Tag Archives: Keystone Pipeline

Logical Gal: When people argue past each other

18 Dec

This image perfectly captures most high-profile debates. There can never be any resolution because the view advanced by ONE party is completely different from that of the OTHER party.  So what’s the point?

There isn’t any!

Take the Keystone Pipeline project for example:

  • Those favoring it defend it because it will meet an energy need of the US and provide jobs.

  • Those set against it attack it for possible environmental damage to the thousands of acres of fertile farmlands and nearby water sources.

The other difficult topic that comes to mind is the abortion issue. Here again, each side is arguing to support a different end conclusion.  Here are the 2 conclusions which are miles apart.

  • Therefore, women should have the final say over what happens to their bodies.
  • Therefore, abortion kills an innocent life.

So how is one supposed to handle divisive issues?  Never talk about them?

Not at all!  Citizens NEED to be informed and express their views, working with like-minded neighbors and communicating with elected officials.

Let’s take a lesson from Debate Teams.  They don’t avoid controversy.  Instead, they embrace it.  So what is their secret for rational, calm discourse?

They pick ONE conclusion and either argue to support it or argue to refute it.

But what do you do with the 2 assertions of the abortion issue?  Well, you could agree to argue first one point and then the other.  At least the playing field would be level and more could be accomplished.  When someone is listening intently to HOW you defend a woman’s right to be the final arbiter regarding her body, then you are more likely to thoughtfully and rationally construct a case.

Question: Where are you arguing past someone and how could you divide the issue into 2 different discussions?

Logical Gal is shocked by bald-faced naked assertion

16 Dec

Where’s the rationale? There IS none!

I’m amazed at what people can get away with!

I read the local newspaper so I can have material for this blog!  Today being Sunday, I wasn’t disappointed.  A local guest columnist wrote to persuade us to DO something to influence President Obama’s decision about the Keystone Pipeline that has been planned to allow crude oil to run from Canada to Texas.

I really don’t know enough about issue yet to make the cost-benefit analysis necessary to evaluate whether we should undertake such a project.  I imagine there are good arguments on both sides. Although like most controversial topics, each side probably talks past the other because of how they have framed the stakes.  But that’s another blog post.

What caught my attention today, however, was the lack of reasons offered for a powerful premise. To wit: “The proposed pipeline, which will at times break and spill oil, will be 1700 miles long and pass through….fertile farmland….crossing aquifers….drinking water.”

Wait a minute, does this college-level teacher have a crystal ball? What statistics does he cite for past breaks and spills?  To be fair to the engineers constructing the pipeline, he could just as easily assume they have designed a ‘better’ pipeline to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of breakage.

What logic has taught me is to read and listen more carefully.  Every word DOES communicate. Writers have an obligation to offer sound reasons for their point of view.  Readers and consumers of the word must ALSO take responsibility for critical listening and questioning.  Otherwise, we might be lazy and pass on an unvetted assertion to some unthinking soul.

Question: What assertions do you make without offering reasons?