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sonofnietzsche
April 14th, 2011, 03:08 PM
http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/showthread.php/20725-If-the-Christian-God-actually-exists-then-why-are-there-so-many-non-believers

In the non-belief thread, Squatch, Hyde and KingofTheEast all falsely claimed that the argument from non-belief commits the fallacy of appealing to popularity.

Together, theists and Atheists explained why the argument does not commit the fallacy. Although arguments from Allo (post #96) and RabbiDak do the job just fine, along with me quoting an explanation from a professional philosopher who makes the argument... I decided to jam one more nail in the coffin.

I e-mailed Dr. Curtis, the gent who runs fallacyfiles.org. Before I get into that, here's some quick ODN history:

Back in 2009, Czahar started this thread:


Czahar, OP, Good Sites for Learning Logic?

...Getting straight to the point, does anyone know of any great sites that can help a near beginner like me with logic i.e., the art of debate and reasoning? I've already found a good one on logical fallacies (thanks Aspo!):

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

Dio replied:


Dio, post #6

It's funny that you mention that nizkor site. Years ago, Apok got permission from that very site for us to use their content to populate ODN's fallacy database (a project that fell off the radar).

Apok replied:


Apok, post #21

Update #1...

Just exchanged a few emails with. Dr. Michael C. Labossiere, creator of Fallacy Tutorial Pro and fallacy content on Nizkor. He re-upped the offer (or allowance) for us to host his content, then referred me to a Dr. Curtis who has even more content at FallacyFiles.org.


About a year and a half later - in a reply to Soren (in a different thread) - Apok posted:


Apok, post #29, If a man existed and was bound purely by logic.

For a proper understanding of this fallacy, I recommend fallacyfiles: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/adnature.html which is going to be a part of the official ODN Fallacious Theory Content in the future anyway.

Long story short, Dr. Curtis runs a site called fallacyfiles.org, which is often cited by ODN members... including ODN's owner, who plans to use fallacyfiles content for the official ODN Fallacious Theory page.

It is that Dr. Curtis who I e-mailed. The guy's bio reads: I have a doctoral degree in philosophy from Indiana University in Bloomington, where I majored in logic. My dissertation concerned the concept of logical form, and touched on the subject of formal fallacies. I have taught philosophy and logic at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at I.U.B., Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis—known affectionately as "Ooey-Pooey"—and Indiana State University.

I contacted that Dr. Curtis and noted that some of my opponents asserted that the argument committed the appeal to popularity or appeal to belief fallacy. I told him that I disagreed with this assessment, but I would like to get feedback from him.

This was his reply:


Dr. Gary N. Curtis

I agree with you about the argument, which is a variant of the argument from evil, if you're familiar with that. I was thinking about using it on my weblog, but have been too busy to get around to it. I might still do that if you wouldn't mind.

There you have it.

Not only does a source of "ODN's future Official ODN Fallacious Theory Content" agree with me that Squatch, KOTE and Hyde are wrong - he even plans to use the argument in his weblog. Perhaps along with using Dr. Curtis' work to purvey ODN's official stance on logical fallacies, Apok may also use Dr. Curtis' atheological argument against the existence of the Christian God, to establish "ODN's Official Stance" on the Christian God. In which case, ODN's the official stance would be: the Christian God does not exist. :sly:

Spartacus
April 14th, 2011, 04:57 PM
Seems like you are using the slippery slope fallacy.

Or are you trying to get apok to post after a two month hiatus?

Dionysus
April 14th, 2011, 05:02 PM
Seems like you are using the slippery slope fallacy.How does it seem like that? I'm curious at how you arrived at this conclusion.

MindTrap028
April 14th, 2011, 06:03 PM
So what exactly is the point of the OP?

DR so and so says they are wrong.. thus .. they are wrong?

He didn't exactly offer anything to the debate as far as reasoning as to why it is wrong. He simply said he agrees with you.


Are you simply appealing to his authority as support for your point and why you are correct?

sonofnietzsche
April 14th, 2011, 06:12 PM
So what exactly is the point of the OP?

DR so and so says they are wrong.. thus .. they are wrong?

He didn't exactly offer anything to the debate as far as reasoning as to why it is wrong. He simply said he agrees with you.


