Friday, November 04, 2005

The Don't Knock it Till You've Tried it Fallacy

This one pops up quite frequently in "debates" with the Bleevers. It takes this form -

You've never tried/used/seen 'X'. Therefore, you can't have an opinion on 'X'.

I'm quite against drug use*, and the other musicians frequently throw that one on me. Woo-Woos bask in the glory of the DKTYTF.

Related to the
anecdote, this claim attempts to show that my argument is invalid since my opinion is uninformed. However, anecdotes are not always fallacious; they are simply unreliable. The Don't Knock it Till You've Tried it argument is a common logical flaw. Why?

How do you know I've not tried your bullshit? And there's plenty of ways to review and learn about 'X' other than having hands on experience. I've never smoked crack cocaine because I've learned about
the dangers of doing so (I've also watched WAY too much "COPS"). I will not try the White Mountain voice programmed remedy maker. Not only is there no evidence it works, there is evidence showing it does not work.

Likewise, what benefit would I get from wasting my time with
Phiten® Titanium? And since we know prayer is still useless, I see no reason to try it.

My smart-ass come back to any creduloid who pulls out the DKTYTF?

You've never been rogered in the ass by a 300 pound man before. Therefore, you can't know you wouldn't like it.

That always shuts 'em up...


*Before I get any slams for this, lemme sum up - I support the legalization and decriminalization of drugs for consenting, non-vehicle manipulating adults. I'd hope that just because they are legal, one would still stray from their usage.


Michael Bains said...

consenting, non-vehicle manipulating adults.

Does this include 300 men named Roger?

er... Well posted.

Anonymous said...

I'll be sure to keep this in mind next time I bump into one of those nutbars.

mcn42 said...

I think your argument is valid in cases where there is available empirical evidence on what you're evaluating. But 'DKTYTF' might be a valid argument if you're arguing about something inherently subjective.

There's plenty of valid evidence on why drugs can be bad for you (there's also plenty of bullshit evidence). To use that data to justify why you don't like or take drugs is perfectly legit, and the 'DKTYTF' argument is bogus.

But take something like disco (or rap, country, whatever genre of music you might not like). Can you prove objectively that disco sucks? Okay, maybe that's a bad example. But if you never listened seriously to classical music, 'DKTYTF' *is* a valid argument. One can gain an appeciation of a genre of music after being thoroughly exposed to it. It can grow on you. You really don't know till you've tried it enough.

Well, that's my two cents.

Ryan Michael said...

What if I can sight read music and don't particularly like that key? Or time signature?

As long as one has evidence to make a cogent argument, DKTYTF applies.

If I make the argument, Burden of Proof is on me. If I have that proof, DKTYTF applies.

"Classical music sucks"

I better have some damn good proof to back that up! (I personally believe no one could back the Classical music sucks thing up.)

If I have no evidence, DKTYTF is irrelevant, since my argument is invalid. If I have observable evidence, DKTYTF applies just like any other fallacy. Does that help?

-BTW - Ya really made me think on that one my man.

Anonymous said...

Nana-nanana-na-na-na Katamari on the Schwing...

When it comes to art, entertainment, and so forth, I'd say it's not as fallacious. Some things just can't be easily described. Katamari Damacy was one example: My brother was convinced that I'd give it up within 20 minutes after I explained it to him. Nope. Been almost a year and I'm still rolling on occasion.

But spending $20 on a game can't really be considered high stakes. When it comes to your health, your subjective feelings and sensations can be dangerous: They can make you waste time and money that would be better spent on real medicine.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, we blogged about the same thing, we must have a psychic connection!

Or coincidences just happen sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Tangent time. I touched on this in a piece I wrote in 1999 about having never tried pot:

Vancouver Sun, July 1, 1999

Confessions of a straight man

No, thank you

Guy MacPherson doesn’t smoke pot – and he’s not afraid
to admit it.

Today, while the rest of the country is busy
celebrating the Maple Leaf, many a Vancouverite will
be worshipping their own leaf, rolling it up and
toking to Cannabis Day. Aren’t we a patriotic bunch? I myself will mark the occasion just as I have the rest
of the 13,817 days I’ve spent on the cold side of the
womb – by not smoking pot.

Here in Lotus Land, we have some of the best marijuana in the world. Or so I keep reading in the papers. In our own city of Vansterdam, where cannabis cafes and hemp shops give new meaning to the word “drugstore,” hardly a day goes by without a newspaper running some pro- or anti-stoner article. Yet here I am, drug-free for close to 38 years. What went wrong?

