Saturday, December 12, 2015

LOSS of LOGIC in Arguments

Logic has left the building

We need to teach logic in schools.

I know as an injury lawyer who argues for a living, I rely on logic every single day. But I find the ability to structure reasonable arguments and rebuttals in the average person has just about gone by the wayside.

As an example, there are logical fallacies that no one who has studied logic would try to fall into. However they are so commonly used even on news media, that they become commonplace.

One is called “false dichotomy.”  And it sounds complicated, but it's actually quite simple. It's the idea of presenting a false “either or” choice.  An example: your child wants a $40,000 custom Jeep. You explain to him that in no way, shape or form on this planet will he be getting such a vehicle. He says that he has “to be able to get to college so I guess I don't have a vehicle, so I just won't be going to college, because you don't care about my higher education.”  Well clearly, there are other vehicles and other options out there other than this elaborate jeep.

As an example, in the abortion debate, some will argue that if you do not keep abortions free, easy to obtain and legal then everyone will have back alley abortions and many women will die.  Clearly, for the first 200 years of our country, abortions were illegal in most every instance and women seemed to survive on the whole. I'm sure there were losses and no one denies that. But it's not that simple in “either or” propositions either. There are choices like raising the baby, adoption, and others that are not included in this false dichotomy. So, regardless of where you stand on any issue, a fallacious argument does not advance your cause at all.

“The strawman.”  And example of the strawman is taking your position to an extreme that you did not state, and then warring against it. I made the comment that trained concealed carry holders ought to be able to carry in more places to minimize gun free zones. I made that argument based on the fact that all but one mass shooting has taken place in a gun free zone. The person hearing this argument did not respond to the argument I was proposing about trained concealed carry holders. They said, “if people are walking around with 300 magnum rifles strapped across their chest in every place I go I'm going to stay home.”

So when opposing concealed carry for trained individuals, this person made an argument against open carry. No one was talking about open carry.

Global warming or climate change is another emotional issue for some. And we see both these instances used in those debates.

I am worried that our country has become so polarized and so personalized, that people are unable to debate ideas anymore without getting angry with the other person. And that's kind of what logic is supposed to do, evaluate the ideas not so much the person who saying them. That is actually another logical fallacy where you attack the person, called ad hominem attack.   

Both sides do all these things in all these issues. There's no one side that only argues logically. An ad hominem attack was made against Obama for flying Air Force One and then a fleet of vehicles to a climate change summit to reduce pollution

Now while that's clearly hypocritical, which is a valid character argument against him, but it actually doesn't make an argument against climate change. It makes an argument against his credibility.  

Climate change actually involves two additional fallacies that are used to support it. One is that “so many people seem to agree with man-made climate change.” That is called an “appeal to population.”  It's a popular opinion and a lot of people agree with it, therefore it must be right. A related one is an “appeal to authority.”  If a whole bunch of scientists agree on something, then it must be right. That's the reason that toothpaste companies will run a commercial saying “four out of five dentists agree” on something. That actually doesn't make it any more likely to be true, it just makes it popular and a lot of authority figures agree with it. What if they ask 4 dentists to work for the company and the fifth dentist didn't?  Would that not change the perception of whether or not they were accurate?

The bottom line is that you're entitled to your own opinions and feelings, but you're not entitled to your own facts. And the way you express facts can be much more powerful if you address the actual argument rather then either the person who's making it or an argument that someone hasn't made, or a choice that is not necessarily involved.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Insurance Offers to Settle

Insurance offers to settle

Many times a client will be offered something by an insurance company prior to hiring me.

The other day I met with a new client who had been offered $1000 pain and suffering for an accident that happened only about six days before.

The client was still hurting and had not even had a full complement of tests yet. But the insurance company pushed and said they could deposit the money directly in the person's account within 72 hours. I imagine having $1000 you may not have been expecting deposited into your account could be tempting for the average person.

Obviously, it works at least some because the insurance companies are trying these tactics now. They know if they can get you to sign a release early in the case prior to meeting with an attorney, you will not get the medical treatment nor the legal advice that it will take to fairly present your case.

And even though you hire an attorney, there is still only a very low chance of actually going to trial.  Good cases that are well worked up seem to settle fairly well. Sometimes mediations are handy to sort out issues and they often resolve cases. Further discovery such as doctors' depositions usually remove the doubt as to the client’s injuries.

