People are stupid, volume 666 – introducing Equivocation

Guess who’s banned on Facebook again? I won’t get into why… Since I can’t comment on there, I might as well share here…

Raul doesn’t get it. Do you?

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Sorry… it’s two images because it didn’t fit vertically on my screen and would have looked shitty if I zoomed out.

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First of all, his statement was made to an atheist with a page that parodies the Christian god, and it acknowledged that we created gods. We created the concept of gods. If you want that to count as an acknowledgment of existence (of gods), you’re equivocating.

So what is Equivocation?

Equivocation is a kind of logical fallacy I haven’t mentioned here before. And by the way, although I’ve been writing about these kinds of bad arguments and logical fallacies for several years now, they’re still relatively new to me. That’s the thing… I’m 50 years old now and have only known about these things for around a decade – it’s just that they fascinate me to the extent that I wrote about them the first time I encountered them.

Equivocation as used in an argument is when we use words ambiguously – the same words can have different meanings in different parts of an argument. It’s almost like a pun, but without the humour, and you’re not supposed to notice it being done. You’re just supposed to “lose” the argument.

In the example given here, Raul claims that James’ witty comment acknowledges the existence of “God”. The key word here is “existence”. In truth he acknowledged (or more like claims, but it’s a fair claim) that man created gods, and thus claims that gods “exist” as a concept created by us. That’s not the same as saying that gods exist as actual deities, which is what Raul implies.

And yet, this apparently clever twisting of the meaning of a word was not even intentional. That’s what fascinates me about logical fallacies. They’re common. Some of them are quite complex. Twisting the meaning of a word like that, at least when done deliberately as a pun, is considered clever. When it’s wit… irony… even sarcasm, we tend to look up to those kinds of statements. And yet when it happens in an argument, it often happens by accident; we either don’t notice it, or like me here… judge it and look down on it.

Isn’t that fascinating? It is to me.

And yes, if someone uses equivocation in an argument deliberately, that would be clever. But I don’t think Raul did it on purpose. It is ironic though, isn’t it? Despite thinking we are logical, when we argue, we come up with nonsense like this all the time… Bad arguments that are so bad, they’re kind of clever by accident.

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