There are four main types of “Distraction Fallacy” — a means of wining an argument by misuse of a logical operator in a sentence. The first is the misuse of the operator “or”, which creates a “false dilemma.”(“Either support Glenn Beck or admit you’re gay.”) Next up is the “not” Argument from Ignorance, which implies that since you can’t prove something is true, it must me false. Or vice versa. (You cannot prove you’re not a Communist, therefore you are.”)
The third type is the third type is the “Complex Question,” misuse of the “and” operator. (Do you hate high taxes and Obama?”) Lastly, we have the all-time favorite fallacy of the Conservative Right: “Slippery Slope,” or mis-use of the “if/then” operator. This assumes that if Condition A happens, a sequence of increasingly unacceptable events must follow. (“If we pass gun control laws, then it won’t be long before all guns are banned.”)
But all of these arguments have one thing in common: They’re designed to win an argument by distracting from the central point, and leading the discussion down a garden path to completely unrelated topics. That being said, here’s an excerpt from an article from Teabagger support group “Last Resistance,” penned by Philip Hodges. the title: “More kids Die from Water and Fire-Related Accidents than Guns.”
[box type=”shadow”]Recently, I wrote about ABC News doing an experiment showing that kids are drawn to firearms. The premise of the ‘experiment’ was a study done by Yale University, which found that one American child every hour is hospitalized due to gunshot wounds.
Their little experiment attempted to show why so many kids are victims of unintentional ‘gun violence.’ But what they won’t tell you is how many kids are injured or killed by other means.
According to the 2010 Death and Mortality numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more children under the age of ten are unintentionally killed in fire or water-related incidents than are killed in accidental gun deaths.
Gun scholar John Lott pulled together various CDC tables showing that thirty-six children under the age of ten were killed in firearm-related accidents in 2010.
The number of children under the age of ten killed in “unintentional fire/burn deaths” was 262, and the number killed in “unintentional drowning” incidents was 609.
This is like those statistics showing more people die from hammers and fists than from ‘assault’ rifles. But all you hear in the media are calls for assault gun bans. No one calls for hammer or fist control.
Now, normally, with these ‘debunking’ articles, we’ll go into about 1,800 words of point-by-point dissection of the original meme or assertion, ripping apart half-truths and putting carefully edited data into its appropriate context. That’s the usual route. But instead, we’ll just play a little game called ‘Spot the Distraction Fallacies.’ We won’t give it away, but they’re all there in the original article.
As are a few others, starting with “distraction” itself, rooted in another logical fallacy called ‘false equivalence.’ Namely, equating guns with fists, hammers, fire and water. Even the article’s hackist himself manages to acknowledge the absurdity of the comparison, while somehow miraculously missing his own point:
“No one calls for hammer or fist control. No one’s doing ‘experiments’ to find out why so many kids are ‘drawn’ to fire or water.”
God help us all.[/box]
Phillip…we don’t have “calls” for hammer or fist control, because hammers exist to do really useful things aside from killing. So do fists, mostly because they work whenever hammers aren’t available, and because they unfold into these five little pokey-keyboard things. We also don’t “call for” fire and water control, because those things exist without having to roll out of a factory in Ohio. These things will largely exist whether we want them to or not. And they were not created explicitly to kill. So, please, Phil…enough with the false equivalence.
(Also, please read this article on the fact that there’s been the equivalent of one school shooting every other day this year. Then equate that with hammers.)
Of course, it’s not as though Bagger Phil is alone…to be fair, those on the side of sanity also use a certain false equivalence argument in gun control. Namely, comparing them to cars, in regard to licensing, registration, and regulation. And Bagger Phil would be the first to call you out on the fact that cars exist for other purposes besides killing, and that deaths are secondary and generally accidental functions. And then he’ll say we should have fist control.
But…don’t we have calls for fist, fire and water “control?” In fact, almost all states cover “control” of these dangers under one, big umbrella called “child neglect”:
“Neglect is frequently defined as the failure of a parent or other
person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food,
clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree
that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened
And then we have further local laws on putting fences around pools, not leaving babies in bathtubs, not allowing children to be around open flame, and not punching them. Which Phil might recognize as “fist control.”
Of course, Phil would probably rebut that “No, LIBTERD! I’m talkin about laws making them stuff so you can’t have them to pertict yer liberty RAND PAUL!!”
Phil…oh, Phil. Fire, water, fists, hammers and cars must exist in order to do something aside from kill. When these things kill, it’s because of an accident, or a glitch. When guns kill, it’s not a “glitch”…it’s a “feature.” And when the primary feature of a thing is that it kills, then that function should be controlled as much as is practical and possible. And yes, saying “Well, the world is dangerous and we can’t protect them from everything” is an idiot’s argument.
And now, some “palm control.”