Sep 112014

road11The Slippery Slope fallacy is probably my least favorite fallacy ever. It seems I run into it every single time I want to talk about anything outside the norm with average people. Thanks to SMBC’s great comic on the matter, I’ve taken to slipping the slope the other way to try to demonstrate how dumb this is. Recent examples:



*Car accidents kill ~35,000 people every year in the US. 90% of accidents are attributed to human error, and self-driving cars eliminate this almost entirely. This is an easy win.

! But I really enjoy driving. Why are you taking away my freedoms to do something I enjoy? You people want to turn the world into such a safe, sterile place that all joy is drained from life and we will in a soul-sucking nanny state!

– Ignoring all other objections, what you’re saying is that you should be allowed to put others in danger for your own amusement. Why not just get rid of all traffic laws and every commute can be an action-packed Road Warrior death race? So much fun!



*It’s better for people to not have Down Syndrome. Terminating a fetus that has tested positive for Down Syndrome is a good thing.

! Down Syndrome children are people, and parents should be happy to raise whatever they’ve been given rather than trying to play god. You’ll proposing a path that will lead us to China’s gender-imbalance problem, because no one will want girls/brunettes/whatever trait.

– You’re right. We should also ban all nutrient supplements to pregnant women, because they should be happy with their natural children rather than trying to play god by making sure they gets enough folic acid.


*Death is bad. We should eliminate it.

! But the world will become over-crowded! We’ll live in a hellish Malthusian dystopia.

– We avoid that right now by letting people die of old age rather than starvation. Your answer to this problem is literally the application of death. What other social problems do you think would be best solved with wide-spread killings?


I try to phrase them a little lighter, and then follow-up with “I didn’t argue that your policy is a slippery slope toward inviting all terrorists to come onto planes with our eyes closed, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try to do that to me.” Or a similar “I didn’t straw-man/slippery-slope you, please don’t do it to me.” Sometimes it works. Other times I just get “You call it a fallacy, I call it the way that the world often works.” /sigh

Still I think a constant, liberal application of slipping the slope in the other direction, every time this is encountered, may eventually make people think just a teeny tiny bit before they jump to using it. I hope I’m not just being naïve again.

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