Monday, October 31, 2011

Top 5 Philosophies that Make no Logical Sense

Okay, so my first real post. There are certain philospohies that are either self-defeating or simply illogical, yet people believe in them because they fail to see them through to the logical end. So, let's take a look at a few of them.

#1. Relativism
Our working definition1 will be this:
The belief that there are no absolutes.

Why it doesn't make sense:
I've actually heard relativists say that, by the way. I have had somebody who doesn't believe in absolutes tell me, with certainty, that there aren't any. I'm going let you think about that for a second.

Here's an adorable picture of a cat while you think

So, in rhetoric, there are two kinds of statements: absolute statements and relative statements. A relative statement is one that applies in certain conditions. I like people when they aren't talking. An absolute statement is one that applies regardless of condition. The flying purple people eater eats people. Anybody want to guess which kind of statement "there are no absolutes" is?

Yep, it's an absolute statement. By not giving conditions on the existence of absolutes, and by simply claiming there aren't any, the relativist is making an absolute statement. This violates one of the logical fallacies we learned about last post - specifically, the one regarding consistency, or the fallacy of contradiction. There cannot be absolutes and not be absolutes simultaneously. Since, by making an absolute statement, the relativist confirms the existence of absolutes, their philosophy must be incorrect.

This philosophy would be akin to being anaerobicist2 - believing that there is no air. The believer would need to believe in air to make his argument. Firstly, he would need air to breathe to remain alive to make the argument. Also, he would rely on the air to transmit the soundwaves carrying his argument.

#2. Prophetic but Amessianic Religious Sects
Working Definition1 - the belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a Prophet of God, but not Divine

Why it doesn't make sense:
Consider the definition of prophecy, according to most religions that fall into this category (Islam, Judaism, certain sects of Christianity), it is "something declared by a human under divine inspiration"3 - in other words, the person is told their God's will by their God.

Now, these people claim Jesus was a prophet, but not the son of God. Don't you think somewhere along the way, the following conversation would have taken place?

Hey Jesus, good work with the miracles.
By the way, you aren't my son.
You really need to stop saying it, it'll get you crucified one day.
Plus, people are gonna be jaded when the real messiah comes, now.

Seriously. But clearly, Jesus believed what he was saying, since he freaking died for it. I think "believed" qualifies as "not having been corrected by God." Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant, since the point is looking at the system of beliefs, from within the system. Believing Jesus was a prophet, but not the messiah is ridiculous.

#3. Old-Earth Creationists
Working Definition1 - the belief that Genesis is true, but not literal.

Back in the good ol' days (the early 20th century), there were two thoughts on origins:
Creationism - the belief that God created the entire universe in 6 ordinary days, and mankind is about 6000 years old4.
Evolution - the belief that the universe is billions of years old, and mankind evolved from single-cell organisms.

However, some Christians, in order to try to seem educated, decided they'd take both and roll them into a Frankenstein's monster, pissing people in both camps off. Biblically, it is clear the two sides are mutually exclusive - in Matthew, Jesus says He who is not for me is against me and in Revelation God says He who is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, will be spewed from my mouth. In the secular side of things, there is the false neutrality fallacy - trying to find a common ground between two mutually exclusive issues.

Here's the thing, they believe evidence supports evolution, but still want to be Christian.The problem is, they're wrong. Evidence can support either side, depending on the interpretation. Let's take a look:

Fossil Layers:
Evolution: They were deposited over millions of years.
Creation: They were deposited there by the flood described in Genesis.

Evolution: The distance stars are from us prove the universe is billions of years old (as a star that is a billion light years away could only be seen by us a billion years later)
Creation: Comets cannot survive more than 100,000 years, so the universe cannot be older than that.

Evolution: See! Man is God! Look at what we can do!
Creation: See! The universe behaves uniformally! Just like God promised after the flood!

I think you get the picture.

If not, here's a different picture: a cat doing science.

So, old-earth creationists are ironic in a sad sort of way. They think they're intelligent by adhering to science, but instead they are blindly following instead of looking at the evidence and interpreting it themselves, and then falling on whichever side they may.

