A fellow by the name of Arthur Caplan wrote an opinion piece about the Lance Armstrong doping and banning situation. The article has some merit but right at the start he uses a bizarre analogy that has a meaning exactly the opposite of what he is trying to say. Very strange and fodder for today’s Critical Thinking Fail post.
Basically Mr. Caplan uses the analogy of a female swimmer named Shirley Babashoff to try to illustrate his point that Armstrong has been convicted in the court of popular opinion without evidence. I’m actually on Mr. Caplan’s side in that stripping Armstrong of his wins and claiming he is somehow worse than his fellow competitors is a sham. However, the analogy is insane.
Babashoff was a swimmer in the 1972 and 1976 games when East German women were winning all the medals largely through the systematic use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). She accused them of such wrongdoing and was largely ignored only later to be proven correct.
In this case it is Armstrong being accused of using PEDs so the comparison to Babashoff, the accuser, is mind-boggling. Armstrong is the equivalent of the East German swimmers in this example and Babashoff compares to his accusers.
I’m all for a critical examination of Armstrong and the fact that he didn’t do anything his fellow competitors were not doing. I’m opposed to stripping him, or any competitor of trophies and records when it’s highly likely that their opponents were doing the same thing. It’s hypocritical nonsense to do so. But, Mr. Caplan’s use of an analogy that is actually the opposite of the point he is trying to make is, in my opinion, a Critical Thinking Fail.
What do you think (not about his main point, about the Critical Thinking)?
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