Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.
  • It's the 21st century, why don't we have world peace?

  • It's 2013, where's my flying car?

Is there a name for this kind of bad argument?

share|improve this question
3  
There's some implicit assumptions about linearity of technological or spiritual development; but for what it's worth, the global community is much calmer than it has been at many times in human history; and we're well on our way towards new modes of transportation (whether we mean private spaceflight or personal aerocraft -- but note our cities are still built for cars and that's going to take a while to change.) I don't know if there's really an argument here, so much as an expression of disappointment that the future hasn't been quite as utopian as it might have been forecasted to be. –  Joseph Weissman Apr 21 '13 at 20:18
1  
@JosephWeissman: I like your optimism! Besides, our cities were built for carts and horses, so a car or a flyer is equally appropriate... –  Cerberus Apr 21 '13 at 21:06
    
These are only two sentimental idealistic expressions plus an Arthur C Clarke kind of optimism about progress of technology and science in the near future! –  Persian Cat Apr 21 '13 at 22:29
1  
@BraddSzonye: See english.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/single-word-requests. –  ruakh Apr 22 '13 at 1:26
6  
Quit complaining. At least you got your video phone – and you can carry it your pocket to boot! ;^) (In all honesty, though, I read your sentences more as sarcasm or skepticism, not as logical fallicies. Unless the speaker is serious?) –  J.R. Apr 22 '13 at 3:02
show 2 more comments

4 Answers 4

Both are classical non sequiturs, if you ask me, masquerading as rhetorical questions.

Non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow"), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises. In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. All invalid arguments are special cases of non sequitur.

Just because it's 2013, doesn't mean there should be world peace or flying cars. There is no connection whatsoever. It's just a completely random number, as good as any other.

share|improve this answer
6  
Is this an actual non sequitur, though? Or is it just a rhetorical device meaning, “Isn't this overdue?” in the first case, and “Futurists can't be trusted” in the latter? –  Bradd Szonye Apr 22 '13 at 3:32
2  
Really have to disagree, Reg. I'd say they're rhetorical questions masquerading as... hmm... rhetorical questions. Why do you think it's valid to label them as something else? I think you have overextended the reach of what should be taken as non sequitur, and applied it unnecessarily, and without justification, to these statements. I think Bradd's comment in much closer to the mark. These statements are well known ironic comments on the disappointing outcome of optimistic predictions. And I take the speaker as being well aware that those results were not ever really guaranteed. –  John M. Landsberg Apr 22 '13 at 7:40
2  
To be fair, though, you WERE responding to the questioner's misguided interpretation of these statements as being fallacies. I simply think he should have been informed that they aren't intended as valid logical arguments. –  John M. Landsberg Apr 22 '13 at 7:43
add comment

What you have there is called a comma-splice error because you are attempting to join two independent clauses together with a comma that does not have a coördinating conjunction following it instead of using a semicolon or colon.

share|improve this answer
6  
"coördinating"? Have you been reading the New Yorker lately? :-) –  Pitarou Apr 22 '13 at 0:32
1  
T. are you answering the question? I'm surprised to see this as an "answer" rather than a comment. It's correct in what it says, of course, so I suppose that's why it's been upvoted, even though it doesn't address the question. I'm just saying....... :) –  John M. Landsberg Apr 22 '13 at 7:45
    
I'd flag this as not an answer, but it's too funny to be deleted –  American Luke Apr 26 '13 at 0:18
    
Not only is this not answering the actual question, I think it's technically wrong as well. Sure, it's a comma-splice. But a comma-splice is not always an error. The example sentences are exactly the sort of contexts where a comma-splice is appropriate. –  Ben Lee Apr 28 '13 at 23:36
    
@BenLee I called your mother, why aren’t you ready yet? –  tchrist Apr 29 '13 at 14:31
add comment

The example sentences you posted are not examples of "bad arguments" as you presume. To call them "bad arguments" is to miss the point. They are not meant to be logical arguments, or even arguments at all.

Rather, they are poetical ways of poking fun at overly-optimistic cultural myths about what the the future holds. This could probably best be described as a form of irony; it is an incongruity between past cultural expectations about the present state of progress and the actual present state of progress.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 I happen to like this spin. –  Souta Apr 30 '13 at 22:03
    
While it's impossible to know for certain the writer's intent, it's common to hear those phrases said with sarcasm. Therefore I agree with this answer: the sentences are most likely ironic. –  ghoppe May 21 '13 at 18:16
add comment

The appropriate fallacy is false cause:

You presumed that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other.

Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.

There is no causal link between 2013 and the existence of flying cars.

This is distinct from non sequitur in the sense that "all invalid arguments are special cases of non sequitur."


It should be noted, however, that most people who say things like this are not doing so sincerely. Those that do are most likely futurists who guessed wrong.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.