A study recently determined that organically-grown food doesn’t contain more nutrients than conventional food. Um… okaaaay… I don’t think I’ve ever seen any advocates of organic farming making that claim. I’m sure there are a few, but the major themes generally seem to be:
- More sustainable in the long term (less negative impact on the environment).
- Less unhealthy residue from pesticides, fertilizers, etc.
- Better taste.
And, of course, none of these points were addressed by the study. In short, it’s a classic straw man fallacy. Sure, I’ve got problems with the terminology used by the organic food sector (foremost: overloading the term “organic”), but this is just missing the point.
(Hat tip to Katie for pointing this one out.)
Had dinner at my parents’ last night, and at one point talk turned to yesterday’s primary election. It’s quite interesting that, within a matter of days, the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary chose different candidates for both major parties.
It points out something that should be obvious: State-wide primaries don’t tell you how well a candidate would do in a national election. Iowa Democrats preferred Obama; New Hampshire Democrats preferred Clinton. Iowa Republicans preferred Huckabee; New Hampshire Republicans preferred McCain. It shouldn’t be a surprise that people in different regions have different concerns.
Putting too much stock in the results of one state-wide race makes as much sense as having Oregon voters select the next governor of Louisiana.
On a related note, what is it that causes so many fields to settle into the equivalent of a two-party system, with two major players (sometimes balanced, sometimes one dominant and one major alternative) and a bunch of also-rans? Republicans & Democrats, Windows & Macintosh, Internet Explorer & Firefox (and previously Netscape and Internet Explorer), Pepsi & Coca-Cola, etc.
Sure, humans like oppositions. It’s what makes the false dilemma fallacy work so well rhetorically. But why is either-or thinking so prevalent in some fields? And what’s different about fields in which many alternatives hold each other in balance? Car manufacturers, for instance, or movie studios, or cell phone manufacturers.
In honor of the upcoming Presidential debates, here’s A List Of Fallacious Arguments. (Found via a comment on sclerotic_rings).