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When does an Irrelevant Thesis change to a supporting point or secondary gain?  In example 1 the speaker says they should have a football program because there is data that shows that students who participate in sports programs perform better academically.  Let's take as a given that the data the speaker possesses is accurate.  If the goal of the school is to have students do well academically and a sports program helps accomplish that, where is the fallacy?  Perhaps in being to specific as to the sport?

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On 12/27/2019 at 5:35 PM, russelpolk said:

When does an Irrelevant Thesis change to a supporting point or secondary gain?  In example 1 the speaker says they should have a football program because there is data that shows that students who participate in sports programs perform better academically.  Let's take as a given that the data the speaker possesses is accurate.  If the goal of the school is to have students do well academically and a sports program helps accomplish that, where is the fallacy?  Perhaps in being to specific as to the sport?

Should the goal be to perform better academically? Christian classical schools often say their goal is to give students opportunities to grow in wisdom and virtue. Was God's goal for Christ as a youth to perform better academically? Scripture says he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man. Perhaps the irrelevant thesis here is that academics is every school's goal - or ought to be. 

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Perhaps.  In one of his presentations Dr. Perrin said that academic performance is a side benefit, or a secondary gain of classical education.  You may be right:  While a sports program may raise academic performance, that is secondary to the point of whether to have a sports program.

So, someone proposes starting a football team.  To support his proposal he presents his data about the correlation between sports participation and academic performance.  It's effect on academic performance is irrelevant since academic performance is a secondary objective.  Had he touted the idea that a sports program would somehow help develop Truth, Goodness or Beauty, would that have been relevant? 

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6 hours ago, Cheryl Floyd said:

Should the goal be to perform better academically? Christian classical schools often say their goal is to give students opportunities to grow in wisdom and virtue. Was God's goal for Christ as a youth to perform better academically? Scripture says he grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with man. Perhaps the irrelevant thesis here is that academics is every school's goal - or ought to be. 

I haven't seen the video, so I'm jumping in a bit blindly.

Your claim would only make the thesis irrelevant if the original point is to prove something other than the thesis that academic achievement is the goal of education. That claim is disputable, but it isn't irrelevant to one perspective about education. I think the example would have to be arguing that extra-curricular activities that show data supporting academic achievement are irrelevant precisely because they are extra-curricular. I do think that Russel's point is valid, if I understand him correctly. While you couldn't make the example a main point, or the thesis itself, it could serve as a supporting claim for a thesis or major claim that was more direct. 

A similar argument might go like this: studies show that humans who believe in the resurrection of Christ have more hope than those who deny the resurrection. This thesis is irrelevant to whether or not the resurrection is true as an historical event, but it does provide supporting evidence for the resurrection from grounds other than history.

Another possibility that occurs to me in the original example is that the argument is a potential correlation/causation fallacy. The fact that data show a correlation between sports program participation and academic achievement does not imply that sports participation is the cause of academic achievement. It may just show that high academic achievers also enjoy athletic competition.

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