No true Scotsman

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First of all, sorry for not posting much lately, finals weeks are taking up a lot of my time.


You’re not a real american if you don’t own a gun.

You’re not a real catholic if you don’t go to church weekly.

You’re not a real feminist if you hate men.

You’re not a real scientist if you don’t believe in global warming.

You’re not a real muslim if you eat pork.

You’re not a real [member of group I am part of] if you don’t [thing I think we should all do].


I think we’ve all encountered this pattern in our lives. That’s called the No true Scotsman fallacy. Basically, when someone is proved wrong with a counter-argument, after generalizing something good about a group they are in, they counter it by changing their claim to include “real”, “true” or some similar concept before the group member, in an attempt to exclude this particular counterexample from the claim, so that they can still feel like they are right.

But isn’t it sometimes a good point?

Sometimes, the actual definition of a group is a certain trait. If you do not have that trait, no matter how much you claim to be part of that group, you aren’t. No matter what I say, I’m not a real vegan if I eat meat twice a day.

Some examples are pretty obvious. You’re not a real muslim if you don’t believe in the Islam religion. That’s the definition of a muslim. But some traits, like not eating pork, are ignored by a part of the community, just like a lot of christians eat meat on fridays.

I think the important thing that we have to take into account is the difference between the definition of something and rules that you should follow when you are something. Considering my DNA, I’m a human. On the other hand, there are some universal human rules that I am able to break and still keep my human status, like not killing anyone. People usually act like those are interchangeable, while they really aren’t.

A good example is with feminism.

The Merriam-Webster definition is:

Definition of feminism

  1. 1:  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

  2. 2:  organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

And a feminist is someone who believes in feminism. Using this definition, anyone who either participates in activities to help women’s rights or wants the political economic and social equality of the sexes is a feminist. On the other hand, expected traits of a feminist include actually treating men and women equally, not hating either of the sexes, etc. You can even actively work against equality, as long as you believe that you help, you’re a feminist. This means that two radically opposed people, for example one of them is for equality of outcomes and the other wants equality of opportunity, which are conflicting interests, can both be feminists, even if they probably both will say that the other one is not a real feminist.

So in the end, if you believe that women should be superior to men, you’re not a feminist. If you believe that men and women should be equal, but you actually help one of them become superior because you are mistaken about something, then you are a real feminist, although a not very effective one.

No true scotsman is not a citizen of scotland, but a lot of true scotsmen put sugar in their porridge, even though that might make them a worse one according to your biased perspective of reality.