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2011 in Review

From KHouse
There is no question that 2011 was a historically significant year. The Middle East erupted in revolutionary protests, and several well entrenched governments were overthrown. The Greek debt still hangs like Damocles’ sword over Europe and threatens the financial stability of the world. Earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and tsunamis across the globe once again left their destruction. Yet, in spite of the damage and violence, there was a lot of hope. Antiretroviral drugs were shown to reduce the spread of HIV, and several Mexican drug cartel bosses were captured. Babies were found alive in the wreckage. Good and bad, 2011 was a year for looking to the future. 
Jan 1 - Twenty-three people were killed on New Year’s Day in Alexandria, Egypt when a powerful car bomb detonated in front of a crowded Coptic Christian church as worshipers left the New Year’s Eve Mass. It was the most deadly attack against the Copts in a decade, and thousands of Copts demonstrated after the explosion, demanding the resignation of the Egyptian government. 
Jan 1-2 - A crude oil pipeline went into operation between Siberia and China, with 15 million metric tons of crude per year expected to flow from Russia to energy-hungry China for the next two decades. 
January 11 - An off-duty policeman on a Cairo-bound train shot and killed one Christian and wounded five others not even two weeks after the New Year’s Day bombing in Alexandria. A 71-year-old Coptic man was killed, and his wife and four other Christians were wounded. 
February 11 - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned after 30 years of rule under pressure of protests by demonstrators who demanded reforms again police brutality, government corruption, high unemployment, high food costs, and lack of freedom of speech. As a result, Egypt's new military leadership suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and promised new elections. The demands for political reform had swept from Tunisia, where protests had started December 18, and moved across the Arab world. Mubarak’s resignation sparked demonstrations in Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and Iran. 
March 11 - A 9.0 earthquake struck Honshu, Japan, triggering a deadly tsunami that wiped out the east coast of Honshu from Chiba to Aomori. At least 15,703 people were killed, 4,647 missing, 5,314 injured, and 130,927 displaced as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. At least 332,395 buildings, 2,126 roads, 56 bridges and 26 railways were destroyed and damaged by the disasters. 
March 26 – Mobs of masked thugs attacked London police and began smashing into banks, storefronts and hotels after Prime Minister David Cameron announced a $130 billion cut in public spending. Up to half a million protestors led by anti-capitalists had marched from the Thames Embankment past the Houses of Parliament to Hyde Park. Criminals took over, starting fires and causing damage in London’s busiest shopping district. Over 200 people were arrested. 
April 12 - Japan raised the crisis level at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from 5 to 7, the highest level on the crisis scale, after the plant was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The high radiation leaks contaminated the air, tap water, surrounding farmland and seawater, and the Japanese government estimated the amount of contamination to equal approximately one-tenth of the amount released by the Chernobyl disaster. 
May 2 - Osama bin Laden was shot and killed inside a private compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA operatives. After he was positively identified, bin Laden was buried at sea. 
May 22 - An EF-5 tornado hit the city of Joplin, Mo., leaving an estimated 157 people dead in the deadliest single tornado since the 1950s when modern record keeping began. 
May 24 – Tornadoes claimed 10 more lives in Oklahoma, two more in Kansas, and six in Arkansas. 
May 31 - Israel raided a Turkish flotilla in international waters as it headed to the Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid and construction materials, with the intention of breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip. A group of 13 Israeli naval commandos boarded one ship to force the flotilla to the Israeli port of Ashdod for inspection. Relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated as a result of the raid. 
June 20 – Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Linda Thompson declared that she would fast and pray for three days. Religious leaders called on others to do the same for the good of the city and to encourage the local leaders to work together in solving the city’s financial difficulties. "Things that are above and beyond my control, I need God," Thompson said. "I depend on Him for guidance. Spiritual guidance. That's why it's really no struggle for me to join this fast and prayer." 
June 24 - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation legalizing same-sex marriages in the state. Republicans demanded stronger legal protections for religious groups that feared they would be hit with discrimination lawsuits if they refused to allow their facilities to be used for gay weddings.
Thirteen-year-old Aidan Dwyer was honored to receive the 2011 Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History in New York for his work in applying the Fibonacci sequence to solar panel arrays. He found that small solar panels arranged according to the Fibonacci sequence, a pattern found in tree branches, produced 20 percent more energy than flat panel arrays. Dwyer has been awarded a provisional patent for his innovation. Eleven student naturalists were honored with Dwyer for other discoveries. 
July 16-17 - Mexican federal police swept through Ciudad Juarez and arrested more than 1,000 people in an operation aimed at cracking down on human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The operation was part of Mexico’s AMBER Alert program to locate missing children. 
Aug 5 – Twelve-year-old Dale Ostrander drowned off the Oregon coast after he was dragged under by a rip tide. He was under the water for 25 minutes and was technically dead when brought to shore. Family and church members began praying. After CPR, Dale regained a faint heart beat, and within three days the boy was conscious and talking. 
Aug 6-10 – Rioting, looting and arson spread through several London boroughs and across England after a young black man named Mark Duggan was shot to death by police on August 4. Londoners sought to protect themselves from the looters, and by August 15, 3,100 people had been arrested and 1000 charged. More than 3000 crimes were linked to the lawlessness. 
Aug 21 – Tripoli fell to anti-Gaddafi forces. Revolutionary fighters gained control of one stronghold. 
Aug 23 - A rare magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Mineral, Virginia. Jokes quickly spread across the Internet as the U.S. West Coast teased Washington DC and its surrounding areas for making such a big fuss over a 5.8 quake. 
Sept 17 – Occupy Wall Street began in Zuccotti Park in New York City, started by the Canadian anti-capitalist group Adbusters. The protests sparked similar protests in cities across America, where demonstrators "occupied" against high unemployment and economic inequality. 
Sept 26 - Israel's national museum made some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the book of Isaiah, available online. 
Oct 20 - Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was shot to death during his capture by the Libyan National Liberation Army. He had been the leader of Libya for 41 years. 
Oct 25 – Turkish rescue workers pulled 14-day-old Azra Karaduman from the rubble of an apartment building nearly 48 hours after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake devastated the country on October 23. The baby girl’s mother and grandmother also made it out of the wreckage alive. 
Nov 1 – The U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States. It passed by a vote of 396-9.

