Thursday, April 16, 2009

From watch dogs, to attack dogs to sleaze dogs

This is the moment where I get to point out the obvious.

The attacks against Lisa McShane are not only unwarranted, they are dishonest, sleazy and designed to achieve a singular purpose -- to impugn Lisa's character, standing and reputation in the community.

In 2008, Lisa was employed by Governor Christine Gregoire to serve as a statewide Field Director for the Governor's bid for re-election against Dino Rossi.

The Governor can afford to be choosy.

She picked her campaign staff carefully, based on their talent, intelligence and ability to work closely and cooperatively with diverse groups across the state.

I don't blame Mr. Kirsch, Mr. Servais, Mr. Pratum or others for being frightened of Lisa McShane.

But the act of being intimidated by a talented and intelligent woman is not license to indulge in repetitive acts of character assassination or defamation.

If this abhorrent behavior is allowed to continue, the sleaze dogs will be setting the tone of each debate and it will be difficult to tease out the issues from the slime.

Now, it's not difficult to pick out logical fallacies in arguments. In pursuit of a healthier political climate, I would like to challenge readers to rise to the occasion and point out examples of illegitimate arguments in the media as they are published.

Let's send the sleaze dogs scampering home with their tails between their legs.

Here is a short list of logical fallacy descriptions:

Hasty Generalization: conclusion is based on insufficient or biased evidence. The author is rushing to a conclusion before he/she has all of the relevant facts.

Slippery Slope: conclusion is based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of steps, B,C, D....X,Y,Z will happen too. So, if we don't want Z to occur, we must make sure A does not occur either.

Genetic Fallacy: conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, institution or idea determine its character or worth.

Circular Argument: the author restates the argument rather than publishing evidence to prove it.

Begging the claim: the conclusion that the author should prove is validated within the claim (common).

Post hoc ergo hoc: conclusion that is that if A occurred after B, then B must have caused A.

Straw Man: author oversimplifies his opponent's viewpoint then attacks it.

Either/or: conclusion oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices.

Red Herring: diversionary tactic that avoids key issues by avoiding opposing arguments rather than addressing them.

Ad hominem: attacks the character of the person rather than their arguments or opinions.

Ad populum: emotional appeal that speaks to positive (patriotism, religion) or negative (terrorism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand.

There are others, but this ought to get you started.

Happy hunting!

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