Cannibal Statistics

In debate, it is always possible to be right for the wrong reason.  For instance, in supporting the proposition that cannibalism is immoral, I might argue that, historically, cannibalism encouraged the killing of human beings who might otherwise have been kidnapped by Arabs or rival African tribesmen and sold into slavery in the southern United States for a substantial profit.  It is also possible to be wrong for a lesser reason, as, in the present case, I would be in pressing the immorality of consuming human flesh by suggesting that it further tempts conscientious vegetarians to eat meat at any time, or Roman Catholics to eat it on Fridays.

The first argument would strike most listeners as being grossly offensive for its utilitarian reference point applied to a fundamental humanitarian issue, while the second would offend by reason of its moral triviality in respect of an issue of capital morality.  In the circumstances, being right about the immorality of cannibalism is nearly as wrong and inhuman as asserting the morality of this barbarous practice would be.

Another apparent instance of the potential for wrongness in being right is a personal one.  For a quarter-century now, I have argued, frequently and consistently, against mass immigration to the United States and the countries of Western Europe; I have even gone so far as to write a book about it, and to edit another.  For doing so, I and similarly minded colleagues...

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