#4. Empiricism
Okay, who's sick of talking about religion?
Working definition1 - the belief that there is no knowledge outside of what can be observed.

Small disclaimer - there are some who believe empiricism only applies to scientific procedures, and that's fine. This post isn't about those people.

At first, this seems okay. I mean, emotions cannot be observed, and what can we really know about the emotions of others? The same could be said of thoughts, or dreams. So far, so good. It would seem this philosophy holds some water, so what is doing on a list with philosophies that make no logical sense5?

Well, you know what else is knowledge? Knowing that there is no knowledge outside of what can be observed. The problem is, that can't be observed. Nor can any philosophy. Or the laws of logic. Yet the empiricist uses and believes in the laws of logic, and in empiricism itself. Yet, empiricism is a belief and cannot be observed. So really, this is a self-annihilating6 philosophy just like relativism.

#5. The Infallible Pope
Ah, back to religion. I figure, to try and be fair, since I've talked a bit about Christianity, it was only right to pick on one of their philosophies, and the mormons are too easy7.
Anyway, on to the working definition1 - the belief that the Pope is absolutely trustworthy and sure, as well as exempt from liability to error8.

Why is this lunacy?
Because the Catholics are a Christian lot, and as such they really ought to read the Bible more. Their own religion teaches that nobody is righteous (Romans 3:10). That means everyone, absolutely every single human being, has fallen short of the glory of God - who is infallible. So clearly, their own religious text annihilates this strange philosophy. I doubt even the Pope would agree that he is infallible.

Additionally, there are some Catholics who claim to disagree with this because the Pope isn't the true heir of Saint Peter. But guess what? Peter was human too, so that argument is also slaughtered by their own holy text. Heck, their holy text even SAYS Peter sinned - he denied Jesus three times. It gives a specific example of Peter being fallible. So, Catholics, this one is for you:

Read. Your. Bibles.
-His Holiness

1. Working Definition - The definition I will be using for the purpose of the post. Obviously, some of these items have multiple sub-categories. The ones I am referring to are the ones that fit the definition I give.
2. I just made that word up. Right now. Seriously, google it.
3. Paraphrased from (
4. Or, almost as old as yo' momma.
5. I win, because I used part of the title of the blog in the post.
6. I just made that term up. I'm brilliant.
7. I know. Personal experience.

Logic - the Crash Course

Right, so satire often depends on the logical debunking of ideas, so I'm going to attempt to teach all of you logic. Whenever I use this post as a reference in future posts, I'll include a link to it for new readers. (Aren't I nice?)

There are two types of logic - formal and informal. If you are more math-oriented, read on for Formal Logic. If you are weird and more language-oriented, skip down until you hit Informal Logic, and then read that. Once you understand the type of logic that you were assigned, you can read the other one. I'll mostly be using Formal Logic in my blog, though I'll occasionally use Informal too, so it helps to be familiar with both.


Formal logic is neat and mathematical. There are two common types of logical progression. Modus ponens (confirmation) and modus tollens (denying).
Modus Ponens takes the form of a) If p, then q b) p c) therefore, q.
Here's a few examples to make  sense of it

A. All mammals have brains
B. Dogs are mammals
C. Therefore, dogs have brains

A. All zombies want brains
B. Stephen is a zombie
C. Therefore, Stephen wants my brain

A. All girls have cooties
B. Kylie is a girl
C. Therefore, Kylie has cooties

Modus Tollens is is the exact opposite. It is logical because, if P causes Q, then if Q isn't, P cannot be. It takes the form of a) If p, then q b) not q c) therefore, not p

A. All mammals have brains
B. Voltron toys do not have brains
C. Therefore, Voltron toys are not mammals.

A. All girls have cooties
B. I do not have cooties
C. Therefore, I am not a girl

A. All zombies want brains
B. Beka does not want my brain
C. Therefore, Beka is not a zombie

Now, each one of these has an inverse, and these inverses are FALLACIES. The fallacious form of modus ponens is called affirming the consequent, and the fallacious form of modus tollens is called denying the antecedent.

Denying the Antecedent

A. All mammals have brains
B. Mohinder the Lizard is not a mammal
C. Therefore, Mohinder the Lizard does not have a brain.

