‘Fallacious’ claims used to ‘scare’ readers in opinion piece

Published by adviser, Author: Michael Farah, Date: February 19, 2015

The opinion article on ‘WARNING: Binders are not ok’ contains fallacious claims that were presented by the author(s) of the article. The first claim that Samsill is “cowardly and selfish” for removing the labels from the binders is a vapid argument. When presenting a counterargument one must deal in facts; this is true even for an opinion piece. Most of the article reiterates what was previously said in the article on the first page providing us with little additional information and just provides ‘filler’ to the newspaper. In addition the words used provide no additional value or context to the argument presented by the author(s). 

The second claim, that the binders being sold are cancer causing, also shows that the author does not understand the process one must undertake to release the cancer causing chemicals that the binder contains. The process would have to involve the user to ingest or inhale the chemical via burning or eating of the binder. While this may seem childish this is what it would take to increase the users risk for cancer. The simple regular everyday use of the binder is not adequate enough to increase the risk of the user for cancer.

The third claim, that the “SGA Bookstore should not sell any products that are known to cause cancer,” is an absurd statement, if the SGA Bookstore was to follow this recommendation than it will have to pull all products being sold or consumed in its store. This includes water bottles, notebooks, pens, pencils, and paper. This is not an attempt to dilute the author(s) point but to bring clarity to how many items students use that if used in the improper method would relate to an increase in a risk for cancer. 

The final claim, that Pennsylvania should adopt the same measures, is also an asinine statement. The list that California provides contains many different chemicals that are these ‘cancer causing agents.’ One of these chemicals (Doxycycline calcium) is on the list as toxicity in people’s development. This chemical is necessary for treatment of respiratory tract infections caused by Mycoplasma pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae. It also is used in the treatment of acne, Lyme Disease, Malaria and Anthrax. While yes the chemical can cause developmental issues in users it would require repetitive use and an increase in dosage to render this effect pronounced. 

I would like to hope that the author(s) of the article wrote it in haste but I fear that this has become an ever present issue with The Rocket. In the future I encourage authors of opinion articles to provide some facts that help to support their position in the effort to inform the readers and not scare them into believing unsubstantiated claims. I would also like to suggest that if the Rocket would like to address problems in FDA oversight of drugs than they should look into the FDA and their lack of oversight on the vitamin industry. I also welcome a response to my letter.

Michael Farah


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