Archive | February, 2015

Logical Girl does NOT beg the question

25 Feb

Pet Peeves, we all have them!

Pet Peeves

When it comes to grammar usage, my ire-raiser is when people misuse LESS and FEWER.  The following example is my g0-to reminder of proper usage:

  • This cookie might have less fat, but it does not have fewer calories.

If you can COUNT items, you must use ‘fewer’.  If you can’t count the substance, choose ‘less’.  How difficult is that?

And when it comes to logic, I get irked when people incorrectly use the expression to beg the question to mean to raise the question or to wonder about something.

According to a useful website About this fallacy ‘begging the question’ is:

  • a logic term….used to indicate that someone has made a conclusion based on a premise that lacks support

If I say, Susie is unskilled as a bookkeeper because she lacks accounting skills, then I have just restated my opinion/conclusion instead of providing reasons or proof.  No skill in bookkeeping is very close to a lack of accounting skills.  I haven’t built any case at all.  I have simply reworded my conclusion.  My duty still awaits; I must prove my point with reasons and evidence.

Here’s another example, incorrectly using this logical fallacy:

  • Sugar, which comes from juice squeezed from harvested sugar beets or sugarcane, must be good for you because it grows in nature.

We haven’t actually shown that substances derived from natural plants ARE good for one.  The first counter example that comes to mind are certain types of mushrooms, which although ‘natural’, are most definitely poisonous.

Voilà a few examples of this logical error, ‘Begging the Question’.  Of course we should strive to argue correctly, but more importantly, I’m advocating an accurate USE of the English language to avoid confusion.

Just so you know, I don’t ‘buy’ the possible comeback that language evolves, that as soon as a word or phrase comes to be accepted by many, then it has a new legitimized meaning.

Question:  What do YOU think about sticking to the formal meaning of a word or phrase versus going with the tide of general usage?

Logical Gal and what’s so wrong with a polemic?

18 Feb

Have you noticed how one can hardly open one’s mouth before being accused of offering a ‘wrong’ opinion?

It’s like the public climate has grown so childishly sensitive as not to be able to be in the presence of a differing point of view.

Yet, why should we expect everyone to think like us?  Where did that pre-supposition come from?

When berated by someone who holds a counter view, I would appreciate the opportunity to explain why I hold my belief. A friendly exchange of ideas would benefit both of us.  But time doesn’t allow for it these days.  The tendency seems to be this:

  • I can’t be bothered to invest MY time and energy into paying attention and following your line of reasoning.  It’s easier to just dismiss you and your _____view, and hold fast to mine.  In other words, it’s easier NOT to think.   Thinking requires I say no to skimming what’s new and breaking and concentrate on what you’re saying. That takes effort. Can’t be bothered.  So long!

But that’s not all!  Not only are thinking people who advance a minority view not given the opportunity to supply evidence and reasons for their opinion, thus forming an argument, they are also met with incredulity that they even HOLD such a belief.

A while back my husband created an instructional video on how to use a decision-making model.  He chose global warming as a complex, contemporary issue.  A viewer took exception with some of the alternative pathways offered in the model.  This man left a dismissive comment to the effect, “This is pure polemic masquerading as instruction!”

A drive-by comment leaves no room for dialogue.  Had my husband been able to respond in person, I think an appropriate remark would have been a question-laden invitation such as, “So… your point is???”

But the viewer was off and running to the next opportunity to drop in and leave his calling card.

Makes me wonder about Americans who once stood for hours, even in the rain, to follow attentively the logical discourse of those Lincoln-Douglas Debates back in the late 1850s.

Lincoln Douglas




Logical Gal – what some will stoop to in order to WIN!

11 Feb

Winning at all costs

Would you like to know how you can win debates every time?  especially if your opponent is nervous and naive?

Just redefine the terms to suit you!  It’s that simple.

I heard this point expounded while listening to a podcast from Stand to Reason. – Here’s the Link.  Greg Koukl, the host, was providing listeners with an example of how some of the so-called New Atheists actually make a mistake when it comes to understanding the concept of Biblical Faith.

The bumper sticker below is apparently what they think faith means.  Do you suppose they exercise that kind of faith in airline pilots when they board a commercial flight?blind faith bumper sticker

What atheists might label as faith is simply trust or reliance.   Just as I’m sure they rely on previous safety records when deciding to board a commercial aircraft, Christians rely on eye-witness accounts as part of their ‘reasons to believe’ that Jesus is who He claimed to be.  Thus these atheists incorrectly define faith as: “a leap of faith without evidence” aka “blind faith”.  Certainly their false definition could be an intentional tactic.  But I actually think they are woefully ignorant about what the Bible has to say about trust, belief and evidence.  Numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments there are references to reason and evidence.

  • God, through the prophet Isaiah beckons, “Come now, let us reason together.…” (Isaiah 1:18)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is recorded as saying:

  • ” Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (Jn 14:11)

And what makes the credibility of Jesus so solid is that His claims could have been easy to dispute.  The falsifiability of a claim is its strength.  So what would falsify Christianity? For one thing, had the Romans or Jews of Palestine been able to produce the body of a dead, crucified Jesus THAT would have been evidence that he was not who he said he was.

Question – So who actually is clinging to a debate position without evidence?  Are the ‘New Atheists’ themselves making a ‘Leap of Faith’ that the Biblical God does not exist?

Leap of faith

Logical Gal – the word not chosen

4 Feb


I’m beginning to be more intrigued by what is NOT said than the choice of words actually made.

Look at the prayer Jesus provided when asked by his disciples to teach them to pray.  If we take just a phrase, we can formulate some questions and implications:

Our Father, who art in heaven

1. Our  –

  • What other pronouns could Jesus have encouraged us to use?  My Father, the Father, or Your Father (talking to Jesus about His dad)
  • The fact that we are to pray to God with a collective pronoun of  ‘our’ emphasizes the position of prayer in a community.  We don’t always pray alone, but with sisters and brothers.

2. Father –

  • What other role could Jesus have picked as primary?   the mythical gods of Greece & Rome exercised dominion over different parts of creation.  God could have been a dictator, a puppeteer, a tyrant, a caretaker, or even an indifferent creator
  • Father implies responsibility beyond begetting.  It invites a relationship, a trusting dependence.  It evokes closeness, communication and even playfulness

3. Heaven –

  • This God is NOT on earth, or part of the universe.  He is somewhere else, somewhere beyond.
  • He’s therefore not part of the created order we know.
  • Heaven is that GOOD place, evocative of the best of all realms.
  • No matter what happens to the created order, this heavenly Father won’t be destroyed or affected because He is transcendent

In considering the other choices the author could have selected, I’m left with the impression that each word is important because of its intentionality.  A reverse implication is then this:

Do I make MY words count?  And if not, how can I begin to be more thoughtful?