Are you simply appealing to his authority as support for your point and why you are correct?

I could say a bunch to this, but I'll simply quote from one of the sources of ODN's future Fallacy Content. The point is that the actual reasoning of why the non-belief argument does not fallaciously appeal to popularity has been given by myself, other members (theist and non-theist) and an expert in the field. This OP is just icing on the cake.


Description of Appeal to Authority, Nizkor

An Appeal to Authority is a fallacy with the following form:

1. Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
2. Person A makes claim C about subject S.
3. Therefore, C is true.

This fallacy is committed when the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject. More formally, if person A is not qualified to make reliable claims in subject S, then the argument will be fallacious.

This sort of reasoning is fallacious when the person in question is not an expert. In such cases the reasoning is flawed because the fact that an unqualified person makes a claim does not provide any justification for the claim. The claim could be true, but the fact that an unqualified person made the claim does not provide any rational reason to accept the claim as true.

When a person falls prey to this fallacy, they are accepting a claim as true without there being adequate evidence to do so. More specifically, the person is accepting the claim because they erroneously believe that the person making the claim is a legitimate expert and hence that the claim is reasonable to accept. Since people have a tendency to believe authorities (and there are, in fact, good reasons to accept some claims made by authorities) this fallacy is a fairly common one.

Since this sort of reasoning is fallacious only when the person is not a legitimate authority in a particular context, it is necessary to provide some acceptable standards of assessment. The following standards are widely accepted:

1. The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.

Claims made by a person who lacks the needed degree of expertise to make a reliable claim will, obviously, not be well supported. In contrast, claims made by a person with the needed degree of expertise will be supported by the person's reliability in the area.

Determining whether or not a person has the needed degree of expertise can often be very difficult. In academic fields (such as philosophy, engineering, history, etc.), the person's formal education, academic performance, publications, membership in professional societies, papers presented, awards won and so forth can all be reliable indicators of expertise. Outside of academic fields, other standards will apply. For example, having sufficient expertise to make a reliable claim about how to tie a shoe lace only requires the ability to tie the shoe lace and impart that information to others. It should be noted that being an expert does not always require having a university degree. Many people have high degrees of expertise in sophisticated subjects without having ever attended a university. Further, it should not be simply assumed that a person with a degree is an expert.

Of course, what is required to be an expert is often a matter of great debate. For example, some people have (and do) claim expertise in certain (even all) areas because of a divine inspiration or a special gift. The followers of such people accept such credentials as establishing the person's expertise while others often see these self-proclaimed experts as deluded or even as charlatans. In other situations, people debate over what sort of education and experience is needed to be an expert. Thus, what one person may take to be a fallacious appeal another person might take to be a well supported line of reasoning. Fortunately, many cases do not involve such debate.

2. The claim being made by the person is within her area(s) of expertise.

If a person makes a claim about some subject outside of his area(s) of expertise, then the person is not an expert in that context. Hence, the claim in question is not backed by the required degree of expertise and is not reliable.

It is very important to remember that because of the vast scope of human knowledge and skill it is simply not possible for one person to be an expert on everything. Hence, experts will only be true experts in respect to certain subject areas. In most other areas they will have little or no expertise. Thus, it is important to determine what subject area a claim falls under.

It is also very important to note that expertise in one area does not automatically confer expertise in another. For example, being an expert physicist does not automatically make a person an expert on morality or politics. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked or intentionally ignored. In fact, a great deal of advertising rests on a violation of this condition. As anyone who watches television knows, it is extremely common to get famous actors and sports heroes to endorse products that they are not qualified to assess. For example, a person may be a great actor, but that does not automatically make him an expert on cars or shaving or underwear or diets or politics.

Dionysus
April 14th, 2011, 06:14 PM
So what exactly is the point of the OP?

DR so and so says they are wrong.. thus .. they are wrong?

He didn't exactly offer anything to the debate as far as reasoning as to why it is wrong. He simply said he agrees with you.


Are you simply appealing to his authority as support for your point and why you are correct?Ok, I'll take a stab at it.

1. This is in the "Debates Discussion" forum, so it's a discussion about a debate, not so much a debate in itself (although it surely could become that).

