Logical fallacies
Posted: 29 July 2008 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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This relates to every aspect of a person’s life actually and is not specific in any regard to Judaism. However the following would greatly elevate discussions if taken into consideration.

Humans are inherently pattern matching, heuristic/rule of thumb using, emotionally-driven, often irrational beings. It is unfortunate that most people never receive training in how to recognize and avoid our fallacious reasoning. Like an owner’s manual, a solid understanding of logical fallacies would prepare people to avoid the pitfalls created by the deluded, disingenuous, and dishonest. Many extended and oft lifelong detours down paths of wasted time, means, and effort would be avoided if errors committed against logic were taught to those in elementary school. These lessons should be reiterated and applied to every concept presented to the student. The skill of recognizing, exposing, and countering fallacious arguments would put the causes of much pain and error to flight. The concepts are rather simple when one takes even a cursory glance.


Logical Fallacies

• Ad Hominem
• Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
• Appeal to Authority
• Appeal to Belief
• Appeal to Common Practice
• Appeal to Consequences of a Belief
• Appeal to Emotion
• Appeal to Fear
• Appeal to Flattery
• Appeal to Novelty
• Appeal to Pity
• Appeal to Popularity
• Appeal to Ridicule
• Appeal to Spite
• Appeal to Tradition
• Bandwagon
• Begging the Question
• Biased Sample
• Burden of Proof
• Circumstantial Ad Hominem
• Composition
• Confusing Cause and Effect
• Division
• False Dilemma
• Gambler’s Fallacy
• Genetic Fallacy
• Guilt By Association
• Hasty Generalization
• Ignoring A Common Cause
• Middle Ground
• Misleading Vividness
• Personal Attack
• Poisoning the Well
• Post Hoc
• Questionable Cause
• Red Herring
• Relativist Fallacy
• Slippery Slope
• Special Pleading
• Spotlight
• Straw Man
• Two Wrongs Make A Right

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/taxonomy.html

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Posted: 30 July 2008 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Nice thought, if only it worked that way, but it doesn’t. Go ahead and try, call a fallacy foul on someone and see if it changes their argument. 

If someone said Jesus talked to them and told them that he had chosen them to be his messenger, I could say your nuts, they could call “Ad Hominem”,  I could say your claim is an unverifiable “Appeal to Personal Experience”, they could say nevertheless, I could say that your Jesus’ messenger like David Koresh was Jesus, they could claim “Straw Man”, I could say 1000’s before you have claimed the same and been found to be frauds or deluded, they could claim “Guilt by Association”. So on and so forth….........

More often then not the tactic of calling fallacy fouls is used by those who think doing so justifies their own claims.

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Posted: 30 July 2008 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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GAD - 30 July 2008 01:13 PM

More often then not the tactic of calling fallacy fouls is used by those who think doing so justifies their own claims.

Not in my experience. Sometimes fallacies are misapplications of sound reasoning, or taking sound reasoning too far, and sometimes someone whose personal agenda is served by doing so will argue the proper use of reasoning is fallacious (and often genuinely perceives it that way), but most often I see people pointing out fallacies to expose others’ errors, not as some kind of bifurcation—“your argument is fallacious, therefore you have to accept mine” (or therefore mine is better). That would be an argument from fallacy (and bifurcation/false dilemma). I’d argue it’s also an argument from ignorance as well.

The biggest problem I see is the time line. Our brains aren’t fully developed, physically, until some time in our mid-to-late 20s. I’m not sure if there’s much point in trying to teach critical thinking until all the pertinent parts in place.

Byron

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Posted: 30 July 2008 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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SkepticX - 30 July 2008 01:39 PM

Not in my experience. Sometimes fallacies are misapplications of sound reasoning, or taking sound reasoning too far, and sometimes someone whose personal agenda is served by doing so will argue the proper use of reasoning is fallacious (and often genuinely perceives it that way), but most often I see people pointing out fallacies to expose others’ errors, not as some kind of bifurcation—“your argument is fallacious, therefore you have to accept mine” (or therefore mine is better). That would be an argument from fallacy (and bifurcation/false dilemma). I’d argue it’s also an argument from ignorance as well.

The biggest problem I see is the time line. Our brains aren’t fully developed, physically, until some time in our mid-to-late 20s. I’m not sure if there’s much point in trying to teach critical thinking until all the pertinent parts in place.

