The Skeptics Circle #6: Thanks, I needed that!

The last couple of days have been rather eventful here at Respectful Insolence. Logical fallacies, like the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, have been floating through the comments of one of my posts in a vain attempt to "prove" that giving women the right to vote leads to the loss of freedom and an "accelerated shift towards socialism" (as one anonymous commenter put it) or, as the anonymous commenter's inspiration Vox Day had put it, an "obvious connection between the female franchise and the West's continental drift into socialism." (Never mind the pesky possibility that women's achieving suffrage could just as well have been an effect, not a cause, of increasing liberalization.) Not satisfied, Vox launched another broadside at me and others, this time using a strawman and a false analogy when he talked about the Swiss and pretty much every other Western nation not letting resident aliens vote as "evidence" that universal suffrage doesn't necessarily make a nation more free. Never mind that nowhere did I make the claim that universal suffrage did necessarily make a nation more free (although that could be an interesting argument) and never mind that there is a huge difference between excluding resident aliens from voting and excluding full citizens from voting on account of gender!

But I tire of Vox, as (no doubt) do you. Apparently he's decided to ignore me without ignoring me, by trashing me but not bothering to link me, perhaps in response to my sarcastic thanks to him for pumping up my hit count the other day. As a self-proclaimed Mensa member, he's proof positive that intelligence tests don't measure reasoning ability very well. It's hard for me to imagine that he's in the same organization that a very old and dear friend of mine is.

Fortunately, there is finally relief for all this bad reasoning and credulous acceptance of dubious assertions right here: The Sixth Edition of the Skeptics' Circle has finally been posted at Socratic Gadfly! After dealing with Vox, I need a dose of reasoned and rational (and--dare I say?--skeptical) blogging, given all the logical fallacies that have washed over this blog from outside sources over the last couple of days, and the Circle is just the place to get my fix. In fact, if there are still any stragglers coming over here referred from my first post lambasting Vox, please stay and check out the Circle. Then go and check out earlier editions. They may even teach you how to recognize some of the fallacies in Vox's "reasoning" with respect to women's suffrage.

And then come on back in two weeks, when the Seventh Edition will be hosted by Thoughts from Kansas on April 28.


  1. Orac here:

    "Never mind the pesky possibility that women's achieving suffrage could just as well have been an effect, not a cause, of increasing liberalization."

    Now using the word liberal (whether you meant 'classical liberal', or today's 'Howard Dean liberal'), and not, 'reduction of liberties' may be your way of chucking in a double meaning to dodge the implications of actually admitting that you just said women's suffrage has done some damage.

    But Vox here if you meant 'Howard Dean liberal':

    "it should come as no surprise that I believe the female franchise has been one of the various negative factors in the significant reduction of American liberties in the last century"

    You should add 'perceived and, for a stronger word, self-deluded, intellectual sophistication over other people' to the blog intro too. Because when it comes to that, well, Orac Knows.

  2. You really aren't very good at straw man arguments, you know. You make them way too obvious for them to achieve their intended effect. I never "admitted" any such thing that women's suffrage has "done damage."

    In any case, I've yet to hear, other than in the vaguest terms ("reduction in American liberties"), what specific "damage" female suffrage has supposedly done to the U.S. (or any other country), and what is the specific evidence that it was women's suffrage that did the "damage." Perhaps you'd like to give a try. Be specific, though. No more hand-waving and argument by assertion, which is all you and Vox have done on this issue.

    As for Vox's comment, clearly he seems to be backing off a bit on the issue--as well he should.

  3. Orac,

    Please try not to associate with these people. They spend so long in their anachronistic, strawman echo chamber, that when a person of reason comes along, it's like a feeding frenzy. Nothing good will come of it. I don't think you can help them. The only way they'll ever come around is learning to face reality on their own. Until then, I think you should politely ignore them. They are insecure people (Mensa? Who is that supposed to impress?) who aggressively try to misinform themselves and others, and they are just looking for a fight.


  4. You have a point.

    Perhaps it's just my long history of tangling on Usenet with creationists, alties, and Holocaust deniers that makes it hard for me to just walk away, even when I should.

  5. Sad, but I think Ali is right.

    Vox ignored the numerous arguments on your blog against his thesis, both relating to women's voting historically in this country and to other countries, and he just asserts victory. Right now he is citing a transcript from the History Channel, part of which notes that women were MUCH less likely to vote for the Communist Party than men! (I assume he doesn't know what the KPD was, as this totally escapes him). Women were somewhat more likely to vote for the Nazi party, so he thinks this proves his point. Never mind that Communism turned out to be a more durable and murderous ideology than Nazism (certainly because it lasted longer)...

    And on his issue of abortion, just today in the UK polls are showing women are quite a bit more likely than men to favor restricting it (as he is). What about "liberty for the unborn" that he talks of?

    He'll never address these questions or the other ones brought up on this site, he'll just say "I'm smart", "I'm in Mensa", and "No one understands my brilliance".

  6. Hate to burst your bubble chief, but Vox did recently address your post. It really does seem to bother you that his life doesn't revolve around debating you. Maybe that's because your insufferable arrogance makes you look more like a peacock fluffing up its feathers in a vain attempt to impress everyone rather than a worthy debater.


  7. "Insufferable arrogance"? A VOX reader accusing someone else of this? And no, he did not address all the issues brought up in the discussions (read the comment sections).

    Vox doesn't even understand the transcript he posted as support for his proposition--what is the KPD Vox?

    Go back to worshipping your master, Mike.

  8. "I never 'admitted' any such thing that women's suffrage has 'done damage.'"

    So tell me then Orac, what DID you mean by this:

    "Never mind the pesky possibility that women's achieving suffrage could just as well have been an effect, not a cause, of increasing liberalization."

  9. By the way Orac, read my first paragraph again, maybe you didn't understand it the first time.

  10. If you can't understand it when everyone else seems perfectly able to, that's not my problem.


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