Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bad argument:"Sour grapes" argument and variants

"White" table grapes
"White" table grapes. Are they "sour"?
Do MLMers believe all critics are "sour grapes"?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When members of a particular "opportunity" sees criticism leveled at their scheme, many of them are not interested in reading the criticism to see if truth was offered and logic used. Instead, they automatically and reflexively conclude that it must have been written by "enemies" (we'll discuss "imaginary enemies" in the future).

Once they decided that they have an "enemy", they have to attribute some sort of a "motivation" to the enemy as they usually have no evidence to defend against the logic and evidence presented. So they will proceed to INVENT some motivation for their "enemy", the critic, thus creating a circular argument: You hate _____ because you hate _____.

One of the most often imagined reason for a critic to exist is "sour grapes", i.e. jealousy or disgruntlement. The member somehow believed that the critic is jealous of their success, so must attack their success. Here is an example:
[responding to an article that discuss how ZeekRewards is not what it appears to be]
Karina wrote: ... So I think you are just plain jealous that people are making money while you are not or you are making big money anonymously at Zeek rewards yourself! 
Not only did Karina use "sour grapes" (i.e. you're just jealous), she also tossed in "you are probably profiting from whatever you are criticizing any way!"  It's a random accusation, ad hominem attack.

There are several variants to the "sour grapes" argument, all of them involving IMAGINED motivation of the critic.

One variant of the "sour grapes" argument is known as the "bitter aftertaste" argument. Basically, the member postulates "Were you cheated in a previous MLM?"  One Dilbert strip is the best illustration I found so far:

The pointy-haired boss, instead of considering that maybe he's wrong and the book's right, immediately decided the book's wrong, and it must be written by disgruntled employee.

There is even an extreme form of sour grapes I call "conspiracy of the rich", as in "you must be in cahoots with the rich because you don't want us the poor people to make money! You don't want competition!" Before you laugh at something so infantile like this, let me point out that this was muttered to no less than a newspaper reporter, and duly reported so. It was muttered by TVI Express reps in South Africa when he was informed that the government is investigating TVI Express as a scam. The interviewed 'leader' vow to sue the government and claimed this conspiracy exists.

A similar retort is known as the "get a life" argument, as in "why don't you get a life and leave us alone"?

Potential Cult Behavior

A cult of true believers consider any question about their belief to be from non-believers (heretic, or infidel), and often, will attack such heretics, even physically when it is possible. One of the characteristics of a cult is:
BLACKS AND WHITE WORLDVIEW (we\they syndrome): Everything in the group is good while everything outside the group (including individual goals) is evil, bad, or crazy. While claiming goodness, ethical behaviors are used to promote group goals.
This describes many MLMers perfectly. Any one NOT in the MLM is stupid, worse off, stuck in old thoughts, doomed as wage slaves, while they, the MLM members are "obviously" smarter, better, and forward-thinking, and will earn oodles of money. Any one outside have ulterior motives counter to the MLM.

To these true believers, the critics should disappear. As that's not really possible, they would try to shut the critic up with various fallacies, or failing that, tell everybody else to avoid you "contaminating" their minds (with the truth).

Who's really doing the contaminating?

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