Trash Talk Tuesday: Faulty Appeal to Authority

It’s Trash Talk Tuesday!

Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when debating

Geek One: In my opinion, you simply need to re-boot your computer.

Geek Two: Bruce Lee said, “Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”  I’m so frustrated I just have to kick this computer.  That’ll fix the problem with it!

Bruce Lee might have been an authority on martial arts, but he died before home computers were even invented.  Geek Two is appealing to someone who is widely respected but has no knowledge of the topic.  This logical fallacy is called, “Faulty Appeal to Authority.”

By the way, pouring water into the computer so the water will become the computer isn’t a good idea either.  The computer will crash, not flow.

Someone who uses Faulty Appeal to Authority is hoping we will be reluctant to challenge the expert’s viewpoint.  We mustn’t give in!

White Belt:  I’m fixing a spinach salad to have with my lunch because the nutritionist I saw last week said if I eat more leafy greens I will have more endurance while training.

Wannabe:  Sensei Rockum Sockum doesn’t touch spinach.  He said on one of his YouTube videos that there’s toxins in spinach that’ll make your legs turn to Jello.

White Belt:  Last I checked, Sensei Rockum Sockum doesn’t have a Master’s degree in Nutrition.

Wannabe: Does your nutritionist have a YouTube following of fifteen thousand subscribers like Sensei Rockum Sockum?

White Belt: No, but she worked hard in college and my doctor highly recommended her.  Here, just try my spinach salad – I put bacon in it!

Sometimes an issue is controversial and not clear cut.  In that case, don’t stick to any one authority.  Present both sides, quote equal authorities and/or support your case with other evidence such as statistics.

Black Belt One:  I love kicks because I can keep my body out of the way of my opponent until I’m ready to follow up with something else – and sometimes that might be another kick!

Black Belt Two: Kicks can be useful, but you run the risk of someone sweeping you, so I favor punches when I’m sparring.

White Belt One:  You hear that?  Sensei One says kicks rule!  I’m SO using kicks against you first chance I get!

White Belt Two:  Um, I heard two equally qualified experts discussing their preferences.  How about we try both kicking and punching next time we spar?

White Belt One:  I have an idea – I’m going to the next tournament and I’ll write down some statistics based on direct observation of points scored by the competitors.  Kicks will come out on top, I guarantee you!

White Belt Two: Have fun with that.  I’m going to ask Sensei Two to show me some leg sweeps.

If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book _The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

2 thoughts on “Trash Talk Tuesday: Faulty Appeal to Authority”

  1. This made me laugh. I have been having some interesting discussions with my Sensei (I have two) about various things. I could completely relate to the concepts presented. Especially the spinach salad. Although not so much the bacon (I am vegan!)…..but my main Sensei and I have differing ideas on sports nutrition due to this – he insists I can’t get enough protein / zinc / iron etc to power my self unless I spend all my time eating (I mostly do when I am not training so evidently I have no problem)… other sensei is on the way to being vegan and is much more accepting of scientific evidence for anti-inflammatory lifestyle for karateka……he helped write the book I am currently reading on it (and did most of the data analysis)!! Beginner’s mind = open mind = accepting of all views = stands to learn and gain the most out of everything = winning. I just plant seeds and wait for them to grow……have had some success with that…….raw vegan desserts I make are a good card to play!

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it! You have to do what is right for your beliefs, your body, and your lifestyle. If that means vegan, go for it. You’ll know when to agree with your Senseis and when to respectfully disagree or compromise. Interesting that one Sensei helped write a book on nutrition – good stuff! Take care, and happy training!

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