A Lesson In Logic Courtesy of John C. Wright

John C. Wright, loser of a record number of Hugo awards in a single year, has a reasonable beef with George R. R. Martin:

For one, Mr Martin would have seemed more sincere had he not parenthetically added “And too many people empowered VD and his slate… either by voting for the work he slated (often unread)…” Which says, in other words, that those who voted for my works in record numbers, giving me a record number of nominations, did not read those works.

The claim is not correct, but it is politically correct, that is, this is the narrative convenient for SocJus, and the mere fact no one could possibly know this is a matter of sublime indifference.

Often unread, indeed, Mr. Martin? And how, praytell, would you or any mortal man know such a thing? The Hugo committee does not quiz the voters on their reading comprehension.

While is, in fact, possible for a mortal man* to know this by, you know, asking people, it seems unlikely that Martin has personally polled enough of Vox Day’s supporters to know if they read the works they nominated or if they simply voted as Day asked them to without first reading the material. Martin’s jibe is probably not supported by direct knowledge and Wright is right to call him out for this.

While we’re on the subject, check out this even more egregious example of stating an opinion pulled out of one’s ass as “fact:”

The Social Justice Warriors did in fact react precisely as Mr Beale predicted, and after the Sad Puppies unexpectedly swept several categories in the nominations, the SJWs used their superior numbers to vote NO AWARD into that category rather than give the award to whichever work was most worthy among the candidates.

This was done purely and openly for political reasons. The mask is torn. No honest onlooker can doubt the motive of the Social Justice Warriors at this point, or ponder whether the claims made by the Sad Puppies were true or false.

This is just whacky. Just as the Hugo committee does not quiz the voters on their reading comprehension, it also doesn’t request a reason for each vote. The writer may have their own bizarre, petty, paranoid reasons for believing that the results of the voting has some sinister meaning behind it and that the writer knows for certain what this meaning is, but, again, as Wright said, “how, praytell (sic) would you or any mortal man know such a thing?”

The punch line, of course, is that the second quoted section is from….John C. Wright’s blog. He posted it two days before his taking George R. R. Martin to task for doing the same damn thing. He called Martin “dishonest” for his statements, so you pretty much have to conclude that, by his own standards, Wright’s just as dishonest.  I’m starting to get the impression that “No Award” was a deserving winner…

* Is there any other kind of man?

EDIT: Frequent readers are probably aware of the fact that I retracted a post about Wright because it felt mean to be dog-piling on a guy with as many issues as him. That’s still true, but by my math, if he starts attacking other people for doing exactly the same things he himself does? All bets are off.

EDIT 2: Zaklog’s comment lets me know that I haven’t made one part of this clear, so let me elaborate a bit. We’ll use an extended metaphor. Those are fun, right? Ok, let’s say you’re a democrat and you’re trying to get a job at a company that’s been hiring a lot of republicans lately. You show up for your interview, and you tell you’re interviewer “I’m a democrat, and I’m pissed that you have only been hiring republicans. So, I got my buddy to shred all the applications from republicans. Also, I think you’re a jerk, your kid is stupid, and your wife is ugly. When do I start?”  Strangely enough, you don’t get the job even though you think you have a really good resume.

If your takeaway from this is “This just proves that this company won’t hire democrats!”…well, I guess you can say it, but don’t expect anyone to take you seriously when you do.

EDIT 3: It occurs to me that I haven’t specifically identified the logical fallacy employed. It’s the Anecdotal Fallacy: I heard people in an elevator talking, therefor no neutral party could possibly be unconvinced by my statement!

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24 thoughts on “A Lesson In Logic Courtesy of John C. Wright

  1. When people who are planning to vote “No Award” are openly bragging that they have not read any of the works, and are applauded for this by their comrades, then yes, it is reasonable to say that the No Award votes were largely political. Why must you be so dishonest?

    1. It didn’t take long for one of these to pop up, did it? Ok, I’ll explain it even though it annoys me that people would have the nerve to deploy this argument.

      There are, of course, people who voted “No Award” who did not read the books. There are people who applauded them? Does it then follow that the reason they voted this way is political, that they wouldn’t let the “wrong people” win?

