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Rhetorical Analysis of Crimes Against Logic


Your personal opinions aren't as valued as you'd like them to be. This is the harsh reality of a common. As Whyte demonstrates in Crimes Against Logic, most, if not all, of us are subjected to the “bullshit” put forward in everyday situations. Whyte utilizes pathos by highlighting common faults, through explicit general examples, in our everyday conversations or arguments and how we may also have committed them he also employs logos to really appeal to the logic of the reader through his extremely quick wit in analyzing each “crime” of logic, as the title states, and the faulty reasoning of each of these crimes.


Whyte’s most strategic tool in his book would be his wit. He quickly establishes a common fault in everyday speak and provides a brief description followed by an example of each. With great detail, Whyte highlights important aspects of each and general situations or settings in which each fault has been used. The extensive breakdown of each faulty argument is made more impactful on the reader through the use of humor which really keeps the material exciting and at the same time allows the reader to be able to relate to it. After thoroughly going through each example, Whyte carefully explains how to be able to identify and hopefully avoid each.


                The first discussed fault is the common-held belief: We Are Entitled To Our Opinions. There is no denying that we have our opinions and that we are “allowed” to have these opinions, however, the actual verbalization of this statement is what truly puts this belief to shame. Jamie explores a situation in which two people are arguing a topic and failing to be able to justify an opinion, one of the speakers states that they are “entitled to their own opinion”. We hear this almost every day and although it is true, the correct usage of this statement is something altogether different. Whyte explains the faults of this statement by highlighting that the other person in the argument also has a right to their opinion, so if both these people have their own opinions then one of them is “suffering a right’s violation” because one of them is clearly holding a false belief (4). The only true way to resolve the initial argument would be to resolve the rights violation, virtually circling itself with no definite victory. This statement often puts an immediate halt on any conversation, not only because it is in a sense irrefutable, but because it implies that the person who said it is completely unwilling to change their said opinion.


            Another highlighted faux pas is the recognition of the motive fallacy commonly employed by the media and many figureheads in society today. I personally felt this was one of the most accurate and common examples Whyte used. He describes the tendency of people to disregard a claim or consider it false depending on the possible motives of the speaker. Whyte uses the example of lawyers in this situation to present the problems associated with the motive fallacy. He refers to the lawyers as “hired guns” acting on the behalf of their respective clients. Each lawyer in a civil case represents an opposing viewpoint, the defense and plaintiff. If we are to employ the motive fallacy in a civil suit, it holds true that we must consider the claim of that lawyer who is being paid more to be false, for they have a greater corrupting motive (Whyte, 12). Thus, the presence of evidence is necessary to reinforce each claim in a civil case. However, the motive fallacy is essential when dealing with testimony. As Whyte explains, this is only when we are expected to believe a claim without the presence of evidence, simply dependent on the say so of the speaker. The motive fallacy of testimony is hardly a fault however; it is only when we are presented with the motive fallacy in a true argument with evidence is it considered to be detrimental. To commit a motive fallacy in a discussion revolving around facts and evidence to support a claim is to essentially end the initial discussion and move onto the topic of analyzing the true motives of the speaker. The motive fallacy is evident in politics today all around the world. The introduction of a new political policy immediately implies an inquiry into the true motives of the person who has presented it. Thus explaining the lack of any real reform in today’s society.


            This claim, although drastic, is not the main point of his argument. Whyte does not try and analyze politics and teach the reader about why they’re so ineffective, it’s just a secondary effect of his writing. He goes on in his later chapter “Morality Fever” to further explain another widely accepted mistake – our tendency to provide an explanation for a claim instead of refuting it due to a morality concern. This is evident everywhere in today’s society from issues discussing racial concerns to issues of religion or gay marriage. Whyte applies logic in an example highlighting the anti-homosexuality viewpoint that homosexuality is unnatural and so should be illegal. He uses a quick sense of wit and humor to mock such a statement by say that since mini-golf is unnatural, should it be illegalized? This highlights the extremely broad and failed argument of the anti-homosexuality side that all things unnatural should be illegal. This basically outlines Whyte’s point that not all things deemed morally unacceptable are inherently false.


            Whyte’s tendency to immediately draw attention from his original topic to the possible connection with real-world issues keeps the reader captivated and amused as they are able to immediately draw significance from each topic. Throughout each section, Whyte instills a sense of importance and exigence as these issues are so bewilderingly blatant, yet no one disregards or speaks out against them. They continue to affect the views of the people, to turn a discussion of an important topic into meaningless banter regarding that person’s motives or rights to that opinion. The hard logic applied to each of these topics demystifies their faulty applications and enlightens the reader to the true hidden meanings behind each.


            Throughout the book, the reader gets an impression that the author is in a sense making a plea; to be able to discern moral and intellectual faux pas in arguments and discussions. Although Jamie Whyte seems to hold a heavy criticism for the faults mentioned in his book, he is not without understanding as to why many people fall victim to them. Whyte successfully appeals to the logic and values of the reader through his vast arsenal of rhetoric and his infallible wit and humor. As an author, Whyte successfully captivates his readers and thoroughly instills a sense of expertise regarding the logic of arguments within them. The only negative aspect of the book I found was to be the general sense of complaining throughout the book. He was making a sincere appeal to the reader to be better informed, but I felt this stemmed from his original frustration on the lack of understanding held by the general populace. All in all, I would personally recommend this book to just about anyone with the willingness to learn the true meanings behind all the deceitful jargon available in society today.

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