The Murder One Fallacy (The “It’s Not What It Looks Like!” Fallacy)

There’s a bit of semantic chicanery that always annoys me. Not, mind you, because it’s some sort of devastating logical counter,  but because it’s the equivalent of the I’m-not-touching-you game. It’s the puerile belief that they’re somehow getting one over on you by the transcendent alchemy of rebranding.

So I’ve coined the Murder One fallacy. It’s an informal rhetorical fallacy that goes a bit like this: “Sure I thought about killing him for weeks, planned it out, and I not only hated that bastard, I was glad he was dead after I ambushed him….but it’s absurd and dishonest of you to claim I just admitted to first degree murder!”

Truly, your clever ruse has me beaten and bereft, worthy opponent.
(ahem)

You’ll see the Murder One fallacy in all sorts of debates. Take, for instance, some folks’ fascination with Jews.

  • People will allege that a group of Jews work together in the media in such a way that they not only effectively control movies, TV, the news, and advance “Jewish ideals” and/or selectively hire and promote other Jews…  but how dare you claim that they’re alleging a cabal!
  • Some folks allege that Jews in America (or France, or Spain, or…) have a primary loyalty to Global Jewry, and can’t be trusted when it comes to the matter of Israel. In fact, some Jews in government are probably actively selling us out for Israeli interests at the cost of American blood and treasure. And we should investigate everybody Jewish in the government, just to be sure. Not, of course, that they’re alleging Dual Loyalty.

You’ll see it in any debate where someone is JAQing Off.

  • People will ask how you can explain every evolutionary ‘gap’, and every two new ‘gaps’ that are created by a new discovery, and challenge you on every organelle and organ and adaptation whose entire evolutionary lineage can’t totally identify… but, mind you, they’re not advocating Creationism, they’re Just Asking Questions.
  • People will ask how on Earth the Twin Towers could have fallen in a perfect footprint crater (they didn’t, but this is a bit of a Gish Gallop), how it was all the Jews happened not to show up to work that day, and so on. But, of course, how dare you accuse them of being a 9/11 Truther.

You’ll see it in religious debates, especially with presuppositional apologists who argue for a deistic deity in order to slip a personal god in the side door while nobody’s looking.

  • Apologists will say that the universe, or the laws of physics, or consciousness, or morality must have an objective, absolute explanation and a single, identifiable cause.  They’ll argue that anything we don’t know, any ultimate cosmic knowledge must be explained by god. Not that they’re saying that a god must exist behind any possible explanation we find, nope, how dare you accuse them of a God of the Gaps fallacy. Nopers.
  • Apologists will claim that since everything we see seems to have a cause to its beginning (despite the fact that we have only one beginning, the Big Bang, and then all matter has simply been reorganized and shuffled around), that the universe must, as well. They’ll say that there must be a prime mover which is, itself, utterly uncaused.  They’ll say that we know that this is true, since all of our experiences confirm it. But, it’s dishonest of you to claim that their entire argument consists solely of the fallacies of  Bifurcation, Special Pleading, and Begging the Question.

And so on.
It’s intellectually dishonest; it’s patently obvious; and it’s not only insulting to the intelligence of your opponent to think that they’re not going to flash to your clever, clever tactics, you’re demonstrating all the rhetorical grace of a knock knock joke.   .

“It’s not what it looks like!”
Cut that shit out. You’re not fooling anybody, except perhaps yourself when you contemplate your own cleverness.

Murder One Fallacy

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2 thoughts on “The Murder One Fallacy (The “It’s Not What It Looks Like!” Fallacy)

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