Just because others do it doesn't make it right

A marketer (Naomi Dunford) engages in some apologetics for Marketing by using the classic Tu-Quoque fallacy. This post explains why she is horribly wrong.

A case of Tu quoque: "By Jove, what extra...
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I just saw a stunningly fallacious defence of marketing lies and I couldn’t avoid writing about it. Apparently, Naomi Dunford got so upset that someone complained about Marketers manipulating the truth that she decided to say something about it. The type of defence she followed is the type of thing mothers teach their little children not to use, the classic Tu-Quoque fallacy.

Basically Naomi is telling us that because everyone “manipulates the truth” to an extent, we have no reason to complain about Marketers doing the same or taking them to task when they do so. A Marketer is apparently justified in hiding the ugly truth of his products through deceptive tactics as long as they’re not outright lying (only because that’s against the law obviously) since everyone is doing this kind of Marketing anyway; Promoting the good and hiding the bad.

At the very start of the article, we are given some examples of this type of activity that many people engage in to show us that we’re all guilty in a sense. Well, first of all, there are many people who do not do any of these types of activities. By broadly painting everyone as a certain “sinner”, Naomi only comes out as insulting.

Secondly, and far more importantly, all of these activities are condemned to a degree, depending on the severity. If I continuously lie to my friends, blaming my wife for not going out when in truth I’m not in the mood, then sooner or later the time will come to pay the piper. Someone will figure it out, either my wife or my friends and I will get my just condemnation. This tells us that while some people may be manipulating the truth, it does not make it accepted.

What Naomi seems incapable of distinguishing is that there are many types of “truth manipulation”. There’s white lies, there’s lies and there’s damn lies (and then there’s Statistics.) Many of the types of examples she gave us would fall into the category of white lies or simple lies. The former, while are generally accepted by society due to them being utilitarian (lying in this case bring about more harm than good) can still be considered wrong by the target. The later, while they can be occasionally tolerated, certainly are frowned upon and one too many of them will strain a relationship. That is, all these acts that Naomi pointed in her Tu-Quoque, do not really prove that we are wrong to condemn her career’s tactics, but is rather a puny attempt to skirt the issue for those poor marketers.

But in truth, “manipulating the truth” in marketing is for most people a much greater evil than either white lies or lies. It falls in the ‘damn lies’ category and for a very good reason. There’s no recourse for the person who was mislead. You can always break a relationship with someone who always tries to come out good through lying, and this act by itself is punishment enough most of the time, especially if you inform other people that he knows. But for a consumer, once a product is bought and there was no “lying in advertisement”, there’s nothing they can do.

This kind of manipulation hurts people in a very practical sense and thus we have reason to discourage it. We do not appreciate your “Marketing” making us buy the wrong product just because you failed to mention something. If your product is good, then list all the good and bad together and let it stand on its own merits, not by manipulation.

So we have reason to discourage Marketing, but how do we do it? By the only way we can, words and private actions. We condemn the Marketers who engage in such behaviour and we boycott procucts and companies who insist on hiring their services. We do this in far more intensity then other lies because the weight of the harm that marketing does is greater as well. The purpose of all this is clear. We want this type of truth manipulation for profit to stop.

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Unfortunately it seems that creationists are not the only ones limited to lying. There are many others who even though they claim an intellectual base (in biology no-less) but are just as shallow and quick to turn to comment deleting and banning in order to silence and the ones that refute them.

Thus, witness the my recent exchange with one such liar with whom I tried to engage in a conversation after I read a recent post from the Black Sun journal. Initially I left a simple comment and didn’t expect to respond any more. However after taking a second look and seeing that I’ve been labeled as an Objectivist (of all things)I decided to leave a second one.

I expected it to be deleted in short order which is why I kept my browser window open to it. And this is exactly what happened. Not only that, but the blog author decided to tell blatant lies in order to save whatever credence she had left with her audience. Unfrotunately, for some reason my browser window reloaded and I lost my comment (although you can see when I tagged it here) which means I cannot easily copy-paste it here.

Within my reply, in short, I tried to actually discuss the matter with her. I explained that she was doing the all too common fallacy of appealing to emotion. I explained how having the goverment take an active hand in the curriculum does not lead to totalitarianism, as exemplified by the situation in Europe where not only is the education level superior to the USA but homeschooling is also illegal. I asked her to put aside for a moment the communism/fascism idea and actually try to discuss the issue at hand.

What did I get for my trouble? I am being labeled as Black Sun’s alias, an Objectivist and a Troll.

Now, you would assume that anyone with even 2 minutes to space would very easily discover the validity of the first two claims by visiting my blogger profile, clicking on the “My Website” link and then coming to the Division by Zer0. Then it would be obvious that I am independent from BSJ and also find out my thoughts on objectivism (Hint: They’re not positive). It would also be easy to surmise that I am also not a Troll, unless Troll for this particular hypocrite includes anyone who disagrees with her…

But no. Even that simple task was too much to ask for this Homeschooler. It was just so much easier to delete my comment, put her comments on moderation (so that we don’t spoil her party) and put invalid labels on me and everyone else who dissagreed with her. Just read Black Sun’s latest post for more amusement.

If this is the kind of discussion she is having, I’m feeling sorry for her kid(s). I really am. Here is a child who will grow up learning that you should never challenge your authority figures or else you risk losing your rights to speech. And Gawd help the kid if he so much as dares to say that Communism/Socialism has some nice ideas. Seeing how she reacted to people proposing goverment intervention in order to save children from being kept ignorant, I’m half-expecting her to explode and start urgent brainwashing procedures (Yeah right, as if she’s not doing so now…)

It’s impressive though. Even Objectivists were not so rude so as to delete comments without a fair warning and an attempt to discussion.

Unfortunately people like this seem to be perfectly happy to live in their little bubble world where all they hear is praises from their friends. Putting their head in the sand is apparently a very appropriate method of dealing with issues and they’re displaying the classic “Live and let die” mind frame that has, and still is, creating so many problems in the world. It is a pity but like a hedgehog, when reality rears its ugly head, they will prefer to curl up in a ball rather than face it.

I have no specific problem with that when it affects only themselves but unfortunately not only do they brainwash their children to act in such a manner but they are also spreading their lies to the blogosphere without havign to deal with any feedback. Against such action, like Alonzo Fyfe says, our only course of action is Words and Private Actions. You have seen my own actions already and these are to spread the word and label them as appropriate.

I urge any and all of you (yes, all five) to expose such people for what they are by linking to them with keywords that describe them. I selected “Liar” in this caseand Black Sun selected the quite appropriate “Hypocrite”. They may be able to delete comments but  unfortunately for them, they cannot delete linkbacks on the web. Hopefully anyone who is looking at whom is linking to them is bound to discover the antilogue…

If you dissagree with my action on the other hand, I’d love to hear your opinion on this.