Genetic Fallacy – A Baseless Attack Against the Source.
Daniel: Mr. Miyagi said, “Secret to punch, make power of whole body fit inside one inch, here.”
Johnny: And who’s Mr. Miyagi? A repair man! What a loser. What does a handyman know about karate anyway?
It’s OK to check out the source of information and to verify its validity. That’s good research. But to dismiss the argument just because it came from an unlikely source is a logical fallacy. A handyman could very well be a black belt in his spare time. Johnny’s dismissive and insulting attitude indicates he’s not looking for Daniel to verify Mr. Miyagi’s credentials!
It’s interesting that good ideas can come from bad sources, so we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater by committing the genetic fallacy. For example, let’s think about leg sweeps. Kreese, the evil Sensei from the original “Karate Kid” movie (1984), expressed the idea that a leg sweep is a good way to disable an opponent. Are we going to drop leg sweeps from our training just because Kreese likes leg sweeps? That would be ridiculous. However, if we really want to quote someone, we might just want to find out if Bruce Lee said anything about leg sweeps 😉
Now for a little sparring drill. Practice keeping a cool head while reading the following:
Karate class is no place for Christians. Karate comes from those pagan Eastern countries, therefore karate is of the Devil.
Deep breath – in through the nose, out through the mouth! Let me help you cool down if your heart rate is up a bit. I’ve read this sentiment in different places but no one has ever said it to my face – in fact there’s a lot of people in my church who think it’s pretty cool I get to do something fun with my daughter. Good job, you got through this drill just fine 🙂
One of many gentle counters to the above fallacy could be:
Fireworks came from Asia, so should we stop using them to celebrate the Fourth of July?
Remember, you’re not supposed to get riled up about logical fallacies. Recognize them for what they are – all smoke and fury, signifying nothing. Choose your fights wisely.
If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn.