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Logic in the Music Industry World

9 Aug

A man I know teaches home music recording.  He writes blog posts, records, and mixes songs, markets tutorials, and mentors small groups of musicians who write their own music.  His fellow musical artists tend to be a content group.  Nothing too controversial occupies their common blogosphere beyond personal preference for certain equipment.

A while back, as he tells me, he published his views on pirating music software.  He presented a case along with supporting reasons: that downloading a tool called a plugin without paying the technicians who labor months to create, test and perfect such devices amounted to theft.

Chill musicians suddenly revealed previously concealed claws and let fly demeaning epithets and ugly expletive-laced insults.

Among the kinder and gentler name-calling, also known in the Logic World as the Ad Hominem Fallacy were these frequent accusations: You’re just…..

  • judgmental
  • narrow
  • high and mighty
  • too black and white

….topped off with various riffs on this line:

  • It must be nice to be rich and able to afford these products!

Why do people default to mudslinging?  It’s easy and doesn’t require thinking.  Often a responder will use character defamation in lieu of offering a reasoned argument.  I’ve noticed that more often than not these folks don’t even HAVE a compelling argument!

Well, what about our ‘high and mighty’ blogger with a conscience – how did he reply? Silence.  He simply ignored the hurtful slander.

A different group of fellow musicians apparently felt more comfortable challenging my friend’s definition of THEFT.  This approach is more commendable because the fault finder is at least attempting to THINK!  Here’s the best of those who offered a counter argument:

If someone doesn’t have the money in the first place to buy this music-creation software, then whether he ‘pirates’ it or not, it amounts to the same thing for the software company.  If he had had the money, he would have purchased it. But he doesn’t.

This responder seems to be saying in essence – ‘it’s not theft if you’re poor and you download something without paying.  It would only be theft if you HAD the money and then didn’t purchase it.’

How should a Logical Joe challenge someone who advocates changing the definition of the critical term?  A handy tool is to use the ‘Reduce it to the ridiculous’ response:

So you’re saying that if I don’t have the money to rent or buy a house, and your vacation cottage happens to be vacant, then I should be able to stay in it without paying you or without you even knowing that I am ‘squatting’?   For since it wasn’t being rented out anyway, you haven’t lost any money.  You suffer no real harm!

I know that the above is not quite an exact replica of the original argument, but you get the idea.

One other ‘it’s not theft’ justification focused on the ‘high cost‘ of the product.  According to this line of reasoning:

If the software company sold their product at a more reasonable price, then people wouldn’t bypass paying for it.

This line of reasoning shouts: ‘Arrogance and Ignorance!  For how do YOU know how much money, time, frustration and skill a software team poured into the development and marketing of their software?   At the very least it is based on speculative presuppositions pulled out of thin air!

So what is a quick Logical Jane response?  When in doubt, ask a question:

  •  And just how do you know that? (that people wouldn’t steal the software plugin if the price were lower)

By the way, did you notice how our last reasoner redefined ‘theft’ as bypass paying for it?  That’s a clever tactic that you shouldn’t let slide.

That ploy raises an important point.  If two people on opposite sides of an issue cannot or will not agree on a mutual definition of a key term, then any discussion that follows is a waste of time and energy.

Rule # 1 in Logic: A clear and mutually accepted definition of a key term is the starting point for any productive exchange of ideas.

So how did my home recording entrepreneur friend deal with this surprise dust storm of contrary views?  Besides ignoring the name calling, he did engage in measured back and forth online conversation with one man who ‘attempted’ to offer a charitable and somewhat reasoned argument on behalf of ‘bypassing remunerating’ the software engineers. But when they couldn’t agree on just exactly what constitutes ‘theft’, they had to agree to disagree.  A very reasonable way to leave such an exchange.

 

 

Bullying in place of argumentation

11 May

HB2  I live in North Carolina outside the town of Asheville.  I read the daily newspaper, especially the editorial page and letters to the editor.

The clear majority of published letter writers caustically and sarcastically attacks the predominately Republican state government that passed House Bill 2 (HB2), which then was signed, into law by Governor Pat McCrory.

What has ensued from that legislative event has been mostly manipulative bullying (or bullying manipulation) by entertainers and companies such as Bruce Springsteen and PayPal.

If one supports the bill, one is automatically branded a bigot. And the labeling is delivered via shouting.  Where is the reasoned argumentation?  There is none.  No space is allowed for civil and thoughtful discourse.

So what happens when one framing of an issue is repeated loudly and often enough?

Nazi Joseph Goebbels might not have been the first person to arrive via inductive reasoning at this practical reality, but chillingly, his conclusion was born out in the Nazi horrors.”If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.” http://www.HolocaustResearchProject.org. 

In the current NC uproar, I would substitute LBGTQ movement supporters for ‘the State’.

The other day I read the latest issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis’.  This publication reprints speeches of notable visitors to the conservative institution.  I knew absolutely nothing about the baseball legend Ty Cobb. Nonetheless, what I DID learn reading this pamphlet was how naïve I might be to trust what I hear reported by ‘everyone’.   Apparently it has been common knowledge for a couple of generations since Mr. Cobb’s death that he was a racist, violent and unkind ‘scumbag,’ if nothing else.

But….the facts don’t bear this out.  The historian who set about to write an even more salacious biography of the 20th century sports ‘hero’ found the truth to be more interesting than current (that is, current since Mr. Cobb’s death in 1961) documentation.

For a brief look at what the truth actually is regarding Ty Cobb, read for yourself:   Ty Cobb – how history reports lies

Learning about the injustice done to a 20th century iconic figure has reinforced in my mind the desperate need for clear-thinking and kind logical Janes and Joes.  Friends, there IS truth.  And as people made in God’s image, we are called to look for, understand and argue for the truth, but ALWAYS in a winsome and grace-filled manner. Browbeating another person is NOT logic.

May God help us to major in the ‘kind and logical’ rather than seeking always to be right and logical, at a cost to human dignity.  It is arrogant to assume we see the Truth 100 % accurately.