Friday, October 10, 2014

Chronic Oversimplification

Chronic oversimplification, coupled with a facade of cleverness, I think, is a symptom of our society's gradual descent into anti-intellectualism. "Look at how cleverly I turned this complicated problem into a simple one," is usually how it goes, and the moronic masses applaud with vigor.

The most recent example I care to divulge is that of an individual who claimed that I do not value Irish culture as much as I value Native American culture, because I care more about the offensiveness of the Washington Redskins' name than I do about that of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The implication being, of course, that I am a racist. I should, if I value all cultures equally, according to him, be just as concerned with the name "Fighting Irish," as I am with "Redskins."

Anyone who has even the most elementary grasp of logic (and all her ensuing fallacies) will recognize that this gentleman has committed an egregious example of oversimplification. More specifically, he could be accused of presenting a false dilemma (or a "false dichotomy," as we say in good ole 'Merican logic). There exist, but more importantly could exist myriad reasons why I do not care as much about the Fighting Irish as I do the Washington Redskins.

I called him a prick. He wasn't very happy about that. He claimed vulgarity has no place in a civil discussion between adults. At no point did I claim to be civil. Furthermore, I should think that basic logical fallacies have no place in a discussion between adults. But boo fucking hoo, ya know?

Another example occurred twice today on my newsfeed. One being a taxi cab driver who lamented that Uber drivers are not held to the same legal standards as he and his fellow taxi drivers. This was in the Facebook comment section of an article about some alarming crimes committed by Uber drivers.

One of the top replies was along the lines of the sarcastic, "yeah, because cab drivers have never committed any crimes."

The implication of the ensuing argument was that because regulation of cab drivers hasn't stopped ALL cab drivers from committing crimes, regulation is wrong. Even worse, was the implication that because the cabbie was upset about the lack of Uber regulation, he must hate Uber and the fact that ride-share competition exists, and is therefore anti-capitalism, anti-American, and the worst fucking human on the planet. All of this was because he dare favor regulation, rather than side with an unmitigated "free" market.

For your information, self-professed libertarians and conservatives love Uber specifically because it is unregulated. Of course, if it gets more popular we'll see more gruesome crimes committed by its drivers. We'll also see more regulation, because the government will do what is necessary to protect its citizens (WE FUCKING HOPE). In the meantime, if you dare criticize it, you must hate freedom.

The other example is that of the gun lobby, which stresses that because gun regulation would not work 100% of the time, we must never have gun regulation. I trust you see the flaws in these arguments against regulation. If you don't, I'm sure you'll comment on the Facebook thread (rather than the blog itself, because who does that?).

But maybe I'm just a worry-wort. Maybe our generation is far more concerned with facts, the truth, and intelligent discourse than I am giving us credit for. Nerdiness is in vogue, but is it genuine intellectualism that is in vogue, or the appearance of it? Because the appearance of cleverness often tends to accompany these utterly shitty arguments. They're very popular, well "liked," and are often portrayed with an air of "See? I got you there!"

Do we really care? Or have I been drinking too much Scotch?