Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quispiam quoque!

I would like today to coin a new logical fallacy. It is a variation on the Tu quoque! fallacy, but slightly dumber even. I call it Quispiam quoque!, which (if free online English-to-Latin translation software can be believed) means "Somebody also!"

What led me to recognize this fallacy was a comment on Skeptico that trots out the tired old defense for the Obama-is-Hitler crowd that, "Hey, some other assholes said that Bush was like Hitler! You stupid liberals!" Of course, this completely ignores the point that, uh, most of us thought those people were assholes too. In other words, it's not even Tu quoque!, because the people being fingered as having committed an analogous offense are not even the same people making the criticism. Literally, it is Quispiam quoque! "Yeah, well, somebody else once also did this horrible thing too! So there!"

The grandaddy of quispiam quoques, at least in recent memory, has to be the reply from some apologists to the Catholic sex abuse scandal(s), that other institutions, such as secular public schools, also have had instances of child molestation. Not only does this miss the point -- it wasn't so much that some priests were child molesters, it was that the Catholic hierarchy actively shielded the molesters from punishment and even became enablers in some instances -- but it's also about the lamest excuse for child molestation I've ever heard. "Hey, other people rape children too! What's the big deal?" Headdesk...

4 comments:

  1. Definitely need to add that phrase to my collection.

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  2. "Hey, some other assholes said that Bush was like Hitler!"

    That's like defending a claim that 1+1 = 3 by complaining that someone else asserts that 2+3 = 5. The whole point of using a tu (or quispiam) quoque argument is that it changes the subject, shifting the burden to the other party to challenge the latter claim -- e.g., "but 2+3 IS 5", or "but *I* didn't say Bush was like Hitler; *those* people are assholes" (simultaneously getting defensive, attacking your allies, and denying a truth (Bush certainly *was* like Hitler *in some respects*)).

    Thus my preferred response is "fuck you, you evil disgusting fallacy wielder; you lack the good faith for me to treat you with respect and it's a waste of my time to debate scum like you".

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