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Saturday, July 26, 2003 ( 4:42 AM ) (Permalink)

What's New?

The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is!

Saturday, July 19, 2003 ( 2:17 PM ) (Permalink)

The Contextomy That Wouldn't Die

The Cheney "reconstituted nuclear weapons" quote made a reappearance on NPR last Thursday. The report does answer the question of whether the missing word "program" might have been the result of a transcription mistake. The broadcast has a clip of the Cheney quote which indicates that this must have been a slip of the tongue, rather than a transcription error. However, it's high time that reporters stopped citing this obvious misstatement.

Source: "Weapons of Mass Destruction", Morning Edition, 7/17/2003

Via: Eugene Volokh, "Cheney's 'Reconstituted Nuclear Weapons' Quote", The Volokh Conspiracy, 7/17/2003

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 ( 11:52 PM ) (Permalink)

What's New?

I've been using the term "contextomy" a lot in this weblog, and decided that I should add an entry for it to the Fallacy Files Glossary. Also, I added a reference to it in the entry for the related fallacy of quoting out of context.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003 ( 11:28 PM ) (Permalink)

Check It Out

Brendan Nyhan of Spinsanity has a roundup of a number of recent contextomies—quotes taken out of context in a misleading way—including the Donald Rumsfeld "Whopper" that this weblog has been tracking for a month and a half. Hopefully, this will be the final nail in this contextomy's coffin.


Monday, July 07, 2003 ( 11:43 PM ) (Permalink)

Good Bad Moves

Julian Baggini has a new "Bad Moves" column on phony authorities. Check it out.

Sources: Julian Baggini, "Bogus Authorities", Bad Moves

Friday, July 04, 2003 ( 3:47 PM ) (Permalink)

What's New?

I've added a link to an excellent new commentary by linguist Geoff Nunberg on "slippery slopes" to the entry for that fallacy, and also revised the entry slightly.

I disagree with one claim that Nunberg makes to the effect that slippery slope arguments always defend the status quo:

"[N]obody ever brings up the slippery slope to argue for a change in law or policy—it's always an argument for maintaining the status quo. The English legal scholar Glanville Williams once called the slippery slope 'the trump card of the traditionalist, because no proposal for reform is immune to [it].'"

This is an odd claim given Nunberg's earlier mention of the use of the slippery slope argument against abortion. Those who oppose abortion are not trying to defend the status quo, but to use the slippery slope argument to overturn it. In my experience, slippery slope arguments are used by all political ideologies, whether conservative or reformist.

Via: Eugene Volokh

Update (7/6/2003): I've also added a new Example to the entry for the fallacy of undistributed middle term, this one a real-life example instead of the contrived one the entry formerly had. Also, the Blogger bug seems to have been fixed or gone away, and the archives have been restored.

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