Monday, August 27, 2012

Bad Argument: The "You can't satisfy everybody" red herring

When supporters of a suspect scheme ran out of arguments against its critics, they often fall back to the "you can't satisfy everyone" fallacy, where they try to dismiss the critic's points as "negativity" without saying so. It is a type of red herring, and takes the following form:

A: Acme XYZ is a scam because of ____, ____, ____. 
B: Acme XYZ can't satisfy everybody. There's always some detractors.
This is a red herring because B's statement neither disproves the premise (Acme XYZ is a scam), nor does it prove the counter-premise (Acme XYZ is NOT a scam). Instead, it throws in a completely irrelevant statement: "so what?"

Which is just plain rude.

Furthermore, this dismisses all of the "evidence" as "negativity" to be ignored, albeit with merely IMPLICATION, instead of saying outright.

The idea that "satisfy everybody" is a natural lead-in for two other red herrings: the "it's not a scam until it's convicted" argument, and the the "you're just negative" argument, and from there can lead to just about any other red herring variants.

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