Not Skeptical. Not Politics. Just Brilliant.
The Rational Moderate
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Let me get this straight, Michael Phelps won the most olympic gold medals of anyone ever, and he did so while being a pot head. He does a drug that makes you lazy, slow, and want to eat every unhealthy thing you can get your grubby little hands on, and he STILL WON MORE GOLD MEDALS THAN ANYONE. ELSE. EVER.
This little bit of news does give us an opportunity to examine a logical fallacy: The Slippery Slope.
Ever heard arguments like these? If you do drugs like pot, then your life will be ruined because you will only care about getting high and nothing else.
If you smoke pot, then when that kick wears off you will go out and try worse drugs that will eventually ruin your life.
If we legalize pot, then everyone will be smoking it and we could end up being operated on by a doctor who is high.
If we legalize gay marriage, then that will open the doors for incest and pedophilia and before you know it someone will be marrying a goat.
The slippery slope is basically where one step leads directly to worse and worse outcomes, ad so the conclusion is you should never take the first step. Some actually try to use slippery slope as a valid logical argument by stating that you shouldn't take the first step because it is a slippery slope. It's not. It is a logical fallacy.
The problem with the slippery slope argument is that the next steps never necessarily follow from the first. Either the person making the argument has missed some crucial difference between the situations to make it unlikely (for example, with gay marriage the difference is in consent - adults can, children and animals cannot) or that the first step isn't really what will lead to the others happening (for example, with pot being illegal a) it doesn't mean I will - never have, never will - and b) this hasn't stopped people from smoking it and so it is already likely that a doctor has performed an operation while high.)
So we need to avoid slippery slope arguments or we will end up believing all kinds of fallacious arguments and before you know it civilization will collapse as a whole.
The Rational Moderate