Instant Bullsh*t Detector
We're gonna spot some bullshit now. And what this is gonna do is to give you an introduction and a useful one to the idea of logic or logos in the art of persuasion. It allows you to defend yourself against manipulation and it will make you think differently about how persuasion works in general. It's great. And one thing this is gonna do, I hope, is when you look at political speeches and commercials I'll tell you what I do anyway, is I'll get up in the middle of TV shows and I'll come back for the commercials because I love spotting bullshit. So let's figure out how we're gonna do that. Let's look at the ultimate bullshit detector. Again I'm gonna throw a Greek word at you, enthymeme. The enthymeme. You don't have to know that word, although if you wanna annoy relatives with it just use it all the time, I do. So the enthymeme comes from the ancient syllogism, this three line annoying stupid piece of logic that gets taught in colleges and high schools all the time. Aristotle after he ...
had written his book on logic, wrote his book and a few other books, he wrote his book on rhetoric. And it's probably the last book he wrote. Why am I saying this? Because he kinda figured out that the formal logic he had been teaching, as I mentioned before isn't the most persuasive way to deal with people. People just don't wanna hear, you know, this is true therefore that is true, which is basically what a syllogism is all about. So what he did was he came up with this thing the enthymeme. It's two basic, it has only two parts to it, and you can break them down as I have to proof and choice. So that's what we're talking about here is logic. Logical propositions have to do with the choice I want you to make or the way I want you to think or the action I want you to take and my proof, my reasons for you to think that way. So let's look at what we're talking about with proof and conclusion. And you're gonna turn into rhetorical logicians here in just a few minutes. The proof, ask yourself, in anything that is a proposition of some sort, does it make sense? And we're gonna talk about specific examples here, let's just work through the theory. Does it make sense? Okay it makes sense but what's the source. In other words, you're not asking whether it's true cause you don't know. What is the source and can the source be trusted? By the way one of the things I tell students all the time is if your not paying for the news your probably not getting the best news. Sorry, but you know no matter what your political opinion is where you stand, who you are, generally paid for news is more reliable. Does it lead to the choice? So okay. The proof kinda makes sense, it's from a trustworthy source. You think, okay it may be true. But does it necessarily justify the choice the person is asking you? We're gonna get into choices now. How about the choice. Is it the right number of choices? So suppose I dropped my ice cream cone and it's a chocolate ice cream cone and that's the only flavor of ice cream ever should be and you're telling me that chocolate isn't available but I'm obviously gonna love strawberry. Now okay, let's see the fact may be good that there is no more chocolate ice cream left. That the source is pretty good cause it's you, mom. But is this the right number of choices? Is there only strawberry left? As a five year old rhetorician I'm gonna be thinking that's a false choice question here. This is a fallacy called false choice. We're gonna get into what these particular fallacies are but we're not gonna remember fallacies we're gonna stick to proof and choice, the enthymeme. That's all you need to know. Are the choices reasonable? You can either have this awesome ice cream or pickle flavored tofu. That's not reasonable. Remember I talked about how my son ended up being named George because the other choice was Herman Melville? That was not really very like logically correct. Persuasive though. But it was great bullshit. Are these choices actually supported by the proof? That's it, that's your enthymeme. Is the proof reliable, is it from a good source, does it make sense? The choices, is it the right number of choices, are they reasonable and does the proof really lead to the choice? That's it. We're not quite done yet. Let's talk about what happens when one part or another of the connection between those two parts goes wrong. These are what I call the 7 deadly logical sins or sins of logic. False comparison is one and we're just gonna blast through them. So we'll get to them okay. I'm just gonna name what they are. Bad example. Ignorance as proof, that I have to tell you what that is, this is how doctors kill people all the time, God bless them, they do a wonderful job but when a doctor says to you, the what do you call it, the test came back negative therefore you're not sick, that is a fallacy, ignorance as proof. And you can, if you wanna use the Latin, say that's the ad ignoratium fallacy doctor, you're fired. Tautology. Tautology is when the proof and the conclusion are the same thing. We're gonna get to these things, I'm just naming what they are. Red herring, have you heard that? That's sheer distraction. And then the 7th is the wrong ending as I put it. So the proof leads you in an absolutely wrong direction. Alright let's talk about these individual ones. And again I'm not telling you you need to memorize these seven things. There are others although these are the most common ones and the ones that screw us up personally and as a society, as I can see it. But they all have to do with proof and choice and the connection between the two. Let's talk about false comparison here. And false comparison, there's one of my favorite episodes of the Simpsons is when Homer Simpson offers his daughter Lisa a donut and it's like the donut with some stuff in it and Lisa says, "no thanks dad," being Lisa she says, "do you have any fruit?" And Homer looks at the donut and he says, "this has purple. Purple is a fruit." So that is a false comparison fallacy. So what does that mean? The proof doesn't actually hold up, it's unreasonable. Why? Because just because things share the same characteristic it doesn't make them the same thing. And how does this work? Well if you look in every grocery store it says made with all natural ingredients. What's wrong with that? It may have natural ingredients but what does all natural mean? And more importantly does it contain any unnatural ingredients? Just because it's all natural ingredients doesn't mean that every one ingredient is natural, okay. And if it has some natural ingredients does that make the thing itself natural? Again this is instinct. You look at this and if you just look carefully and you use this frame of mind you think, does