What is a logical fallacy?

All arguments have the same basic structure: A therefore B. 

They begin with one or more premises (A), which is a fact or assumption upon which the argument is based. They then apply a logical principle (therefore) to arrive at a conclusion (B). An example of a logical principle is that of equivalence. For example, if you begin with the premises that A=B and B=C, you can apply the logical principle of equivalence to conclude that A=C. A logical fallacy is a false or incorrect logical principle. An argument that is based upon a logical fallacy is therefore not valid. It is important to note that if the logic of an argument is valid then the conclusion must also be valid, which means that if the premises are all true then the conclusion must also be true. Valid logic applied to one or more false premises, however, leads to an invalid argument. Also, if an argument is not valid the conclusion may, by chance, still be true.

Top 20 Logical Fallacies (in alphabetical order)

- Introduction to Argument
Structure of a Logical Argument Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, our arguments all follow a certain basic structure. They begin with one or more premises, which are facts that the argument takes for granted as the starting point. Then a principle of logic is applied in order to come to a conclusion. This structure is often illustrated symbolically with the following example: 

Premise 1: If A = B, Premise 2: and B = C Logical connection: Then (apply principle of equivalence) Conclusion: A = C 

In order for an argument to be considered valid the logical form of the argument must work – must be valid. A valid argument is one in which, if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true also. However, if one or more premise is false then a valid logical argument may still lead to a false conclusion. A sound argument is one in which the logic is valid and the premises are true, in which case the conclusion must be true. 

Also it is important to note that an argument may use wrong information, or faulty logic to reach a conclusion that happens to be true. An invalid or unsound argument does not necessarily prove the conclusion false. Demonstrating that an argument is not valid or not sound, however, removes it as support for the truth of the conclusion – it means that the conclusion is not necessarily true. 

Breaking down an argument into its components is a very useful exercise, for it enables us to examine both our own arguments and those of others and critically analyze them for validity. This is an excellent way of sharpening one’s thinking, avoiding biases, and making effective arguments. 

Examine your Premises 

As stated above, in order for an argument to be sound all of its premises must be true. Often, different people come to different conclusions because they are starting with different premises. So examining all the premises of each argument is a good place to start. 

There are three types of potential problems with premises. The first, and most obvious, is that a premise can be wrong. 

Another type of premise error occurs when one or more premises is an unwarranted assumption. The premise may or may not be true, but it has not been established sufficiently to serve as a premise for an argument. Identifying all the assumptions upon which an argument is dependent is often the most critical step in analyzing an argument. Frequently, different conclusions are arrived at because of differing assumptions. 

Often people will choose the assumptions that best fit the conclusion they prefer. In fact, psychological experiments show that most people start with conclusions they desire, then reverse engineer arguments to support them – a process called rationalization. 

One way to resolve the problem of using assumptions as premises is to carefully identify and disclose those assumptions up front. Such arguments are often called “hypothetical,” or prefaced with the statement “Let’s assume for the sake of argument.” Also, if two people examine their arguments and realize they are using different assumptions as premises, then at least they can “agree to disagree.” They will realize that their disagreement cannot be resolved until more information is available to clarify which assumptions are more likely to be correct. 

The third type of premise difficulty is the most insidious: the hidden premise. I have seen this listed as a logical fallacy – the unstated major premise, but it is more accurate to consider it here. Obviously, if a disagreement is based upon a hidden premise, then the disagreement will be irresolvable. So when coming to an impasse in resolving differences, it is a good idea to go back and see if there are any implied premises that have not been addressed.