The Sluggard’s Fallacy

I encountered this one in the wild, and figured it might be fun to explore:

Person A: If the wheat crop fails, we can feed the people apples.

Person B: But not every person may like apples, and some apples may be rotten!

Technically, this isn’t a fallacy so much as confusing a disadvantage of a proposition with a contradiction. A contradiction occurs when a proposition destroys what it hopes to achieve; on the other hand, all propositions have disadvantages. If I say we should go to lunch at a pizza joint, there’s an opportunity cost and the disadvantage that we can’t also eat Greek food.

Person A: If we want to influence the world, we should get power by taking positions of responsibility in industry, religion and government.

Person B: But not everyone one of us will succeed in those roles, and many of us will become corrupted by the lure of money, so let’s not — let’s post on livejournal instead!

The Sluggard’s Fallacy is more of a mentality, and it’s a very modern one. If a proposition is not 100% successful, or does not treat succeed in every single instance, it is assumed to be bad. This arises from human conversations where one person suggests an idea and others shoot it down. It may technically be simply an inversion of the No True Scotsman fallacy but that’s not really the point.

The point is that our mental outlook has decayed to the level of whiners and sluggards — lazy cowards. We want any proposed idea to be magically 100% successful, even though nothing is, or we want it to go away so we can keep being mentally lazy. It’s a widely-distributed version of the drunk dad watching sports who doesn’t want to be reminded the kitchen’s on fire.

One Comment

  1. AHA says:

    Thanks for putting a name on something I’ve often observed!

    This indeed has to do with slothfulness of spirit – never being able to be genuinely interested in new ideas unless they get fed to you via the media (eg Hope & Change), not being able to summon up enthusiasm, preferring to shoot down other people’s ideas with this pre-mature optimization that you describe (ie worrying about trivial shit instead of focussing on the core value).

    When I screen for friends, Openness to new inputs is very high on the list. I think there’s a lot of people out there in society who are smart on paper, ie they can learn equations and get through college, but REAL smarts, where you truly create or incorporate new concepts, are rare.

    Check out my magazine btw.

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