Save the world from Logical Fallacies

Want to help make the world a slightly better place?
… at no cost and very little effort?

logical fallacies

Post a link to a list of logical fallacies in FB comments whenever commentors use logical fallacies.

I think the world’ll be a much better place when everyone is well versed in logical fallacies, so that we can avoid using them and we can call others out when they use them.

Even better is to identify the fallacy being used.

Let’s see if we can start a trend.

We need a more loving world, but if we can’t get that I’ll settle for a more logical world.

Here are a list of websites providing a list of logical fallacies.

  • logical fallacies

    Wikipedia: list of logical fallacies

    And for all the people who want to poo poo a link from wikipedia:
    Just because wikipedia is not a perfect source doesn’t mean that it is a bad source… and it certainly doesn’t mean that some other website that you’ve never heard of is a better source!
    Wikipedia has more scrutiny and more editors than just about any other website and therefore, with few exceptions, it’s information is about as trustworthy as you’re ever going to get on the internet.
    It may not be perfect… but its a very good place to start.

  • www.logicalfallacies.info

  • www.nizkor.org

  • yourlogicalfallacyis.com

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[ Leave a comment ]     Category(s): Society

Revolutionary Pope speaks out against consumerism

In November 2013 the new Pope, Francis, issued his first Apostolic Exhortation. It’s his first big statement that covers the state of the world and talks about everything that he thinks is important.

Pope Francis

In it he brazenly criticises the current economic system and the morality of those that are it’s champions.

“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.”

You can read all 223 pages here or read just the part refering to economics below.

The rest of this article is an exact extract from the Pope’s document.

I. Some challenges of today’s world

5.2 In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The hearts of many people aregripped by fear and desperation, even in the so-called rich countries. The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity. This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occuring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and of life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

Pope Francis

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater
justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something
new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57.Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanage-able, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

No to the inequality which spawns violence

59. Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programmes or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. This is not the case simply because inequality provokes a violent reaction from those excluded from the system, but because the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root. Just as goodness tends to spread, the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system, no matter how solid it may appear. If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegrationand death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures, which cannot be the basis of hope for a better future. We are far from the so-called “end of history”, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.

60. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

[ Leave a comment ]     Category(s): Uber-Rich

Every Vote Counts

Australian Electoral COmmissionSome people think that voting for an independent or minor party is a “wasted vote”.
No it’s not. Every vote counts.
My friend, Robbie, has sent me the following explanation:

WHY A VOTE FOR A MINOR PARTY ISN’T “WASTED”

Ballot Box1. Funding

If your first preference candidate or Senate group obtains at least 4% of the vote, they’ll receive FUNDING ($2.48 for each vote, this election). Even minor parties. So if you don’t like either of the major parties you’re still helping your favourite minor party by filling in ALL the boxes to make your vote “formal” or valid.

2. The House of Representatives

Ballot papers are sorted into piles by first preferences. If no candidate gains more than half the vote (an absolute majority) the smallest pile is distributed AT FULL VOTE VALUE to your second preference. This continues until one candidate achieves more than 50%. Usually this is one of the two major parties, so YOUR CHOICE IS STILL COUNTED.

3. The Senate

Parliament HouseYOU can CHOOSE your OWN preferences. It is only people who can’t be bothered filling in all the boxes below the line who accept a party’s choice of preferences. It’s EASY!

Put your first numbers (e.g. 1 to 4) beside your favourite independents or your preferred party’s candidates. The next numbers (e.g. 5 to 7) go beside candidates for your next favourite minor party, if you have one. Subsequent numbers (e.g. 8 onwards) go beside your choice of major party. All other boxes must be numbered, but it usually won’t make any difference, from then on, where you put them – so there’s no added thinking required.

SO DO VOTE. YOUR VOTE ISN’T “WASTED”.

 

I guess the thing to be aware of here is the 4% limit. If you’re thinking about voting for the Greens then they’ll definitely get at least 4% of the vote, so your vote definitely won’t be wasted.

You can get more info from the Electoral commission’s website about:

[ Leave a comment ]     Category(s): Australia, Politics

Did the PM swear the wrong Oath?

Julia GillardSome people believe the Australian Government is illegal – that an immense conspiracy has been running since 1972 (some believe it started earlier). One of their key pieces of evidence is a video which, they say, shows Prime Minister Julia Gullard swearing the wrong oath of office.

In this article I’ll conclusively prove that Julia Gillard has taken all the correct Oaths of office.

This is the third article in my series of articles that will examine every piece of “supporting evidence” that the conspiracy theorists use to support their claim. In the first article, Is the Australian Government a US Corporation I conclusively prove that the Commonwealth of Australia is NOT a privately owned company registered with the US SEC.

