YANSS 075 – Special Pleading and Moving the Goalposts

Without realizing it, you sometimes apply a double standard to the things you love, believe, and consider crucial to your identity.

If you do this while arguing, it is sometimes called special pleading. You search for exemptions and excuses for why a rule or a description or a definition does not apply to something that you hold dear while still applying those standards to everything else.

You also use special pleading to explain away how something extraordinary failed to stand up to scrutiny, or why there is a lack of evidence for a difficult-to-believe claim that you personally think is credible.

One of the tools used by special pleaders is called moving the goalposts. Whenever your opponent eliminates one of your claims, you alter your claim just a smidge so that it remains right outside your opponent’s rhetorical grasp. When they do it again, you move your claim a bit more.

In this episode, listen as three experts in logic and reasoning dive deep into the odd thinking behind the special pleading fallacy and how you move the goalposts to keep from seeming incorrect.

This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the seventh in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSS – Soundcloud

This episode is brought to you by the MIT Press, publishing Marc Wittmann’s Felt Time The Psychology of How We Perceive TimeRead more about Felt Time and a few other new science, philosophy, language, and technology titles at mitpress.com/smart.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is also brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and 10 percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code SOSMART.

This episode is also sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with The Fundamentals of Photography filmed in partnership with The National Geographic and taught by professional photographer Joel Sartore. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

BobBob Blaskiewicz is an assistant professor who teaches, among other subjects, critical thinking at Stockton University. He also writes about logic and reasoning at skepticalhumanities.com, and is a regular guest on the YouTube show The Virtual Skeptics.

julia-galef-headshot

Julie Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit devoted to training people to be better at reasoning and decision-making. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and writes for publications like Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science. This is her website.

Vanessa Hill is an Australian science writer and stop-motion animator who hosts BrainCraft, a PBS series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. She previously worked for Australia’s national science agency, as a science reporter for ScienceAlert, and has appeared in TIME,The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and Brain Pickings. Her Twitter page is here.

In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is JP who sent in a recipe for Portuguese Pine Nut Cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Links and Sources

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

BrainCraft

Center for Applied Rationality

Skeptical Humanities 

Your Logical Fallacy Is

PBS Idea Channel

A Guide to Logical Fallacies

Image Source – “A Special Pleader,” painted in 1893 by
Charles Burton Barber sent through the Deep Dream GeneratorWikimedia Commons