Byron

Well, with you having over 1900 posts on this site I’m a bit surprised by your statement. I suppose individual experiences will vary. Still, that doesn’t seem sufficient to explain the delta between our views, so it is more likely a difference in definition and/or context. Interesting though….

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Posted: 30 July 2008 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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SkepticX - 30 July 2008 01:39 PM

The biggest problem I see is the time line. Our brains aren’t fully developed, physically, until some time in our mid-to-late 20s. I’m not sure if there’s much point in trying to teach critical thinking until all the pertinent parts in place.

I should say instead that I’m not sure if there’s much point in expecting high standards of critical thinking from those whose brains have yet to fully develop. I think an increasing degree of critical thinking in the curriculum (increasing in difficulty/skill required) is good idea.

Dunno if that has anything to do with our apparent divergence of opinion here, but there it is.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 30 July 2008 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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On a sarcastic note, here is an edited version of “38 Ways to Win an Argument” from Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Art of Controversy
1. Carry your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it.
2. Use different meanings of your opponent’s words to refute his argument.
3. Ignore your opponent’s proposition, which was intended to refer to some particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than what was asserted.
4. Hide your conclusion from your opponent until the end. Mingle your premises here and there in your talk. Get your opponent to agree to them in no definite order. By this circuitous route you conceal your goal until you have reached all the admissions necessary to reach your goal.
5. Use your opponent’s beliefs against him. If your opponent refuses to accept your premises, use his own premises to your advantage.
6. Confuse the issue by changing your opponent’s words or what he or she seeks to prove.
7. State your proposition and show the truth of it by asking the opponent many questions. By asking many wide-reaching questions at once, you may hide what you want to get admitted. Then you quickly propound the argument resulting from the opponent’s admissions.
8. Make your opponent angry. An angry person is less capable of using judgment or perceiving where his or her advantage lies.
9. Use your opponent’s answers to your questions to reach different or even opposite conclusions.
10. If your opponent answers all your questions negatively and refuses to grant you any points, ask him or her to concede the opposite of your premises. This may confuse the opponent as to which point you actually seek him to concede.
11. If the opponent grants you the truth of some of your premises, refrain from asking him or her to agree to your conclusion. Later, introduce your conclusion as a settled and admitted fact. Your opponent and others in attendance may come to believe that your conclusion was admitted.
12. If the argument turns upon general ideas with no particular names, you must use language or a metaphor that is favorable to your proposition.
13. To make your opponent accept a proposition, you must give him an opposite, counter-proposition as well. If the contrast is glaring, the opponent will accept your proposition to avoid being paradoxical.
14. Try to bluff your opponent. If he or she has answered several of your questions without the answers turning out in favor of your conclusion, advance your conclusion triumphantly, even if it does not follow. If your opponent is shy or stupid, and you yourself possess a great deal of impudence and a good voice, the technique may succeed.
15. If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponent’s acceptance or rejection some true proposition, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject an obviously true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your side for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition, as in #14, or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what your opponent accepted.
16. When your opponent puts forth a proposition, find it inconsistent with his or her other statements, beliefs, actions or lack of action.
17. If your opponent presses you with a counter-proof, you will often be able to save yourself by advancing some subtle distinction. Try to find a second meaning or an ambiguous sense for your opponent’s idea.
18. If your opponent has taken up a line of argument that will end in your defeat, you must not allow him to carry it to its conclusion. Interrupt the dispute, break it off altogether, or lead the opponent to a different subject.
19. Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection to some definite point in his argument, and you have nothing to say, try to make the argument less specific.
20. If your opponent has admitted to all or most of your premises, do not ask him or her directly to accept your conclusion. Rather, draw the conclusion yourself as if it too had been admitted.
21. When your opponent uses an argument that is superficial and you see the falsehood, you can refute it by setting forth its superficial character. But it is better to meet the opponent with a counter-argument that is just as superficial, and so dispose of him. For it is with victory that you are concerned, not with truth.
22. If your opponent asks you to admit something from which the point in dispute will immediately follow, you must refuse to do so, declaring that it begs the question.
