Thursday, March 01, 2007

When Did Logic Become A Matter Of Personal Taste?

In case anyone is interested in crimes against logic, feel free to poke around the continuing controversy surrounding my post on Silicon Valley Republicans and entrepreneurship. People continue to write in, trying to refute arguments that I never made with a startling lack of logic.

Here's a great example:

***
Chris, you are being intellectually dishonest. First you write a column that uses pretzel-style logic. You go from:
1. Outsiders make the best entrepreneurs.
2. In Silicon Valley, Republicans are outsiders.

3. Therefore, Republicans are the best entrepeneurs in Silicon Valley.

Even though you wrote this column at a time when the country is deeply divided over the Iraq War and many other emotional issues, you imply that you expected readers to read it dispassionately. I don’t believe for a second that your intention from the start was to do anything other than needle liberals.

After readers called you on your faulty logic, you claimed that you were not making a political argument.

The funniest part of all this is that you’re trying to make yourself out as the victim of overzealous liberals. Shame on you.

Yeah, Chris, you’re so misunderstood. Your own words from your personal blog at:
http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com/2007/02/silicon-valley-hates-republicans.html

“Now of course, the very act of writing a post on Republicans was a calculated attempt on my part to stir up controversy, so I’m actually pretty happy with the results. But it certainly doesn’t bode well for bipartisanship in this neck of the woods. Any closeted Republicans want to speak up?”

--Joe
***

Joe,

I’m glad you feel like you “got me” by exposing a public post from my very own blog (which appears in the “About the Author” section) that links to this one. But don’t be surprised if few think that this qualifies as much of a gotcha.

Hell, if you want to claim that I’m a Republican, you can point to this post in which I freely admit to having voted for Republican politicians (which, incidentally, must be true for most people in California, since Arnold Schwarzenegger easily won re-election):
http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com/2004/09/republicans-and-democrats-i-abhor.html

The bottom line is, everyone who writes in to attack my logic and arguments has to misinterpret my post and claim that I’m arguing something that I’m not.

Joe, you call my classic syllogism “pretzel-style” logic. To paraphrase “The Princess Bride”: “Socrates, Aristotle, Descartes? Morons!” All right then, what is the right argument?

Assuming that one agrees that outsiders make better entrepreneurs, and that in Silicon Valley, Republicans are outsiders, show me what kind of logic allows one to conclude: “But Republicans won’t make better entrepreneurs because they are not the *right kind* of outsiders.”

This kind of insane troll logic should be exposed for what it is, whether its the idiocy of intelligent design, or raising minimum wages. To pick and choose when to apply logic depending on one’s political beliefs is nothing more than hypocrisy, a crime of which both Republicans and Democrats are plenty guilty.
***

Am I being unfair? Or simply asking for impartial logic and reasoned argument?

9 comments:

Alex G said...

Well you're being a bit unfair in calling him a troll. I mean, I know internet trolls, and that guy is a saint in comparison.

However, I totally agree that people who let their emotions, or even worse politically charged emotions, dictate their logic are annoying.

Chris said...

Alex,

Sorry, I should explain. When I use the term "insane troll logic," I'm not using the term in the sense of the typical Internet troll. It's actually an obscure pop-culture reference to "Buffy the Vampire" slayer.

In one episode, Xander's girlfriend Anya's former boyfriend shows up--an actual troll, played by longtime character actor Abraham Benrubi. At one point, the troll tells Xander that because the troll likes him, he gets to choose whether the troll kills his girlfriend or his best friend Willow.

When Xander responds, "What kind of insane troll logic is that?" the troll breaks his arm with a large mallet.

At any rate, I use the term insane troll logic to refer to the inexplicable way in which people believe in illogical things (as opposed to the Internet usage of trolls who go around deliberately trying to provoke a Godwin's Law incident).

For more on insane troll logic and when I started using it in my blog, see my original post on this:

http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com/2006/09/insane-troll-logic-of-barbara.html

Anonymous said...

I think you're basically being fair, but you also obviously intended to be a little provocative, and you've provoked exactly what being politically provocative in the blogsphere provokes -- a troll war.

Liberals are very sensitive to Conservatives having stolen the "outsider" mantle, especially because they find the cynical alliance between the uber-rich and the white religious poor so difficult to understand.

But I think you've got an interesting correlation, at least. Young, educated coastal people who self-declare as conservatives are generally trying to forge their own way and piss someone off. Those traits seem like they would correlate with the traits that make entreprenurs successful as well. Of course, for every Ayn Rand-reading DoubleClick guy, there's a Jeff Bezos. So while it's an interesting correlation, I wonder if the data is really there to suggest any predictive value.

By implying a predictive value (hang out with College Republicans if you want to find entrepreneurs), you seem to be overstating the case in exactly the same way that the wingnut blogosphere does, thus your troll war.

--Matt, East Coast Liberal

Chris said...

Thanks for the analysis Matt! I'm happy to be provocative, I just don't want to be illogical. I was getting worried--I've never been compared to Rush Limbaugh before!

Alex G said...

I find it funny that the link back to the troll post exposes another insult that you had to explain away with a link to a SNL skit. :]

Chris said...

What can I say? I'm either a misunderstood genius or I have an addiction to invective!

To quote Ian Fleming, "Dash my wig and whiskers!"

Alex G said...

Footnotes might save you time in defending yourself, in the long run.

Chris said...

I may turn to footnoting in the future...you might also be interested in the issues that arose when I used the term "flame" in the context of why I hate San Francisco. Younger folks have never heard of the old Internet flame wars and Godwin's Law, and thus thought I was issuing a provocative homophobic slur.

http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com/2006/09/i-am-old-i-am-old-i-shall-wear-my.html

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