My Fallacy Is Made of Straw?

A few days ago I wrote an entry pointing out a logical fallacy in a article about Christian reactions to Harry Potter. But author Richard Abanes (whom I quote in the post) feels that I am the one committing a fallacy, specifically that I have set up a strawman to tear down.

“Those of us who are thoughtfully concerned about Harry Potter are NOT committing the loigical fallacy you cite. Instead, we are saying other things that you apparently missed in your rush to find a logical fallacy.”

Actually, this is the fallacy I pointed out:

“According to Retail Trends, interest in Wicca materials, schools, spells has doubled since the release of the Harry Potter series.”

There is no hard evidence linking a rise in the interest in Wicca to the popularity of Harry Potter. No matter how much correlation (including Wiccans who believe the books lead seekers to them) you document it still doesn’t imply causation. That is a fallacy. In pointing out this fallacy I wasn’t trying to erase the validity of concerned parents, I was pointing out that Harry Potter can’t be used to claim a spike in sales and interest in Wicca. There is no strawman there.

“you quote me as saying: “Many real-world occultists and Wiccans are using the popularity of Harry Potter to bring kids into their practices.” But this, my friend, is not a logical fallacy, it is a statement of fact?big difference. If you were to do a little research, you would find that Wiccans, occultists, and assorted neopagans have now produced books and other non-fiction (and fiction-based) materials that target children and use Harry Potter as a lure of curiosity (explicit references to HP, etc.). Documentation is in my book “Harry POtter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings” (I assume you DID read it before commenting, right?).”

You can line up a hundred “real-world” (as opposed to what, imaginary) occultists and Wiccans but it still doesn’t imply causation in the issue of Harry Potter driving people to Wicca. I know that there are books that use Potter-influenced themes written by Wiccans and occultists but that is mostly a case of Harry Potter becoming such a hugely popular book, before Potter Wiccan authors referenced other works of fantasy to make a point or to sell more books. Also is every book referencing Harry Potter “targetting” children? Harry Potter is also hugely popular with adults (so I hear).

“It is a well-known fact that children emulate what they see (or read about) if think somethng is cool, fun, or exciting.”

What percentage? Which studies do you refer to when making this assertment?

“Now, it is not absurd to suggest that PERHAPS?just PERHAPS?some kids might also (out of curiosity) want to start delving into astrology, numerology, divination, occult lore, and other aspects of the HP stories. Is that paranoid? I don’t think. And it is not a logical fallacy (again). It is a plausible outcome of actions and response, especially in light of a 2002 national survey found that after seeing HP, 12% of teens surveyed were more interested in witchcraft than before seeing the film.”

What does “interest in witchcraft” mean for a Harry Potter fan? Does that automatically translate into “interest in religious witchcraft”? Kids can get interested in witchcraft from watching the “Wizard of Oz” does that make them potential Wiccans? I’m quite interested in Catholic history, but it doesn’t make me want to convert.

“as for being paranoid and frothing a the mouth, there are a vast number of evanelicals who would fit neither description.”

Indeed. Never did I say “all” or even “most”.

“Rapid fundamentalists who burn boooks represent one extreme. The other extreme is represented by poeple like you, who do not have any of their facts straight, resort to name-calling, and have preconceived prejudice against those who may hold a different opinion (especially if they happen to be religious).”

Well, I do think that the ruckus over Harry Potter’s “dangers” is paranoid. I wasn’t attacking anyone’s theology or religion. I was writing my opinion, I don’t have a prejudice against different opinions that I know of, except against arguments that don’t make much sense.

“Anyway, suffice it to say that you are the one here who committed error: 1) the logical fallacy known as a strawman argument; and 2) lack of facts on another’s arguments.”

Actually I don’t think I actually commit the strawman fallacy in my post. Secondly, you are referenced only tangentially in the post. The post wasn’t really about you.

“And BTW, you should actually read statements from actual pagans and wiccans and other occultists about what THEY see inn the books. I quote dozens of them in my volume.”

Good for you. If you want to send me a free copy for review let me know.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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