My second article, Is the Australian Coat of Arms a US trademark?, proves that the Australian Coat of Arms are NOT privately registered trademarks in the USA.

The Evidence showing the WRONG Oath being taken!

This video is the source of all the problems. It shows Julia Gillard, on 14th September 2010, swearing an oath to the Governor General, Quinten Bryce. The words she spoke are:

“I, Julia Eileen Gillard, do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia in the office of Prime Minister.”

Supporters of the conspiracy theory say that Gillard used the wrong words – the wrong oath – which doesn’t mention the Queen. And that Gillard used the wrong oath because she is part of the conspiracy and doesn’t want to swear allegiance to the Queen but just to the allegedly illegal private company called the Commonwealth of Australia. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The Evidence showing the RIGHT Oath being taken!

This is the video that the conspiracy theorists never show you. It shows Gillard, and the rest of her ministers taking the correct oath on 28th September 2010, after the election had been held. (The relevant bit of the video starts at 2:20)

The words of the Oath taken are:

“I do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful
and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second, Her heirs and successors according to law.”

They then sign bits of paper with the same oath written on it.

Why are there two different oaths?

Cover of Australian ConstitutionThe Prime Minister of Australia must take two oaths:

  1. the oath that must be taken by all members of parliament
  2. another oath that must be taken by the members of the Federal Executive Council.

OATH FOR ALL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Every member of parliament must swear an oath or affirmation of allegiance, as specified in section 42 of the Australian Constitution:

42 Oath or affirmation of allegiance

Every senator and every member of the House of Representatives shall before taking his seat make and subscribe before the Governor-General, or some person authorised by him, an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the form set forth in the schedule to this Constitution.

The Schedule to the Constitution contains the wording of the oath and the affirmation.

Oath

Queen Elizabeth III, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Her heirs and successors according to law.
SO HELP ME GOD!

Affirmation

I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Her heirs and successors according to law.

Note: The name of the King or Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the time being is to be substituted from time to time.

All members of parliament take this oath on the first sitting day of parliament after an election.

OATH FOR MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

There’s a different section of the Australian Constitution which deals with the swearing in of the Federal Executive Council.

What’s the Federal Executive Council? Here’s how the Introduction to the Constitution (page 8 ) explains the Federal Executive Council:

The Federal Executive Council, which is referred to in various provisions of the
Constitution, and in the expression ‘Governor-General in Council’, comprises all past and current Ministers. However, only current Ministers take part in Executive Council business, and usually only two or three Ministers attend meetings of the Council with the Governor-General. Unlike the Cabinet, the Executive Council is not a deliberative body. Its principal functions are to receive advice and approve the signing of formal documents such as regulations and statutory appointments.

From the constitution:

CHAPTER II – THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT

62 Federal Executive Council

There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure.

Notice that the constitution just says they have to be “sworn” but doesn’t specify what they must say! Compare that to the wording in section 42 for the general oath which states the oath must be taken “in the form set forth in the schedule to this Constitution”.

If the oath had to be in a specific form the Constitution would have stated that as it did in section 42. The fact that section 62 doesn’t state the specific words means that the words can be changed without changing the constitution.

It is this oath that we see Gillard taking in the first video. The conspiracy theorists don’t know that the Prime Minister had to take this second oath, and therefore, they thought that it was the oath mentioned in section 42 of the constitution, but that the words had been changed without a referendum.

(I’ve contacted the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and was told that the wording for the oath or affirmation for the Federal Executive Council is not specified in the Constitution nor in any legislation and that, therefore, it’s a matter of choice for the government at the time, and successive governments since 1993 have adopted their own form of words.)

Conclusion

The video evidence proves beyond any doubt whatsoever that the correct Oaths have been sworn. The prime Minister has sworn allegiance to the Queen. Therefore one of the central pillars of the conspiracy theory has been demolished.

I don’t expect this to make any difference to the leaders of this conspiracy theory, though. I expect that they will ignore what they’ve read in this article and continue to blog about how the wrong oath has been taken. Why would they do that? I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. Personally, I think they like being the centre of attention – they like being an “expert” that people “respect”. What would they blog about if they didn’t have this conspiracy to talk about?

Another Oath taking

A reader brought this next video to my attention. It shows Gillard, and the rest of her ministers taking the oath for the Federal Executive Council on 24th June 2010, after Kevin Rudd had been deposed but before the election. (The relevant bit of the video starts at 2:20)

More information about the Federal Executive Council

Here’s a link to the official Federal Executive Council Handbook which explains all aspects of what it is and how it operates. Here’s the Wikipedia entry

State Parliaments

In case anyone wants to claim the same about the state parliaments here is a video of NSW Senators being sworn in July 12 2011.

