Literature Summary – Max Schulman’s “Love is a Fallacy”
Love is a Fallacy is the writing of the American satire master of XX century Max Shulman. It’s a short amusing story that has a plot with classical aspects for the youth time. They include intolerance towards other ones’ imperfection, assurance in own rightness and, of course, false approaches and failed attempts to find the one to spend the life with. But what makes it unique is that it can also be used as an easy-to-read guide to logical fallacies.
A self-confident freshman of law school decided since it was only a few years left till he would be a practicing lawyer the time came to look for an appropriate for the career wife. Applying stereotypes from the scope as guidelines for his search, he opted for the girlfriend of his friend’s Petey. He didn’t feel guilty since after chatting a bit he realized that his comrade seemed to care much more about a raccoon coat than about her and almost without doubts traded their relationship for an old piece of wardrobe.
After a few dates, the protagonist realized that his candidate on a life-partner role Polly Espy wasn’t a lawyer wife material as it initially appeared. Especially for such a keen, calculating, perspicacious, acute and astute future professional. But instead of giving up he decided to take the challenge and share with her newly acquired wisdom of logic.
The main character’s goal was to teach his chosen one fundamental aspects of logical, analytical and critical thinking by enlightening her about logical fallacies such as (instances are taken from the story):
Dicto Simpliciter. An argument based on an unqualified generalization.
Example: Everybody should exercise. It’s false, for some people these actions are restricted by physicians.
Hasty Generalization. A conclusion based on the insufficient number of proofs.
Example: The survey of three students indicated that nobody couldn’t speak French in the university. It’s a fallacy since the too small percent of the total amount of scholars was involved in the investigation.
Post Hoc. A hypothesis based on the given dataset.
Example: Every time Bill comes to picnic, it rains. This statement is based on coincidences since that guy doesn’t control the weather. Ergo it can’t be valid.
Contradictory Premises. An argument is deduced from incompatible affirmations.
Example: If God is almighty, he can create a stone that he can’t pick up. It’s false since if God can’t do something that he isn’t omnipotent.
Ad Misericordiam. An irrelevant to the discussion argument that appeals to the sympathy.
Example: A potential employee’s answer to the question about his qualification contains the facts about his miserable life instead of working experience.
False Analogy. A suggested pattern based on the comparison of events or objects that are falsely determined as similar.
Example: If surgeons can use auxiliary remedies during the operation then students should be allowed getting help from textbooks during the exams. It’s an incorrect assumption since surgeons are doing the job, students are taking the test.
Hypothesis Contrary to Fact. A conclusion that is drawn from an untrustworthy fact or statement.
Example: Marie Curie discovered radium because she had left a photographic plate in a drawer with a chunk of pitchblende. It couldn’t be considered as truth since there was no evidence that the finding couldn’t have taken place on any other day or been made by other scientists.
Poisoning the Well. An argument the presentation of which is causing the misjudgment of all followings.
Example: One of the debate participants name others liars before they can express themselves. This way whatever they declare now, they won’t be taken as in earnest as before the opponent’s affirmation.
This logical fallacy helped the teacher by choice to make a breakthrough in his tutoring. His student had finally grasped the sense of the delivered for two nights material. The protagonist was happy that he was able to overcome work, sweat, and darkness and understood it was time to claim the reward.
According to him, Polly, a cretin, wasn’t worthy of him; Polly, a logician, was. So on the next date, he took actions to go steady with her. During anticipation, one realized that he felt like Pygmalion who loved the perfect woman he had fashioned. He was certain in the success.
How surprised he was when Polly defined as a logical fallacy every statement that he used to reach that goal. His direct proposition was rejected either since as she informed him his friend Petey had arranged a commitment with her behind his back. The main character was furious and demanded the answer why she opted for a pathetic Petey and not for him, a brilliant man. It turned out the raccoon coat had outweighed all his advantages.