Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dives and Lazarus (Part 13 of Fallacies)

More red herrings, argumentative fallacies that distract from the argument rather than address it directly.

Argumentum ad crumenam

If you’re so damn smart, why ain’t you rich?

The argumentum ad crumenam, or argument to the purse, suggests that the truth of the proposition can be supported by the wealth of the speaker. If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich? In other words, if you’re rich, you must be smart.

The rebuttal to this argumentative red herring can be made in only two words:

Donald Trump.

Argumentum ad lazarum

The reverse is known as the appeal to poverty. It takes its name from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), in which the rich man suffers the torments of Hades while the beggar Lazarus enjoys the delights of heaven.

While there’s significant Biblical support for the comparative virtue of poor versus rich (see Matthew 19:24, “And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”), virtue and logical argument don’t necessarily correlate. If it’s not necessarily true because a rich person says it, it’s no more true if a poor one does.

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