If you know of any other videos of the swearing in of state parliaments please post the links in the comments section below.

The Constitution of Australia

This is a pdf of the current Constitution of Australia with the introductory notes mentioned earlier (it’ll ask you to save the pdf to your computer).

This is another good site where you can see the Constitution of Australia and some explanations of it’s evolution.

Read the other articles in this series

[ Leave a comment ]   [ Comments(2) ]   Category(s): Australian Government, Debunking

Were Australian Banks Bailed Out?

Federal Reserve System - Seal

A reader commented on one of my other articles that “all of the Big Four [Australian Banks] took bailout money from the Federal Reserve“. I had always heard that the Australian banks were some of the most financially stable in the world and, therefore, this reader’s claim sounded wrong to me, so I had to investigate.

At first I thought the claim must be completely wrong but with my first Google search I discovered that it was only partially wrong.

This Sydney Morning Herald article from December 2010 states that both Westpac and NAB “borrowed billions of dollars in emergency funds from the US Federal Reserve”. So it wasn’t all four banks as claimed, it was only two. (If you have proof that the other two also did then please provide it in the comments below.)

What is the difference between a “bailout” and a “loan”?

Wall street Bailout

But what about the claim that it was “bailout money”? What does that imply/mean? What’s the difference between a “bailout” and a “loan”?

Notice that the article mentions that several central banks also “tapped” the Fed’s emergency lending window for short term loans, including Australia and Switzerland! Did Australia and Switzerland need “bailouts” or just short term loans? Surely Switzerland wasn’t bankrupt was it?

My definition of “bailout” is when you have made so many bad loans and your losses are going to be so great that nobody in their right mind will lend you any money.

What happened during the crisis was that because nobody knew for certain how big the other companies’ losses where going to be, all the lenders decided to play it safe for a while and just not lend anybody any money at all. Not even companies that were actually in really sound financial shape could borrow money.

Additionally some of the companies that would normally lend money didn’t know how many of their borrowers would default on their loans and therefore these lenders didn’t know how much they had left over to make new loans – so they didn’t make any new loans until they had it all figured out.

Frozen Credit Markets

This is what they meant by the “freezing up” of credit markets. Everybody froze and stopped lending until they could figure out what the damage was.

To understand the next part of the explanation you have to know that it is common practice for companies to borrow money in order to expand – even though they have to pay interest on the loans, they can make much more in profit from expansion than they pay in interest, so its a smart financial move. These loans are often short term loans (between 1 and 5 years), but they are usually “rolled-over” which means when the loan term is completed they simply take out another loan for a similar amount.

Therefore, financially sound companies that were unlucky enough to have borrowed money which had to be rolled over during, or just after, the financial crisis, were in deep trouble because nobody was lending any money to anybody, regardless of how financially sound they were. On the other hand, financially sound companies which didn’t have to roll over their loans until a couple of years after the crisis weren’t impacted by the credit freeze.

Emergency Loans

That’s why the US Federal Reserve made available the emergency lending window. They couldn’t tell which companies were financially sound and which weren’t so they just let anybody borrow, because they didn’t want good companies going down just because nobody was lending anybody any money.

The Federal Reserve made short term loans available to companies and central banks. When everyone else stopped lending the Federal Reserve stepped in and started lending in order to keep the world’s economy from completely freezing.

Was it a “loan” or a “bailout”?

How you can tell whether the short term loans that the NAB and Westpac borrowed from the US Federal Reserve were “bailouts” or just “short term loans”, is by looking at those companies’ profit for those years. If they were in sound financial position then they were loans, but if they were close to bankruptcy then they were bailouts.

Westpac Logo

Westpac

In 2008 Westpac made a profit of $3.7 billion (Brisbane Times report Westpac Annual Report 2008

In 2009 Westpac made a profit of $3.45 billion (ABC report Westpac Annual Report 2009

They were hardly bankrupt and in need of a bailout were they? They only borrowed $1 billion from the Federal Reserve.

NAB Logo

NAB

In 2008 NAB made a profit of $4.5 billion (ABC report NAB Annual Report 2008

In 2009 NAB made a profit of $2.9 billion (The Australian report NAB Annual Report 2009

They were hardly bankrupt and in need of a bailout were they? They only borrowed $4.5 billion from the Fed.

Conclusion

The conclusion I draw from this is that NAB and Westpac did not receive a “bailout” from the US Federal Reserve, but rather short term loans.

What do you think? Am I making sense?

[ Leave a comment ]   [ Comments(1) ]   Category(s): Debunking, Financial System