2. He's not saying he's right because so and so said he was right. He's simply pointing out that a subject matter expert (SME) agrees with his reasoning, and using that confirmation to discuss the aforementioned debate

3. It's not an appeal to authority if the person really is an authority on the matter in question, provided that the SME's reference comes with some argument. But then, again, this person is being referenced as a matter of confirmation, not as a matter of argument, so it's not a fallacy anyway.

4. I daresay that actually contacting an SME on the matter is about as much trouble as I've seen a person on ODN go through in an effort to fact check, despite the fact that, again, this confirmation isn't being used as an argument.

That's how I read it anyway. :dunno:

sonofnietzsche
April 14th, 2011, 06:29 PM
Right, Dio.

Also, MT, if you read the OP carefully, you will note that I refer to detailed explanations about why the non-belief argument is not an appeal to popularity. I refer to Allo's post, and I also refer to an explanation from an actual professional philosopher who explained (see post #793 in the non-belief thread):


...the fallacy is to think that a beliefís popularity is necessarily and all by itself a good indicator of the beliefís truth. ANB doesnít derive its conclusion solely from such an appeal to popularity. Also, ANB neednít assume that *most* people are nontheists. Even were nontheists in the minority, their rational nonbelief would pose a problem for those theistic systems that assume God wants *no one* to go to hell.

I suggest that you read the OP in full and in detail.

MindTrap028
April 14th, 2011, 07:44 PM
*Note*
As it is, I don't remember the thread or the topic in question. Nor do I recall if I took a side.


I suggest that you read the OP in full and in detail.
Yes, I get the fact that you are saying they were wrong, and that in the thread they were explained that they were wrong by several people.

But that is a very short amount of the OP. The majority is dedicated to explaining who this guy is, and his credentials, and then quoting him saying "I agree with you". You said this was supposed to be some final "nail in the coffin". So obviously him saying he agrees is supposed to support your position.

However, his lack of explanation, means that he doesn't add anything to the debate (all be it in another thread) about why it is wrong.

So, I'm simply asking if it is due only to his credentials (which appears to be the point of the OP) that we are to accept what he is saying as fact? .. More specifically, what has he added? It certainly isn't a rebuttal.


1. This is in the "Debates Discussion" forum, so it's a discussion about a debate, not so much a debate in itself (although it surely could become that).
Well, I won't pretend that I checked the heading. But the whole "final nail in the coffin" clearly indicates to me that this is to contribute to the rebuttal that occurred in the thread.


2. He's not saying he's right because so and so said he was right. He's simply pointing out that a subject matter expert (SME) agrees with his reasoning, and using that confirmation to discuss the aforementioned debate
Do you consider such agreement to be some a nail in any coffin?
If you and I were to debate a topic, and I offer a lengthy position based on reason etc. and you reply..
"I have rebutted that argument, and such and such authority says he agrees with me."
Does that forward a debate any, or add anything to it? Because that is what appears to be occurring here.


3. It's not an appeal to authority if the person really is an authority on the matter in question, provided that the SME's reference comes with some argument. But then, again, this person is being referenced as a matter of confirmation, not as a matter of argument, so it's not a fallacy anyway.
So, you don't suppose it would be possible for me to find another "authority" that disagreed with the authority mentioned in the OP?

Again, I'm just struggling to see the value of forwarding the agreement of an authority (without any argument attached), as any value in forwarding a debate.


4. I daresay that actually contacting an SME on the matter is about as much trouble as I've seen a person on ODN go through in an effort to fact check, despite the fact that, again, this confirmation isn't being used as an argument.
I would agree, if there were some argument attached to it, or reason for the position as stated. However, had someone contacted Dawkens regarding the topic of "does God exist". Would all his credentials, and an "I agree with you guys" statement add anything worth adding?

I certainly value the input of a scholar on any topic.. but to simply say "I agree".. is worthless to me, no mater who says it. We must be willing to simply differ to their superior knowledge for it to be worth anything, and if a position has been set out with reasons for it a simple "I disagree" is insufficient as a response no matter who it is.

