Don’t be a Fallacy

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Editor’s note: We still have a few spots open for an evening with Nancy Hiller at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 in our Covington, Ky., storefront. Nancy will read from her book, there will be beverages for everyone and then we’ll play some games. Read more here. Or skip that and get your tickets here.

Twenty years ago, I had to replace my refrigerator. Being a person who breaks into a cold sweat at the thought of facing the wires, tubes and electrical panels that make up the contemporary fridge, I bought a new one, the lowest-end, no-frills model from Sears, which came with a warranty, instead of gambling on a used appliance. Delivery added so little to the price that I signed up for it.

Two young men arrived with the refrigerator, which they carried up the steps to the side door just off the kitchen. I know a fridge can be a beast to handle, but as this pair scraped their strap’s buckle across the original 1925 door and crashed like drunken fraternity pledges into the old fir casing, they piqued my concern, to put it mildly. I’m no stranger to the challenges of delivering unwieldy objects to homes where nervous customers hover close by (“Be careful of that newel post!” “Watch the wallpaper!“). So as a fellow working person, I asked them respectfully to show a bit of care.

“She don’t like men,” one of them remarked dryly to his partner.

“No, she don’t,” agreed the colleague with a knowing glance at my work boots (men’s size 8-1/2).

Suddenly I was transported back to a classroom at Indiana University in the summer of 1990: Dan Bixler’s philosophy course, “P105. Introduction to Critical Thinking and Reasoning.” Here I was, face to face with an excellent example of the ad hominem fallacy: She’s gay, so she’s being unreasonably critical of us. Ignore her. Not only were they careless and rude – to a customer, no less (way to help your employer, guys!). They were also bigots. I was speechless.

The fact is, I love men. And this has nothing to do with my sexual orientation or footwear.

– Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work

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The opening page of the chapter on Fallacies from Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic (Macmillan, 1990)

About nrhiller

cabinetmaker and author
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6 Responses to Don’t be a Fallacy

  1. Sorry you had/have to put up with that garbage… Thanks for your work!

  2. jfthomas70 says:

    Sounds just like some kunckle-draggers I have met. Making a good come-back comment rarely penetrates, so I just let it go.

  3. ctdahle says:

    I think the same jerks delivered the washer and dryer I bought from Sears in 1998. I was practicing law at the time. They looked at my wingtips with the same scorn and were equally careless.

    I don’t think there is any fallacy in suggesting that this is among the reasons Sears is about the last place anyone thinks of when they are looking for appliances these days.

  4. claydeforge says:

    Good for you!

  5. Well put, Nancy. Hang in there. Maybe one of these days…

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