Saturday, June 19, 2010

Logical Fallacies and American History

A friend of mine put the letter below on her Facebook Page and one of her friends commented that it was "not very accurate" and "Rather Palinish with its facts."

That he said "facts" and not "feelings" made me wonder what was inaccurate about it. So I asked.

The reply was, "We may have started with a number of Christians, but the "new" country wanted to avoid the bloody controls of Britain, and so we are a nation with no declared religion."

So I re-read the letter. And it didn't say that Christianity was the declared state religion but rather that, "This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics and the principles governing this country."  So that first commenter was immediately trying to dance with a straw man fallacy that wasn't there to begin with.


I then suggested the book, The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen as a good source for examples.

But before the discussion got into too much more depth (which is kind of limited by the Facebook format anyway) another person commented, "Oh...and by the way, the book someone mentioned, "5000 Year Leap", was written by a Mormon Fundamentalist. It will contain many inaccuracies and quotes taken out of context. In other words...it's a bunch of excrement."

Let me out by pointing out that the last comment was a blatant logical fallacy. 

Skousen was a Mormon, so I probably have theological differences with him too, but that doesn't necessarily mean that his historical scholarship is questionable.

So I promised my new Facebook acquaintance that I would post something here so that we don't bog down our mutual friend's Facebook page.  Let's see what happens. 
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