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Some of you may have heard the recent hubbub about polar bear cannibalism. Photographer Jenny Ross snapped a few photos of a polar bear eating a cub. Following these photos are a string of media bandwagon hoppers (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2071638/Polar-bears-Cannibal-pictures-prove-theyll-eat-bear-cubs.html) who have taken this opportunity to write a “controversial” attention grabber – that polar bears are vicious creatures that will even eat their own babies. Well f**k you media, once again your inadequate, opportunistic “minds” are misrepresenting the point. Frankly, these animals don’t deserve the bad light they’re being cast in.

Anyone who understands the nuances of language can see how these articles (you can find many more about this topic) are all being very critical and disapproving. This is considered cruel, apparently, and makes the polar bear an immoral animal. This coming from humans, who have destroyed more of this world than any other living creature could hope to achieve, committed atrocities that sicken even ourselves, and who are directly responsible for the “rise in polar bear cannibalism” cases.

What’s the reality of the matter though? Polar bears have it tough, probably one of the toughest out of all living creatures. Not only do they live in perpetual cold with a huge body and very limited food, human impact on fish populations and temperature cycles have made these animals even more desperate. These days, polar bears will wander into towns to rummage through garbage cans because they are that desperate for food. As a human, who has everything they want, a warm home and enough food to waste it by throwing leftovers in the bin, there is no possible way you could apply human concepts of morality to a desperate animal.

Bear cannibalism has been an observed phenomena for quite some time now, albeit rather rare. Dr Ian Stirling suggests cases in polar bears may be increasing due to their desperation:

Dr Ian Stirling of Environment Canada, who co-wrote the paper published in the journal Arctic, said cannibalism among polar bears has been witnessed before, but he said the rate of cannibalism may be increasing as the sea ice now melts earlier in the year.

The primary food source for polar bears is seals, which they normally hunt from ice floes. The ice floes melt during summer and in some places the ice disappears altogether, making hunting for seals more difficult. Ross said the bears are forced to seek out other foods such as sea birds and their eggs, and human foods and waste, but these are not enough to sustain them.

The melting sea ice problem is a terrible one that’s always saddened me ever since I heard of it from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. Polar bears will swim out in search for food and have no ice floes to rest on. With no other option, they just keep swimming and swimming in that freezing cold water, hoping some food will pass by or a bit of ice will appear, until their body just fails and they drown. Imagine drowning like that because you just couldn’t find somewhere to sit. That’s such a horrible way to live and die.

So before you go accusing them of being “violent and occasionally cannibalistic” or that they’re “cruel”, take a look at the reasons why. Your opinion is not even valid because you don’t see the world the same way. You have hopes, dreams and luxuries. A polar bear has only one thought: to survive.

Addendum: Some articles were actually a lot more objective about the whole ordeal (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/08/polar-bear-eats-cub-cannibalism_n_1136428.html). I guess some media sources have more integrity than others.

Also, sad as it is, I’m almost certain polar bears will be extinct (or very near to it) before the end of my lifetime (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070910-polar-bears.html). Some of you may be apathetic, but to me, it just puts everything into perspective – letting human greed destroy all the beauty on Earth, while petty little men squabble in war-torn countries and even pettier men hoard their wealth, built on the pain of others.

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I’ve always found logical fallacies to be an inherently hilarious idea. I mean, think about it; they actually categorised stupidity. In fact, there’s a huge list of logical fallacies where several types of stupidity have been given their own individual names.

In the interest of helping people to avoid making stupid comments ridden with logical fallacies, I’ve composed a quick list. Remember, it’s natural to commit some logical fallacies but the more you use in an argument, the less intellectual integrity you maintain and the harder it is for anyone to take you seriously. So if you want to be “right” when arguing a point, make sure you learn these!

There’s way too many logical fallacies for me to make a comprehensive list so I’m only going to be able to mention a few common ones.

Logical Fallacies:

Ad hominem – Attacking your opponent’s character rather than his/her argument. “What he said is obviously incorrect since he’s ugly.”

Anecdotal fallacy – Using personal experience as proof. “One of my friends cured his cancer by jumping off a building, so I know the cure of cancer.”

Appeal to authority – Using the opinion of an authority figure to attempt to gain credibility. “It’s true because a famous person said so.”

Appeal to emotion – Attempting to gain credibility by manipulating peoples’ emotions. “Abortion is a horrific murdering of innocent children.”

Argument from ignorance – Claiming something to be true because it hasn’t been proven to be false. “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist, therefore, he must exist.”

Bandwagon fallacy – Claiming something to be true because many people believe it to be true. “Justin Bieber has lots of fans, therefore he must be a good singer.”

Burden of proof – Claiming that one person doesn’t require proof whereas the other does. “My point is obvious but yours makes no sense because you can’t prove it.”

Confirmation bias – Assuming something is true because of a few select examples. “After praying for rain one hundred times, it rained; therefore prayer works.”

Begging the question – Claiming something to be true by assuming that the preposition is true without actually proving it. “Because of creationism, evolution is obviously false.”

Circular reasoning – Using your proposition as proof for your conclusion. “I’m right because I say I’m right.”

False cause – Falsely assuming a causal effect based on a perceived relationship. “A lot of people get the flu virus when it’s cold therefore the flu virus is caused by cold.”

False dichotomy – Falsely assuming that only two possible outcomes can occur. “If it weren’t for Edison or Tesla, we would not have electricity.”

Gambler’s fallacy – Assuming that separate, independent events will affect the probability of another independent event. “Because a coin flip is 50/50 and my last flip was heads, therefore the next flip will be tails.”

Loaded questions – Proposition contains an assumption that, if answered, implies agreement. “When did you stop stealing things?”

Non sequitur – An argument in which the conclusion has no logical connection to the premise. “Because fish swim in water and water is made of H2O, therefore life was created by a cosmic turtle.”

Red Herring – Distracting somebody from a certain point with another, irrelevant point. “Well, why should I vote at all if there are other problems for me to consider? Take the war for example.”

Reductio ad Absurdum – Extending an argument to ridiculous proportions to show that it is wrong. “If we allow gay marriage, then what’s next? Animal marriage? Cross species marriage? Marriage with rocks?”

Slippery slope – Assuming that a change will cause a certain result to occur. “If abortion is allowed, people will legalise all forms of murder.”

Straw man – Misrepresenting an argument to attack it. “Evolution claims that we came from monkeys. My father definitely was not a monkey.”

Syllogistic fallacy – An argument in which the conclusion is inferred sequentially from multiple premises. “All people breathe air. All cats also breathe air. Therefore all people are cats.”

 Texas Sharpshooter – Cherry picking data clusters based on their similarity and falsely assuming a connection (a type of false cause fallacy). “Statistically, sick people go to hospital and statistically, many people die in hospital, therefore hospitals cause death.”

 There’s a lot more, you can Google the rest if you’re interested. An understanding of logical fallacies can help you create stronger logical arguments and pick holes at someone else’s poorly reasoned argument. It’s also a necessity for academic reasoning and writing, so it’s always good to know how to be “right”.

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