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The Slippery Slope Argument


JadedAtheist
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Is it a valid of form of argument? poke.gif

 

If not, why does it seem to be used so often with regards to free speech? KatieHmm.gif

 

If so, to what extent; how seriously are we to take this argument before it reaches absurdities? Wendyshrug.gif

 

 

silverpenny013Hmmm.gif

 

 

 

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Depends on the situation.

 

President creates "free speech" zones, there is a huge slippery slope risk here because once politicians get their foot in the door, limiting speech for political purposes, it opens the floodgates as it serves as a precedent. If you limit speech where there is harm, such as banning people from shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater as a joke, there is very little risk of slippery slope consequences.

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Unfortunately, the floodgates have already been blasted wide off of their hinges. Because of a flawed Supreme Court decision in the 1880's billionaires are entitled to more "free speech" than you or I.

 

The aristocracy is alive and flourishing.

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The aristocracy is alive and flourishing.

 

The joke's on their grandchildren. By killing off the middle class, they are shrinking their grandchildren's annuity. :P

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http://www.fallacyfiles.org/slipslop.html

 

 

In essence it depends on the number of steps in between A and Z.

 

So if there are a large number of drug users in an area and that area sees a increase in crime rates proportional to the drug users. Then it is not a logical fallacy to say that drug use leads to increased crime.

 

Saying that a like the link suggest abortion will lead to infantacide is a fallacy becuase the distance between the two is vauge and unclear. Whereas drug user commiting theft to support a habit or even murder to take drugs from another person in documented and clear that the more horrific results will happen the more desperate the person is for drugs.

 

That's my take on it anyway.

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... So if there are a large number of drug users in an area and that area sees a increase in crime rates proportional to the drug users. Then it is not a logical fallacy to say that drug use leads to increased crime.

 

Correlation does not prove causality, though it can suggest the hell out of it. To make the case, you need stats on the actual motives behind the crimes, not just that there was a proportional increase. It also says nothing about what crime rates would be like if drugs were legal. If legal, they may be cheaper, meaning there is less reason for druggies to steal for their drugs.

 

EDIT: Also, legal businesses generally do not use violence to collect debts.

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So if there are a large number of drug users in an area and that area sees a increase in crime rates proportional to the drug users. Then it is not a logical fallacy to say that drug use leads to increased crime.

 

I'm not sure how this is a slippery slope argument. Now if you said legalizing marijuana will lead to a major increase in harder drugs, that would be a slippery slope argument and would also be fallacious.

 

Christians use this fallacy often with homosexuality. They say that if we legalize gay marriage, it opens the door to people wanting to marry their pets and all other sort of devious behavior.

 

As I stated above, the slippery slope doesn't have to be fallacious. This is especially true in common law, which is established by legal precedent. A legal precedent does sometimes have the potential to lead to a slippery slope, which is something that justices have to assess when making their rulings.

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... So if there are a large number of drug users in an area and that area sees a increase in crime rates proportional to the drug users. Then it is not a logical fallacy to say that drug use leads to increased crime.

 

Correlation does not prove causality, though it can suggest the hell out of it. To make the case, you need stats on the actual motives behind the crimes, not just that there was a proportional increase.

 

You don't necessarily have to have data regarding motive. For example, if crime spikes as meth labs in a county crop up, you could easily attribute the increase to meth users assuming all other factors, such as poverty, education, joblessness remain relatively unchanged. There is usually little reliable data regarding motivation, but statisticians have many methods of drilling down to cause that are proven reliable. If it hadn't been so many years since I've taken stats, I could probably provide better examples.

 

It also says nothing about what crime rates would be like if drugs were legal. If legal, they may be cheaper, meaning there is less reason for druggies to steal for their drugs.

 

Right. In fact, I believe there are stats regarding a drop in crime rates in Holland directly correlated to liberalization of the laws. There's an old documentary called Sex, drugs and democracy that is pretty eye-opening regarding the liberalization there.

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You don't necessarily have to have data regarding motive. For example, if crime spikes as meth labs in a county crop up, you could easily attribute the increase to meth users assuming all other factors, such as poverty, education, joblessness remain relatively unchanged. There is usually little reliable data regarding motivation, but statisticians have many methods of drilling down to cause that are proven reliable. If it hadn't been so many years since I've taken stats, I could probably provide better examples.

 

 

I guess that's part of correlation sometimes suggesting the hell out of causality, even if it isn't quite proof.

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Right. In fact, I believe there are stats regarding a drop in crime rates in Holland directly correlated to liberalization of the laws. There's an old documentary called Sex, drugs and democracy that is pretty eye-opening regarding the liberalization there.

 

I'll try to add that to my netflix queue.

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You don't necessarily have to have data regarding motive. For example, if crime spikes as meth labs in a county crop up, you could easily attribute the increase to meth users assuming all other factors, such as poverty, education, joblessness remain relatively unchanged. There is usually little reliable data regarding motivation, but statisticians have many methods of drilling down to cause that are proven reliable. If it hadn't been so many years since I've taken stats, I could probably provide better examples.