As such, I can encourage you to seek legal advice following an accident that requires medical care. If it's a fender bender in the parking lot and no one is hurt that's fine. But if you have to spend time sleeping in a recliner, popping pills, hobbling around and worrying about missing work, that's not your fault. That's what insurance is there for. But sometimes they need help to see the value of your case. And if you choose to represent yourself don't be surprised if you get settlement offers that are not only low but also make no effort at all to fully compensate what has happened to you. The lowest level adjuster that you're dealing with is often only authorized to offer up to $1500 pain and suffering regardless of what your medical bills or other expenses are.

A concerned attorney will encourage you to seek treatment until you are feeling much better and then help you recover some of the losses from the accident. And although no one can guarantee any results in any specific case, the insurance companies actions show that they understand that attorneys cost them quite a bit more money. If they were being fair they would encourage you to go to an attorney and have their offer professionally reviewed.

Every now and then an insurance company makes a pretty fair offer. It's about the same rarity as the Congress making a great decision so don't count on it!

HEADLINES: Going Deeper


We've all heard the saying "the Large print giveth the small print taketh away"

And as a principal of contract law, that is pretty accurate.

But there's another thing that takes away and that is the largest print: The headline.

Let me give you an example. John DeLorean is known for his pioneering style in creating the DeLorean DMC 12 automobile. While underpowered, it's stainless steel construction in going doors made it unique among all automobiles.

Unfortunately, he was arrested and tried and was unable to see success as a car manufacturer. He was actually exonerated in the trial from what I understand; however he was convicted in the court of public opinion. His car company did not survive.

It goes the other way as well. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of killing his wife and a young man with her. However in my mind and I think the mind of most thinking individuals, he is guilty as sin. One doesn't have to look very far to realize that it takes an act of utter rage to stab people through their skulls. Clearly that was not a robbery. It was spurned love turned to rage.

Oddly, in the civil trial he was found responsible for the killings. But either way he was so burdened by public opinion he was never able to do a lot more with his persona. That is until he was actually arrested and convicted of a messy attempt at gaining back some of his memorabilia that had been lost.

There's a saying in journalism that says something like the assertion is on the front page and the retraction is on page 4. And that is what is so sad about public opinion. There are narratives (like climate change) and if an act seems to fit into a narrative, it just gets swept up in that.

My favorite example is the McDonald's hot coffee case. Everyone sees that term and rolls their eyes collectively at the ridiculous amount that this woman who was dialing the wheel of jackpot justice just got awarded. But they don't look at the facts underneath the case. They may or may not ever agree with the case, but they haven't done enough fact checking to even make an opinion about it in my opinion.

It is not an educated man's position to simply parrot what other people say without checking it out. That is what sheep do. They follow the leader. Educated people are designed to be the leaders, the leaders in thought and action.

If you look further into the facts of Miss Stella Liebeck's case against McDonald's, you may determine that actually she didn't receive much of anything and there was a grave injustice to her by the people at McDonald's who were putting profits ahead of people. It wasn't as simple as one might think. So that brings up the idea of thinking. An educated person must look at the facts underneath an assertion and determine whether or not they hold up. But that takes mental effort. I'm afraid as an American consumer, we are used to other people doing the thinking for us. It's so easy to Google it or check Wikipedia that we don't make a lot of our own findings.

You can see that very clearly with the gun-control debate. Every time there is a mass shooting that fits the narrative, it is trumpeted as another failure of gun control and the need of many more restrictions upon law-abiding people. If you look underneath that, you might find that if there were guns in the gun free zone more shootings would be stopped in two seconds. After all that's why the police arrive there with their guns, to stop the shooter. Wouldn't it make sense if there were someone already there with the guns to stop a shooter?  Since you can't get rid of all guns it makes a lot more sense to stop gun free zones so that criminals cannot pick off defenseless victims like ducks at a shooting gallery.

The French have really strong gun control. SWAT teams were able to get into that theater thirty-one minutes after people were being executed. It reminds me of the old saying "when you need help in seconds police are only minutes away".

I challenge you, my loyal reader, to make decisions only after you've looked into the assertions and the foundations that underlie them.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.