Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Argumentum Ad Monsantum"

That's the name of an article by Kyle Hill at Scientific American that takes liberal commentators -- Bill Maher, in particular -- to task for allowing their hatred of Monsanto to cloud their reasoning.  So what is the argumentum ad Monsantum:
Making the leap from Monsanto’s business practices—whatever you may think of them—to the “dangers” of GM foods is a mistake in logical reasoning. It is akin to saying landscape paintings are potentially evil because the painter was a serial killer. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. And giving some product or process the attributes of its user is the logical fallacy that currently leads typically pro-science liberals like Maher astray on questions of nuclear power, vaccination, and especially GMOs. Whether genetically modified foods are safe is a scientific, not a political, question. To intertwine views of Monsanto with GM foods is therefore an argumentum ad monsantum, a disturbingly popular logical fallacy, and Bill Maher is the classic example.
Note, also, that Hill is a big fan of Bill Maher. It's a fun article and worth the time.