Logical Fallacy Series: The Scottish People
By: Dion McNeil
Now if it is one thing some of us have seen time and time again it is one particular logical fallacy. Some of us know this fallacy all too well. This logical fallacy can be summed up as someone trying to dismiss criticism or play the mental gymnastics game where one essentially proclaims, “these people or this person is not like these other people because they don’t subscribe to the exact same belief the way I believe it to be.” There are people who say that every time they encounter this logical fallacy they can mentally see the Loch Ness monster being a physical representation of the person committing this logical fallacy. We need some examples in order to discuss this fallacy and inform the audience on just how to spot it when they see it.
Of course the news media is responsible for perpetuating this logical fallacy. And yet many of us will recognize that no place on Earth will have more Scottish people running around than social media. Consider this Facebook post for example:
Now, pay attention to a certain line. “Feminism isn’t all about women having it better.” Of course by the dictionary definition that may be the case. Or is it? A dragon can call itself a kitten but it wouldn’t change the fact that it is a dragon. It isn’t about what one calls themselves but for this situation actions matter more so than words or definitions. But of course one has to wonder why feminists, especially in this particular day and age, are mentioning definitions of feminism while there are many feminists who are actively involved in “Dictionary Gate.” Hard to tell someone a definition of feminism when we see feminists actively trying to get a dictionary description of a definition or example of a definition which in no way has anything to do with feminism. None of that matters. All that matters is that this person is essentially a Baptist telling a Methodist that they are not Christian because they don’t subscribe to the exact same version of Christianity. No, ma’am, you are a Scot as well as the other Scots.
Oh but the feminist mindset isn’t the only mindset that would make someone say another person isn’t really Scottish. It’s just that we tend to see this so often out of so many feminists to the point where some of us believe Mel Gibson should write a movie about it. We tend to see this out of Islam, Christianity and many others who say that their version of whatever group they claim to belong to is pure and that those who identify as being apart of the same group are not really apart of that group due to a call to purity. Feminism is just an easy target to explain this but we see this all over the place.
Take the Westboro Baptist Church for example. Many Christians would say that these people aren’t really Christians because they violate many rules located in the bible including not judging others and leaving judgement up to God whilst they cast stones and so on and so forth. However many of the things the members of the Westboro Baptist Church believe are in the bible. And if Christians who say members of the WBC aren’t really Christians then those who violate the ten commandments aren’t Christians either, right? After all if cruelty is the only measure of who is Christian and who is not then that surely means there less Christians in the world than we imagined. After all if we willing to say that just because someone is cruel, condescending, vindictive and a little crazy that they cannot be Christian then that is quite a broad stroke to place on Christianity. It would seem that, to the people who believe that these aren’t really Scots, that one must be the purest of the pure in order to be considered a Christian or not really do anything that would make Christianity look bad. How many Christians would really live up to that standard?
But of course the question becomes, “what harm will this do?” There is a simple truth about the No True Scotsman logical fallacy and that simple truth is that it is too often used and applied across a broad spectrum. Even when it comes to racial identity the idea that something is, “too white” or “too black” is used often to dismiss criticism of someone or a group in order to create a call to purity. For example if there is a crime committed where the perpetrator steals chicken wings someone may say that this resembles a crime a black person would commit and dismiss any possibility that a white person may have committed the crime based off of the description of the crime. This is a serious misconception because someone could create a call to purity by saying, “white people don’t do stuff like that” thus feeding into the negative stereotype that only black people steal.
These calls to purity ignore a simple fundamental truth that no matter how one wants to box themselves, tell others that their group or identity cannot do or would not do something or take part in something based off of their description and the un-withering belief that a call to purity will solve their criticism dilemma that this will somehow make others ignorant to this particular brand of mental gymnastics. One doesn’t just get to jump over a fence, have others wear the same colors as them but because of differences that can be great or minor exclude those people as a means of saying, “they don’t do it like me so they can’t be called the same thing as me.” It doesn’t work that way. The world will never work that way.
Thanks for reading!
Dion McNeil is a writer for the Soap Box Corner. Dion is a stay at home dad who specializes in cultural issues and psychology.