Saturday, July 26, 2014

The logical fallacy of false equivalency.

The person who wrote this may have been killed by a gun nut.  Anyway, this is pretty useful since this is a type of fallacious argument which is used a lot in this "debate".This is a wonderful piece-- it is a clear explanation of why certain gun lobby talking points are ridiculous.

What is a false equivalency?
It is a logical fallacy.
You are a libtard/pinko/homo, why should I listen to you? Logic rules remain the same wherever you fall on the political spectrum. Even after showing gun owners the Wikipedia entry, they will continue to use it immediately afterwards and cling to it desperately. That is why this was created.
What is the definition of false equivalency? “False equivalence is a logical fallacy which describes a situation where there is a logical and apparent equivalence, but when in fact there is none.” Wikipedia
I still don’t believe you. What is the structure of the argument? If A is the set of c and d, and B is the set of d and e, then since they both contain d, A and B are equal. Id.
That doesn’t make sense to me. Why does my argument look nonsensical to people who aren’t supporters of my position? Well, when was the last time you heard of someone bringing a car into a school or movie theater and killing and wounding 70 people with it in 4 minutes? Here is how your argument appears to people without a gun proliferation agenda:
Nuclear weapons explode (c) but are still just tools (d). Guns are merely tools (d) that shoot people (e). Since they are both (d) tools they are both equivalent. Because they are merely (d) tools, nuclear weapons should be treated the same as guns under the Second Amendment, and citizens should be allowed to conceal carry them into schools, courthouses, or government buildings.
Well that’s a stupid argument, what are other kinds of false equivalencies that gun owners use?
The variations are endless, but here are some common ones, all of which have actually been used on reddit:
-Guns and alcohol are equivalent, because they both ______
-Guns and cars are equivalent, because they both ______
-Guns and knives are equivalent, because they both ______
-Guns and bleach are equivalent, because they both ______
-Guns and fists are equivalent, because they both ______
-Guns are equivalent to soda, because they both ______
-Gun and stamp collecting are equivalent, because they both _____
-Guns and banana cream pie are equivalent, because they both____
-Guns and swimming pools are equivalent, because they both _____
-Guns and frying pans are equivalent, because they both _____
-Guns and _______ are equivalent, because they both _____
And those are all false equivalencies? Yes.
Are you sure? Yes.
Really? Because I would really like that to be not true. Everyone in /r/guns uses them constantly, and they get tons and tons of upvotes for it! Doesn’t that mean they are even a little right? No. Justin Bieber is pretty popular within his bubble, doesn’t mean it makes sense to people viewing it from the outside.
Can you make the logical fallacy appear absurd in a different way? Sure. Imagine cars are just as legal as they are now, resulting in 33,000 traffic fatalities each year. Now, imagine guns are completely banned and there are zero deaths from their use each year. Would the argument that guns are exactly equivalent to soda sway people to change the law?
If our hypothetical government body could pass a law that instantly implemented the current United States gun proliferation laws while simultaneously handing out 270,000,000 guns to the civilian population, would they do it based upon the fact that obesity is also a problem in the United States so we shouldn't worry about people being shot?
Considering the fact that 30,000 people would then be killed each year and 100,000 wounded, the answer is likely no. And they would certainly not do so under the pretense that soda and firearms should be treated equivalently. Or cars. This example applies to each of the false equivalencies given above. The argument is patently absurd.
Why has this been downvoted a million times? Because there are few good arguments for guns in our society so taking away a popular one, however incorrect it may be, further weakens the talking points. We also only send pro-gun types here to view this and they are not particularly happy to learn that their father was wrong when they taught them this false equivalency or that they have been using a really stupid argument around their loved ones unchecked for most of their lives.
They may also be embarrassed to learn that their loved ones may already know this and are just pretending to agree with them.
What do you think about gun control? The ability to use logic and to correctly reason should be a basic skill for everyone, but is essential for those who carry lethal weapons. Gun owners should have to complete the following sentence before purchasing a gun to show that they can perform basic reasoning: Comparing guns to ________ is a false equivalence because __________.

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