23. Contradiction and contention irritate a person into exaggerating his statements. By contradicting your opponent you may drive him into extending the statement beyond its natural limit. When you then contradict the exaggerated form of it, you look as though you had refuted the original statement. Contrarily, if your opponent tries to extend your own statement further than you intended, redefine your statement’s limits and say, “That is what I said, no more.”
24. State a false syllogism. Your opponent makes a proposition, and by false inference and distortion of his ideas you force from the proposition other propositions that are not intended and that appear absurd. It then appears that your opponent’s proposition gave rise to these inconsistencies, and so it appears to be indirectly refuted.
25. If your opponent is making a generalization, find an instance to the contrary. Only one valid contradiction is needed to overthrow the opponent’s proposition.
26. A brilliant move is to turn the tables and use your opponent’s arguments against himself.
27. Should your opponent surprise you by becoming particularly angry at an argument, you must urge it with all the more zeal. No only will this make your opponent angry, but it will appear that you have put your finger on the weak side of his case, and your opponent is more open to attack on this point than you expected.
28. When the audience consists of individuals (or a person) who are not experts on a subject, you make an invalid objection to your opponent who seems to be defeated in the eyes of the audience. This strategy is particularly effective if your objection makes your opponent look ridiculous or if the audience laughs. If your opponent must make a long, winded and complicated explanation to correct you, the audience will not be disposed to listen to him.
29. If you find that you are being beaten, you can create a diversion—that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something else, as though it had a bearing on the matter in dispute. This may be done without presumption that the diversion has some general bearing on the matter.
30. Make an appeal to authority rather than reason. If your opponent respects an authority or an expert, quote that authority to further your case. If needed, quote what the authority said in some other sense or circumstance. Authorities that your opponent fails to understand are those which he generally admires the most. You may also, should it be necessary, not only twist your authorities, but actually falsify them, or quote something that you have entirely invented yourself.
31. If you know that you have no reply to the arguments that your opponent advances, you by a fine stroke of irony declare yourself to be an incompetent judge.
32. A quick way of getting rid of an opponent’s assertion, or of throwing suspicion on it, is by putting it into some odious category.
33. You admit your opponent’s premises but deny the conclusion.
34. When you state a question or an argument, and your opponent gives you no direct answer, or evades it with a counter-question, or tries to change the subject, it is sure sign you have touched a weak spot, sometimes without intending to do so. You have, as it were, reduced your opponent to silence. You must, therefore, urge the point all the more, and not let your opponent evade it, even when you do not know where the weakness that you have hit upon really lies.
35. Instead of working on an opponent’s intellect or the rigor of his arguments, work on his motive. If you succeed in making your opponent’s opinion—should it prove true—seem distinctly prejudicial to his own interest, he will drop it immediately.
36. You may also puzzle and bewilder your opponent by mere bombast. If your opponent is weak or does not wish to appear as if he has no idea what you are talking about, you can easily impose upon him some argument that sounds very deep or learned, or that sounds indisputable.
37. Should your opponent be in the right but, luckily for you, choose a faulty proof, you can easily refute it and then claim that you have refuted the whole position. This is the way in which bad advocates lose good cases. If no accurate proof occurs to your opponent, you have won the day.
38. Become personal, insulting and rude as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand. In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character. This is a very popular technique, because it takes so little skill to put it into effect.

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Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

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Posted: 30 July 2008 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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SkepticX - 30 July 2008 03:14 PM
SkepticX - 30 July 2008 01:39 PM

The biggest problem I see is the time line. Our brains aren’t fully developed, physically, until some time in our mid-to-late 20s. I’m not sure if there’s much point in trying to teach critical thinking until all the pertinent parts in place.

I should say instead that I’m not sure if there’s much point in expecting high standards of critical thinking from those whose brains have yet to fully develop. I think an increasing degree of critical thinking in the curriculum (increasing in difficulty/skill required) is good idea.

Dunno if that has anything to do with our apparent divergence of opinion here, but there it is.

Byron

Well, I’m in my forties and I suspect that most posters here are mid-thirties or older, nor does getting older seem to improve the critical thinking (not to be confused with learning from ones mistakes) of those who didn’t show signs of it when they were younger, so I don’t think it is about age.

By and large people don’t come to sites like this to learn, they come to prove to others that what they believe is right, the “38 ways to win an argument” posted above are far more useful for that (I especially like 21 and 30).

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