      No, of course not. You’d have to be incredibly narrow-minded to believe that. I’m sure that you remember that the registration spiked after the word got out that a group gamed the system to ensure that their books were the only ones on the ballot. I’m sure you can come up with other reasons, more plausible reasons, why people voted “No Award,” whether or not they read the works. In short, Wright’s claim is most definitely a work of mind reading. He’s guilty of the same thing he (correctly) criticized Martin for.

      1. Okay, since you’re apparently very dim, I’ll try this slowly. What reason would an honest person have to vote No Award over a work he has not read if not politics? And why would people who were planning on voting on the award brag about not having read the works?

        Of course, there’s also the massive libel campaign against the Puppies in several major media outlets to take into account. If all you’re interested in is the quality of the work, why do your mouthpieces have to spread so many vicious lies about the character of the people involved?

        Why must you tell such childishly obvious lies?

  2. Those are fun, right? Ok, let’s say you’re a democrat and you’re trying to get a job at a company that’s been hiring a lot of republicans lately. You show up for your interview, and you tell you’re interviewer “I’m a democrat, and I’m pissed that you have only been hiring republicans. So, I got my buddy to shred all the applications from republicans. Also, I think you’re a jerk, your kid is stupid, and your wife is ugly. When do I start?” Strangely enough, you don’t get the job even though you think you have a really good resume.

    Your analogy, Sir, is incorrect. It’s more like somebody coming in and saying, “I’m a democrat, and I noticed that you’ve only been hiring republicans. So I, a democrat, have decided to test this out by bringing in a whole bunch of new applicants you may or may not have heard of, some of whom will also be democrats.”

    And then the interviewer’s response is, instead of considering the applications, to chuck them all into a fire and say “Listen, Mr. Democrat, I refuse to consider anybody who is associated with you!” This despite the fact that a great deal of them had nothing to do with being picked as nominees.

    The obvious response to this is, of course, to say “Exactly right. You won’t even CONSIDER that there are potentially great candidates you might not have originally thought of, because they might be tainted by badthink.”

    Mr. Wright is, besides Jim Butcher, definitely the most popular of the Puppies authors, as well as the author with, rightly, the best reputation. It’s not unreasonable to think that the vast majority of the nominees probably read his work…unless, of course, they voted No Award, in which case I’d bet a solid pretty penny they did not.

    1. (Oh yeah – and chucking the applications into the fire is the equivalent of saying that you would rather not have the job at all if it means one of the “new” applicants doing it – even if they weren’t even a part of the original application process.)

      1. Hrm…not seeing it. I think it’s more like saying “If these are the only candidates I’m being offered, I think I’ll leave the job unfilled.” If I’m reading it correctly….which I may not be.

    2. (Last reply to myself – actually, off the top of my head, Michael Flynn might be more popular too. But Wright is definitely considered by most to be the best *writer*, as in, the best at the craft of writing, and with the highest quality works.)

    3. “I’m a democrat, and I noticed that you’ve only been hiring republicans. So I, a democrat, have decided to test this out by bringing in a whole bunch of new applicants you may or may not have heard of, some of whom will also be democrats.”

      Yeah, no. That would work if there were other, non-puppyslate nominees on the list. That is, I think, the crux of the issue. Most of the admittedly few Hugo voters I know honestly have no idea what sort of political message anyone would have to complain about. They just saw the “No Award” votes as an attempt to punish what they perceived as bad behavior. Can’t say that these folks speak for everyone, but I’d wager that Wright’s statement of proof says far more about him than it does about the intentions of the voters he’s talking about.

      1. But the Hugos were a two-part process, nominations and final ballots. In the first section, the nominations, the non-Puppies had every chance to out-vote the Puppies. They did not.

        This is crucial, because a big part of the original claim was that the Hugos had become too insular: To put it another way, not enough people were voting. The thing is, there actually WEREN’T that many Puppy voters, and were the Hugos actually a respectable award they shouldn’t have been able to make a huge splash, and yet they did.

        So now these are the “finalists” of the applicants, and the question becomes: Are none of these people capable of doing the job?

        The answer either has to be, “No, none of them are”, or “I’m not going to vote for any of them anyway in order to make a point.” Number two is what happened.

