Author Topic: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim  (Read 1289 times)

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Offline prazy

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Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« on: April 17, 2017, 10:50:10 PM »
In the most recent (Apr 15, 2017) episode's segment "Name That Logical Fallacy," Kara tried several times to state that when someone is "blaming the victim," they make a logical fallacy. This was in regards to a rant about cancer patients and alterna-medicine.  While the alterna-med ranter was clearly wrong and the panel pointed out a dozen other reasons, it's not because they "blamed the victim."

"Blaming the victim" is not a logical fallacy and in my opinion, the accusation of BTV is a fallacy itself.  This is because the accusation of victim blaming contains 1) a false assumption that victims must be innocent and 2) an ad hominem that the blamer must be malicious, misguided, bigoted, or otherwise horrible.

In fact, when bad things happen to people, they may be partly or completely at fault. This is true even of some cancer patients; the fraction who willfully engaged in behaviors or lifestyles with high risks of cancer (e.g. smoking, poor diet, etc). This is not always the case, but more often than the faultless victim assumption allows.

To the second point, "victim blaming" carries a connotation linked to malevolent or misguided intent which cannot be logically true if many (or any) victims share some culpability for their fate. Someone who "blames the victim" may be pointing towards the truth, however ugly it may be.

I would love to hear the panel's or forum's ideas on this.

The victim blaming assumptions and in particular the second point may be used to silence anyone who points out mistakes made by a person or group who suffered in some way, when in fact there may be valid points worth consideration. Smart people learn from other people's mistakes, they don't silence the brave hands who point uncomfortable flaws at the lessons learned session.

Thanks,
prazy

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2017, 12:10:40 AM »
Yes, it fucking is. It's called the Just World Fallacy.

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/
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Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2017, 12:14:32 AM »
Yes, it fucking is. It's called the Just World Fallacy.

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/

What Mr. Slick said, only without the rustled jimmies.  ;)
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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2017, 12:24:34 AM »
Yes, it fucking is. It's called the Just World Fallacy.

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/

What Mr. Slick said, only without the rustled jimmies.  ;)
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Offline murraybiscuit

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2017, 12:35:24 AM »
Yes, it fucking is. It's called the Just World Fallacy.

https://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/
Nicely written article. It reminds me of that attribution bias where if something bad happens to you, it's because of circumstances beyond your control. If it happens to somebody else, it's because of their character.

Edit: found a little diagram of attributional biases

http://www.thepsychfiles.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/attributional-biases.jpg
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 12:44:43 AM by murraybiscuit »

Offline DG

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2017, 02:01:47 AM »
I think our original poster was suggesting that the fact that a person asserts a link between A and B where A is a thing done by person X and B is a thing happening to person X, the fact of the implied "blame" says nothing about logical validity of the claim. That is, the claim is not logically invalid solely because of the "victim blaming" involved.

For example:
(a) Person X doesn't wear a seat belt,
(b) Person X has a car accident (wholly the fault of another person) and flies out the front window.

The Argument that "Person X would not have flown out the window had the accident occurred when they were wearing a seatbelt" is not (because of the implied attribution of blame) logically inconsistent, but may fail for other reasons.

If however, premise (b) was replaced with:
(ba) seat belts significantly reduce the risk of being thrown from a car, and consequently killed, in all types of accident,
(bb) Person X's failure to wear a seat belt significantly increased the risk of being thrown from the car, and killed, in a car accident (despite not being at fault).

No one disputes that person X remains the victim here. It appears that the logical inconsistency is removed (unless the premise of seat belt efficacy is in dispute), despite the "blaming of the victim". Does fact that it purports to apportion blame to the victim does affect the validity of the argument?
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Offline prazy

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2017, 07:17:32 AM »
So it appears that blaming the victim is fallacious because it cannot be said that a victim's consequences are (definitely) his or her fault.
Conversely the accusation of victim blaming is fallacious because it contains a false premise and is, at least in '17 parlance, an ad hominem.

The SGU panel probably didn't bite on this precisely because it's a double edged nonsense sword, but I wish this were pointed out on the show because this idea is thrown around without critical consideration far too often. The idea is lazy and misguided in both directions and should be called out, culled out, discarded in favor of stronger stuff.

Offline Drunken Idaho

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2017, 11:25:27 AM »
I think DG's point is sound--so this is hard to discuss without specific examples.

Anything in particular you had in mind, prazy?
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Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2017, 11:48:23 AM »
'Victim Blaming' seems like the wrong thing to emphasize in Skepticism Chat.  It can be either valid* or invalid and is a little inane because it just describes where blame's been assigned rather than anything to do with how or why. 

But it's a loaded-term because it's a (very) common manifestation of Just-World Fallacy and has nigh idiomatic usage in Politics Chat.


