Obama and the abusive analogy
Chapter One of How to Win Every Argument, Madsen Pirie’s systematic survey of the use and abuse of logical fallacies, is on the abusive analogy. This is a wonderful book for those seeking to enhance their rhetorical skills through underhand means, but I sense that President Obama is one man who could have written the book himself. This conclusion is based on his speech to an audience of college graduates in California during which he discussed dissenting views on climate change:
“It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist. When President Kennedy set us on a course to the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it,” he continued.
“But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese,” Obama said.
I would have thought that someone who was trying to deal with an existential crisis would have been moving heaven and earth to unite people rather than divide them. Using fallacy – and abusive fallacy to boot – makes him look more like someone who sees global warming as a useful wedge issue than someone who really thinks he is trying to save the planet.