Born and reared in British Columbia, I’ve spent all but one year of my life here. I’ve even visited the
real Amsterdam. And I’m still a drug virgin. What can I say? I’m a maverick. I remember with absolute
clarity and precision the first time I never tried pot. I was in the back seat of a car while two of my
classmates from my Grade 11 law class were up front. Recognizing that timing is everything, my friends pulled out a big fatty on the way to the courthouse for our field trip. That’s some major league cajones, my friends. But what did you expect? It was the ‘70s, after all. Smoking up before the law was almost expected. My friends made the perfunctory offer my way, more out of courtesy, I’m guessing, than their desire to share. “No, thanks,” I stammered, trying to maintain my cool, stumbling on to what should be the Canadian version of the U.S. national drug campaign (“Just Say No, Thanks!”).

My buddies had caught me off guard in the car and I
just wasn’t ready. Twenty-one years later I can’t
really use that excuse anymore. Thank goodness I’m at an age where I don’t need excuses – and I get more and more offers to indulge. I can only guess why I’ve turned out the way I have. My personal credo is never look too deeply, so my best guess is that children naturally rebel against their parents. (We’ll leave it at that.)

Thanks to my high-school buddies’ easy-going attitude to their squaresville friend, I’ve never felt
uncomfortable again in turning down the evil weed.
Still, pot almost got me thrown out of the Greater
Vancouver Open golf tournament. Sports Illustrated,
that radical journal, had asked me to get some quotes from golfers about our “sin city” and the cannabis cafes for which we are so famous. At the mere mention of marijuana, Paul Stankowski grabbed the credentials hanging around my neck and held them to his face. “Who are you writing for?” he demanded. “That’s kind of a weird question. Why are you asking me that?” I decided it probably wasn’t wise to continue. Like almost everyone else who knows I’m from Vancouver, he probably wouldn’t have believed I didn’t smoke pot. And I never found out if he did.

You may think I’m making this all up, perhaps to throw the heat off my trail. But I’m here to say it’s all
true and I’m not alone. There are five more that I
know personally who are in the same boat. Count ‘em. There may be more out there in the general populace who have never tried marijuana but as of press time, this rumour was unconfirmed. There’s no reason to fear us. We’re just like you, only without the constant case of the munchies. But the stigma attached to our sobriety is so strong here in B.C. that I won’t use the fringe five’s real names for fear of getting them shoved in the locker of life. As “Mary Jane,” a 28-year-old from Calgary says, “I don’t want to be labelled a nerdy, born-again right winger or something like that.”

As it turns out, none of us is born again, or even
religious, so there is no churchly excuse for us not
to smoke weed. My pal “Rocky” can’t even answer why he’s never tried it. After all, he did smoke half a
cigarette – once. And on the question of whether
marijuana should be legalized, we split right down the middle. Mary Jane thinks it should be accessible to those who want it, safely and without persecution; she maintains that legalizing weed won’t increase or decrease the number of irresponsible users. It will just eliminate shady distribution and production. She was always the radical among us. On the other side, “Dirk,” 31, who works in retail, thinks there are more useful political debates, while my bud “Geraldo,” a
38-year-old in the entertainment industry, thinks we should keep pot illegal just to “piss off Woody
Harrelson.” The most common question posed to all of us who have preserved our drug chastity is, of course, “How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?”

For me, it’s not a case of liking it, but not wanting
to like it. Monkey brain or cow tongue may indeed be delicious, but I’m not particularly anxious to try
them, either. It’s kind of like religious zealots who
challenge you to ask Jesus into your life: If you ask
Jesus into your life, you’ve pretty well accepted Him
already. In other words, if you’re willing to try it,
you’re probably predisposed to liking it.

My friend Dirk cherishes presence of mind, a reliable
memory, responsibility and motivation. Would one toke change this for any of us? Probably not. But it also means we’re completely unmotivated to try it. For Geraldo, the temporary high would not be worth losing the right to say, “I’ve never smoked pot.” As the years go by, I feel the same perverse sense of pride at this Ripken-like iron-man streak. It’s not easy, either. We’re a prime target for pot smokers. They all want to be the first to pop our drug cherry. And living in Vancouver, we can’t get away from the stuff. Whether we’re at a party, a concert or just walking down the street, the stench of pot is as prevalent as skunk in the West End. Hell, the new Marijuana Party of Canada plans on running 50 candidates in the next federal election. It’s everywhere we look.

Still, I can’t see myself ever succumbing. Not the
most motivated at the best of times, I can’t imagine
how I’d be under the influence. I barely get off the
couch as it is.

Ryan Michael said...

I guess to clarify my position:

I'm for people doing anything that doesn't impose on the rights of others. Drug use - whatever. Booze - whatever. Prostitution - shit yes! Worshipping an invisible man in the sky - sure.

Driving under the influence - no. Going to work under the influence - no.

I don't advocate drug use, but I'll fight for people's right to use them responsibly!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I got it the first time. My story was just a personal account of why I choose not to do drugs. Too many of my friends smoke pot for me to rail too hard against their use. Let them be. But I do hate the waft of pot smoke.

Ryan Michael said...

Very fair, Guy -

There are friend's homes I no longer visit due to rampant smot poking. I agree the waft sucks, and stoned people are pretty boring to be around.