21-08-2009, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
List of logical fallacies (that may help you in formulating your posts in CAL)
Someone else posted this list of fallacies somewhere else, and I thought to post it here because God damn, do so many of you need to learn to avoid them.
Ahah! I found a list of 89 fallacious argument....from the internet!! Take it seriously internet serious business!!!!11ii1shift+11=!!
Here goes. Credit to Don Lindsay (I'm not going to use the quote box thingy whatever so that it will appear as if I'm the genius here. Truth is I just added the numbering and bold the labels. Meh..Screw credibility and the internet arguments.)
1. Ad Hominem (Argument To The Man):
Attacking the person instead of attacking his argument. For example, "Von Daniken's books about ancient astronauts are worthless because he is a convicted forger and embezzler." (Which is true, but that's not why they're worthless.)
Another example is this syllogism, which alludes to Alan Turing's homosexuality:
Turing thinks machines think.
Turing lies with men.
Therefore, machines don't think.
(Note the equivocation in the use of the word "lies".)
A common form is an attack on sincerity. For example, "How can you argue for vegetarianism when you wear leather shoes?" The two wrongs make a right fallacy is related.
A variation (related to Argument By Generalization) is to attack a whole class of people. For example, "Evolutionary biology is a sinister tool of the materialistic, atheistic religion of Secular Humanism." Similarly, one notorious net.kook waved away a whole category of evidence by announcing "All the scientists were drunk."
Another variation is attack by innuendo: "Why don't scientists tell us what they really know; are they afraid of public panic?"
There may be a pretense that the attack isn't happening: "In order to maintain a civil debate, I will not mention my opponent's drinking problem."
Sometimes the attack is on intelligence. For example, "If you weren't so stupid you would have no problem seeing my point of view." Or, dismissing a comment with "Well, you're just smarter than the rest of us." (In Britain, that might be put as "too clever by half".) This is related to Not Invented Here, but perhaps it is more connected to Dismissal By Differentness and Changing The Subject.
Ad Hominem is not fallacious if the attack goes to the credibility of the argument. For instance, the argument may depend on its presenter's claim that he's an expert. (That is, there is an Argument From Authority.) Trial judges allow this category of attacks.
simply attempting to make the other person angry, without trying to address the argument at hand. Sometimes this is a delaying tactic.
Needling is also Ad Hominem if you insult your opponent. You may instead insult something the other person believes in ("Argumentum Ad YourMomium"), interrupt, clown to show disrespect, be noisy, fail to pass over the microphone, and numerous other tricks. All of these work better if you are running things - for example, if it is your radio show, and you can cut off microphones. A compliant host or moderator is almost as good.
3. Straw Man (Fallacy Of Extension):
attacking an exaggerated or caricatured version of your opponent's position.
For example, the claim that "evolution means a dog giving birth to a cat."
Another example: "Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can't understand why he wants to leave us defenseless like that."
On the Internet, it is common to exaggerate the opponent's position so that a comparison can be made between the opponent and Hitler.
4. Inflation Of Conflict:
arguing that scholars debate a certain point. Therefore, they must know nothing, and their entire field of knowledge is "in crisis" or does not properly exist at all.
For example, two historians debated whether Hitler killed five million Jews or six million Jews. A Holocaust denier argued that this disagreement made his claim credible, even though his death count is three to ten times smaller than the known minimum.
Similarly, in "The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods" (John Woodmorappe, 1999) we find on page 42 that two scientists "cannot agree" about which one of two geological dates is "real" and which one is "spurious". Woodmorappe fails to mention that the two dates differ by less than one percent.
5. Argument From Adverse Consequences (Appeal To Fear, Scare Tactics):
saying an opponent must be wrong, because if he is right, then bad things would ensue. For example: God must exist, because a godless society would be lawless and dangerous. Or: the defendant in a murder trial must be found guilty, because otherwise husbands will be encouraged to murder their wives.