In fact, had he posted such a thing in the thread, wouldn't it be spam? Such as
"Hi, I'm Nobel prize Doctor IQ of 3billion and 1/5th and I agree with what he said".

Finally, I'm not even clear that the Good DR is saying that the argument wasn't using the fallacy. He says he agrees with the argument, and wants to use it.
But there is nothing in the quote regarding the claim by opposition, that it is fallacious, is in fact wrong in his professional opinion.

So, I'm questioning the quality and application of the quote.
Or am I simply to take his word for it without explanation, and count that as a nail of any sort?

An example of what I see occurring..
-I think the big bang happened for X,Y,Z reasons.
-Well, my name is Albert Einstein and I've done a lot of thinking on this.. and I think your wrong.

That is what is being passed as an "nail in the coffin". All well and good as I would hate to be opposed by Albert Einstein.. but even so, my question would be. "care to elaborate"?

I appreciate the effort by Herm, and I think it is great the guy actually responded. But I don't think anything has been added to the discussion, and thus any "nail in the coffin" talk is simply rhetoric.


----------
-Herman and appeal to authority fallacy quote (to save the space of quoting)
I actually find that definition very odd.

1. Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
2. Person A makes claim C about subject S.
3. Therefore, C is true.

I thought the whole appeal to authority was a fallacy because unless someone has the authority to make a statement true, then it doesn't matter who is making the statement.
Certainly, someone with expertise in an area may justifiably be believed. But the simple utterance of the words because they have knowledge does not make it true.

So regarding the reference here. I think it is an appeal to authority fallacy.
Because he does not have the power to make his statement true.

if 3 instead read.
"Therefore we have good reason to think it is true". Then I would agree it is not a fallacy.

Now of course he is the authority on the matter, and I am more than willing to accept that I have misunderstood the fallacy. So I ask one question.

So, how exactly does his special education and experience make his statement true, and not just give us reason to accept it reflects truth?
----edit


and I also refer to an explanation from an actual professional philosopher who explained (see post #793 in the non-belief thread):
I didn't see a reference to post 793 in the op.

sonofnietzsche
April 14th, 2011, 08:34 PM
*Note*
As it is, I don't remember the thread or the topic in question. Nor do I recall if I took a side.



...


Yes, I get the fact that you are saying they were wrong, and that in the thread they were explained that they were wrong by several people.

But that is a very short amount of the OP. The majority is dedicated to explaining who this guy is, and his credentials, and then quoting him saying "I agree with you". You said this was supposed to be some final "nail in the coffin". So obviously him saying he agrees is supposed to support your position.

However, his lack of explanation, means that he doesn't add anything to the debate (all be it in another thread) about why it is wrong.

So, I'm simply asking if it is due only to his credentials (which appears to be the point of the OP) that we are to accept what he is saying as fact? .. More specifically, what has he added? It certainly isn't a rebuttal.

On ODN, when people assert that some fallacy has occurred, they often provide a link to a website dedicated to fallacies... and just leave it at that. They claim the fallacy occurred, and provide a source.

Fallacyfiles (Dr. Curtis' work) is often used as such a source. Think about this, MT. If I claim that your argument commits a fallacy, and I cite Dr. Curtis' for support, but my own source (Dr. Curtis) disagrees with me... do you not see a problem with that?

Dr. Curtis is not just some random dude. Fallacyfiles is not just some random site; it is a site that Apok wanted to use for ODN's Official Fallacy page. As Dr. Curtis would point out to you, informal fallacies have exceptions. He pointed this out to me in our private correspondence, and he could very well use the argument from non-belief as an example of an exception. In fact, even a Christian apologetics page dedicated to the appeal to ignorance fallacy uses the argument from non-belief as an example of an exception to the rule:


http://www.apologetics.info/logic/appeal-to-ignorance/

An appeal to ignorance takes the fact that something has not been proven as a sufficient reason for believing that it is false.

The logical form of an appeal to ignorance is as follows:

(1) There is no evidence that p.
Therefore:
(2) It is not the case that p.

Arguments of this form are fallacious except in those cases where if p were true then we would have evidence for it. Consider the following argument, a simplified version of the atheist philosopher Ted Drange’s “argument from nonbelief”:

(1) There is no evidence that a God whose primary concern is to reveal himself to us exists.
Therefore:
(2) It is not the case that such a God exists.

