George Walford: Creative Argument

Local councils in the UK had to be barred from using ‘creative accounting’ to get round financial restrictions imposed by central government. How about ‘creative argument’ as a name for attempts to get round the restrictions imposed by responsible thinking? For example:

The Mount Everest Fallacy: Some have become socialists (communists, anarchists); this shows that all will eventually do so. (Some have climbed Mount Everest, so eventually all will do so).

The One-Legged Argument: This condemns capitalism and the state by listing their horrors while omitting their achievements. Each statement made is true, but the whole misleads; it equates with saying that a person has one leg, without mentioning that they also have a second one.

The Frog Principle: The presence of cooperation in an economy shows the feasibility of one operating entirely on this principle. (The presence of frogs in an ecology shows the viability of one made up of frogs and nothing else).

It’s Not as Simple as That: Every proposition falls short of full inclusiveness. Every one, therefore, can be made to look inadequate by pointing out some detail not mentioned. (This can be valid argument when the relevance of the extra detail is shown).

Bongo-Bongo-ism: To attack an argument, put forward in some particular connection, by showing that it is not universally valid. One anthropologist will counter another by claiming that in the Bongo-Bongo tribe they do it differently.

Dismissive Agreement: This professes to accept the point made but evades its impact by going on immediately to talk about other things.

See also George Walford: Shoot ’em!

from Ideological Commentary Number 60, May 1993.