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Skippy Mini-Rant: Begging the question

Hi, folks. Skippy, here.

Okay, let's all start using the phrase correctly, shall we?
I can't stand the way she treats my friends, which begs the question, "Why don't you dump her ass?"
No. No, no, no, no, no. And once more for clarity: No!

"Begging the question" is a logical fallacy that refers to "logical" arguments in which the person making the argument assumes his conclusion is true, then uses that assumption to come to the conclusion that his conclusion is true. It is also called "circular reasoning." A, therefore A.

For example:
The Bible says God exists. The Bible must be right since it is the revealed word of God; therefore, God exists.
The fallacy, of course, is that you can't assume your conclusion during the statement of your argument. That's not how it works. How about this one?
If humans are putting out a high volume of greenhouse gases, then the global average temperature will rise. If the global average temperature rises, then glaciers will melt. If glaciers melt, then the sea level will rise. Humans are putting out too high a volume of greenhouse gases. That means that the global temperature is rising. And because of that, glaciers are melting. And because glaciers are melting, sea level is rising drastically. So humans are putting out too high a volume of greenhouse gases.
It's more subtle than the simple and direct argument presented first, but the real one that gets represented in the media is even more convoluted than the one I came up with, which is rather obvious, still. The point is the same, though: You can't assume your conclusion, then use that to prove that your conclusion is true. "A, therefore A" is still wrong even when you present it as "A, therefore B, therefore C, therefore D. Suppose A. Therefore B. Therefore C. Therefore D. Therefore A."

So what is the correct way to phrase the "you should dump her ass" example given at the top? Say that it "raises" the question, or "invites" the question. It doesn't "beg" the question.
This has been a Kaa/Skippy Mini-Rant. Expect more of these on logical fallacies and general skepticism coming in the near future. Skippy's been on a rampage, lately.

Atheists Are People, Too  Antispam  


( 7 hisses — Hiss at me! )
Nov. 29th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC)
Is this really a Skippy post? Kinda looks like Preston from here. :)

Actually, I wonder if your inner Grammar Cop needs his own name, and whether this post should be using his icon (you know—the pretty red and white and black flag) instead of Howie.
Nov. 29th, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
Preston procrastinates, he doesn't rant. He's been meaning to do a post of his own, but he keeps putting it off.

What "inner" Grammar Cop Ninja? I submit that there's nothing "inner" about him. :)

I have to make one of those icon decisions with every post that could go either way. And since this one was more ranty than skeptical or grammar-nazininja, I went with Howie. :)

And the only reason it's Skippy is that he's in charge of logic and reasoning. :)
Nov. 29th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
I know who does most of the rants, yeah, but without your later post putting it in context (hurry up and wait!), this looked suspiciously like killing time with a rant, rather than just a rant for ranting's sake. And it didn't really involve being skeptical about anything except, implicitly, the quality of the American educational system.

I wonder if Grammar Ninja is a separate voice, or more like the cranky side of the general interest in the peculiarities of language? Skippy is occasionally happy about public debunkings, &c., so why shouldn't ________ (I was going to suggest Langston as a potential name, but you've already got a Preston.) have his good and bad moments as well? Most of the time, he's a mild-mannered collector of verbal esoterica, but when he sees injustice done to English, he becomes Mighty Morphin' Grammar Ninja!

I can't believe I just spent that much time and mental energy on this idea.
Nov. 29th, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
Welcome to my insanity world. :)
Nov. 29th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
Have you watched Sybil lately. ;)
Nov. 29th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
I not only saw it fairly recently, but it made me interested enough to buy the book it was based on. An interesting read, to say the least.

Why do you ask? :)
Nov. 29th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
I could suggest that if I were to write a similar book, it be called Sibilant.
( 7 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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