Critical Thinking To Go: Dodging The Pepperoni Pizza FallacyWritten by Christopher Brown
Today we commonly hear in news journalistic items about religion and politics, or faith and something else, where suggested "duo du jour" usually sit in opposition to one another. One could do this, of course, just as easily with other areas of human thought, as with sociology vs. history, or economics vs. psychology. But most people do not seem nearly as interested in this exercise as they seem anxious to set "religion" over against whatever other area they might find interesting.
But this represents quite an odd way to view things (at very best), and one might rightly call it propaganda (at worst) in many instances. You see, life does not come at us in slices, as though it were one very large pepperoni pizza to go. When humans experience an event, we do not encounter it in a parade of neatly snipped segments, as though civil war first showed us its psychological effects, then came its economic aspects, only after which we then got a look at its technological innovations.
Just as with runningback who grasps a fumbled football in midst of many linesmen, life happens to us "all at once." Only after taking in an historically important event, and reflecting on it a bit, can we slice it up to study some of parts or aspects in isolation from others -- as pundits might do, say, in an economics textbook. This, of course, makes students especially prone to confuse way things happen on paper with how they occur on a battlefield, or in midst of a revolution.
Now this fallacy -- error of confusing real life with its written counterpart, does not show up in informal logic texts. But it should, since it clearly misleads many these days.
So, what to call it? I at first tried "fallacy of compartmentalized reality." I can hear students now, "WhatEVER." Then I mused, "fallacy of reflective segmenting." huh? Finally, I landed on more user-friendly label, "Pepperoni Pizza" fallacy. Surely students could grab and digest this supreme combination of words (or was that "combination supreme"?).
They Should Have Seen It ComingWritten by Christopher Brown
A comedian once showed a newspaper to his audience. The headline read, "1-800 Astrology Business Goes Under: They Should Have Seen It Coming." Everyone laughed, including me. We chuckled at irony of a real contradiction here. If such a business could provide service they claim, then its owners should have succeeded where other businesses failed. In fact, if they really knew future, they likely wouldn't bother with this business at all. They would simply raid stock market with a perfect investing record. We all somewhat instinctively know this, even those of us who have never had occasion to sit and think it through carefully.
But this pseudo-science has another problem that concerns us. It's adherents who create garden-variety horoscope columns (found in most any newspaper) spotlight a basic contradiction. On one hand, they pretend to tell your future based upon timing of your birth and alignment of stars and/ or planets. Philosophers have called this assumption "astral determinism."
This means simply that stars and planets determine your future, hence phrase, "written in stars." On other hand, however, when predictors finish telling just what will befall you, they move onto next part of column. They offer advice. But this advice you may take or leave, as though you have a free choice to make, outcome of which no star determines.