…like there’s another kind.
Some twit called Nicholas D. Kristof writes in the New York Times that criticizing religion is the same as racism or sexism:
At a New York or Los Angeles cocktail party, few would dare make a pejorative comment about Barack Obama's race or Hillary Clinton's sex. Yet it would be easy to get away with deriding Mike Huckabee's religious faith.
Liberals believe deeply in tolerance and over the last century have led the battles against prejudices of all kinds, but we have a blind spot about Christian evangelicals. They constitute one of the few minorities that, on the American coasts or university campuses, it remains fashionable to mock.
Those poor downtrodden Christians again who are, don’t forget, the minority in the US with no money no resources and no power. Oh wait, no they’re not. Fortunately Ed at Dispatches From the Culture Wars puts Kristof’s silly argument in its place. Ed calls it a category error; I’d say it was a false analogy. Read Ed’s whole piece – I couldn’t have said it better. (Well I’m sure I could, but read Ed’s piece anyway.)
Anyway, thinking about this yesterday, it occurred to me that woos just love argument by analogy – in fact they’d be totally stuck without it. Here’s how it goes:
- Racism is bad
- Criticizing religion is like racism
- Therefore criticizing religion is bad
Notice they didn’t have to show any actual evidence that criticizing religion is bad. Standard woo – no facts, evidence or logic, so argue by analogy instead. Here’s the thing - if I had to argue that racism is bad, I wouldn’t think of an analog to racism that we all agree is bad, and say “hey, racism’s the same”. No, I would explain why racism is bad. With perhaps some facts, citations, logic, evidence. Of course, I could do that because racism is, actually, bad, and so the facts logic and evidence are there to support the statement. Woos don’t have anything to back up their position, so analogy is often all they have. Where would Michael Behe do without Mount Rushmore? Or a mousetrap? And what would Kristof have written about without racism or sexism?
When someone argues by analogy, you can be pretty sure it’s because they don’t have any facts, evidence or logic to support their position. And all you have to do to debunk their argument, is find the flaw in the analogy.