Disability, “No True Scotsman,” And “Zero Sum Thinking”

By Andrew Pulrang: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd- Never ending devaluing of our community…

The most outrageous conspiracy theories now reach and influence mainstream politics.

One bizarre example is the recent social media trend of “debunking” the accomplishments of well-known deaf and blind activist Hellen Keller. The core argument seems to be that Keller’s accomplishments were not her own, but instead engineered by others. It’s an idea based on a mix of unmoored skepticism and pure ableism. Since it seems so amazing that Helen Keller did so much, (or so the argument goes), maybe common sense tells us that she really didn’t after all. What exactly we are supposed to think from there is a bit of a mystery. This sudden impulse to “go after” an almost universally admired figure in disability history is perhaps easy to dismiss, like belief in a “Flat Earth.” However, recent events suggest that we ignore this kind of thing at our peril, including when it comes from or affects the disability community.

Disability thinking and discourse have for a long time been especially plagued by two common but harmful logical fallacies – sometimes known as “No True Scotsman” and “Zero Sum Thinking.” They each have an understandable appeal, and some slight basis in real-life disability experience. But they are inherently flawed, divisive, and corrosive. And they are important not only for disabled people to recognize, but for non-disabled observers and allies, too.

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