Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Every Argument In Vox's The Myth Of Race Debunked In 3 Minutes Is Fallacious

   I know I've complained about this before, but I just got done using it in my critical thinking class, and so I've been annoyed afresh.
   So far as I can tell, there is not  a single sound (in the sense of the term that includes non-deductively-valid arguments) argument in that video. There's one around the 3:05 mark, concerning sickle cell anemia, that may have some non-zero degree of weight, but I'm not sure. If it has any, it isn't much, and overall that argument is intentionally misleading.
   At any rate, everything in that video--with the possible exception of about 5 seconds worth of it, is total crap. It's actually a pretty good video if what you want to do is study a pseudo-scientific fad that's sweeping middlebrow culture... It's probably pretty great for that.
   And don't get me started on the smug tone of the thing.
   And definitely don't get me started on the narrator's off-the-scale, nearly unendurable vocal fry. Jesus, I made a typescript of that thing for my students and so had to listen to it like thirty times (because my typing suuuucks). I thought I was going to start breaking things by the end.

6 Comments:

Anonymous c0vek said...

i'd love to see your lecture notes on that, so i can compare your reasoning to my own. But yes, that video is crap. Almost all these kinds of things are.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I can send 'em you ya if you want, and I'd like to see yours--but I'm sure mine are nothing special. It's really a kind of handout anyway, and a preliminary / over-long one at this point.

IMO it's a pretty good CT exercise, because if you show it to students before they know anything about this stuff, they often LOVE it and think it's the best thing ever. This is great because, as I'm sure I don't have to tell you, if they care about something, and actually kind of see themselves get caught out in an enthusiastic, yet, as it turns out, obvious, tangle of errors, it really hits home.

One thing I really find instructive in it is the implied-but-never-explicitly stated genetic fallacy. (IMO many of the fallacies often show up in that form--never quite explicitly formed or endorsed, but definitely in play in some way.) That is a favorite of folks who love race nominalism--hey, hey, look how the idea of race originated in racism (undoubtedly false, of course)... dot dot dot DOT DOT DOT YOU SEE WHAT I'M SAYIN'?????

I also like the question-begging "You can/could literally change your race by crossing state lines."

2:37 PM  
Anonymous c0vek said...

poast too long for blogger, so here is my rambling response:

http://pastebin.com/yW0hhgyJ

too much coffee for me today :)

5:55 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks, c0vek, will check it out man!

10:32 PM  
Anonymous c0vek said...

Hope it makes sense, fhe coffee was in control :)

10:45 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I will keep that in mind...

10:47 PM  

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