Another short one today due to rainy weather but we still managed to get a good discussion in.
Given that our last few sessions were about logical fallacies and gay rights, one of my kids wanted to look at some typical anti-gay arguments and take them apart. We only got through one(!) due to the massive discussion it created.
“Being gay is unnatural.”
So what’s the issue there? The fallacy being committed is the ‘appeal to nature‘, albeit slightly in reverse. The appeal to nature is the claim that something is ‘natural’ therefore it is good. In this instance the claim is that being gay is unnatural therefore it is bad.
This fallacy can easily be counted with examples of bad natural things (poison ivy, earthquakes, uranium) and good “man-made” things (aspirin, the internet, trains). The fallacy itself is usually used to promote herbal remedies and the like. I like to use it to promote cyclones.
It was also suggested that what’s natural for one person might not be for another. To a gay person, being gay is presumably very natural for them. To one person a standard banana might be ok whereas another would only touch an “organic” fruit. It seems that we can’t use the word natural to mean ‘good’, but we can’t even use the word natural to mean ‘natural’!
There is a fuzzy line between natural and artificial. Willow bark is a natural pain remedy and aspirin is an artificial one. However aspirin was originally derived from willow bark so where do we stand? I guess being totally natural means living nude in caves and eating raw animals whereas totally artificial involves being a brain in a jar.
On a side note I will be speaking for the Mordi Skeptics in the Pub tomorrow evening at 7:30pm. I am really looking forward to facing a room full of drunken sceptics, plus my wife is coming along so I’ll have to watch my language.
See you there!