As you can see, this makes no sense. That's because the statement A does not imply the inverse of A. That is, just because all mammals have brains does not mean that only mammals have brains.

A. All zombies want brains
B. Hannibal Lector is not a zombie
C. Therefore, Hannibal Lector does not want brains.

Again, the fact that all zombies want brains (a well known and documented fact) does not imply that only zombies want brains. It completely ignores cannibals!

A. All girls have cooties
B. Justin Bieber is not a girl
C. Therefore, Justin Bieber does not have cooties

People outside of girls can, in fact, have cooties - A simply means all girls have cooties. This is fallacious.

Affirming the Consequent

A. All mammals have brains
B. Nemo (the fish, not Captain Nemo) has a brain
C. Therefore Nemo is a mammal

Lots of creatures besides mammals have brains. This is the opposite of denying the consequent. Just because all mammals have brains doesn't imply that only mammals have brains.

A. All zombies want brains
B. Jeffrey Dahmer wants brains
C. Therefore, Jeffrey Dahmer is a zombie

Again, fallacious as it presumes ONLY zombies want brains, which is never stated.

A. All girls have cooties
B. Ke$ha has cooties
C. Therefore Ke$ha is a girl.

"Wait! Kevin, Wait!" you might be saying. The conclusion you are claiming is true, so how can the argument be invalid? I would reply "shut up, I'm getting there."
A true argument can be fallacious, and an untrue conclusion can be drawn from a valid argument. More on that later. I put this in to demonstrate that, although the conclusion is sound, the method used to get there can still be invalid. Boys can have cooties too - there is no condition in which ONLY girls have cooties, thus this argument is invalid.

Valid, but unsound

A. All Canadians are cats
B. Chad Kroeger is Canadian
C. Therefore, Chad Kroeger is a cat

This argument is not fallacious. Look at the form: If p, then q. P. Therefore, q. It's Modus Ponens, accepting the consequent. However, it is an unsound argument because the assumption is false - all Canadians are not cats. Look at Adam Gontier. He's Canadian, and very clearly not a feline.

Informal Logic

Informal logic is more word based. I will only focus on fallacies here, because this is getting long* and informal logic is kind of intuitive. There's no proper form, statements rooted in fact are logical so long as they don't violate a fallacy. Here are some common ones and some humorous examples.

Fallacy of contradictions: makes 2 mutually exclusive claims
The cat is dead and the cat is alive. Simultaneously.**

Fallacy of accident: sweeping generalization. The general rule is taken and applied to a specific exception.
Breaking into someone's home and taking their belongings is a crime. Police execute search and seizures. Therefore, police are criminals.

Converse fallacy of accident: hasty generalization. Taking an exception or small sample, and creating a general rule from it.
Paris Hilton is rich. Paris Hilton is stupid. Therefore, rich people are stupid.

Irrelevant Conclusion, Red Herring, and Straw Man Fallacies:
Driving focus away from the original point.
Often committed in arguments such as Pro-Life:
"My opponent wants to convince you to kill babies...."
This is fallacious, unless the opponent actually said they wanted you to kill babies.

Begging the question: using a conclusion to justify itself.
Abraham Lincoln never told a lie. I know, because he told me so.
Abraham Lincoln could have lied.
And he probably did. Considering he's a tyrant desperately trying to eliminate states' and individual rights.

Fallacy of complex questions - more than one question in a question.
For example, the most famous example is "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
In a debate, it should really be phrased as two questions:
1. Have you ever beaten your wife?
2. If so, do you continue to do so?

Fallacy of Equivocations - using words in more than one way to justify the same conclusion
I know evolution is real because things evolve everyday.
This is fallacious because the hypothetical person is equivocating evolution (the philosophy that all life evolved from single celled organisms) with the term evolve (which simply means to change or adapt)

Fallacy of misplaced concreteness
Nothing is better than God
Subway is better than nothing
Therefore, Subway is better than God

However, this is fallacious as the first could be restated as "everything fails to be better than God."
So, the second point (Subway is better than nothing) is irrelevant.

Now you know some logic, and you're just that much smarter today! Bust out the freaking bubbly.

