Logical Fallacies

I have long enjoyed Mike Rowe’s former program Dirty Jobs.  It was a humorous paean to the men and women, and my sainted father and mother were in their ranks, who work at completely non-glamorous jobs that are dirty and not infrequently dangerous, and help make our society function.  On Facebook he has posted a memorable response to a SJW:

Chuck Atkins says…”One of the tenants of white nationalism is that college educated people are academic elitests. Comment? No? I’m not surprised. You never take a political stand because you don’t want to alienate anybody. Its bad for business. I get it. But there is a current of anti intellectualism in this country – promoted by Republicans. Those people love you, and they think your initiative is their initiative. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is kickin our ass academically.”

Hi Chuck

Since we’re being candid, allow me to say how much I dislike your post. Everything about it annoys me – your smug and snarky tone, your appalling grammar, your complete lack of evidence to support your claims, and of course, the overarching logical fallacy that informs your entire position. What really bugs me though, is the fact that you’re not entirely wrong. It’s true; I haven’t shared any political opinions this week, in part anyway, because doing so might very well be “bad for business.”

What can I say? I work for half-a-dozen different companies, none of whom pay me to share my political opinions. I run a non-partisan foundation, I’m about to launch a new show on Facebook, and I’m very aware that celebrities pay a price for opening their big fat gobs. Gilbert Gottfried, Kathy Griffin, Colin Kaepernick, Milo Yiannopoulos…even that guy from Google who just got himself fired for mouthing off. There’s no getting around it – the first amendment does not guarantee the freedom to speak without consequences. And really, that’s fine by me.

So no – I’m not going to share my personal feelings about Charlottesville, President Trump, or the current effort to remove thousands of statues of long dead soldiers from the public square. Not just because it’s “bad for business,” but because it’s annoying. I can’t think of a single celebrity whose political opinion I value, and I’m not going to assume the country feels any differently about mine. So, rather than blow myself up, or chime in with all the obvious observations about the cowardly scum in the pointy hats, I’m going to talk instead about my belief that comments like yours pose a far greater threat to the future of our country than the existence of a memorial to Thomas Jefferson, or a monument to George Washington. Ready? Let’s start with a closer look at your claims.

You say that White Nationalists believe that everyone who goes to college is an “academic elite.” You then say that Republicans promote “anti-intellectualism.” You offer no proof to support either claim, but it really doesn’t matter – your statements successfully connect two radically different organizations by alleging a shared belief. Thus, White Nationalists and The Republican Party suddenly have something in common – a contempt for higher education. Then, you make it personal. You say that Republicans “love” me because they believe that my initiative and “their” initiative are one and the same. But of course, “their” initiative is now the same initiative as White Nationalists.

Very clever. Without offering a shred of evidence, you’ve implied that Republicans who support mikeroweWORKS do so because they believe I share their disdain for all things “intellectual.” And poof – just like that, Republicans, White Nationalists, and mikeroweWORKS are suddenly conflated, and the next thing you know, I’m off on a press tour to disavow rumors of my troubling association with the Nazis!

Far-fetched? Far from it. That’s how logical fallacies work. A flaw in reasoning or a mistaken belief undermines the logic of a conclusion, often leading to real-world consequences. And right now, logical fallacies are not limited to the warped beliefs of morons with tiki torches, and other morons calling for “more dead cops.” Logical fallacies are everywhere.

As I type this, a Democrat on CNN is making an argument that says, “because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, those Republicans now opposed to tearing down his memorial are “pro-slavery,” and therefore aligned with the modern day KKK.” That’s a logical fallacy.

Over on Fox, a Republican is arguing that “any Democrat who has not yet condemned the Senator from Missouri for publicly wishing that Donald Trump be assassinated, is guilty of wishing for the exact same thing.” That’s a logical fallacy.

Yesterday, on The Science Channel, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a noted astronomer, tweeted that the ability of scientists to accurately predict the solar eclipse, was proof that predictions of global warming were also accurate. That’s a logical fallacy.

Want to hear another one? Imagine something like this, unfolding over on MSNBC.

“Good Evening, America, our top story tonight… Chuck Atkins is a racist! Why? Because he can’t spell. Just look at his grammar! In a recent post on Mike Rowe’s Facebook page, Mr. Atkins, while bemoaning America’s global academic standing, not only misspelled “elitist,” he used “tenants” when he meant “tenets.” He neglected to use a hyphen in “anti-intellectual,” and he misplaced several commas and apostrophes! But why is he a racist, you ask? Simple. Because everyone knows racists are ignorant. Chuck Atkins is clearly a poor speller. Poor spelling and grammar are signs of ignorance. Ergo – Chuck Atkins is a racist! Boom! The matter is settled!”

There’s not much we can do about the news, but here on Facebook, I think we can do better. This isn’t Twitter. We’re not limited to a few inflammatory sentences and a flurry of emojis. Take a moment, Chuck. Think. Make a rational argument. Otherwise, just link us to a cat video. People love those, and they’re almost never “bad for business.” (Unless of course, the cat gets hurt. People hate that.) Just don’t assume that people will care about your beliefs, if you’re not willing to back them up with some relevant facts and a rational conclusion. Here, for instance, are a few facts that matter to me, with respect to my foundation and the recurring charge of “fostering anti-intellectualism.”


Go here to read the rest.  Few things are more humorous than  a would be intellectual who can’t make a sound argument to save his life.  Less amusing is the wide spread belief that there is something demeaning about working at a job that does not require a stint at what we laughingly call one of our “higher education” mills.  I have had both types of work and the only thing demeaning about any honest work is usually in the mind and character of the person performing it.




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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Mike Rowe nails it again. Truthfully, one the best jobs I had was cleaning the bilge in beneath the Feedwater Regulating Valves, the SGWLC Cabinet and the Reactor Coolant Charging Station in Engineroom Forward on a 688 clas nuclear submarine on th surface in the North Atlantic in November. My first job as a newly qualified reactor operator. Bilge cleaning!

    Freaking useless worthless millennials are incapable of comrpehending what a gift they have been given just to be in this country.

  2. The most valuable lesson I learned as a Boiler technician in the Navy was that the most important tasks in life are often the least glamorous

  3. Hi Greg,
    It’s a way to encourage you guys to get gravatars.
    I changed the default, though I still strongly encourage you all to add Gravatars. It adds to the ‘look’ of the website when you.

  4. Excellent. I’m an electrical engineer in Power and Generation. As such I often get to dress down in dungarees and cotton for work on big, dirty, dangerous things. I’d rather be with my brothers and sisters in Operations any day of the week. They have a lot more “sense” than most people I meet in pin striped shirt and tie.

  5. What makes work, all work, important is the people for whom the work is done. From Popes and presidents and plumbers, the people for whom the work is done makes the work important. Working for God makes the work important for the worker.

  6. Ah, he was working at Seltzers! I live not far from there. Sweet bologna is best served cold wrapping up a center of cream cheese. Good on you, Mike. I try to have as much contempt for the trivial obsessions of our crazy fellow citizens. It just isn’t worth it to get angry at everything all the time.

  7. Freaking useless worthless millennials are incapable of comrpehending what a gift they have been given just to be in this country.

    *dryly* Can you please go inform my Boomer relatives to get off of my cyber-yard, because all the twerps I personally know who pull this stuff are either Boomers or Gen-X, not GenY/Millennials.

    I would, but it seems that all they hear when I speak is variations on racism, sexism, and gosh mother of five isn’t really a woman ism.

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