Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fallacy Bingo

Today there was a County Council meeting on Lopez.  In previous posts, I have mentioned the numerous fallacious arguments made by the Council, consultants, and staff regarding the CAOs. We saw a perfect example of that during the public comment period today. Dan Post commented that the CAO buffer calculator for wetlands was confusing and difficult, so Patty Miller responded by asking Dan if he would prefer to have a simpler method even if it resulted in a larger buffer?

Can you spot the fallacy advanced by Patty with that question? Patty is posing a false dilemma, sometimes called a false choice. It happens when two alternatives are postulated to be the only possible choices when in reality there are more. For the CAO buffers, there are more choices besides complicated large buffers and simple gigantic buffers, which are the only two eventualities contemplated by Patty.

Probably without even realizing it, Patty, like others involved in the CAOs, makes many other fallacious arguments. After a while, it becomes a bit like a bingo game to spot them. One of the biggest fallacy generators is associated with the answer to the question of "Where is the problem?" More on that in a coming post.

And Patty refused to let the crowd show their support for any of the public commenters today, except by raising hands or by standing mutely. At one point, after one speaker received a well-deserved round of applause, Patty threatened to shut down further public comment if the crowd continued to be disorderly. Disorderly? Applause is disorderly? Since when are legislative meetings supposed to be run like libraries or courtrooms? I guess Patty has never heard of question time. I favor letting people express themselves. It can be done without being disorderly.

1 comment:

  1. We must be able show agreement with speakers and applause is the universal method for expressing approval. Let them shut down the hearing, there is nothing disorderly about indicating your opinion. This is a tactic of oppression.