Saturday, July 28, 2012

The "Go after a big scam" argument

One common "red herring" used by defenders of suspect schemes is "why don't you go after a bigger scam?" It usually takes the following form.
A: Acme XYZ is a scam because of ____, ____, and ____.
B: Why are you bugging Acme XYZ? Go after bigger scams like Social Security, Federal Reserve, etc. etc.!
This is a red herring because it is not trying to defeat the premise nor proving the counter-premise. It's a derail attempt.

Derailing a thread is commonly defined as forcing the discussion to go off topic, usually in a way so the discussion cannot continue.  In this case, the "defender" is trying to derail the topic onto discussion of the entire economic system, such as the reserve bank system (Federal Reserve is the American version. Europe would be the "European Central Bank" and other countries have their own.)  

We have previously discussed why Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme so we will not discuss it again here. 

There is also an attempt to appeal to pity, such as "we're just small fries, not worthy of your attention, go pick on big guys and leave us alone". Which is also irrelevant.

This is a common theme and is often followed by "Get a Life" fallacy, "It's legal until they catch us" fallacy, and even the "Caveat Emptor Fallacy" (i.e we know what we're doing).

The common thread is they are all red herrings.

It is also interesting that the defender had tacitly ADMITTED, by making comparison to other things he consider to be scam, that the suspect scheme *is* a scam, albeit not on the scale of whatever institution he wished to malign.

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