Reprinted from here
alt.startrek.vs.starwars > ASVS and Canon . . . The TMs Guardian 2000 Mar 30 2001, 4:38 am show options
Well, friends and neighbors, I have just engaged in an inadvertent but nevertheless amusing demonstration of the lack of logic in this newsgroup. You heard it here first.
You see, one of the bases of my argument in rigorous logical form was the following:
If not-P then not-C P Therefore not not-C
In replying to a message from cmdrwilkens, I was trying to make plain what was going on. In doing so, I was using in logic what are referred to as truth tables . . . assigning truth values to symbols and making sure that they all line up. While painstakingly doing the truth tables for the above argument (I was starting over from scratch), I realized that something was fubar. I then came to a horrifying realization, which I broke out a logic book to confirm.
I have committed one of the fallacies that many before me have committed . . . indeed, I don't feel too bad, since some of the best and brightest have screwed up just as nicely as I have. The fallacy is infamous in the history of philosophy. I also don't feel too bad since no one here caught me on it . . . I had to do that all by myself.
You see, the above argument is an invalid logical form, known as "Denying the Antecedent". It is usually shown as:
If p then q not-p Therefore not-q
However, as I used it, it would be:
If not-p then not-q p Therefore not not-q (or, simplified by double negation, q)
As proof of invalidity, let's substitute:
If I am not-alive, then I am not-breathing. I am alive. Therefore I am breathing.
(Looks good, right? They don't call it infamous for nothin'. Well, try this one, using the same argument form:)
If I am not-alive, then I am not-President of the United States. I am alive. Therefore I am the President of the United States.
Now, although I'm still awaiting the final tally from Florida, I think it's a pretty safe bet that I am not the president (though I may have received votes from confused elderly citizens who could not follow arrows on the simple ballots).
Of course, I originally used the argument in a semi-okay fashion . . . I said that the TMs might be not-Canon for reasons other than the production staff issue. That was true. However, I ought to have realized at that point that I had a situation wherein my premises were true but conclusion could still be false, which is a sign that something may be (or probably is) wrong.
What does this mean for my argument?
1. Well, soon I will check to see whether or not there is any other logical form that can salvage the situation in its entirety. However, I doubt it, since any logical argument that would prove that denying the antecedent is true would itself be false, I would think. But, I'm stubborn, so I'm going to check anyway.
2. I was right in that the official ASVS stuff needs to be changed . . . it just needs to be changed to reflect the fact that Ordover is not a "Paramount official" as stated. He works for Pocket Books, and is the novels editor only.
3. Paramount still overrules Ordover. However, Paramount has not officially stated whether or not the TMs are canon. I would still suggest confirmation with Paramount as a cross-check of Ordover's statements, just to be sure . . . going by Ordover's statements alone is risky, in my opinion, since he is not duly authorized to make such statements, and that can easily lead to cries of "foul!"
4. There were still a number of asinine statements made in this thread by those opposed to my position. The fact that my logical argument was faulty does not make those statements any less asinine.
5. For those of you who remained in the thread and were actually arguing the point, good show. Even though you didn't discover the logical fallacy, you did lead me to do so, which, I'm sure, is just as good. There is value to stubbornness on both sides . . . but it is also true that there is value to being willing to admit demonstrable error, as I'm doing right now.