Logical Gal says “Not even good enough to be a False Analogy”

7 Oct

This government shutdown has everyone mad, on both sides of the political spectrum.

But that is no excuse for lazy or poor thinking!  Actually, the only good excuse for faulty thinking, is that you haven’t been internalizing  these blog posts!

Last night, my husband read me a letter written to the editor of our local paper.  In it, the author compared the Republican Congress to a child who condemns his parent for not negotiating with him.  In the imagined scenario,  the youngster wants to stay up late and Dad says “No!”  The child then actually threatens to smash things in the house if he doesn’t get his way.  The letter writer asks rhetorically, ” What should the parent do?”

I’m sure he felt clever for creating this analogy.  But it fails.  It’s not even a PROPER false analogy.  Why not? The relationship between threatening child and firm parent is NOT at all similar to the relationship between the Republican-majority Congress and the President.  A twelve-year old who has had some civics could probably recall that our Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances.  One of the attributes of the federal system of organizing government is that there are three branches:  Legislative (Congress), Executive (the President) and the Judicial (Supreme Court).  They are equal in stature.

The relationship of defiant child to firm father is not similar.  My dad would have accused the letter writer of  ‘comparing apples with oranges’.  Sure they are both fruits, but that is all you can say!

Back to our non-functioning  government.  All three branches are ON the same level. Therefore, the Executive branch AND the Legislative branch should strive to work together.  That is responsible government.  Isn’t that the expectation of ‘We the People’  who elect both the President and our Representatives?

So what is a False Analogy? – it’s a kind of faulty thinking that assumes that because two items have one characteristic  in common, they share others as well.  I think the letter writer painted a scenario that shows no similarity to our present crisis.

At best his example might be able to be worded like this:

Some kids defy their parents and parents should not give in.

Congress is defying the President 

Therefore, he should not give in

This is not even a GOOD false analogy!  The President and Congress are supposed to work together!!

(Thank you, Michael, for pointing out this example of poor thinking! I’m blessed to be married to a man whose first words in my presence were from Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living!”)

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