*that's what she said
**Schrodinger, again. Apologies. I'm a nerd.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

First post

DISCLAIMER - this is an introductory post. While I'm sure there is some humor to be found, it isn't up to the par I'd like it to be. So if you find yourself liking my blog and wanting to know from whence and from whom it came, read on. If you just want humorous observations and other such silliness, continue to post 2.

So, sitting awake in my dorm snacking on peanuts and Pepsi*, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to start a comedy** blog in case the whole "college" thing doesn't work out. I hear some morons in Zoot Suits*** actually pay people to do this, if they get popular enough.

As the title of the blog may imply to the perceptive reader, I will mostly be relaying humor by way of satire (defined as a method of reducto ad absurdum**** in which the author uses humor to illuminate a flaw or flaws within a system) and sarcasm (some call it the lowest form of humor, but I think I'm pretty brilliant at it).

Since I generally agree with Socrates in so much as the general populus is less educated than I am*****, I will be explaining anything (except jokes - you should just understand those) with which I think a person may have difficulty understanding in the form of footnotes, denoted by astricks. I will also use these as disclaimers, when necessary.

So, I guess first posts often include personal details about the author? Sure, why not?

Well, my name is Kevin, and I've been sober for about 11 minutes now.****** Really, though, I have something called Asperger's Syndrome, which is a mild form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It's characterized by a lack of understanding of social conduct (in conversation: girl - "Do these pants make my butt look big"; me - "No, but the light reflected off of your massive thunder thighs into my retinas does")*******, a special interest in a particular topic (that caused me to be misdiagnosed as OCD at one point, when the head-doctors were trying to figure out why I was so screwed up and were too scared of my mom to label me a sociopath -- more on that later)********, a detachment from the world (generally meaning we're very introverted, though we tend to be good at acting extroverted), and some other things. Look:

for you tl'drs out there: I see the world differently than you do, so I can make (hopefully humorous) observations and point them out here.

In other news, I have a ridiculous friend named Stephen who, outside of having an amazing afro, is completely ridiculous. So when I'm feeling dry on material, I may end up rehashing a conversation I had with him.

I have an incredibly patient girlfriend called Beka, who does her best to put up with my ridiculousness*********.

I have an amazing sister, Kylie. If this blog thing ever gets popular, let it be known that the Kylie [last name omitted] that I am friends with on Facebook is the real one, and none of the other posers using her name and/or picture are! I swear, the girl has more people wanting to be her than Marilyn Monroe**********.

Anything else you need to know about me will be learned in subsequent post through humorous anecdotes.

Also, if you find my subsequent posts funny (or thought provoking, whatever) - link me to anyone and anywhere (without spamming, nobody enjoys that). Please and thank you.

*I do not endorse Pepsi, nor am I paid to do so.
**At the very least, I think I'm funny.
***This one's for you, Allie ( - I love your stuff.
****Reducto ad Absurdum - literally, "reduced to absurdity." A type of logic in which a claim is taken to it's end, and that end is implausible. A famous (ish) example would be Schrodingger's Cat thought experiment, in which he proposed a ridiculous notion of a cat being dead and alive simultaneously (committing the duality fallacy, otherwise known as the fallacy of contradiction) to show how ridiculous he believed Heisenberg's theories to be.
*****According to Plato, his student, that is. Also, massively paraphrased, taken out of context, and exaggerated.
******Sarcasm. My brain cells are far too precious to waste on drugs or alcohol. Also, I REALLY need to figure out how to superscript, so I can use numerical footnotes instead of adding (n+1)* every time.
*******Hyperbole. Obviously (by now) I know that isn't acceptable behavior unlesss I'm joking. It's not that I don't understand anymore, but I had to learn things that were intrinsic to other people.
********For me, however, because I learn so quickly, I burned through these special interests like they were a hydrocarbon in the prescence of oxygen, so now I know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff.
*********Sometimes, aspies require alone time. Lots, at once. And I know it's hard for her to deal with, and I really do appreciate it. See! I have feelings, of sorts. I was going to write 'sort of' but I didn't want to end my sentence with a preposition.
**********Actress. Considered a sex idol. Slept with JFK, pre-assassination. And I REALLY need to learn superscripts.