The Martian Fallacy

I must reluctantly admit that the Martians are more clever than we ever realized. With their wisdom and their technology and their secrecy, they have avoided any real detection by humans who hunger to detect them. The search for red planet extra-terrestrials has always been frustrated by the great distance between their world and ours, and even with our wisdom and our technology and our contempt for their secrecy, we have not even come close. Or, should I say: we had not come close.
Enter July 30, 2010: Scientists have discovered Nili Fossae rocks on Mars.
These rocks have properties that are virtually identical to rocks in the Pilbara region of northwest Australia where some of the earliest evidence of life on Earth was found. They could easily be remnants of the earliest Martian hideouts.
Fred Hoyle’s Boeing-747 analogy asks this question: A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces needed to build a Boeing-747. They are scattered in a state of utter disarray. A tornado blows through the yard. What are the odds that once the storm passes it will have unexpectedly assembled a fully functional 747? Hoyle argued that mathematically, creation by the process of evolution was a less probable scenario than this.
If any creationists out there are reading, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I am suggesting that since life exists on Mars, Hoyle’s Boeing 747 may have accidentally been assembled twice! The idea is absurd. Miracles do not happen twice. I am not saying that at all, my creationist friends. I am simply suggesting that tiny Martians may be hiding out in Nili Fossae rocks.
With this newly discovered confirmation about the probability of living Martians, I think it is reasonable to hypothesize that they have visited Earth, and that they didn’t like it and left. They must have been appalled at what they found. Perhaps fearing that our ideas would seep into their culture and mess them up also, they wanted to ensure that as our technologically grew, we would never find them.
I imagine they check up on us frequently. One of the sneakiest ways to accomplish this would be from a very large distance. All they have to do to know what humans think is to visit the websites of Earthling opinion makers. Martians mostly frequent liberal and conservative websites, I suspect, as that is where the largest communities of opinion live.
As soon as I read about the Martian hideout, I decided it would be beneficial to try to retrace their probable route. A hypothesis was not really needed for this experiment, as I was attempting to solve a mystery, with no theory in place to simplify my quest. I did not want to ask if something was there, then test for it. I wanted to fight my way through the thickets and discover whatever was hidden under it all, the way I imagine a pioneering Martian would. I needed a well-defined mission that would announce its completion in a manageable timeframe.
So, said I, success will be in answering this question:
Why do the Martians think humans aren’t worth knowing?
Of course, there is a hypothesis wrapped in the question, but not one I intended to confirm.
I visited conservative blogs first as I already knew that conservatives spoke with greater force and more certainty, which is one of the primary strategies they use to cultivate credibility.
The first thing that struck me is how racist the democrats are. I found repeated examples posted on Republican blog sites of Democratic bigotry, racism and general intolerance, which is antithetical to their published doctrine and tacitly adds hypocrisy to their list of offenses. Often the sites included media, which demonstrated first-hand what the site claimed. I assumed that they were taking things out of context, and sometimes they were, However, most of the time, the evidence was genuine and astonishing. Peering through Martian goggles, I found democrats to be despicably racist, bigoted, closed-minded and utterly hypocritical in diverse ways. They also lie a lot. In fact, about half the videos I saw were of liberals caught contradicting statements that they themselves had recently made. Usually they were tailoring their speech to a specific argument or to a specific audience; and they apparently did not realize that someone would do a side by side comparison of the things they say with the things they said. I think they thought side-by-side comparisons compare different things to each other, not your word to your words, and they were unaware that you could use them this other way. I also learned that democrats are socialists, which doesn’t mean what you think. It means they support a movement toward totalitarianism.
Then, I went to the liberal blogs, expecting to see more of the same, as the disunited democrats turned on each other, but I was astonished to find that Republicans lie also, and that they are bigoted and racist, and uncaring: very very uncaring. Their mask their actual beliefs with words like “entitlement” and “big government.” It turns out that when they say entitlement, they really mean that government should take from those in need what little they have and divvy it up among the Republicans; and when they say big government, they are really saying one of two things: they want social and economic anarchy or more commonly, they think the government should be run by whoever has the greatest assets; or a simpler way to say it is that they want the government to be owned by the republicans running the largest corporations. Of course, they would never express it this way, as the lower class Earthlings would riot, so instead they call these corporate republicans “the private sector.” They also endorse, and engage in the acts of, picking on victims of debilitating disease or mental illness and poking fun at those in need. They are a very mean people.
I only investigated the general region called The United States. While it not the biggest place, it did have the largest samples of hypocrisy and intolerance, often cleverly clothed in cloaks of righteousness. The mission was a success. As a Martian, I learned that humans are cruel, deceitful, selfish and a tubful of other horrible adjectives I am not taking the time to list individually. I found little goodness in their midst.
I am not a Martian, and I am not guilty of their charges. I would like to repudiate Marty’s findings. Marty is the name I have given to the investigating Martian representative, since he hasn’t the courage to introduce himself.
Marty, you can judge my people by our mores, and I cannot quibble with that, though when you judge me by the mores of my people, we have a quarrel. However, you cannot rightfully charge the human race with the most report-worthy of egregious behavior you find among us. In the discipline of logic, we Earthlings call this a Composition Fallacy. The examples you cite, in no way strengthen your argument. They serve to entertain you in their absurdity, and to slowly cultivate your bigotry, and they have no other reasonable function. Since Martians probably don’t know about fallacies, they can commit them with impunity on Mars; but you are an Earthling today, and as we say: “When in Rome…”
Your allegation is an incorrectly structured syllogism: John Doe and JMyste are human. John Doe is a Racist. JMyste is a Racist. Sounds silly when you put it that way, Marty, doesn’t it? If you make a claim that the humans are racist, and then show an example of a human acting racist to support it, then you are guilty of a Composition Fallacy. I declare that your guilt exempts me from the burden of your findings.
It is easy for you to seek out the worst examples of human behavior and to state in exasperation: “There those humans go again.”
At the risk of veering away from the topic, I also want to point out that humans are very intricate and have extremely complicated belief systems. Everything we think stands atop mountains of other ideas. You do not see the mountain. You only see its peak, which formed late, and with little intellectual intervention from us.  It was the obvious conclusion to an unthinkably large set of theories we examined carefully and embraced slowly. It is the conclusions you often challenge, but they are nothing more than the rational product of the fundamental assumptions on which they stand.
“There those humans go again.”  Who I am should never be resolved into the worst examples of my behavior you can find. Moreover, who I am should never be determined by the most reprehensible set of acts you can unearth in other humans. If you seek evil in me, you will find it. If you search from outside me, and call what you discover me, you will have a bigger sample, and detect it more easily. If you learn that I am a liberal, you need seek no further than your conservative blog to expose me for the sorry human that I am.
I may be all the things you judge me to be, but based on your evidence, you will never know. And as I practice reasoning the way you taught me, it seems that Martians may be little green Rock-dwellers on a barren planet, the color of blood, which can only sustain intelligent life when a miraculous set of coincidences happens twice in a row.

