In the 11 July issue of Parade (with a cover of Angelina Jolie titled, “How I’ve Changed” and a companion article by Dotson Rader), Ms. Jolie is quoted as emphasizing, “The most important thing is our children.” Rader also says, “Jolie tells me they [Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt] have discussed doing fewer movies in the future in order to spend more time with each other and the kids.”
Analysis (proof by contradiction):
1. Assume that “the most important thing is our children” is a true statement.
2. Assume Jolie’s desire to “spend more time with the kids” is an accurate reflection of Jolie’s dedication to her children.
3. Jolie and her husband have great wealth.
4. Great wealth would allow Jolie to “spend more time,” or even full time, with her children right now.
5. She chooses not to.
6. Therefore, to Jolie, making movies is more important than increasing the amount of time that she spends with her children.
7. Conclusion: Statement (1) is false.
Jolie and her husband may have many fine traits, may be great parents, and may be very generous. But Jolie’s statement about the preeminent importance of her children is not consistent with her actions.
Inconsistent baloney is not limited to celebrities. Many of us make strong but disingenuous statements to make ourselves feel better, or to gain the approval of others (“I’ve been putting on weight, so I’m going to cut back — next month”; “Working out is an essential part of my life, but I’ve been so busy at work lately…”; “I need to spend more time with the family — after the baseball season is over”).