The Seattle Times Essay
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In one of the letters sent to the editor of The Seattle Times, one sender wrote “when someone uses binoculars to spy into his or her neighbor’s home, it is the same as crawling through the grass to peer into a window” as a reaction to the story about women blocking their windows with newspapers so as to keep peering neighbors out (Letters to the Editor: Creepy Couple Should Leave Neighbors Alone). The reaction of the letter-writer is guilty of the fallacy of “false analogy” wherein spying through binoculars is treated analogously with crawling in the grass in order to peer into a window.
It is not valid to treat the use of binoculars for spying and peering into the windows after crawling in the grass as the same simply because these two things are entirely different. Peering into the neighbor’s window is far graver because the person behind the act is guilty of trespassing whereas spying through binoculars does not necessarily imply trespassing.
In John McCain’s “Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” the post states that McCain “supported sending reinforcements to Iraq to implement a counterinsurgency strategy” at a “critical moment” when violence was at its peak “after four years of badly conceived military strategy.
” The post then claims that the strategy “paid-off” in March of 2008 as violence considerably decreased. The post goes on to attack McCain’s presidential rival, Barack Obama, by saying that such “gains would be lost” if the policy of Obama of “withdrawing most of our troops” and leaving behind only a “small strike force” is implemented. The reason being argued to that claim is that Obama’s policy is the same strategy that failed in 2006 (Strategy for Victory in Iraq).
Such line of reasoning is guilty of the fallacy of “questionable cause” or of “confusing cause and effect. ” The fact that the decrease in violence in Iraq came after the counterinsurgency strategy suggested by McCain after 2006 does not necessarily mean that his strategy is ultimately the cause of the decline in violence. Moreover, even if it be granted that McCain’s strategy in the past did succeed and has been the primary reason behind the decline in Iraqi unrest, it is not necessarily true in all cases in all times.
Conversely, the withdrawal of troops in Iraq does not necessarily mean that a rise in violence will certainly follow just because of a precedent which does not even clearly establish a firm connection between McCain’s strategies and the decline in Iraqi violence. In one of the blogs in the Los Angeles Times, Michael McGough makes the observation that “a majority of Americans would be willing to vote for a gay or lesbian candidate” because a recent poll indicates so.
The statement is guilty of hasty generalization and appeal to popularity precisely because the author makes the poll as the basis of the general claim that a majority of Americans are willing to elect either a gay or a lesbian politician. Just because a poll with a few thousand of individuals as samples indicates that there are more Americans willing to elect a gay or a lesbian individual than those who do not favor that as far as the size of the sample is concerned does not necessarily hold true for the rest of the America population—a population millions more than the sample size of the poll.
Further, just because the proposition is popular for a few thousands does not necessarily mean that it holds true for the majority of the larger American population. Lastly, many advertisements are guilty of the fallacy of “wishful thinking” since a number of these advertisements portray before the public the image of, say, the physique they should have and that, once buying the product being endorsed, the viewing public will have the same physique and image as the ones endorsing the product.
For example, Nike has been advertising their products through the years with the use of athletes as product endorsers. In television advertisements, athlete-endorsers are shown wearing Nike products while performing in their sport. It is as if the viewers are being told that they can be like the athletes if they wear Nike sports products.
References Letters to the Editor: Creepy Couple Should Leave Neighbors Alone. (2008). Retrieved August 27, 2008, from http://seattletimes. nwsource.com/html/opinion/2008135620_monletters25. html McGough, M. (2008). The Cleaverization of Michelle Obama. Retrieved August 27, 2008, from http://opinion. latimes. com/opinionla/2008/08/the-cleaverizat. html Nike Advertising. (2004). Retrieved August 27, 2008, from http://xroads. virginia. edu/~CLASS/am483_97/projects/hincker/ad. html Strategy for Victory in Iraq. (2008). Retrieved August 27, 2008, from http://www. johnmccain. com/Informing/Issues/fdeb03a7-30b0-4ece-8e34-4c7ea83f11d8. htm