* For example, I've screwed myself over plenty of times. 
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 11:50:39 AM by Soldier of FORTRAN »
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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2017, 12:02:15 PM »
I think that at the end of the day, there is a big, big difference between saying "you lower your chances of having X happen to you by taking precautions Y and Z" and actually spreading out the blame between the victim and the assailant. The latter is what victim blaming and the Just World Fallacy speak to. It's two deeply intertwined issues:

1. Shit happens.
2. The people who should be blamed for doing things are the people who do the things.

Any further than that and I agree with the rest of the people here that we need concrete examples. Even though I think I'm pretty strident on this, I think that if I just start bringing up classic ones, people are going to be like "NO LIBE THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT" and we're going nowhere. So... instead of going in with the stupid ass tu quoques (also a fallacy by the way! Just because two sides oppose each other doesn't make them equally bad), why not provide specific scenarios?
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Offline Belgarath

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2017, 03:32:36 PM »
Let me try a recent example....

The United Passenger.  Obviously didn't deserve what they did to him, but in trying to apportion blame, I think there is a certain level that is on him for not leaving the aircraft (I'll admit I'm a bit biased)

The cops were 100% wrong in how they went about removing the man.  But he could have avoided the situation by leaving when asked to do so.....

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 03:39:06 PM »
Seat belts and interacting with the airport police are far cries from the OP about cancer. It is much easier to apportion blame to someone not wearing a seat belt in a car wreck than it is for someone developing colon cancer. Hell, we know of life long smokers who live longer than normal lives, the confounding factors are so great and genetics play such an integral role that it is difficult to compare.
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Offline Belgarath

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2017, 04:08:04 PM »
Seat belts and interacting with the airport police are far cries from the OP about cancer. It is much easier to apportion blame to someone not wearing a seat belt in a car wreck than it is for someone developing colon cancer. Hell, we know of life long smokers who live longer than normal lives, the confounding factors are so great and genetics play such an integral role that it is difficult to compare.

Oh yes, I agree that it's highly situational.  I was just trying to think of an example where I COULD apportion some blame to the victim.  But in this case, refusing to get off the plane does not justify a beat down.

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Offline The Latinist

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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2017, 04:38:07 PM »
I do not think that assigning responsibility to a person for the consequences of his or her actions is fallacious.  It is only fallacious to do so without logical grounds for concluding that they are responsible.  I think therefore that it would always be preferable to point out the actual flawed reasoning rather than label it victim-blaming.

That said, even if responsibility could conclusively be attributed to the victim of a horrific disease, say, you would still be an asshole to do so.
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Re: Logical Fallacy - Blaming the Victim
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2017, 05:27:03 PM »
Seat belts and interacting with the airport police are far cries from the OP about cancer. It is much easier to apportion blame to someone not wearing a seat belt in a car wreck than it is for someone developing colon cancer. Hell, we know of life long smokers who live longer than normal lives, the confounding factors are so great and genetics play such an integral role that it is difficult to compare.

Oh yes, I agree that it's highly situational.  I was just trying to think of an example where I COULD apportion some blame to the victim.  But in this case, refusing to get off the plane does not justify a beat down.
Sure, but at the end of the day that's where I get off. If you're apportioning blame, 100% of it goes to somewhere between the airline, the employees of the airline who didn't "think out of the box", and the police. Sure, the victim could have done some other things to have avoided this encounter, but that doesn't put them in line for blame here. Hell, the victim could have decided to take a different, less crowded airline, which would have put them out of the way of this issue. The victim could have driven to where they needed to go instead of taken a plane. The thing is, regardless of what that individual victim did in this one situation, I don't think that you can say that if the victim in the UAL incident had done something differently that this wouldn't have happened somewhere else to someone else, and I think that's at least part of the essence of why victim-blaming just doesn't work all that well here. At the end of the day, most people *are* going to silently and meekly get off a plane they have every right to be on when they are told to do so. The issue here isn't that 100% of the population doesn't do that, it's, well, several things... the people in charge of determining who needs to deboard a plane need to do it better, the airlines need to not hide behind long, arcane contracts, and police probably need to be really, really watchful of not beating the crap out of a person. None of those things involves the victim, like, at all.

Maybe the tricky bit here is that the Just World Fallacy is, like, very deeply ingrained into our psyche as humans? I mean, long before we had airplanes, before we had the relatively rudimentary understanding of weather and natural disasters that we have today, we made up gods that controlled all of that stuff. They were fickle and mean but there was a sense that you could control whether or not your house got washed away in a flood by giving the right offerings and stuff. It seems to me that this is a basic aspect of human understanding - basically it's Type A errors applied to philosophy - and as such it is *really* hard to counteract and also really hard to notice a lot of the time when you're submitting to the fallacy. We *want* stuff to make sense and part of that means blaming victims when they really didn't do anything "wrong" per se.
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.

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