If my experience is at all typical, you probably have a friend or relative who occasionally sends you emails like the one below, which I recently received. In reading it, you’ll find several logical errors, along with errors of other types that render it absurd and unreliable (and perhaps dishonest), regardless of your political affiliation. The friend who forwarded this to me and the person who forwarded it to him are both bright people, but they accepted this argument without question. The fact that the argument supports their political beliefs no doubt played a role in their willingness to embrace it without qualm, but would they have noticed the logical fallacies if its conclusions conflicted with their own? It’s likely that they would have. Sadly, relatively few people in America have been trained in the basic skills of critical thinking, even including people with a college education. I’ve seen several examples of arguments made on the floor of congress by our elected officials that were no more reasonable than the one that appears below. And before you accuse me of targeting politicians—the low-hanging fruit of flawed and often dishonest argument—I’ll add that I’ve known CEO’s and other executives of large corporations who reasoned on this level as well. How can government function and businesses thrive when decisions are made based on such a flawed reasoning process?
Rather than sharing the email that I sent as a reply to the argument below, I think it would be more fun for you to critique it from scratch. No matter what your political leanings, what are the flaws in this argument? How would you counter it in a debate?