Reading Between the Lines
I do not doubt that each and every one of us has developed logic and reasoning to a high enough level to understand things beyond the surface. However, much like those Math skills many of us picked up during our student years, we don't always make use of that skill. Perhaps it seems like overkill, or maybe it takes too much effort. Yet, there are times when using our logical faculties to go deeper into a statement is not only a nice-to-have but something essential.
A lot of BS is being broadcasted to the world and a lot of conditioning is happening, thanks to the misuse (or abuse) of logic by those behind the microphones. Much like Trojan horses, the statements these people send us via various platforms undermine our thinking and possibly change it to their advantage. If you aren't aware of the fact or have serious doubts about it, that means it's probably working. So, please suspend your disbelief until at least the end of this article.
Let's start with an example. An interesting "argument" I read recently on a picture that was supposed to be comical went something like this: You should trust Pfizer's vaccine. Pfizer came up with Viagra. If they can bring back the dead, they can definitely save the living. This was on a piece of paper in an ICU, according to the person who contributed this material to the website. Despite its humorous aspect, it seems that it was a serious attempt at convincing anyone who read it that the Pfizer vaccine is safe. I'm not going to go into detail regarding the absurdity of trusting an experimental medication branded as a vaccine, even if there is evidence that it's unsafe and that it doesn't make you immune to the virus. Other people have done this, and this is beyond the scope of this article anyway. I am going to try to analyze this argument and see what's there between the lines.
First of all, there is an irrefutable fact:
A. Pfizer came up with the Viagra medication, a med that works. Then, there is the other statement that seems like a platitude but it would be difficult to disagree with:
B. if they can bring back the dead [...]. That's a big if, though. Have they ever actually managed to resurrect a person who has died? Naturally, if they had, then they would be on to something. What they aren't telling you though is that, even if that even if B is valid, it's not connected in any way to A. Of course, there is a play on words that's happening behind the scenes, related to erections and resurrection, even if the specific words aren't mentioned. However, the human mind is aware of these words, and it may trigger the corresponding neurons around them, even if this happens on a subconscious level. As a result, the original statement (C. trust in the Pfizer vaccine) will become more plausible. Logically, however, the statement A + B -> C is an indeterminate statement at best (technically, this should be written as A^B->C, but I'm not sure if everyone here is aware of logical notation).
Imagine if someone were to formulate the original argument around a different company, e.g., Pirelli, the Italian tire manufacturer. We could say something like this:
A. Pirelli came up with great tires and continues to make them.
B. if they can keep road accidents at bay, they can keep pregnancy accidents at bay too!
C. You should trust Pirelli condoms (this is a fictitious product, but be honest, are you 100% sure about that without checking it out on a search engine?).
To be honest, I'd probably try the above fictitious product if it existed, rather than some experimental medication that could have side-effects for the rest of my life. If a condom fails, there is a good chance that your partner may get pregnant. It may seem like a disaster if you aren't up for having kids, but it's not the end of the world (it may even be a good thing). Besides, there are ways to tackle this situation if it manifests, should both parents decide to take action. You cannot say the same about an experimental medication gone wrong.
An invalid argument taken to be true may be akin to poison to your mind.
Perhaps things aren't as clear-cut or funny as they first appear. They may incite laughter to those partial towards this kind of humor, but they are far from valid statements. Piggybacking on the authority attached to the venue where that statement is made may help the argument go down easier (much like water does when taking a pill), but it doesn’t make it valid. And an invalid argument taken to be true may be akin to poison to your mind. Are you willing to take that risk? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Cheers.