that proof hold up, that's all you have to ask with every one of these things. I'm gonna loose you if you don't think this way. If you get caught in the weeds here it's gonna screw you up. Does the proof hold up, does it make sense? Bad example, is another big fallacy, that kid from Tech was great, let's hire another one from that same place. What's wrong with that? Well one great kid doesn't mean Tech is a great source of employees. Here actually there isn't enough data, right. The proof isn't very good cause you only have one example. Let's get more data points here, more kids from Tech, all great. Maybe there's a pattern here. There's no pattern if you only have one kid, okay. And here's the thing, a lot of people will take one analogy, one example and make it stand for everything else. This is one of the worst fallacies in America today. What happens is some horrible thing happens to a little kid someplace and it's tragic and awful, it's 3,000 miles away and it's repeated over and over again on the news and you think God the crime rate is terrible. What's wrong with this? The fallacy is you don't have enough data. Look at the data and you realize the crime rate is down. Kids actually are in less danger then they were when I was growing up but it doesn't seem like that because you get one data point repeated over and over again and it looks like a pattern, okay. That's bad example. Okay, we're talking about the enthymeme still. Proof and conclusions. Does the proof hold up? One kid, is that a pattern, no. You think this way your brain is being remapped rhetorically and all of a sudden you say wait a minute that's actually bullshit. Ignorance as proof, the lab tests came back negative, there's nothing wrong with you. The proof doesn't lead to the choice. In other words, okay the lab tests are all negative, the source is pretty good he's a doctor, he seems to know what he's doing. Does that necessarily mean that this conclusion is true? The test came back negative, what if there's something wrong with me they didn't test for? The proof is good, it doesn't actually lead to the choice. The linkage is broken between the two. This fallacy kills people. Tautology. The Seahawks are favored to win because they're the better team. They're favored to win because they're favored to win. Or they're the better team because they're the better team. You know if you reinterpret what that actually means, the proof and the conclusion, the proof and the choice are the same thing. Does that make sense to you? That's the tautology. Love the word tautology. You will have opportunities to use this everyday now for people and impress all your friends. Next big fallacy, false choice. And this is what push polls are all about. Do you know what they are, push polls? They seem to be polls really asking your opinion when really they're trying to push an opinion onto you. That's why they're called push polls. Do you support government financed gluten free food and diners right to choose? What's wrong with that? Well they're not actually asking you, they're manipulating you. This is bullshit. So just because I support gluten free choices doesn't mean I want my taxes to pay for that food. That's a second choice, okay. That's why it's called a false choice. I'm given two choices packaged as a single choice. The proof doesn't hold up therefore, okay. This is logic but it's not terribly formal logic and it should make sense to you. What you get used to is having the habit of mind of thinking wait a minute there's a proof and a choice, should I trust this proof, does it make sense somehow and this doesn't make sense because we're talking about two things and not one. Red herring, this is an easy one. You left the toilet seat up again. Oh yeah, did you see the game last night? Sheer distraction. Any distracting argument can be called a red herring. And why is it called red herring? Do you know what the origin of that was? It's an old myth, I don't know if it was ever true but it used to be that criminals that didn't want dogs to sniff their trail would throw this stinky fish, red herrings, to distract them so the dogs would follow that or else it would disguise their smell. So a distraction is like throwing a stinking fish in your tracks so people can't follow what you're talking about. And it's amazing how often you see that in politics, in business, people are constantly trying to distract you from what's wrong. So you see this. You used to see this all the time with cigarette advertising. You know you almost never saw the cigarettes, people weren't smoking, they were just having great relationships. So you know cancer kills, before we can call this cancer, hey look at this loving couple, this is cool, they're cool people, I wanna be like one. Red herring. You know the movie is it Up, the movie Up, the cartoon movie. Squirrel, yeah, I totally got it. You know these dogs are able to talk and they're talking like perfectly logical, squirrel. That's a red herring. And people fall for it all the time. That is proof not leading to choice in logical terms because basically, okay you left the toilet seat up again. Okay my justification for that is what? Nothing. Wrong ending. Okay what does that mean? If I let you skip dinner then I'll have to let the other kids skip dinner. One of the people asking a questions, from online, talk about a red herring, not a red herring I'm sorry, a slippery slope fallacy and that's what we're talking about here is slippery slope. Slippery slope is people not taking responsibility for the most part. I mean yes you can say you extrapolate from a pattern it can lead to bad things in the future, absolutely. But not necessarily if it means if people make this choice they're forced to make another choice. If you have the freedom to make a choice and you're feeling responsible, you can make a different choice when the situation changes. The slippery slope fallacy says the situation never changes. That's what makes it fallacious. The proof doesn't lead to the choice. So you know if I let you skip dinner I have to let the other kids skip dinner. Come on you're a parent. Take some responsibility. Make the choice like what's good for one kid may not be good for another kid. I taught my children that unfairness was good therefore I was gonna always be unfair to everybody. Enthymeme, proof and choice. All of these fallacies, there are hundreds of them, they lead to suffering students in school, come down to these things. Is the proof reasonable? Do you have the right number of choices? Does the proof lead to reasonable choices? That's the enthymeme, the ultimate bullshit detector. We blasted through logic. People spend years learning this and now you've got all you need to know in just a few minutes.