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Spot the Errors Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-evolution, anti-fundamentalism, book review, Darwin, David Sloan Wilson, evolution, fundamentalism, game, logic, rationality, science, straw-man.
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Let’s play a game.

Here is a paragraph taken from a book review article (more on this later):

We can put this point in a syllogistic form for the sake of convenience and handy usage. If evolution is true about everything, then we are doomed to live in a world without truth, beauty, and goodness. If we are not doomed, then evolution is not true about everything. And if evolution is not true about everything, then there is good reason to think that it is not true about anything.

How many errors, confusions and/or logical fallacies can you find in this single paragraph?

Warning! Simple Logical Errors Encountered!

In the spirit of not quoting it out of context, here is the background. The article is written by a professor named Stephen Webb as a book review. The book is “Evolution for Everyone“, written by David Sloan Wilson.

The “point” mentioned in the paragraph refers to one of the main theme of the book, that Darwinian thinking can be applied to “all things human”, such as the way languages and cultures change and adapt over time, how we perceive beauty, and so on.

So the first error, I would say, is the straw-man argument that the book claims evolutionary truth in everything. That is not the point of the book, and the rest of the paragraph can be ignored.

But for the sake of fun, let’s continue nonetheless:

If evolution is true about everything, then we are doomed to live in a world without truth, beauty, and goodness.

Evolution is not about everything. And I don’t even want to get into whatever he meant by equating the theory of evolution to the antithesis of “truth”, “beauty” and “goodness”.

If we are not doomed, then evolution is not true about everything.

What does professor Webb mean by “doomed”? In what sense?

And if evolution is not true about everything, then there is good reason to think that it is not true about anything.

This is my favourite illogical quote (and rather alarmingly, it comes from someone with high academic background), a glaring error that even young teens can see. The simple maths of 1 + 1 = 2 is not true about everything, so should there be a good reason to think it is not true about anything?

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