Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Reality Test 15–How has my thinking gone wrong?

Posted by Ann on November 21, 2010

15) If you discredit another position this doesn’t mean your position is automatically right

Couldn’t resist using this illustration. One of my Facebook friends, a relative, had this on her wall a few months back. Apparently, if I don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, then I’m an enemy of veterans. Not only veterans in general, but specifically paralyzed veterans. And also the nation by default, and liberty to boot. Maybe I’m tired, my legs hurt, I’m too cool for that, or I just don’t like saying my nation is under God?

This either-or fallacy of logic is also known as the fallacy of negation or false dilemma. Most people live with dichotomized ideas, as in good versus evil. You are either good, or you are evil (but by whose definition?). Framed this way, I can’t be a person who is sometimes good and sometimes evil, or maybe have a will that’s not so free–my brain might blow up right now just trying to imagine that concept! According to a dichotomized pattern of thinking, when your position is discredited, you must then accept the position someone else supports. However, in reality, it’s not enough to point out problems with someone else’s theory, for instance with the theory of evolution (which happens to have mountains of evidence supporting it). Creationists attempt to discredit the evidence supporting the theory of evolution so they can point to the truth of creationism.

If you think you have the superior position, for instance that creationism is true, or that when a child doesn’t stand for the U.S. allegiance pledge this means they hate paralyzed vets and the US by extension, then you must not only explain away evidence supporting the other theories, but also provide evidence supporting your theory. Doesn’t work to just provide opposing evidence, like “Clearly that child hates the republic for which the flag stands because he is not standing up for it” but must also be able to answer the questions, “Is a child being traitorous to the U.S. and opposing freedom when he sits instead of stands for the Pledge of Allegiance?” and, “Why?”.  For the creationism argument, you must answer the question “What is the evidence to support creationism?”

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6 Responses to “Reality Test 15–How has my thinking gone wrong?”

  1. JN said

    That looks like something I’d do, only I’d be in the back row. I’m fairly unpatriotic. I don’t really support the troops (frankly, that bumper sticker on your Silverado isn’t doing much for them either). I’m not even sure which freedoms our troops are fighting for, but I’m not convinced my freedom has experienced any advances in the past few years. Maybe I’m just cynical.

    • dsc01 said

      Yeah, I’m really unpatriotic too. I just don’t get it. Why would you care about a country, of all things? It’s so bizarre.

    • Noraa said

      dsc, i’ve heard it said that that nationalism/patriotism/etc is a product of social evolution that, like all things evolutionary, started on a very small scale in which it served as a very useful tool for survival. that sense of loyalty and pride as a group provided protection and other social necessities. arguably, i guess it’s kind of like religion in that we have evolved beyond its having any genuinely useful purpose.

      • Ann said

        Sounds about right Noraa. It’s still good to be proud or recognize who you are though. I can be proud of my nationality, but not be a nationalist, or even patriotic. (I’m kinda bored here at work today. Clients don’t wanna come in right before a holiday. Vacation from therapy…lol!)

      • dsc01 said

        I understand its evolutionary source and everything, but I just don’t get it, on a personal level. I see the emotions that are generated by it, and I just can’t imagine a flag or whatever making me feel that way.

        In fact, a flag is so far from the things that do make me feel similarly, that I’m just baffled.

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