Bill Ronis: Slippery slope in commissioner's stance


Thursday morning, while driving to work, I heard one of the county commissioners being interviewed on the local radio station.

His words took me back to my college days and a Speech 101 class I attended called "Illogical Reasoning in Contemporary Rhetoric." The county commissioner was arguing against a ban on shooting prairie dogs.

His argument seemed illogical to me, so I dug out my Speech 101 notes, and verified the feeling I had.

The county commissioner was saying that if we ban the shooting of prairie dogs, then we will ban the shooting of predators, and then we will ban the shooting of deer, and then the shooting of elk.

So, if we ban the shooting of prairie dogs now, eventually we will ban the shooting of everything down the road.

I found in my notes that this is the fallacy of the Slippery Slope/Domino Theory. The Slippery Slope is a fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question.

In most cases, there are a series of steps or gradations between one event and the one in question and no reason is given as to why the intervening steps or gradations will simply be bypasses.

This argument has the following form:

1. Event X has occurred (or might occur).

2. Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.

This sort of reasoning is fallacious because there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitably follow from another without an argument for such a claim.

It doesn't matter what the argument, just beware of fallacious reasoning.

So, it's the old adage of don't believe everything you hear. Just because an elected official says it, doesn't make it true.

Bill Ronis


Digger55 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey, Bill, thank you for an excellent perspective. It falls along the same argument used by gay bashers, who claim legalizing marriage between two homosexuals would in turn lead to the legalization of beastiality.

It is unreasonable to lump a vital keystone species, in with any of the others. Black-tailed prairie dogs are a unique in their place in the ecosystem, because so many other species are co-dependent. Unfortunately, members of the Cattleman's Association and other special interest groups, are only capable of seeing the prairie dog situation from their own limited Universe.

The commission has an opportunity to do the right thing, which would be a refreshing change.


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