This argument is not a fallacious appeal to ignorance. If there were a God whose primary concern is to reveal himself to us, then we would expect to have evidence of his existence. The absence of such evidence therefore would support the claim that there is no such God.

In other words, picture this:

Apok uses Dr. Curtis' work as content for ODN's Official Fallacy page. Part of this content includes the appeal to popularity fallacy, along with an explanation as to why the argument from non-belief is an exception to the rule. By saying that the argument from non-belief commits the appeal to popularity fallacy, an ODN member would be going against ODN's Official Source for fallacies. This is significant, especially since assertions of fallacies are often simply accompanied with a source.



Finally, I'm not even clear that the Good DR is saying that the argument wasn't using the fallacy. He says he agrees with the argument, and wants to use it.

MT, please try reading the OP carefully. I said: I contacted that Dr. Curtis and noted that some of my opponents asserted that the argument committed the appeal to popularity or appeal to belief fallacy. I told him that I disagreed with this assessment, but I would like to get feedback from him.

That is the context in which Curtis expressed his agreement. He agreed with my disagreement regarding my opponents' assessment.


I didn't see a reference to post 793 in the op.

MT... read my words carefully. I said that I referred to an explanation from an actual philosopher. This explanation details exactly why the argument is not an appeal to popularity. I never said that I referenced post #793 in the OP. This thread is primarily for people who read the non-belief thread (or can at least remember that they did). I reckon that such people would have little trouble finding that post.

MindTrap028
April 15th, 2011, 04:57 AM
@ Herman
Good enough for me.
I withdraw the point :)

Good job tracking the guy down BTW.

Allocutus
April 15th, 2011, 07:06 AM
Dr. Curtis is not just some random dude. Fallacyfiles is not just some random site; it is a site that Apok wanted to use for ODN's Official Fallacy page. As Dr. Curtis would point out to you, informal fallacies have exceptions. He pointed this out to me in our private correspondence, and he could very well use the argument from non-belief as an example of an exception. In fact, even a Christian apologetics page dedicated to the appeal to ignorance fallacy uses the argument from non-belief as an example of an exception to the rule...


Word of clarification (see bold above). The argument from non-belief is not an exception to the fallacy of Argument From Popularity. Rather, it doesn't meet the definition of that fallacy in the first place.

By contrast, appealing to authority is a fallacy, unless an exception applies. Thus, citing a properly qualified expert is a permissible appeal to authority. It's an appeal to authority, to be sure. But it's not fallacious (Gawd I love that word LOL).

But that's not what we have here. We're not (and never were) saying that "so many people don't believe in God and therefore the notion of God's existence is so unpopular as to be voted out". Not at all. We're saying something different. We're saying that the fact that so many people don't believe in a god is evidence that either there is no god or that there is a god who doesn't care to make his/her/its existence clear enough for all (or even anywhere near all) people to accept it. We then go further and say that if the latter does exist, it can't be the biblical god because the biblical god punishes people who fail to believe in his existence. Assuming that the concept of the biblical god is a concept of a fair god, a god who doesn't make his existence perfectly clear (to all well-meaning and inquisitive and truth-seeking minds) can't be the biblical god.

This argument is not an exception to Appeal To Popularity. It simply has nothing to do with that fallacy in the first place.

I have to say I'm totally surprised and disappointed that this argument had to go this far. One would have thought that it should be crystal clear that the proposition in the original thread was not an appeal to popularity. Good job on contacting that dude, HL.

Dionysus
April 15th, 2011, 07:26 AM
MT, I know you withdrew the point, but there's a couple of things worth responding to here.


So, you don't suppose it would be possible for me to find another "authority" that disagreed with the authority mentioned in the OP?Sure, 1) If it were being used as an argument 2) If this was an argument 3) If you bothered to do it 4) If the person was also a RELEVANT subject matter expert.


