Logical Fallacies

A reader writes:

Dear Ray: I’ve always been told it’s better to be shot at and missed than shit at and hit. While getting shit on obviously does suck, getting shot at means someone doesn’t like you enough to want to shoot at you in the first place. So is it really better?


Dear Scatman: I’m afraid your question contains a logical fallacy which I cannot let pass by without at least partially fleshing out. But that doesn’t make it a total waste. You, sir, have committed the fallacy of insufficient feculence — not nearly as egregious as, for example, equivocating on the critical issue of pulling out.

I pray, sir, that this doesn’t sound like a load of crap to you, and please don’t cut me off before we finish our business here, but you simply cannot reasonably infer that “getting shot at [and missed] means that someone doesn’t like you enough to want to shoot at you in the first place.” That’s just BS. It’s also hasty. And only an adversary epistemology advocates haste. In fact, the person shooting at you may very much want to put a slug in your guts, but he may just be a bad shot — for instance, because he has no stool upon which to rest his gun, or perhaps there’s too much movement in other ways.

In any case, the answer to your loaded question is unequivocal: it is indeed far better to be shot at and missed. And that’s no shit.

Follow up question:

Dear Ray: I read your response to Scatman, and I thought it was rock-solid advice. So I thought I’d write in with a question of my own, along somewhat similar lines:

Is it OK to put Germ X (or Purell) on my anus?

Red Button

Dear Red Button: Man, what is with you assholes? Your question is ambiguous — another logical fallacy. The answer depends upon what you mean by “OK.” If by “OK” you mean peculiar, then, yes, it is definitely “OK.” And if by “OK” you mean potentially pathophobic, misophobic, or otherwise inordinately concerned with personal hygiene, then, yes, it is definitely “OK.” But if by “OK” you mean perfectly safe, we run aground.

You see, ethyl alcohol, which is what these hand sanitizers use to kill germs, has indeed been known to cause problems: namely, the problem of pruritus, which, like writing a symphony (according to Brahms), “is no joke.” Pruritus is a rare side-effect, however, and so I imagine that your anus (insofar as I’m able to imagine your anus at all, which isn’t, thank heavens, much) will probably be, as you say, “OK.” If you do go that route, though, Ray recommends using an aloe-vitamin-e-moisturizing variety of sanitizer, thereby killing two birds with one stone. Why not?


  • Dale

    February 7, 2010

    The mental image of “shit at and hit” is, for me, quite surreal, and both disgusting and disturbing. It’s kind of like having Obama as president with Democrat supermajorities in Congress. Hey, wait, didn’t that actually happen?

  • EJ

    February 9, 2010

    Man, this started off so good, oh so interesting. It derailed though.

    People, be very careful about who you listen to.

  • EJ

    February 9, 2010

    Ray is well worth trying to understand.

  • Ray

    February 9, 2010

    Derailed! What on earth do you mean, bro? I felt that by the end, I was just hitting my stride.

  • Dave Cochrane

    February 9, 2010

    AT the end of the day – indeed, at any time – if the missile misses, it matters not a jot whether said missile constitutes lead or shite.

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