      2. It’s not especially difficult for a small group of dedicated voters to swing an election, especially if it’s a preliminary. On a macro scale, that’s the only thing that keeps the republican party viable in the U.S. They’re a minority party, but they’re far more dedicated. But I digress.
        Anyway, I think the final voting for the awards demonstrates that the puppy vote was not as strong as expected. To further torture my analogy, I’d say it’s more like “Are any of these candidates the BEST candidate for the job” instead, but it doesn’t make that much difference. I’ll agree that, at the end of the day, there are definitely people who voted “No Award” regardless of the quality of the work. Where we differ strongly is why they did so. The few people I know, plus the pattern of registration after the nominees, suggests to me that reason was one of wishing to punish the tactic of slate voting whereas I believe you and Mr. Wright see it as evidence of refusal to vote for the candidates because of the conservative political leanings of the puppy organizers. Fair enough, different points of view. Where Wright gets it wrong is exactly where Martin got it wrong: He claims that the “No Awards” votes are proof of his view, and in that, he is indisputably wrong. He’s claiming to know something that he simply can not know.

  3. By the way,

    He called Martin “dishonest” for his statements, so you pretty much have to conclude that, by his own standards, Wright’s just as dishonest. I’m starting to get the impression that “No Award” was a deserving winner…

    This is actually kind of telling. Why on EARTH should I care how honest or dishonest Wright or Martin is or isn’t when it comes to judging their fiction for awards?

    Wright could actually be a 90 year old, 90 pound black woman from South Africa posing as a white guy and it would have nothing to do with the quality of his work.

      1. Thanks man. I screw up all the time. I also make illogical or at least unsupported arguments. It happens. As soon as I’m perfect, I’ll let you know, but don’t hold your breath 😉

  4. As an argument , I offer the curious case of Mike Resnick. Mr Resnick has been nominated many times for Hugos. He has won several.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Resnick#Complete_list_of_Hugo_nominations
    This year, he was voted down beneath no award for the first time! Why was this? Because he was nominated thanks to the efforts of the Puppies.

    Furthermore, the data analysis done at Chaos Horizons shows that there was a bloc of ~2500 voters who placed NO AWARD only on the categories where the puppy nominees swept (and roughly 1000 other voters which placed it above some or all of the puppy nominees). This bloc, which scorned previous winners as well as new nominees, is the chief evidence for political motivations behind No Award winning 5 categories. Notably, they are much larger than the group whose voting patterns suggest that they found some or most of the nominated fiction inadequate.

    The only point of yours I will grant is that Mr Wright’s column would have been stronger if he had offered the evidence inside it rather than assuming the reader is familiar (though this is old hat for most of us who have been following this tempest in a teardrop all year). But even so, the parallel between his column and Mr Martin’s column fails. No one has produced evidence of the Rabid Puppies (or Sad Puppies) voting without reading nominated works and therefore Mr Martin’s claims are nothing but hot air. Mr Wright’s claims are grounded in the testimony of the Puppies opponents and in the analysis of the ballots; he merely failed to link to the evidence.

    1. “Furthermore, the data analysis done at Chaos Horizons shows that there was a bloc of ~2500 voters who placed NO AWARD only on the categories where the puppy nominees swept (and roughly 1000 other voters which placed it above some or all of the puppy nominees). This bloc, which scorned previous winners as well as new nominees, is the chief evidence for political motivations behind behind No Award winning 5 categories.”

      No. No. No. Please read the rest of the comments. “No Award” votes being cast for reasons other than the quality of the book is not that same thing as “evidence of intent.” There are other reasons voters could chose to vote that way, reasons which I find more plausible, but that’s not the point. Regardless of what the truth is for each of these voters, claiming that this constitutes proof of a specific political intent is intellectually dishonest.

    2. But ya know, even if there were evidence that all of the people voted the way they did in part because they thought the leader of the puppy tribe was a doofus, it would be a heck of a stretch to say that an “anti-doofus” voting bloc constituted a political statement. Especially if they thought he was a doofus on the grounds of his actions in nominating process. You just can’t get to “proof” from there.

      1. The evidence of political motivation in that bloc is the scorn they showed to the editors, who were long-standing professionals in the field voted below No Award because they were on the Puppies slate.

      2. I’m sure that qualifies as evidence if you have already determined a narrative, but to the outsiders, the people cited in the original post, that not only falls well short of “proof,” it doesn’t even imply it. If the motivation were political, if it were to punish people whose politics weren’t “P.C” enough, then the editors (well, some of them) would have done better than “No Award.” The fact that “No Award” prevailed seems to imply that the voters chose to punish a tactic (slate voting) they perceived as unfair as opposed to punishing individuals for their politics.

