So we are going to have a Vice President Pence who doesn’t think smoking causes cancer.
A President who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax.
An electorate which thinks the President-elect is something more than a con artist.
What ever happened to reason? The Founding Fathers strongly believed that Americans would be capable of critical thinking. The Federalist Papers – the series of essays written to encourage Americans to adopt the U.S. Constitution – assume that the citizens reading the Papers are capable of logic and reason.
Future students of logic and reason – assuming there are universities and students – will study the Trump presidential campaign for its complete, textbook compendium of logical fallacies.1
The ad hominem fallacy? Far too many to count, even if you restrict yourself to late-night tweets from candidate Trump.
The Big Lie? The whole “Crooked Hillary” theme, to pick just one of dozens.
And when it comes to the Appeal to emotion types of fallacies, Mr. Trump runs the table:
- Appeal to fear – a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by increasing fear and prejudice towards the opposing side. A Trump specialty.
- Appeal to flattery – a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made due to the use of flattery to gather support.
- Appeal to pity – an argument attempts to induce pity to sway opponents. Usually mixed with the next fallacy.
- Appeal to ridicule – an argument is made by presenting the opponent’s argument in a way that makes it appear ridiculous. Another Trump speciality.
- Appeal to spite – a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made through exploiting people’s bitterness or spite towards an opposing party. The very heart of Trump’s appeal.
- Wishful thinking – a specific type of appeal to emotion where a decision is made according to what might be pleasing to imagine, rather than according to evidence or reason.
Far too many voters, on the evidence, are incapable of recognizing and rejecting these instances of illogic. Sure, we can talk about better education, but bear in mind that the Trumps and Pences of the world, and, on the evidence, Republicans in general, have a vested interest in preserving the ignorance of their supporters. We can all remember the George W. Bush administrations war on science, especially climate science.
It’s enough to make a former high school speech teacher gloomy.