 

 

I guess that's part of correlation sometimes suggesting the hell out of causality, even if it isn't quite proof.

 

 

IIRC, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but that doesn't mean it can't. Sometimes there is a statistically significant correlation that is spurious, meaning there is no causation. For example, a spike in crime might correlate with prayer being removed from school (don't know how it would, but this is just an extreme example), but this is clearly spurious. A spike in crime correlating with the 5 new meth labs that popped up in a county, however could reasonably have a causal relationship since many meth users typically steal to feed their habits.

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Right. In fact, I believe there are stats regarding a drop in crime rates in Holland directly correlated to liberalization of the laws. There's an old documentary called Sex, drugs and democracy that is pretty eye-opening regarding the liberalization there.

 

I'll try to add that to my netflix queue.

 

I'd send you a streaming link, but I don't want to turn you into a felon. :P

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You don't necessarily have to have data regarding motive. For example, if crime spikes as meth labs in a county crop up, you could easily attribute the increase to meth users assuming all other factors, such as poverty, education, joblessness remain relatively unchanged. There is usually little reliable data regarding motivation, but statisticians have many methods of drilling down to cause that are proven reliable. If it hadn't been so many years since I've taken stats, I could probably provide better examples.

 

 

I guess that's part of correlation sometimes suggesting the hell out of causality, even if it isn't quite proof.

 

 

IIRC, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, but that doesn't mean it can't. Sometimes there is a statistically significant correlation that is spurious, meaning there is no causation. For example, a spike in crime might correlate with prayer being removed from school (don't know how it would, but this is just an extreme example), but this is clearly spurious. A spike in crime correlating with the 5 new meth labs that popped up in a county, however could reasonably have a causal relationship since many meth users typically steal to feed their habits.

 

In the absolute sense, it cannot prove correlation. Even excluding pure coincidence, two things that correlate and appear to have a cause and effect relationship might really be two co-effects with a possibly unknown but common cause. Maybe petty criminals have a predisposition to also do drugs. Maybe there were non-criminals (drug possession and usage crimes aside) who would have taken drugs all along, but could not until some drug dealing thugs moved into the area and started peddling their drugs along with other mutherfuckery. Still, with the example correlation, it probably is a safe bet that a spike in illegal drug usage causes other crimes.

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I don't really tend to buy into slippery slope arguments. The problem with them is that they deny the existence of middle ground, which is where people and policies end up most of the time.

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Right. In fact, I believe there are stats regarding a drop in crime rates in Holland directly correlated to liberalization of the laws. There's an old documentary called Sex, drugs and democracy that is pretty eye-opening regarding the liberalization there.

 

I'll try to add that to my netflix queue.

 

I'd send you a streaming link, but I don't want to turn you into a felon. :P

 

I've noticed .... umm. umm.. I mean a friend told me that one of his friends noticed that a lot of those streaming sites are in from Russia.

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In the absolute sense, it cannot prove correlation.

 

Statistics can never be absolute. But you can get a very reasonable probability using them, which is useful and reliable. Pharmaceutical companies prove this every day. Political statistics, necessarily, use a wider standard deviation than drug testers, so they aren't as reliable, but relatively, they are very reliable if used correctly and good data is available.

 

I'm probably sounding pedantic, so sorry about that. It just seems like many people discount findings and rely on the correlation doesn't necessarily equal causation argument to justify wrong-thinking.

 

Maybe petty criminals have a predisposition to also do drugs.

 

Wouldn't work if the crime increased after the meth labs.

 

but could not until some drug dealing thugs moved into the area and started peddling their drugs along with other mutherfuckery.

 

Sure, but for the sake of argument, I could imagine home grown meth labs and stats that didn't show an increase or decrease in new arrivals.

 

it probably is a safe bet that a spike in illegal drug usage causes other crimes.

 

Exactly. And with the right data, you might even be very safe to make the assumption.

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I don't really tend to buy into slippery slope arguments. The problem with them is that they deny the existence of middle ground, which is where people and policies end up most of the time.

 

Not necessarily. Those who use that arguement just recognize the fact that politicians are more than happy to abuse ambiguities in statutes and court rulings. If hate speech legislation is ever passed, just wait and see what all is declared hate speech. The slippery slope argument isn't necessarily a deal killer with any proposition, but it is something to be weighed along with other pros and cons.

 

Edited for clarity.

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First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --

Because I was not a Socialist.

 

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --

Because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

-Martin Niemoller

 

The slippery slope fallacy is only a fallacy until it happens. For example: A law is passed giving police sweeping new powers to fight a public enemy. After this disregard for civil rights the government begins tapping the phones of dissenters. After this is again ignored the government begins to torture prisoners of war.

 

 

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