  5. I respect anyone who attempts a lesson in logic, and I hope you will reciprocate by allowing me to argue that the two cases are distinct. In another column I gave the grounds for my conclusion (http://www.scifiwright.com/2015/08/in-memoriam/), namely, the testimony of a sample of the participants. I heard the chatter both online and in person of the Sad Puppies and the Puppy Kickers before an after the Awards.

    Within that sample, the Sad Puppies made the claim in public and in private that they had read the stories; and the Puppy Kickers made the claim that they had not. Again, this was both in public statements and in private, where I stood on an elevator or in line at the Convention, listening to them talk among themselves, unnoticed.

    Now, I suppose Mr. Martin could argue that these samples were not representative, or that he has some reason to believe the both groups were lying.

    But there is no lapse in logic if I take both groups at their word, nor am I claiming mysterious mind reading powers, merely the power of evidence.

    Forgive me for making a personal comment. I know nothing about you save this one column you wrote. But I would guess that the fact that you framed your argument with logic, and refused, at least for a time, to gang up on am outnumbered foe for pity’s sake shows you are of a stronger mental and moral character than your fellows.

    They are not so chivalrous as you. You should not be among them.

    Their philosophy holds it to be right and just to turn on you and rend you for your scruples and your careful non-moblike methods of thinking. Ours holds rightness and justice to be right and just.

    You deserve better friends.

  6. Mr. Wright,
    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’m familiar with the piece you linked and, while I believe I understand where you’re coming from, I think if you look at it from an outsider’s perspective, you’ll see that it doesn’t meet any standard of proof beyond what Mr. Martin has offered. I have no doubt that there are, in fact, people who decided to vote as you described in order to curry favor by casting a secret ballot (which makes no sense whatsoever, but, you know, people…). There is no lapse in logic in taking people at their word; the lapse comes in normalizing from your personal sample and believing that it would constitute proof.

    There are, as I’m certain you’re aware, far too many variables involved to draw any firm conclusions from the ballots absent polling a large number of respondents. Let’s just say that my experience with the non-puppy crowd has been wildly different than anything you described. I’m not saying what you saw wasn’t accurate, but the sample small and does not appear to be representative.

    For example, there’s a web site devoted to the voting called, and I wish I were making this up) http://noaward.com . I wasn’t aware of it before tonight, but the mission statement gibes with most of what I’ve read from people who voted “No Award.” It’s not about the politics, it’s not about the people involved, it’s about not rewarding attempts to hijack the system. As I’ve said several times tonight, that is by no means proof that a particular viewpoint is prevalent; I’m just trying to demonstrate that nothing has been been proven about the nature of the vote, and certainly not to the point where a neutral observer would understand anything about the kerfuffle.

    Which is a long way of saying, I appreciate your response, but you’re still incorrect if you contend that your statement about the Hugo voters have been proven. Any statements about Mr. Martin’s pronouncement fit yours just as well.

    I do, however, appreciate your implication that the puppies are, in fact, a small minority and not a silent, unrepresented majority. The voting systems, both the nomination process and the final awards voting, were shown to be badly broken this year. In my opinion, everyone would be better served by systems that do not reward slate nominations, but also have a mechanism to reward less-popular but nonetheless worthy works. Being honest about the state of play is a good start. Going in with the stated purpose of destroying the awards and then crying foul when that’s what happens is disingenuous

    Finally, thank you for your advice regarding my friends. However, I’d like to point out that my friends, while they created a needlessly mean satire, managed to turn it in to a fun charity event. Your friends responded by calling my friend a rapist. I’m fine with my choice of friends, thank you very much.

    P.S. I’d like to apologize for the last line in my original post. It was a mean-spirited. I’m leaving it because one of your readers called me on it and I don’t want to try to hide the evidence.

    1. One last bit and then I probably ought to quit for the day: It occurs to me that I may have misunderstood your contention. If your statement was only meant to apply to a very narrow segment of the voting population, a rabid segment of sycophants who voted “No Award” because of the political leanings of the people manufactured the nominations but who had no significant impact on the outcome? If that’s the case, then I’ve misunderstood and I apologize.

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