7 comments:

  1. This post has zero comments. It's so sad. Not a single one, so I had to create my own. How tragic.

    Wow! John, you have done it the first time!

    Amazing. You would have made an awesome moderate.

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  2. I do strongly admire your sense of humor, John! (There, now you have TWO comments here!)

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  3. ...just making my way through the John Myste back catalog...

    Do I understand that making generalizations and citing examples to back up those generalizations is a Composition Fallacy (and therefore bad)? Do you hold this always to be true, or only when a generalization is used to claim knowledge of an individual?

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  4. Republicans argue that democrats advocate violence. Democrats argue that republicans advocate violence. Republicans argue that democrats use straw man arguments. Democrats argue that it is the republicans. I can go to most political blogs and find out that either democrats are foolish and insincere, and often evil, or that republicans are, and the answer depends on the party to which the blogger belongs.

    Your last post is a beautiful example of this. Two conservatives became cheerleaders, even though your representation of the progressive view was ad absurdum in just about every way. They simply do not know the progressive view or need to in order to form their opinions.

    An unsuspecting individual may stumble upon your last article and assume the representation of the progressive view is accurate (I will post my response this weekend, maybe tonight. I just got off work).

    Each side argues, showing examples of bad behavior of the most easily targeted and most extreme ideas of the opposition, as if they were the norm. This is not the abnormal case, but the common one.

    Most blogs argue the majority of their opinions fallaciously, and they represent their position as opposed to the opposition’s fallaciously. Straw man arguments, composition fallacies, ad hominem appeals to emotion, and false dichotomies are rampant. They are the main tools used to present evidence for positions on political blogs and talk shows. There are very few moderates and almost all opinions seem to precede data, which is gathered after the fact to support an instant opinion. I freely admit that this observation is qualitative. It is meant to be nothing else. Martians can only survey a finite amount of data.

    It is almost impossible to take sides and passionately debate a political position because focusing on the extremes (not the common case) gives you the most powerful argument; and everyone tends to try to make their most powerful case. It is, however, fallacious.

    You will never believe this, but I will tell you anyway. Well over half the posts I make on progressive blogs in defense republicans being falsely represented. Of course, well over half my posts on conservative blogs are the same. It is very difficult for either side to have an intellectually honest discussion. In fact, it almost never happens.

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  5. OK, I decided to point out one thing. I was going to politically ignore it, but I am amused enough to admit that the irony of your comment was not lost on me, though I find it to be off base, as I am speaking of the common case I find, not seeking the exception.

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  6. Looks like my strategy to distract you from posting a rebuttal is working...

    So, I got all that from your Martian post, and I don't necessarily agree. My second question tipped my hand, but I'm not sure you noticed.

    I think we need to make generalizations and we need to offer examples simply to streamline our debates. Otherwise we would fill our opinions with so many disclaimers and caveats (e.g. of course I'm not saying that's what you think, Betsy) that we would have trouble developing a complete thought.

    And I think generalizations are useful at a larger level with the fallacy coming in when we extend the generalization to individuals. For example, I think it's appropriate to generalize that "unlimited government" is a progressive principle, citing the example of a government mandate to purchase health insurance. But it would be fallacious for me to say that John Myste believes in unlimited government because he is a progressive.

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  7. I meant that I don't necessarily disagree.

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