Spot that Fallacy™: Proseltyzing Dentist Edition

Here’s a short, one-minute video that contains a host of logical fallacies.

Let’s analyze them.

0:06 Etymological fallacy/straw man. “Thank god” is a figure of speech that does not necessarily imply theism—in the same way using the term “sunrise” does not necessarily imply belief in a literal rising sun. A reasonable skeptic would not be surprised by this phrase, and they certainly would not assume that the patient is a theist by using it.

0:09 Straw man. The 2012 documentary The Revisionaries features a young-earth creationist Christian dentist who proselytizes to his patients about his Christian beliefs. Where is the evidence that any skeptic would say to his patient, “Who in this day and age still believes in God?” Are there any? What is the evidence?

0:17 Straw man. It depends on which god is being discussed, but certain Christians will claim that poverty and wars are proof of the end times and therefore proof of their particular god (e.g., Ray Comfort, Rick Warren, John Hagee). A reasonable skeptic would not (a) assume which god the patient is referring to, nor (b) assume that wars and poverty disproves the existence of their particular god.

0:24 False analogy. Dentists do not claim to possess omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. We also have verifiable evidence that dentists actually exist.

0:40 False analogy/affirming the consequent/appeal to special knowledge/no true Scotsman. This is where the video goes completely off the rails. The patient continues with the preceding false analogy. “It’s a bit rich to expect God to help people…” assumes that her particular version of god exists, which is the affirming the consequent fallacy. The patient then very rudely suggests that the aforementioned suffering people just “don’t come to him,” which (a) presumes she knows what’s going on in other people’s heads, which is an appeal to special knowledge, and (b) nullifies the sincerity of those who do pray to a god hoping to end their suffering, which is the no true Scotsman fallacy. It is amazingly self-centered and obnoxious to assert that, for example, a mother pleading to god for her child to be cured of leukemia just wasn’t praying hard enough.

0:50 Affirming the consequent/argument by assertion. “Talk to him” assumes that the patient’s particular god exists in the first place, and “he’s listening” is a blanket assertion made without any credible evidence whatsoever.

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