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Old 21-08-2009, 01:35 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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I know many of you won't make it past here, but it doesn't hurt to try.


18. Not Invented Here:

ideas from elsewhere are made unwelcome. "This Is The Way We've Always Done It."

This fallacy is a variant of the Argument From Age. It gets a psychological boost from feelings that local ways are superior, or that local identity is worth any cost, or that innovations will upset matters. People who use the Not Invented Here argument are often accused of being stick-in-the-mud's.

Conversely, foreign and "imported" things may be held out as superior.

19. Argument To The Future:

arguing that evidence will someday be discovered which will (then) support your point.

20. Poisoning The Wells:

discrediting the sources used by your opponent. This is a variation of Ad Hominem.

21. Argument By Emotive Language (Appeal To The People):

using emotionally loaded words to sway the audience's sentiments instead of their minds. Many emotions can be useful: anger, spite, condescension, and so on.

For example, argument by condescension: "Support the ERA? Sure, when the women start paying for the drinks! Hah! Hah!"

Cliche Thinking and Argument By Slogan are useful adjuncts, particularly if you can get the audience to chant the slogan. People who rely on this argument may seed the audience with supporters or "shills", who laugh, applaud or chant at proper moments. This is the live-audience equivalent of adding a laugh track or music track. Now that many venues have video equipment, some speakers give part of their speech by playing a prepared video. These videos are an opportunity to show a supportive audience, use emotional music, show emotionally charged images, and the like. The idea is old: there used to be professional cheering sections. (Monsieur Zig-Zag, pictured on the cigarette rolling papers, acquired his fame by applauding for money at the Paris Opera.)

If the emotion in question isn't harsh, Argument By Poetic Language helps the effect. Flattering the audience doesn't hurt either.

22. Argument By Personal Charm:

getting the audience to cut you slack. Example: Ronald Reagan. It helps if you have an opponent with much less personal charm.

Charm may create trust, or the desire to "join the winning team", or the desire to please the speaker. This last is greatest if the audience feels sex appeal.

23. Appeal To Pity (Appeal to Sympathy, The Galileo Argument):

"I did not murder my mother and father with an axe! Please don't find me guilty; I'm suffering enough through being an orphan."

Some authors want you to know they're suffering for their beliefs. For example, "Scientists scoffed at Copernicus and Galileo; they laughed at Edison, Tesla and Marconi; they won't give my ideas a fair hearing either. But time will be the judge. I can wait; I am patient; sooner or later science will be forced to admit that all matter is built, not of atoms, but of tiny capsules of TIME."

There is a strange variant which shows up on Usenet. Somebody refuses to answer questions about their claims, on the grounds that the asker is mean and has hurt their feelings. Or, that the question is personal.

24. Appeal To Force:

threats, or even violence. On the Net, the usual threat is of a lawsuit. The traditional religious threat is that one will burn in Hell. However, history is full of instances where expressing an unpopular idea could you get you beaten up on the spot, or worse.

25. Begging The Question (Assuming The Answer, Tautology):

reasoning in a circle. The thing to be proved is used as one of your assumptions. For example: "We must have a death penalty to discourage violent crime". (This assumes it discourages crime.) Or, "The stock market fell because of a technical adjustment." (But is an "adjustment" just a stock market fall?)

26. Stolen Concept:

using what you are trying to disprove. That is, requiring the truth of something for your proof that it is false. For example, using science to show that science is wrong. Or, arguing that you do not exist, when your existence is clearly required for you to be making the argument.

This is a relative of Begging The Question, except that the circularity there is in what you are trying to prove, instead of what you are trying to disprove.

It is also a relative of Reductio Ad Absurdum, where you temporarily assume the truth of something.

27. Argument From Authority:

the claim that the speaker is an expert, and so should be trusted.

There are degrees and areas of expertise. The speaker is actually claiming to be more expert, in the relevant subject area, than anyone else in the room. There is also an implied claim that expertise in the area is worth having. For example, claiming expertise in something hopelessly quack (like iridology) is actually an admission that the speaker is gullible.

28. Argument From False Authority:

a strange variation on Argument From Authority. For example, the TV commercial which starts "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV." Just what are we supposed to conclude?

29. Appeal To Anonymous Authority:

an Appeal To Authority is made, but the authority is not named. For example, "Experts agree that ..", "scientists say .." or even "they say ..". This makes the information impossible to verify, and brings up the very real possibility that the arguer himself doesn't know who the experts are. In that case, he may just be spreading a rumor.

The situation is even worse if the arguer admits it's a rumor.

30. Appeal To Authority:

"Albert Einstein was extremely impressed with this theory." (But a statement made by someone long-dead could be out of date. Or perhaps Einstein was just being polite. Or perhaps he made his statement in some specific context. And so on.)

To justify an appeal, the arguer should at least present an exact quote. It's more convincing if the quote contains context, and if the arguer can say where the quote comes from.

A variation is to appeal to unnamed authorities .

31. Appeal To False Authority:

a variation on Appeal to Authority , but the Authority is outside his area of expertise.

For example, "Famous physicist John Taylor studied Uri Geller extensively and found no evidence of trickery or fraud in his feats." Taylor was not qualified to detect trickery or fraud of the kind used by stage magicians. Taylor later admitted Geller had tricked him, but he apparently had not figured out how.

A variation is to appeal to a non-existent authority. For example, someone reading an article by Creationist Dmitri Kuznetsov tried to look up the referenced articles. Some of the articles turned out to be in non-existent journals.

Another variation is to misquote a real authority. There are several kinds of misquotation. A quote can be inexact or have been edited. It can be taken out of context. (Chevy Chase: "Yes, I said that, but I was singing a song written by someone else at the time.") The quote can be separate quotes which the arguer glued together. Or, bits might have gone missing. For example, it's easy to prove that Mick Jagger is an assassin. In "Sympathy For The Devil" he sang: "I shouted out, who killed the Kennedys, When after all, it was ... me."

32. Statement Of Conversion:

the speaker says "I used to believe in X".

This is simply a weak form of asserting expertise. The speaker is implying that he has learned about the subject, and now that he is better informed, he has rejected X. So perhaps he is now an authority, and this is an implied Argument From Authority.

"X" has not actually been countered unless there is agreement that the speaker has that expertise. In general, any bald claim always has to be buttressed.

For example, there are a number of Creationist authors who say they "used to be evolutionists", but the scientists who have rated their books haven't noticed any expertise about evolution.

33. Bad Analogy:

claiming that two situations are highly similar, when they aren't. For example, "The solar system reminds me of an atom, with planets orbiting the sun like electrons orbiting the nucleus. We know that electrons can jump from orbit to orbit; so we must look to ancient records for sightings of planets jumping from orbit to orbit also."

Or, "Minds, like rivers, can be broad. The broader the river, the shallower it is. Therefore, the broader the mind, the shallower it is."

Or, "We have pure food and drug laws; why can't we have laws to keep movie-makers from giving us filth?"

34. Extended Analogy:

the claim that two things, both analogous to a third thing, are therefore analogous to each other. For example, this debate:

"I believe it is always wrong to oppose the law by breaking it."
"Such a position is odious: it implies that you would not have supported Martin Luther King."
"Are you saying that cryptography legislation is as important as the struggle for Black liberation? How dare you!"

A person who advocates a particular position (say, about gun control) may be told that Hitler believed the same thing. The clear implication is that the position is somehow tainted. But Hitler also believed that window drapes should go all the way to the floor. Does that mean people with such drapes are monsters?

Hold it...continuing.
‎"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire

Last edited by GrimaH; 21-08-2009 at 01:48 PM..
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