I would agree, if there were some argument attached to it, or reason for the position as stated. However, had someone contacted Dawkens regarding the topic of "does God exist". Would all his credentials, and an "I agree with you guys" statement add anything worth adding?The fact that you ask this question causes me to think that you don't fully understand the point. Of course it wouldn't be worth adding because he's not a subject matter expert. But if it were a debate about biology, and I claimed "biology argument X", then went on to say "Richard Dawkins, ethologist and evolutionary biologist, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008, shares this view", then yes, it might be worth adding. And yes, you might well be able to find another SME and offer some point of contention from said SME. But if that other SME was an expert in woodcarving and knew nothing about biology, it's probably safe to say that his/her agreement doesn't being much to the table.


I certainly value the input of a scholar on any topic.. but to simply say "I agree".. is worthless to me, no mater who says it. We must be willing to simply differ to their superior knowledge for it to be worth anything, and if a position has been set out with reasons for it a simple "I disagree" is insufficient as a response no matter who it is.
In fact, had he posted such a thing in the thread, wouldn't it be spam? Such as
"Hi, I'm Nobel prize Doctor IQ of 3billion and 1/5th and I agree with what he said".No, because it's not a fallacious appeal to authority. It's a relevant appeal.


Finally, I'm not even clear that the Good DR is saying that the argument wasn't using the fallacy. He says he agrees with the argument, and wants to use it.
But there is nothing in the quote regarding the claim by opposition, that it is fallacious, is in fact wrong in his professional opinion.Hey, he might well be, but I don't see that anyone has presented an argument that challenges the one with which the SME agrees, so all we have is your skepticism. It might be well-founded skepticism, but unless you can provide a good reason for it, it's just not a factor.

Imagine a group of physicists pouring over the results of the latest Large Hadron Collider results, and they collectively come to some conclusion based on their observations and their knowledge of the subject at hand. Moreover, they share the results and their conclusion with the scientific community and before long there exists a new "law" in the field of physics.

But then someone comes in and says "I disagree with these results. I've also discussed this with Barney, who has a degree in economic theory, and he agrees with me. Kthxbai."

Now, the former is a case where the appeal to relevant SMEs is completely acceptable and reasonable because they are trained and have a high-level of competency in the subject at hand. But the latter case is obviously not an acceptable appeal. The former is NOT fallacious, and the latter is. Why? Because of relevant subject matter expertise. Now if the topics were reversed the physicists might well find themselves at a severe disadvantage, and for the same reasons.

Anyway, like I say, I know you let it go, but the language you were using suggested to me that perhaps you didn't appreciate the nature of this fallacy; specifically when it is acceptable to appeal to an authority, and when it isn't.

EDIT: Damn it. Allo said it better than me and with a third of the words...

sonofnietzsche
April 15th, 2011, 08:26 AM
Mindtrapp

@ Herman
Good enough for me.
I withdraw the point

Good job tracking the guy down BTW.

Cool.


This argument is not an exception to Appeal To Popularity. It simply has nothing to do with that fallacy in the first place.

Good point.


I have to say I'm totally surprised and disappointed that this argument had to go this far. One would have thought that it should be crystal clear that the proposition in the original thread was not an appeal to popularity. Good job on contacting that dude, HL.

Some members do not fully understand fallacies. With all due respect, MT's posts in this thread seem to demonstrate this. The mistaken appeal to popularity charges in the non-belief thread definitely demonstrate this.

Every single Christian who appealed to free will has either conceded or failed to respond to objections. My theory: They had nothing else left, so appealing to popularity became popular.


Dio

The fact that you ask this question causes me to think that you don't fully understand the point. Of course it wouldn't be worth adding because he's not a subject matter expert. But if it were a debate about biology, and I claimed "biology argument X", then went on to say "Richard Dawkins, ethologist and evolutionary biologist, emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008, shares this view", then yes, it might be worth adding. And yes, you might well be able to find another SME and offer some point of contention from said SME. But if that other SME was an expert in woodcarving and knew nothing about biology, it's probably safe to say that his/her agreement doesn't being much to the table.

Indeed, and note that we have an SME (besides Dr. Curits) who agrees with us and provides his reasoning and an explanation.

MindTrap028
April 15th, 2011, 06:08 PM
MT, I know you withdrew the point, but there's a couple of things worth responding to here.
D@mit! Can nothing stay your pimp hand?
<wipes chalk from face>