The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Logic + Politics = ?

   We've barely a fortnight left until election day. The direct mail campaigns are kicking into high gear and both my mailbox and my compost pile are filling up rapidly. It reminds me of another election season back when I was in college. I was taking a course in Logic nights. As an exercise, the instructor asked us to apply the 12 fallacies of argument to election speeches or ballot proposition arguments. It was both entertaining and enlightening.

     I am listing them here with a simplified description of each. I suggest you print it out in a large font and keep it handy as a reference for the campaign ads. You will be surprised, nay astonished, by what you find.

     1)Argumentum ad Baculum: (Appeal to force) Use of a threat to coerce the target into agreement. The jack booted thug obviously, but also a lobbyist threatening to give campaign funds to an opponent or the threat of "the terrorists will win if you don't..."

      2)Argumentum ad Hominem: (Abusive) Calling your opponent a Communist, tax and spend liberal, or a Fascist.. Strictly speaking none of these things rule out competent leadership. They have little or no bearing on the issues. In short, they are name calling in a suit and tie.

      2b) Argumentum ad Hominem: (circumstantial) Basicly, "you have to do "A" because you believe "B". For example "You have to vote against all taxes because you are a Republican." or "You have to be pro-choice because you are a Democrat." While it is true that most of each group seem to go that way in Congress, it is not a requirement.

     3) Argumentum ad Ignorantium: (Argument from Ignorance) "It must be true because no one has ever been able to prove it is not." The lazy man's proof of the existence of God. It is impossible to prove something does not exist. The best you can do is show that it is very unlikely.

     4) Argumentum ad Misericordiam: (Appeal to Pity) "Every time you vote Republican, God kills a kitten."

     5)Argumentum ad Populum.: (Argument to the Gallery) "It is your patriotic duty" "Real Americans will..."

     6)Argumentum ad Verecundiam: (Appeal to Authority) Famous people or people you admire do it so you should too. All endorsements fall under this fallacy. While I may admire Robert Redford as an actor and agree with much of his political views, He may be terribly wrong about candidate "X".

    7) Accident: Applying a  general case  to a  specific. "Because he voted for a sales tax increase in 1974 he will raise your taxes if you vote for him."

     8) Converse Accident: (Hasty Generalization) Making a general statement based on a non-representative sample. Because people abuse narcotics we have made it very difficult for doctors to use them to alleviate pain and suffering.

     9) False Cause: "The tinfoil hat keeps the elephants away." or "The Patriot Act is the reason we haven't had a terrorist attack since 9/11."

     10)Petitio Principii: (Begging the Question)  A circular argument. " People with good taste in literature prefer Shakespeare." "You can identify a person who has good taste in literature by asking him if he likes Shakespeare."

   11) Complex Question: "Have you stopped beating your wife." A question that forces an implied assumption.

   12)Ignoratio Elenchi: (Irrelevant Conclusion) Since 90% of all marijuana smokers smoke cigarettes, tobacco is the gateway drug to marijuana.

   So, there you have it.Have fun! You will be surprised how little is left after all the fallacies are stripped away.

     For an advanced exercise, try it on Glen Beck.

     Be seeing you.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Maple Leaf: Mark of Excellence!

  I am cross posting the following from Newsweek by way of Cryptogon because it demonstrated some interesting cultural imprinting and because the all terrain pick up pipeline should be all the proof anyone needs that these wars will be with us a long time.

Via: Newsweek:
As the war in Afghanistan escalated several years ago, counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, a member of the team that designed the Iraq surge for Gen. David Petraeus, began to notice a new tattoo on some insurgent Afghan fighters. It wasn’t a Taliban tattoo. It wasn’t even Afghan. It was a Canadian maple leaf.
When a perplexed Kilcullen began to investigate, he says, he discovered that the incongruous flags were linked to what he says is one of the most important, and unnoticed, weapons of guerrilla war in Afghanistan and across the world: the lightweight, virtually indestructible Toyota Hilux truck.
“In Afghanistan in particular,” he says, “[the trucks are] incredibly well respected.” So well respected, in fact, that some enterprising fraudsters thought them worthy of ripping off. The imitations, Kilcullen says, had flooded the market, leaving disappointed fighters in their wake. But then “a shipment of high-quality [real] Hiluxes arrived, courtesy of the Canadian government,” he explains. “They had little Canadian flags on the back. Because they were the real deal, and because of how the Hilux is seen, over time, strangely, the Canadian flag has become a symbol of high quality across the country. Hence the tattoos.”

We visited a very reputable used car dealership—that handles lots of Japanese used vehicles—and asked the owner: Why are there so few utes (pickups) available?
The owner of the used car dealership told us, “Well heeled Pakistanis are pretty much outbidding everyone at the used vehicle auctions in Japan. The utes are winding up in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s because of the war.”
New Zealand Update: Big Nerd, Little Car (2006)

Friday, October 15, 2010


If you watch a sporting event on TV you will usually see someone holding a sign reading:
                                       John 3:16. 
Now some of you might think that John is getting pretty good odds on the morning line but actually it is a verse from the Bible to the effect that it was pretty cool that God sacrificed His Son so that anyone who believed in him wouldn't be damned.
   Of course that implies that there are rules that God is bound by or He wouldn't have to make the big sacrifice but nobody wants to talk about that one.

   Anyway, I got to thinking. Why not share other Bible verses at sporting events. So, at the next Kings game I'm looking for a friend to help me hold a sign reading:


                                                     Ezekiel 23:20

   To save you the trouble of looking it up it reads, "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were
like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Suggestion for President Obama

    The President seems to be having a bit of trouble with the bi-partisan thing. He keeps trying to meet the other party half way. They keep trying to re-define where the center is. Last time I looked it was somewhere in the 16th century. What we need is a little friendly competition on the playing field to re-establish true sportsmanship in the political arena.

    In Bolivia President Morales, along with his bodyguards and staff, challenged the opposition party to an exhibition game of soccer to inaugurate the newly renovated stadium in the capitol city of La Paz. Less then five minutes into the game the President received a foul from an opposing player that opened up a gash on the Presidents leg.

    He walked up to the player who injured him and kneed him in the groin.

     After two years of cheap shots and low blows from what used to be called the loyal opposition, I think a game of rugby between the White House staff and Fox News is just the thing to restore civil discourse to the political arena.

    Be seeing you.