Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kettle Logic

Last week, I called bullshit on a climate denier and exposed some of her rhetorical devices.

I want to call your attention to kettle logic, a rhetorical device that posits multiple reasonable-sounding arguments, but that contradict each other.

The term, kettle logic comes from an example given by Freud:
Freud relates the story of a man who was accused by his neighbor of having returned a kettle in a damaged condition and the three arguments he offers.
  1. That he had returned the kettle undamaged;
  2. That it was already damaged when he borrowed it;
  3. That he had never borrowed it in the first place.
The three arguments are inconsistent, and Freud notes that it would have been better if he had only used one.
 Logically Fallacious does a very good job summarizing it:
two or more propositions are asserted that cannot both possibly be true. In a more general sense, holding two or more views/beliefs that cannot be all be true together.
I have heard it in use so many times in the last month, I stopped keeping track. I'll just give one example, that of the role and necessity of the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.

First, Republicans in Congress proposed abolishing it altogether by saying that a federal agency cannot protect the environment as well as state and local agencies can.

Then, Trump nominates and the Republicans confirm Scott Pruitt who, in his confirmation hearings, said that he does not believe that California can make it's own environmental standards.
Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt said at a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday that he cannot commit to keeping in place the current version of a decades-old federal waiver that allows California to set emissions standards stricter than elsewhere in the United States.
Which is it?

Should environmental standards be set at the national level, so that companies do not have the burden of complying with 50 states' different standards?

Or should states and local governments have the right to make decisions for their unique environmental and social challenges?

The status quo has the federal government, through the EPA, set the *minimum* standards, and allows states and local governments to set higher ones at their discretion.
Two-thirds of states choose to do no more than what is required of them by the EPA while the other third of states -- including New York and California -- set higher standards than required at the federal level, Walke said.
10 Million people live in Los Angeles county, between a mountain range and the sea.  In the early 1970s, millions of automobiles, which met federal standards, made LA unlivable.  People my age remember days when children had to stay indoors, even at recess, due to unhealthy air.  If you spent even a short time outdoors, your eyes would sting.

California asked for, and was given permission, to set a higher emission standard.  13 states have adopted California's automobile emission standards, including highly populous New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

In effect, the US has two auto emissions standards, the minimum federal one and the stricter California one.  States get to pick which is more appropriate for their circumstances.  That is not too burdensome to business and protects the health of people who live in high-density areas.

CA emissions controls cost more and it might be overkill for low density states such as Wyoming.  But, it is certainly necessary in California.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous04:31

    Well said; frightening, isn't it? And those calling out the fallacious logic are ignored or shouted down.



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