The Logical Fallacy of “Don’t Knock It Till You Try It”

Years ago, my Grandmother told me, that her Presbyterian pastor had instructed the congregation to never choose not to do something without experiencing it first. I’m sure the pastor wanted to teach the congregation something useful, to be more open-minded and tolerant, less judgmental about things when they don’t have all of the facts… But it’s dumb logic. In fact, it is liberal logic. The problem is, this logic has been adopted by some people who can’t see the problem with it. Therefore, I’m going to go through the problem with this, “Logic” and then provide two examples of this I have experienced.

Is it true that one shouldn’t “knock it until you try it”(hereafter DKITYTI)? No, it isn’t true. To determine whether a statement is valid we test it under all circumstances. If the rule fails under any circumstance it is not a universal rule, but one which requires a caveat. The caveat should be expressed. Here is the proof that DKITYTI isn’t “true”. Here’s a list of things where this fails. Drugs, Pornography, Abuse (Physical, Emotional, Sexual), Suicide, Liberalism (OK the last one was just a cheap shot)… I do not need to experience any drug, alcohol, marijuana, any harder drug, to know that they are bad… To know that abusing a substance to try and escape the emotional or physical reality will ultimately lead to more pain. I know this because my parents allowed some of my family to bring their soul-destroying substances into our home, further defiling what should have been a sacred temple with mild-altering substances. I do not need experience with Pornography to know that it destroys souls. I know this because I have had friends describe their struggles, who read about the medical studies describing how it alters their minds, making them crave more, destroying their sense of self-worth and righteous sexuality. Before I learned of my friends’ struggles we had loving church leaders prophecy of this problem warning us all beforehand, and through the fulfillment of that prophecy, the Church of Jesus Christ has been more than proven true to me. I did not need to experience physical and emotional abuse to know how wrong and destructive it is, nor do I need to be sexually abused to recognize the trauma, the sense of violation, the infringement of agency it entails. I did not need to experience depression to know that it is not ideal, that it is a symptom that something is wrong and that something needs to be fixed. I certainly don’t need to experience suicide to have an opinion on it.

Now it may be that I can have more compassion for those who have experienced the same traumas that I have. Perhaps. But I don’t feel it is necessary for having a valid opinion. In fact, in some ways, having the experiences I’ve had have added emotional, visceral, and sometimes irrational reactions that can’t be tempered by the rational arguments of others. For example, I believe that welfare recipients should receive drug testing (including alcohol), because of the human cost associated with children in homes of drug users. I think that those who physically or emotionally abuse children should be sterilized, and those who sexually abuse children should be put to death (I’m deadly serious, not a joke).

In actuality, maybe it’s best that people don’t listen to me more because of my experience. Those who claim the DKITYTI philosophy are just restating the logical fallacy of an “argument to authority”. Wikipedia explains this fallacy is created whenever 1.) the person cited as an expert isn’t actually an expert or when 2.) there is not census among legitimate experts. Just because someone has experienced something does not make them an expert on it. An example of this is bullying, just because one has been bullied in the past does not mean they are on expert on recognizing, or even responding well to the bullying, in teaching others how to recognize, or respond to the bullying. The second way it is a logical fallacy is that there is not a consensus among legitimate experts. We, the human race, are fallen, and we judge ourselves and each other with broken rulers. We are not experts and we have reached no consensus. God is the only expert. Therefore, we must end these silly logical fallacies, these claims of “Don’t Knock It Till You Try It”

Now I’ll share some examples of this unfortunate fallacy. Now I don’t care which side of the recent abortion and contraception debate you side on, and that is beside the point of this post. But during this debate, we have encountered plenty of this DKITYTI mentality. So-called “women’s rights groups” have declared that men have no right to an opinion or a voice in this matter. A matter that deeply affects our families, our children, and our very society, men are to stay silent on, just because we don’t carry the right plumbing… We’ve heard these arguments before, and they are now, as they were then, sexist. And the quickest way to end sexual and racial discrimination, is to cease discriminating based on race or sex.

The second example came from the most unlikely of sources. While discussing with a teacher the fact that 1.) teachers are not infallible, and 2.) sometimes make mistakes when punishing children … I was informed by a friends mother-in-law that “unless I was a k-8 teacher” I wasn’t allowed to say anything. Now, I’ve known that elementary school teachers tend to treat adults like children, but I was pretty surprised by this unprofessional, un-adult, infringement of proper boundaries… but I think it illustrates perfectly this problem. Of course I don’t have the same feelings and even understanding as a k-8 teacher, but it is precisely that distance which helps me to make more rational decisions about it. It is the duty of the k-8 teacher to be able to describe their viewpoint, both facts and feelings, so that everyone else can come together and reach a consensus. If they weren’t teaching “my” (figuratively) children or using “my” (literally) tax funds to do so, I wouldn’t care as much, but as I’m paying for it, and it affects my future, I get a say. This f/b conversation has mysteriously disappeared … so I don’t know how my friend responded … but sufficient to say, I’m getting tired of this logical fallacy.

If you think you’re viewpoint is right, find a way to express it in words that convince. Don’t appeal to your own authority, because I don’t take you as an expert. Abandon the sexist viewpoint that men aren’t allowed to have valid opinions, thoughts, and ideas about any topic, and allow men to express their viewpoint as well.

Well, I’ve gotten to the end of my rant. Earlier I thought demanding that anyone who buys into this philosophy promptly remove themselves from my friend list. I have too many good friends to waste my time with sexist, logical-fallacy loving people. But maybe I’ll take my own advice first and allow others to have their say too, before I de-friend them. They may even find something wrong with my logic.

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