclusions that are based on preexisting opinions

Editor, The News:

Re: Basing everything on fallacy (Open mic, May 15).

How is it that you so clearly see the sliver in your brother’s eye, but not the log in your own?

Mike Shields says, “We all reach conclusions based on logic.”

If that were true, wouldn’t there be more agreement on issues?

A better view to take is that humans reach conclusions that are based on preexisting bias.

Our prior world view influences our take on most issues and we seek out and support that which confirms our bias and avoid, ignore and disparage that which counters it.

It’s human nature.

I am in agreement with him that too many arguments these days are based on logical fallacies.

So imagine my disappointment when I find that he engages in logical fallacies himself, in the article.

He uses a ‘strawman’ fallacy’ (conclusion is misrepresented) to imply that skeptics of Al Gore’s CO2 induced catastrophic global warming thesis use ad hominem to deride him because they lack contrary scientific data.

But there is data* and there are many scientists who legitimately and scientifically dispute Gore’s claims of an imminent CO2 induced climate disaster.

He uses an ‘ad hominem’ himself when he asserts that it is “ridiculous” to question the veracity of research that is paid for with multi millions of dollars of government grants, when it is obvious to all, that if you don’t step out of line and stay near Gore’s thesis, your funding will continue well into the future.

No, money couldn’t be corrupting their work. But the skeptics presumably have (strawman and ad hominem) “carbon-industry-funding” (Big Oil?), so their position is therefore totally suspect.

How nice it must be to see so clearly what motivates those who you agree with and those who you don’t, and be able to differentiate the two.

Are you sure that’s not your personal bias showing through?

Then he uses that old and so tired “97 per cent of scientists” meme that has been debunked so many times in the past. This is an obvious ‘appeal to authority’ fallacy that the climate alarmists just refuse let go of.

His slippery slope fallacy example is not very convincing, either. Not long ago, same sex marriage was illegal. Now your called a bigot if you don’t support it.

I do not agree that it is “mocking reasonable debate” to suggest that polygamists see the gains made by gays and think that they might use the same sort of arguments to overcome bigotry and gain popular acceptance and legal marital status for themselves.

I see no logic to prevent it; gay or poly, who cares any more?

He is correct to acknowledge that same sex marriage has compromised actuarial expectations of pension and life insurance payouts.

As usual, follow the money to understand behaviour.

Logical fallacies are an impediment to proper discussion of issues. They are used by people of all political stripes to score cheap points on many issues in the press, the blogosphere and on TV news.

As consumers of media, we must call it out and expose it, even when it is used in support of our most cherished beliefs.

If we are ever to find truth, we must also be on guard against personal bias, as well.

John Sawyer

Maple Ridge


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