Wishful thinking is closely related. "My home in Florida is six inches above sea level. Therefore I am certain that global warming will not make the oceans rise by one foot." Of course, wishful thinking can also be about positive consequences, such as winning the lottery, or eliminating poverty and crime.
6. Special Pleading (Stacking The Deck):
using the arguments that support your position, but ignoring or somehow disallowing the arguments against.
Uri Geller used special pleading when he claimed that the presence of unbelievers (such as stage magicians) made him unable to demonstrate his psychic powers.
7. Excluded Middle (False Dichotomy, Faulty Dilemma, Bifurcation):
assuming there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more. For example, assuming Atheism is the only alternative to Fundamentalism, or being a traitor is the only alternative to being a loud patriot.
8. Short Term Versus Long Term:
this is a particular case of the Excluded Middle. For example, "We must deal with crime on the streets before improving the schools." (But why can't we do some of both?) Similarly, "We should take the scientific research budget and use it to feed starving children."
9. Burden Of Proof:
the claim that whatever has not yet been proved false must be true (or vice versa). Essentially the arguer claims that he should win by default if his opponent can't make a strong enough case.
There may be three problems here. First, the arguer claims priority, but can he back up that claim? Second, he is impatient with ambiguity, and wants a final answer right away. And third, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
10. Argument By Question:
asking your opponent a question which does not have a snappy answer. (Or anyway, no snappy answer that the audience has the background to understand.) Your opponent has a choice: he can look weak or he can look long-winded. For example, "How can scientists expect us to believe that anything as complex as a single living cell could have arisen as a result of random natural processes?"
Actually, pretty well any question has this effect to some extent. It usually takes longer to answer a question than ask it.
Variants are the rhetorical question, and the loaded question, such as "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
11. Argument by Rhetorical Question:
asking a question in a way that leads to a particular answer. For example, "When are we going to give the old folks of this country the pension they deserve?" The speaker is leading the audience to the answer "Right now." Alternatively, he could have said "When will we be able to afford a major increase in old age pensions?" In that case, the answer he is aiming at is almost certainly not "Right now."
12. Fallacy Of The General Rule:
assuming that something true in general is true in every possible case. For example, "All chairs have four legs." Except that rocking chairs don't have any legs, and what is a one-legged "shooting stick" if it isn't a chair?
Similarly, there are times when certain laws should be broken. For example, ambulances are allowed to break speed laws.
13. Reductive Fallacy (Oversimplification):
over-simplifying. As Einstein said, everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Political slogans such as "Taxation is theft" fall in this category.
14. Genetic Fallacy (Fallacy of Origins, Fallacy of Virtue):
if an argument or arguer has some particular origin, the argument must be right (or wrong). The idea is that things from that origin, or that social class, have virtue or lack virtue. (Being poor or being rich may be held out as being virtuous.) Therefore, the actual details of the argument can be overlooked, since correctness can be decided without any need to listen or think.
15. Psychogenetic Fallacy:
if you learn the psychological reason why your opponent likes an argument, then he's biased, so his argument must be wrong.
16. Argument Of The Beard:
assuming that two ends of a spectrum are the same, since one can travel along the spectrum in very small steps. The name comes from the idea that being clean-shaven must be the same as having a big beard, since in-between beards exist.
Similarly, all piles of stones are small, since if you add one stone to a small pile of stones it remains small.
However, the existence of pink should not undermine the distinction between white and red.
17. Argument From Age (Wisdom of the Ancients):
snobbery that very old (or very young) arguments are superior. This is a variation of the Genetic Fallacy, but has the psychological appeal of seniority and tradition (or innovation).
Products labelled "New! Improved!" are appealing to a belief that innovation is of value for such products. It's sometimes true.
++continuing [please don't post in between yet thank you and your pops].++
"A witty saying proves nothing."
Last edited by GrimaH; 21-08-2009 at 01:56 PM..