I just spent several days telling you about logical fallacies, let’s take a look at the argument that the moon is made of cheese. It’s kind of simple, instead of arguing about the evidence, the science denier will try to tell me that I shill for Big Pharma when I discuss the settled science of vaccine safety and effectiveness. Or I shill for Big Agriculture when I say that GMOs are safe or that glyphosate does not cause cancer.
So here is an imaginary (or is it?) conversation between myself and a member of the Moon Denier Society who claims that the moon landings were a hoax and that the moon is made of cheese. Apparently, I am a shill for Big Milk. I’m sure if I wrote that almond milk is bad for the environment, I received significant compensation from Big Milk. Fair disclosure, nope.
A conversation about the moon and cheese
Skeptical Raptor (SR): The moon is a large, rocky body that orbits the earth. It is approximately 4.4 billion years old.
Moon Denier Society (MDS): The moon is made of cheese. That is the truth.
SR: The moon is not made of cheese. NASA landed on the moon and brought back rocks, not cheese.
MDS: The moon is made of cheese. NASA faked the moon landings, everyone knows that. Those are just earth rocks.
SR: The moon is not made of cheese. We have evidence of the moon landings. And moon rocks differ so much from earth rocks, you couldn’t just exchange some rocks found on the ground with moon rocks. And they found no evidence of cheese anywhere.
MDS: The moon is 99% cheese. Obviously, NASA never landed on the moon, or they would have found the cheese. This is more evidence that the moon landings were faked.
SR: I thought we were talking about cheese. Anyway, the moon is not made of cheese. Years of scientific evidence and observation support this. A cheese moon would be destroyed by meteorites and gravitational forces. We could detect the organic compounds of cheese.
MDS: The moon IS made of cheese. It’s very strong cheese. Or it keeps getting replaced by the moon-cheese factory. Big Astronomy doesn’t want you to know it is cheese because it would affect sales of telescopes. What if Big Astronomy just hangs up a cardboard cutout of the moon whenever it gets destroyed? Therefore the moon is made of cheese.
SR: The moon is not made of cheese, there is no proof that Big Astronomy exists and it is irrational to expect so many scientists would lie for so long. Neil deGrasse Tyson, so far, has not posted one single thing on his Facebook account about the moon being cheese.
MDS: Neil deGrasse Tyson hates Pluto, ergo he doesn’t know anything about cheese on the moon.
SR: Well there’s a strawman argument. I should keep track of them for my logical fallacy bingo card.
MDS: The moon IS made of cheese. Big Milk is keeping the truth from the people so we won’t mine the moon for cheese.
SR: There we go, the shill gambit. The moon is not made of cheese, it is not economical to mine the moon and transport anything, cheese or not, from the earth to the moon. Plus, this contradicts your assertion that the beliefs about a rocky moon are maintained by Big Astronomy, which you haven’t actually supported in any way. So is there a conspiracy between Big Astronomy and Big Milk to hide the truth? Or are you going to use a shill gambit to accuse me of being paid by both Big Astronomy and Big Milk?
MDS: Bravo! You get it.
SR: Sigh. I forget you guys are blind to sarcasm and irony.
MDS: THE MOON IS MADE OF CHEESE!!!!!!! SHUT UP!! I’M GLAD I WON THIS ARGUMENT!!!!! YOUR JUST MAD I WON.
SR: No it’s not and no you didn’t. And typing it out in ALL CAPS does not make your argument factual or evidence-based. There is no evidence that the moon is made of any cheeses. All we see on the moon are rocks. And it’s “you’re” not “your.”
MDS: Grammar Nazi!!!!!!!!!!! The surface of the moon may have rocky elements to it. But underneath the crust, it is solid cheese.
SR: The moon is made of rocks. Not cheese. In case you don’t know, cheese is made up of fat, protein, water, and gas, while rocks are made of, well, rocks that are much denser. A cheese moon would not exert as much gravitational pull on the earth, and we would be able to tell the difference between a cheese-core moon and a rock-core moon through the influence of the moon on earth’s tides. This is science.
MDS: …(erases discussion) I like pie. Therefore I win.
SR: Well, that’s got to be a logical fallacy. We’ll call it a red herring. There are no plausible mechanisms that would allow the moon to make cheese. None at all.
MDS: And just because YOU don’t know how the cheese is created on the moon, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cheese-creating mechanism at the core of the moon. Run by secret moon wizards. And there are moon cows, that only live on the far side of the moon, eating moon grass that grows during the 14.25 days of the month where it’s illuminated – presumably spending the remaining 14.25 days in hibernation or possibly storing metabolite like cacti. Naturally, since the crust is mostly rock, then the grass would also contain mostly rock too, leading to heavier milk and cheese. There’s your Occam’s Razor! All you need to do is assume the existence of a completely novel form of biological life and the explanation becomes simple! Even more so when this neatly explains the motivation for Big Milk – moon cheese is much more valuable than “Earther cheese” and only the super-wealthy can afford the biological processing necessary to make it edible instead of poisonous which is why only the super-rich members of the Illuminati and Freemasons know about it. NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE!!!!!
SR: Wow, there is a whole list of logical fallacies. A Gish gallop. An argument from ignorance. An ad hominem argument. Maybe a non sequitur or two. And let’s not forget a shill gambit or two. My bingo card is full.
MDS: I win, you lose. I will tell the world that the incompetent feathered dinosaur knows nothing about the moon. And cheese.
Dumb argument with logical fallacies
Yes, this was a silly argument that didn’t happen. Probably.
It just shows you how logical fallacies can be used by science deniers to try to steer the conversation and claim a win. Change this from moon cheeses to vaccines and autism, and I’m sure that the argument would be the same from anti-vaxxers. Besides that, I’m sure there is some sort of intersection between moon landing conspiracists and anti-vaxxers. You just know there is.
The reason I (and many others) point out logical fallacies is not to show off or condescension, it’s because logical fallacies are used instead of real evidence. And if you have any discussion with any science denier over any length of time, you will see that all types of logical fallacies are used to make their point. And recognizing these logical fallacies helps you (and I) to obliterate their non-evidence-based arguments and conclusions.
What anti-vaxxers don’t understand is that if they actually presented an argument without logical fallacies, and just presented published evidence (not anecdotes, conspiracies, and other non-data), it might actually make us sit up and have an intelligent discussion. But accusing us of being Nazis beholden to Big Pharma who ignores the facts just makes us see them as nothing. No evidence. No logic. No anything.
Recognizing logical fallacies is almost as important as having all of the evidence. We have all of the evidence that vaccines, GMOs, and whatever else are safe. They have nothing but logical fallacies.