Sunday, October 02, 2011

Logically ripped off

In an earlier post I argued that the purveyors of New Age mumbo-jumbo depend on logic to further their claims.  Here's an example.  Release Technique, a positive thinking product promises to show you "step by step, how to remove the negative blocks that prevent you from living a fulfilling life of ease and abundance."  The promise is a carefully formulated proposition that involves living a rewarding life, in ease and abundance, i.e. lack of want.  It also promise that "The Release Technique's Self Help Program will help you get control over your health and finances and live in certainty."  It is advertised as "the greatest advancement in the history of behavioral science.

It goes further.  It says "Many graduates have doubled and tripled their income, became a partner with their employer, climbed the corporate ladder, retired wealthy, gained a competitive edge, taken charge of their lives, overcome serious problems, gotten a clear direction in life, and achieve financial freedom. They have gone into business for themselves and are doing spectacularly well! They have moved into brand new homes and have gotten better jobs, become healthier." These are all easily verifiable criteria.

The point being that all this does not depend on abandoning the laws of logic.  On the contrary, the promises have reasonably clear truth conditions, and make claims that could be shown to be true or false, and thus depend for their very meaning and intelligibility on the existence of standard or ordinary logic.

Reasons are given for believing this technique will be effective.  A satisfied customer writes "This is my first encounter with the Release Technique. I feel I have gained a lot from this course, I became aware I had a lot of my hidden agendas, negative thoughts and beliefs that were running my life. As I was releasing, I got more clear and light, feeling more relaxed and more quiet, more peaceful and more serene. I received $425,000 since using the method. Thank you, thank you."  This is a standard part of the scientific method.  Always question the claims being made, and seek evidence of their truth (in this case, the evidence being a customer statement of having made $425,000).

This all justifies our going to the check-out counter here and forking out $279. Though I don't recommend going any further, folks, given what it says in Ripoff Report here.

The point is, scammers rely on ordinary logic to make their claims, and to back them up.  Warning: check the soundness, as well as the validity of their arguments.  A valid argument is one whose premisses cannot be true with the conclusion false.  It can be valid even when the premisses are false.  A sound argument, by contrast, is a valid argument with true premisses.  If you are going to part with $279, go for soundness every time.

No comments: