Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 5/10

January 30, 2012

In Part Four’s video, Associate Professor of Philosophy Kevin deLaplante talked about the Red Herring fallacy. He says it is easily confused with the Straw Figure fallacy.

The Red Herring is anything that distracts you from following the trail (topic) of the original argument and is distracting enough to make the audience want to follow the new trail (topic), which is an irrelevant distraction away from the original argument and main issue.

For example, when Sid, in our debate, introduced something that changed the subject, which raised a new issue that wasn’t relevant to the previous line of discussion, the fallacy occurred when Sid concluded something from this different issue or presumed that some conclusion has been established.

The “Straw Figure” Fallacy. Source: The Critical Thinking Academy

“In this respect,” Professor deLaplante says, “the fallacy is very much like a Straw Figure fallacy in that you are mistakenly or misleadingly say you won the argument or refuted the argument”, which was when Sid avoided engaging with the original argument.

However, the Red Herring is different from the Straw Figure fallacy in that a Straw Figure involves distorting or misrepresenting some original argument and then knocking down the distorted argument.

Straw Figure: Arguer misrepresents an opponent’s position.

Red Herring: Arguer tries to distract the attention of the audience by raising an irrelevant issue.

There are many examples of Sid introducing Red Herrings into the argument where he ignored the original argument and changed the subject. In Part 2 of the debate, I asked, “How would you describe the differences you observed between how piety is practiced in mainland China and Taiwan?”

Sid immediately introduced a Red Herring with “First, as the term pertains to Taiwan, there is no such thing as mainland China. There is China, and there is Taiwan. The word ‘mainland’ denotes a connection, but there isn’t one and never really has been.”

Sid’s response had nothing to do with piety, and if I had not been ignorant of logical fallacies, I would have been aware of what he was doing and challenged it.

Then Sid asked his first of many loaded questions when he said, “Approximately 90 percent of Taiwanese want nothing to do with China, and why would they?”

What does this have to do with piety? In fact, there was no evidence with a link to support the claim that 90 percent of Taiwanese want nothing to do with China, which was often the case with Sid’s Red Herrings throughout the debate. Unfortunately, my response was to spend hours researching and writing replies.

The recent results in Taiwan’s presidential election indicate that a majority of Taiwanese may favor reunification with China or at least closer ties. On January 14, 2012, Fox reported, Taiwan’s China-friendly president wins re-election with 51.6 percent of the total against 45.6 percent for Tsai Ingwen of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

Fox News said, “Ma’s Nationalist Party also retained control of the 113-seat legislature, though with a reduced majority. Speaking before thousands of jubilant supporters in downtown Taipei, Ma said his China policies had resonated with voters. ‘They gave us support for our policy to put aside differences with the mainland. To search for peace and turn it into business opportunities.'”

In addition, Sid introduced so many Red Herrings, that I couldn’t respond to all of them, which is why I decided to write comments and new posts and spend more time with these new topics.  When I did respond to some of Sid’s Red Herrings, he often ignored what I wrote while posting more Red Herrings that I often scrambled to respond to, which was my mistake.

Sid’s alleged contempt for me appeared to increase as evidenced by his numerous ad hominem attacks after I started to ban his logical fallacies. In addition, his use of Judgmental language – insulting or pejorative language, may have been intended to influence my judgment. Examples: “You’re an imbecile Lloyd, a soft headed moron,” andYou lack the intelligence to argue, so you ban.”

Continued on January 31, 2012 in Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 6 or return to Part 4


Meet the real Sid and learn about him from his own words and the opinions of others



Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 6/6

October 2, 2011

The last Asian democracy to shine a brief spotlight on is Taiwan, which isn’t really a country, since  the United States and most other significant nations recognize one China and thus include the boundaries of Taiwan as being part of the boundaries of (mainland) China.

In fact, China claims Taiwan as its province, and the international community does not want to contradict China, so Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.

Although local elections were allowed in Taiwan as early as the 1950s, the Kuomintang (KMT) ruled Taiwan with martial law under Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1976), and repressed democracy advocates  for more than three decades.

After Chiang Kai-shek’s death, in 1976, the KMT held onto power until 2000. Then in direct elections, the Taiwanese people voted for a president in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008, but corruption reared its ugly head again.

In 2009, Time World reported on former President Chen Shui-bian‘s corruption trial. Chen was accused of taking $9 million dollars in personal kickbacks on a state-sanctioned land deal, embezzling over $3 million from a state fund and laundering millions to overseas accounts.

Then in 2010, the Taipei Times reported, “A former president (Chen Shui-bian) jailed for graft, a retired head of military police indicted for embezzlement, three top judges accused of taking bribes — the list goes on. Taiwan has a problem with corruption.”

In addition, New York Times reported, “Lee Teng-hui, a former president (served 1996 – 2000), who moved the self-governing island toward democracy, was indicted Thursday on charges of embezzling $7.79 million from a state fund, becoming the second former president of Taiwan to be charged with corruption.”

One good thing to say for Taiwan is a low poverty level similar to mainland China. However, in the world’s most powerful democracy, the U.S. 2010 Census says 15.7 percent of Americans live in poverty and that is 47.8 million people–more than twice the population of Taiwan.

After discovering the track record of  several so-called multi-party democracies in Asia, will mainland China’s growing middle class eventually demand a multi-party democracy?

For one answer, Professor Stephen Kobrin of the Wharton School of Knowledge at the University of Pennsylvania says, “We tend to assume all middle-class people have certain values. ”

Kobrin points to the common assertion that people rising into the middle class will press for democracy. However, that does not seem to be happening in China where he suggests that people may be willing to accept more autocratic regimes in return for stability and a middle-class lifestyle.

“The assumption has been that there’s a link between capitalism and democracy, that as incomes rise and people become educated, they will increase pressure for democracy and freedom and civil liberties,” notes Kobrin. “That may or may not be true.”

Return to A Snapshot of Democracy in Asia – Part 5 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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