Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

Logical Gal and her Daily Newspaper

8 Jan

It’s a snow day and school was cancelled.  So I had time to read the local paper and enjoy my daily entertainment of picking out fallacies and irrational comments on the Opinion Page.

I was not disappointed.

A guest columnist had written a couple of weeks ago criticizing the Affordable Care Act and offering reasons for why it should be canned and what steps COULD reasonably be made to fix our country’s health care delivery system.

Today, two people responded.  One did so ineffectively; the other writer more reasonably. The contrast provided a helpful illustration of what TO do and what NOT to do.

The first, by an ‘outraged’ letter-writer, spent most of his 200 words attacking the original author’s person and his circumstances (retired state worker, for what it’s worth). He made blatant assumptions about the man’s spending habits.  This type of ad hominem circumstantial argument works like the following fabricated  example:

What is said:  This guy beats his kids and hoards his food; therefore, his argument about the best fuel-efficient car can’t be trusted.

It actually doesn’t matter what a person’s set of beliefs, practices or past errors are.  What counts are the merits of his argument.

The letter writer also vilified the Tea Party by creating a Straw Man argument.  He assumed that because the guest columnist disagreed with the Democratic Party’s passed legislation, that he belonged to the much-maligned Tea Party.  Then he described this conservative party’s one and only solution ‘to our country’s problems’ as “The whole world revolves around me”. What’s with that?? How is that so-called philosophical statement even a solution? He never explained what he meant.

The truth is that most of the time when people resort to mean and biting words they do so because they have nothing substantive to say about the ARGUMENT.  They just want to attack and minimize their opponent.

With many people writing and speaking like this guy, it doesn’t take much for a ‘thought-ful’ person to stand out.  We must be encouraged to make the effort to speak and write carefully and reasonably with evidence to back our points.  Avoiding fallacies helps us to be taken seriously.

Fortunately, the 2nd man to write in to the paper had at least one good point when he addressed his opponent about the Affordable Health Care Act.  He developed his argument, supported it with reasons and stayed clear of fallacies. And I’ll even forgive him for his last sentence, a rhetorical and sarcastic jab at Republicans.

I recommend following the daily newspaper, whether on-line or in print.  It’s good practice for critical reading and thinking.  And remember, it’s your right as an informed citizen to write the editor and share your views.  You might actually influence someone for the better with your clear thinking!

Question: What issue could you write about cogently and persuasively?

Logical Gal finds a ‘reasonable’ editorial in local paper

30 Dec

Finally, a well-articulated editorial in our local, one-sided newspaper!

I love to read the paper because it’s the source of discussion for my husband and me and I also find topics for this blog.

So last night I was pleased to find a guest editorialist present his position and then back it up with reasons.  Hence, he wrote a ‘reasonable’ essay.

His premise was clear:  let’s dump the Affordable Care Act and initiate better reform to the current health care system.  He then did what every logical Joe and Jane should do: he presented several reasons for his first premise (dumping the incoming system), followed by carefully described proposals supporting his second premise (reforming the old way).

I haven’t studied the issue enough to be able to have facts, figures and various scenarios at my finger tips, but the way he wrote made reading and thinking through the 2 arguments easy to follow.  I was then able to discuss the issues with my husband. It’s axiomatic that we can’t articulate what we don’t understand.

So as we close out 2013, let’s go into the New Year with at least one tool that will help us to read, think and communicate better.

When you read, look for the premises – the main points.  Ask yourself: What is the author trying to say?  I often underline such premises or propositions when I read to learn (as opposed to reading for diversion).  Once you have identified the premises, then look for the reasons.  Remember, that a premise often is a conclusion that has to be supported.  You don’t have to support everything you say; some things are accepted by all people.

The sun came out today – a fact that is accepted in your local area, or at least by meteorologists.

It’s better when the sun shines brightly – this is a hypothesis that needs shoring up with reasons.

If the writer or speaker offers NEITHER clear premises, NOR reasons for his beliefs, then don’t waste your time reading any further.

Conversely, when you yourself write, take the time to formulate a syllogism for each position you are offering. That simple 3- proposition formula will guide your writing so you’re less likely to forget a major point or ramble.

Here is an example of what could be the core of an essay:

Main point, what you’re arguing:

America’s health care system should be reformed, not replaced

Reasons or premises (P1, P2) to back your point, your conclusion:

P1: Retaining smaller, individual delivery systems (rather than replacing them with one massive federal program) can more easily adapt to particular needs of consumers

P2: Small but significant changes can make health care more affordable, more ‘tailorable’ and more responsive to individuals

‘They’ say that if you’re looking for a job, or for investors to support a new product, you should have a 30-second elevator speech ‘in your pocket’. This ‘commercial’ would explain either to the CEO or to a seed-fund Patron who happened to join your elevator why they should hire you/ invest in your idea.  And to do that, you need to know what you’re ‘selling’ and why.   We’re always selling ideas at the very minimum.  Let’s resolve to work out what we believe and why for those matters important to us.