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When Prayer Becomes Propaganda

At first glance, the prayer that Father James Martin, S.J. recently published in America, the magazine he edits, seems a heartfelt petition. On closer reading, however, it is more a political statement framed as a prayer.

To be sure, it contains elements that qualify as prayer, notably a plea for God to care for the souls of the dead, the injuries of the wounded, the pain of families, and the exhaustion of caregivers, as well as for the soul of the offender.… Read More


The Age of the Double Standard

Applying a double standard means minimizing or overlooking the lapses in logic or ethics of people we like or agree with, while magnifying those of people we dislike or disagree with. Logic condemns double standards because they constitute unsound thinking; ethics condemns them because of their unfairness. Unfortunately, double standards are so common that they have come to define modern discourse, especially in political matters.

A typical example of a double standard occurred in mid-August of 2017 in the media attack on President Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, MD.… Read More


O’Reilly’s “Potential Human Being”

Fetus, 36278550_sWhen Bill O’Reilly used the term “potential human being” to describe a human fetus in 2011, Catholic Online (among other journals) quickly corrected him. However, he evidently didn’t get the message, because he continued to use the term. Four years later, on May 28, 2015, he showed a letter from a viewer objecting to the term and then chastised him, arguing that the term was less extreme than that used by many pro-life advocates and therefore a more effective way to advance the pro-life cause.… Read More


Politicians Abusing Logic

Hillary ShruggingWhen a spokesman was asked whether the State Department would investigate allegations that Hillary had misused her office, he replied, “We’re not going back to do a retroactive examination of each of those cases and we’re not going to make a retroactive judgment,” adding that they are not aware of any cases of such abuse.

Two reporters then asked him whether the Department’s lack of awareness wasn’t precisely the reason they should investigate and find out whether the allegations were true.… Read More


The Decline of Thinking

Mind as Puzzle, 11498622_sAn interesting observation about the prevalence of inconsistencies and contradictions is making the email rounds. “Food for Thought” by someone named or pen-named Junius P. Long is a simple list of eleven examples, including these:

Children need a note from parents to bring an aspirin to school but not to get an abortion

We need photo identification to buy liquor or get on a plane but not to vote

In New York City, two 16-ounce sodas can be purchased, but not one 24-ouncer

Workers gives tax money to the government, then the government gives it to non-workers

Long’s list can easily be lengthened.… Read More


The Butterfly Effect and America’s Decline

Butterfly in Flight (OK w TinEye)As a child, you no doubt enjoyed tossing pebbles in a body of water and watching the ripples extend far from the point of impact. On a much larger scale such movement is known as the Butterfly Effect, a term coined by Edward Lorenz, in which the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can make a slight alteration in air currents that, through a series of events, affects the formation of a storm thousands of miles away.… Read More


The Most Serious Thinking Error

Man Browbeating 4926088644_226da4a963_zWhat mental error poses the greatest obstacle to intelligent thought and behavior today? It’s hard to pick just one, but if pressed, I’d say “mine is better” thinking. The term can’t be found in most logic books—I coined it many years ago in a book on thinking to describe a mindset that was becoming increasingly evident in all walks of life.

Today, evidence of “mine is better” thinking is everywhere, including education, journalism, law, and perhaps most notably, government.… Read More


Whatever Happened to Logic?

(123RF Purchase)14194886_sOnce upon a time, logic was held in high regard. Most educated people were acquainted with its basic principles and had at least modest skill in separating sound arguments from unsound ones. For example, they would see the validity of “All human beings are mortal; Americans are human beings; therefore Americans are mortal.” They would likewise recognize the fallacy in “Even geniuses make errors; I make errors; therefore I am a genius.”

They were also familiar with common pitfalls in thinking, including oversimplification, overgeneralization, unwarranted assumption,contradiction, and hasty conclusion.… Read More


A Sensible Approach To Voting

voteIt’s not hard to imagine the following conversation.

Bill: I’m voting the same way I did in 2008, for Obama and Biden.

Agnes: Why do prefer them?

Bill: My family have all been Democrats for generations. We like what the Democratic Party stands for. How are you voting?

Agnes: For Romney and Ryan. My family would disown me if I voted any other way.

Bill: Have you ever considered crossing over?… Read More