I just read a column by a “legal analyst”, which scared me. It showed a complete lack of analytical ability. Before I explain how and why it’s wrong, I’m going to provide an analogy. My analogy contains the same lack of logic, and the same “unthinking” pattern, as the so-called legal analyst. – but that’s where the similarities end. The facts are different, in my analogy vs her article. But the same “linkages” are used – that is to say, there is no logic at all. It’s stupidity.
The “unthinking” pattern is always the same. Fact. Excitement about the fact! Another fact. Excitement about this fact too! Then, therefore, a very excited conclusion! The problem is that the facts, taken together, do NOT lead to that conclusion at all. The conclusion is just stated as true – not proven. The conclusion bears no resemblance to any sort of logical cause-and-effect analysis at all. The conclusion is just a dramatic statement which remains unproven. And the conclusion is simply wrong.
Now, for my analogy. I’ll use the same pattern of “unthinking” that I keep seeing out there, over and over again. It alarms and concerns me. Here goes.
Fact: Sometimes, innocent people are drowned by tidal waves! It’s awful!
Fact: That awful person deliberately drowned those innocent people!
Conclusion: Both the tidal wave and the awful person are criminals! Because the most important thing is that, the people who drowned were all innocent! Therefore, since they were all innocent, both the tidal wave and the murderer are evil! They are the same! Because in both cases, innocent people drowned! It has to stop!
See the problem there? The fact that the victims were all innocent, is taken to be the important “causal link” that makes both of these factual examples “the same”. But other than the fact that the drowning victims (both of the tidal wave, and of the murders) were all “innocent”, is there any other similarity linking these two facts together? Of course not!
What’s the most important factor distinguishing the tidal wave, from the murderer? Um, let’s see. Think, think. Um, maybe, the fact that the murderer set out to kill people, on purpose. But the tidal wave is just a tidal wave, which accidentally resulted in people dying. See the difference? Big difference. Oh, huge. Really important difference there.
Now, to the silly article by the “legal analyst”, who makes me despair for the future intellectual capacity of the human race. I am not exaggerating. I really do worry.
She wrote (I’m paraphrasing, not quoting) this. Fact #1: western military security action has resulted in innocent lives being lost. Innocent lives lost! (To make it even dumber, she cites unnamed “sources” and gives a random figure with a possible range of half a million – “sources estimate that between 1.5 and 2 million innocent lives have been lost to military action”.) That is quite the fact – she’s only off by up to half a million or so. I wonder what her “source” is. But no matter. They were innocent! All innocent!
And now for fact #2: terrorists are bombing concerts. (She doesn’t seem to be as excited about this fact, for some reason.)
Her conclusion: All the victims were innocent in both cases! Therefore, military action is no better than terrorism! It’s all the same thing! Because all the victims were innocent! This means that military action is just as bad as terrorism! Because both things have resulted in innocent lives lost! So they are exactly alike! And that’s all she wrote.
Now before you go sputtering and squawking that, how dare I compare military action to a tidal wave? As if military action is a force of nature or something! Hear this: I am not saying that military security activity having unfortunate, unintended collateral damage, is the same thing as a tidal wave. Do you get it? I was using an analogy to show the error in logic. It doesn’t mean that I hold the facts in my analogy to be the same as the facts in this person’s newspaper column.
In both my analogy, and that news column, the “innocence” of the victims is used as the only “proof” that one thing is just as bad as the other. She offers no other proof that terrorism and military action are similar in any way. She offers no other evidence, no other argument, no other logical link between them. Just the fact that innocent people have died is enough, she says, to make these two things the same.
Now let’s have a reality check. Neither that “legal analyst”, nor anybody else who makes similar arguments, have any clue what sorts of horrifically terrible, awful decisions have to be made by the people who are keeping billions of innocent civilians safe, every day. She hasn’t a clue. Neither do I, and neither do you (unless you are one of the people devoting their lives to keeping people safe, in which case, I thank you).
Furthermore, in the countries where powerful western forces are using their intelligence capacility and their technology to keep civilians safe, they were asked to be there. They didn’t just muscle their way in. They were asked. And probably 98% or more of the people who live in those places, are grateful for the help. The 2% who scream about the help they’re getting, are being magnified and given lots of air time. Meanwhile the other 98%, the ones who are happy that somebody is there to help out with this problem, never seem to have a voice.
And then we have “legal columnists” like this air-head woman, who claim that a security operation, which tragically resulted in accidental unintended deaths, is “just as bad” as a terrorist act which deliberately targets civilians for carnage. OH PLEASE! GIVE ME STRENGTH! What? Are you kidding me?
This empty-headed columnist, and all people like her, conveniently leave out the most important thing distinguishing security action from terrorism: the intention. One is to save people. The other is to destroy them. It’s VERY easy to tell the good guys, from the bad guys.
I really hope that this sort of nonsensical stupidity stops. It’s not fair to the people who lay down their lives to fight monsters. But hey, they do it anyway – no matter how dumb you are. Luckily for you.
P.S. now let’s have a look at some of the ways that people who don’t know how to think, try to counter the above. All are typical, but none are relevant to my point.
- “Look at the history of military action! There have been lots of times when the US or another western country went in, uninvited, and did violence to further their own interests! This means you’re wrong!” (answer: No. I’m right. The world has evolved considerably. Western countries no longer invade other countries. There is more co-operation with respect to global security now. It’s a different world. Your point is irrelevant.)
- “You think that all soldiers are good! Well, some of them are bad! Here’s some proof – here’s one time that a soldier did something bad. Here’s another time. So then, you’re wrong. They ARE all the same as terrorists.” (answer: No. I’m right. Individual examples of particular soldiers doing wrong, do not change the overall intention of security forces. The overall intention is positive. They are preventing random, mass violence – every single day.)
- “You ignore the other intentions that the military have had! For example, here’s proof that they intended some kind of benefit for themselves, when they went in there. Therefore, you’re wrong about how they only intend to keep people safe.” (answer: This is a combination of counters #1 and 2 above – particular examples which are contrary to what I say, taken together with historical facts which are no longer true. It’s still not enough to make what I say wrong. Yes, history does not run in favour of western powers. Yes, they were colonizers. Yes, multinational companies have done land grabs, and have extracted resources without compensating local people, because of corrupt local governments. Yes, all of this has happened. Yes, we can do much better. Yes, I agree that there has been an issue in the past with an arrogant attitude towards indigenous local people all around the world. Absolutely. But none of these historical facts prove that therefore, present-day military action is “just as bad” as terrorists who attack civilians. Let’s not forget what point I am making. I am saying that to compare what the military does, in trying to hunt down and prevent terrorists from destroying people, bears no resemblance at all to planting bombs in concerts and shopping malls and subways. There is a stark difference. And the article that I was critiquing above, is basically supportive of terrorism. And for that, she should be fired.)
- “I don’t have to listen to you anyway! You’re a bitch.” (answer: and now we have the most typical response of all. Denial, anger, and distraction. None of that changes the truth. But go ahead.)