We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"Reduction to the absurd," or "reduction to the impossible." This handy fallacious technique of disputation can be effective in making any logical argument appear ridiculous, when it may not be, by stretching it to an extreme which goes far beyond the body or intent or scope of the argument.
It was a favorite bugaboo of Aristotle, and, in mathematics, Euclid was fond of its usefulness in that realm in which abstract consistency is expected, but unattainable thus far. It works well as a basis for satire, too and, like all fallacies, it works wonders with impressionable and uneducated juries in places like Alabama and Indiana: just try telling them that they have been subjected to a "reductio ad absurdum" argument and see how far that gets you.
A. The Civil War was wrong. The Federal government does not have the power to enforce, with arms, a union which was entered into voluntarily and which ought to be able to be undone voluntarily.
B. Oh, so you want to see slavery re-instituted in the US, you racist pig?
A. I believe that access to abortion should be decided by states or localities, and not imposed by an unelected Supreme Court on a whim with no legislative or voter input.
B. Oh, so you want thousands of 15 year-old innocent boy-crazy girls bleeding to death in back alleys from coat-hanger abortions?
A. The federal government ought to be able to wiretap Al Quaida phone and internet communications with people in America.
B. Oh, so it's OK with you for anonymous fed spooks to listen to your conversation with your wife saying "Dick, I know you're there at the Springfield Holiday Inn with that homewrecker bitch Sandy, but if you aren't home in 20 minutes I will cut your tiny balls off the next time you fall asleep in front of the TV and chop them up and serve them to you for breakfast in your scrambled eggs, you lousy bum."
A. In America, citizens have the right to bear arms.
B. Oh, so it's OK with you for hundreds of innocent kids to be killed each year with unregistered handguns?
A. Everyone in a free country ought to be able to live according to their own religious beliefs.
B. Oh, so it's OK for Wicca witches to dig up bodies to cut out gall bladders for ingredients for their magic potions?
See how easy it is? You can do this with any argument. It's a piece of cake to do, and it makes an impression. After a reductio ad absurdum has been dealt to you, it can be hard to scramble back to reason, because you have been put on the defensive and made to look ridiculous. A favorite of talk-show hosts, because it is quick and easy. As you can see, it is a close relative to the "Slippery Slope Fallacy," which we will address later on.
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