Thoughts on “Earth Day” — The socialists are all for it. The end.

Part 1

Q: Not to be an antagonist, but isn’t this an appeal to authority? Just trying to sharpen my logic skills…

A: Nope. I am making a “guilt by association” argument. Sometimes such an argument can be fallacious; sometimes not.

Look carefully at what I’m saying (including what I imply in my statement):

Thoughts on “Earth Day” — The socialists are all for it. The end.

It could be a fallacy or not, depending on what you take me to be claiming.

I’m claiming that socialists are unworthy authorities on social issues, and if they are all in favor of a controversial political idea in today’s intellectual climate, it is probably safe to conclude that the idea is wicked.

That’s my thesis.

That’s no fallacy. Let’s talk about why.

Imagine if I had said, all the socialists like to eat, and everything socialists like to do is evil, therefore, eating is evil, then that would have been a deduction with a false premise and a false conclusion. What’s sneaky is that the key premise — the false premise — (that everything socialists like to do is evil) goes unstated. That’s how you trick people.

But consider another way I could argue:

Suppose I were to say the following:

Socialists nearly all support Bernie Sanders, and no one else does. And we know that socialists support candidates based on what candidates advocate. Having not done much research on Sanders myself, I believe it is reasonably safe to infer (through induction) that Sanders represents the distinct political values of the socialists. I reject the distinct political values of the socialists. So all else equal, until more information comes along, I am satisfied making the choice not to support Sanders. I do not know all of his positions. But the quality of his testimonials is quite poor.

Is that a fallacious way of arguing? Not at all. Sometimes the quality of testimonials (who said it? are they reliable?) is the main source for how to make a decision.

That said, “authority” does come into play in my argument. But not fallaciously so. Not all arguments from authority are fallacious appeals to authority.

Applying the above ideas to the original post, the context of my statement and its implied meaning is:

Since socialism is a wicked political philosophy, if all the socialists are in favor of a distinct and controversial political idea, and if other groups are mixed in their opinions about that idea, then, all else equal, and knowing nothing more the case than that, it is fairly safe to conclude that the idea is wicked.

Part 2

Q: Okay, but I’m still not convinced your claim is correct. You say, “ All else equal, and knowing nothing more than that, it is fairly safe to conclude that the idea is wicked,” — but I would say it is not safe to conclude anything yet.

You don’t have a valid reason for believing your proposition, other than that a lot of people you have deemed to be wicked support it. I understand what you’re saying about association, but I still don’t see how that is a reason to conclude something. I don’t care if socialists believe in climate change. I want to know what the facts say. If we are affecting the planet, then I need to know that. If we aren’t, then I need to know that as well.

I see what you’re saying about Bernie Sanders, but even then I’m not sure I would be comfortable forming that conclusion based purely on what leftists think. I don’t know a ton about Bernie, but I know enough from my own observations to know that his policies represent an existential threat to America. My conclusion has little to do with the quality or quantity of his followers.

If I were in some sort of hypothetical “knowledge black hole” where the only information available to me was that socialists support it, then I’d have to make a conclusion. But I would not know that my conclusion was solid.

A: The claim I am making is not that “I cannot imaginably be wrong and thus I do not need to pay attention to more information that comes my way.”

The claim I am making is that I am certain enough to choose a course of action.

This is the mindset that induction makes possible. We are closer to being in agreement than you might think. I just need to clarify that the status I assign to my claim is only “Such and such is a reasonable and reliable position to hold, given the facts I have so far.” (That is always the implicit proviso appended to every inductive claim.)

As far as wanting to know if we are affecting the planet, it is usually safe to ignore claims made by known liars and people who have a long history of intellectual dishonesty and corruption in their method of thought.

That said, a stopped clock is sometimes right, and sometimes there really is a wolf when the boy is crying wolf. The questions we must answer in order to be faithful to the facts and intellectually honest in the face of claims made by dishonest people are only these:

  1. Do I know of any reason to consider the claim to be justified?
  2. Do I know of any reason to consider the source to be credible?

The environmentalists could be right about 95/100 of their claims. That doesn’t affect my argument. My argument is not that their claims are false. My argument is that, so far, their claims are unworthy of consideration. That is a more modest claim. I have reach that claim by a valid induction.

I am willing to argue why it the claim valid induction. To do so, we would need to discuss 1) the unworthiness of socialists and 2) the place that socialists hold within the broader discourse today.

It is not the case that every imperfect political party or alliance is always wrong about everything. But to my knowledge, in the case of socialists in 2019 America, in all topics in which the socialists hold principled positions that disagree with other political groups, the socialists are wrong. This is a sweeping claim. But some sweeping claims are true.

To move from that generalization to then impeach a specific position (or national holiday) based solely on that generalization may raise flags. It may sound like a hasty generalization.

But not all generalizations are false.