Sunday, August 02, 2009


We shouldn't blame Obama because everyone does it.

What's that?

The Brown Beast* calls it FALSE APPEAL TO COMMON KNOWLEDGE, or common consent, or common practice.


Obama is quoted in this Raw Story story:

...the recession we faced when I took office was even deeper than anyone thought at the time. It told us how close we were to the edge, Obama said.

There are two ways to refute this false statement:

a) point to oneself as an absolute contrary example, for instance, sfwillie's blog has been calling this a depression ever since the Dow started its dive; and

b) cite experts in the field who are absolute contrary examples, of which, in this case, there are many.

False Appeal to Common Knowledge is so widespread that we hardly notice.

All the assholes who promoted the Iraq invasion still say to this day that "Everyone thought Saddam had WMD." (Except maybe the millions of people worldwide who took to the streets in protest... maybe?)

The Brown Beast explains:

False appeal to common knowledge or consent is one of the more vicious fallacies when used deliberately. For it plays upon that snobbishness in people which makes them reluctant to admit that they do not know something or that they are peculiar enough to think differently from their neighbors.

I once did a quick edit on a business oriented book in which the author stated, by way of medical metaphor, "Nobody goes to  General Practitioners any more."

I told the author that this was so untrue as to be an embarrassing blemish on his persona. The author disagreed.

I pointed out to the author that he, himself, had a GP, whom he visited regularly, as his primary doctor.

Nope, it stayed in.  So much for business writers.


Anyway, Obama's use of this stupid, and the Jesuits say vicious, fallacy is political hackdom, pure and simple.

Bad Spokesmodel.

* Writing Handbook, Kammer & Mulligan, SJs, Loyola Press, 1953. How can I hate the Jesuits when they have created the best-ever reference book on English usage? The Beast even includes sentence diagramming. Wikipedia, too, has a good article on Fallacies.

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