Why Arguing From A Single Example Sucks

Ace of Spades guest Jack M. links a two-and-a-half-year-old story about U.N. peacekeepers committing sex crimes in Congo as part 1 in a 5 part series on “International Law: Why it sucks, why people shouldn’t buy into it, and why it should be abandoned.”

In that spirit, I will use his post as the first of an unlimited series on Logical Fallacies. Call this lesson “Hasty Generalization.”

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. James,

    You can start the series of posts using this saying. “All generalizations are false, including this one.”

    Now try arguing about that one.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Ace of Spades guest Jack M. links a two-and-a-half-year-old story about U.N. peacekeepers committing sex crimes in Congo as part 1 in a 5 part series on “International Law: Why it sucks, why people shouldn’t buy into it, and why it should be abandoned.”

    Dangit! Jack stole my idea! I was going to use the story about the cops in New York who worked as hitmen for the mafia as part of MY five part series: “Domestic Law: Why it sucks, why people shouldn’t buy into it, and why it should be abandoned.”

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Reminds me of an old wisecrack: “90% of the lawyers give the rest a bad name.”

    I think there’s a good argument to be made in favor of the United Nations and in favor of UN peacekeeping missions although I recognize that there’s a segment of the U. S. population that thinks that those arguments are closed and we should have pulled out of the UN decades ago.

    The hardest part of the “pro” argument is the fiction, implicit to the UN (and IR, generally), that all countries should be treated as equals. That extends to their militaries, too. Not all militaries are equal. Many are just an organized rabble.

  4. legion says:

    Ummm… were you really expecting thought-out, researched, well-reasoned writing at Ace of Spades? It’s not exactly a journo school blog, y’know…

  5. Wayne says:

    Bill
    Yes your statement is logically flawed. Logically it could read something similar to “Most all generalities are wrong”, “some generalities are wrong” or “All generalizations are false, with the exceptions of this one or one with similar statement.”

    Which one is true is open to debate but at least they are logically feasible. Yours of course is not.

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    Jack M. then goes on with several other logical fallacies.

    Plus, I wanted to say that anyone who disagreed with me supported UN Peacekeepers who were pedophiles and rapists.

    You don’t support rape and pedophilia, do you?

    Let me see, you have the either/or fallacy (you either agree with me/or you support UN Peackeepers). There is also the Guilt by Association Fallacy. If you support the UN Peacekeepers you also support rapists and pedophilia. Two sentences, two fallacies. Hard to top that.

  7. Satire says:

    Who are you?

    I don’t even know you people anymore.

  8. Michael says:

    Satire:

    Who are you?

    I don’t even know you people anymore.

    Thanks, that made my day.

  9. Steve Verdon says:

    Who are you?

    I don’t even know you people anymore.

    I thought the whole thing might have been a joke at first, but I don’t think so. Jack M.’s other comment in that thread didn’t strike me as lending itself to satire.

  10. Satire says:

    The bit about wanting to commit an obviously dishonest debating tactic by associating international law with rape? Strikes me a bit intentionally absurd.

    The post immediately below Jack M’s post on the very same blog seems to be the target. It’s titled:

    International Law: What It Is, Why It Is Important, and Why We Should Stick To It, Part I
    —Gabriel Malor

  11. Stormy70 says:

    The line about not supporting rape is an inside Ace joke concerning one of the corniest lines by Horatio Crane in CSI:Miami.
    I can’t remember the line, but the sunglasses of justice were removed, the line said, then the sunglasses were put back on.

    The line was similar to the set up above.
    Satire – heh.