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  1. #1
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    Logical Fallacies

    Here is a list of informal logical fallacies. A commission of any one of these renders the argument given invalid. If it is invalid, it is dismissed on the grounds of the fallacy and no further discussion about it is necessary. The argument must be provided again without a fallacy in order for it to be valid.

    These are not subjective rules, these are fundamental rules to all logical arguments. An argument is not logical if it is guilty of one (or more) of these fallacies.

    This list is not exhaustive. It is a work in progress. Feel free to post in this thread additional informal fallacies. Try to keep them in the same format as the rest, as well as providing an example. Please add only informal fallacies at this time in this thread. If someone wants to start a list of formal fallacies, you may do so in another thread, we'll consider it and add it to our site content as our official list.

    ------------------------------------

    Appeal to Force (argumentum ad baculum): In which someone in a position of power threatens to bring down unfortunate consequences upon anyone who dares to disagree with a preffered proposition.

    Example: If you don't agree with my political opinions, you'll receive an F for this course. I believe that Herbert Hoover was the greatest President ever. Therefore, Herbert Hoover was the greatest President ever.

    Appeal to Pity (argumentum ad misericordiam): This method tries to win acceptance by pointing out the unfortunate consequences that will otherwise fall upon the speaker and others, for whom we would feel sorry.

    Example: I'm a single parent, and if you give me this traffic ticket, I won't be able to work to support them. Therefore, you should not give me this traffic ticket. Note that the conclusion can still be false, even if all the premises are true.

    Appeal to Emotion (argumentum ad populum): This method relies upon emotionally charged language to arouse strong feelings that lead an audience to accept its conclusion. Look for buzzwords, popular stereotypes, etc...

    Appeal to Authority (argumentum ad verecundiam): The next two fallacies involve the mistaken supposition that some connection exists between the truth of a proposition and some feature of the person who asserts or denies it. Here, the opinion of someone famous or accomplished in an another area of expertise supposedly guarantees the truth of a conclusion.

    Example: Apok is the Admin, so if he thinks something is illogical, it must be illogical. The fact of Apok being the admin has no bearing on whether something is logical or illogical.

    Ad Hominem: Just the opposite of the above. Here, someone with a bad reputation in one area is exploited for his thoughts in another (which are, this argument says, supposedly false).

    Example: Booger says we shouldn't steal. But we all know Booger is a troll, so it's okay to steal.

    Appeal to ignorance (argumentum ad ignoratiam): This proposes we accept the truth of a proposition unless an opponent can prove otherwise.

    Example: No one can conclusively prove God doesn't exist. Therefore, God exists. Of course, the absence of evidence against a proposition isn't enough to secure its truth.

    Irrelevant Conclusion (ignoratio elenchi): This argument tries to establish the truth of a proposition by offering an argument that actually provides support for an entirely different conclusion.

    Accident: This begins with the statement of some principle that is true as a general rule, but errs by applying this principle to a specific case that is unusual.

    Example:Most Asian kids around don't do drugs. Iamdoughnut does drugs. Therefore, Iamdoughnut is not Asian.

    False Cause: This infers the presence of a causal connection simply because events appear to occur in correlation.

    Example: Dude Shibby was driving the car. Homestar Runner was sitting in the backseat. Therefore, Dude Shibby driving the car caused Homestar Runner to sit in the backseat.

    Begging the Question: Using the conclusion of an argument as one of the premises offered in its own support.

    Example: All dogs are mammals. All mammals have hair. Since animals with hair bear live young, dogs bear live young. But all animals that bear live young are mammals. Therefore, all dogs are mammals.

    Equivocation: This trades upon the use of an ambiguous word or phrase in one of its meanings.

    Example: Really exciting novels are rare, but rare books are expensive. Therefore, really exciting novels are expensive.

    Division: This involves an inference from the attribution of some feature to an entire class to the possession of the same feature by each of its individual members or parts.

    Example: The Irish have a reputation for drinking. Joe is Irish. Therefore, Joe has a reputation for drinking. Although the premise may be true, the fact doesn't reflect upon any of the individual members of the group.

    Argument from Intimidation: Similar to both Appeal to Authority and, in particular, ad hominem, the argument from intimidation was a phrase coined by philosopher Ayn Rand back in the 1960s. The distinct differences between ad hominem and the Argument from Intimidation were defined by Rand as follows:

    "...in the first case (ad hominem), candidate X's immorality, real or invented, is offered as proof of the falsehood of his argument. In the second case, the falsehood of his argument is asserted arbitrarily and offered as proof of his immorality... In today's epistemological jungle, that second method is used more frequently than any other argument. [The] tone is usually one of scornful or belligerent incredulity... all 'smears' are arguments from intimidation; they consist of derogatory assertions without any evidence or proof, aimed at the moral cowardice or unthinking credulity of the hearers..."

    The classic example of the argument from intimidation is the fable of The Emperor's New Clothes.

    Other examples:
    • Only heartless, greedy people can support capitalism."
    • "Only an ignorant man can look at the wonders around him and deny the existence of God."
    • "Satanists...claim Ayn Rand's philosophy as an eloquent expression of their credo."
    • "Those who support America's action against the terrorists in Afghanistan are no better than terrorists themselves."

    Appeal to Reverence: We've all seen this one. The assertion that because an idea is popular, it must be correct. The argument may or may not be correct, but if it is correct it is not because of its popularity or lack thereof.

    Example: "Christianity is the most widely followed religion worldwide. This proves the value of Christianity."

    Smuggled Premise: Quite tricky, this consists of phrasing a question in such a way that a certain premise is 'smuggled' unchallenged into the debate if the fallacy is not correctly identified.

    The classic example: "So, do you still beat your wife?"

    Political example:"What welfare programs are most important for the Government to fund?"(Assumes that the Govt should be funding welfare at all).

    Context-Dropping: If not correctly identified can also be quite tricky. It can be done innocently (i.e. an honest mistake), or deliberately (to mislead, distort or evade).

    Example, in support of welfare: "Isn't it desirable to have all citizens fed, clothed and housed?" Taken out of context, of course it is desirable. But it ignores the context, i.e. the fact that someone else has to pay for said food, clothing and housing.

    The "Slippery Slope" Argument: The Slippery Slope is a fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question. In most cases, there are a series of steps or gradations between one event and the one in question and no reason is given as to why the intervening steps or gradations will simply be bypassed. This "argument" has the following form:

    -Event X has occurred (or will or might occur).

    -Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.


    This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitably follow from another without an argument for such a claim. This is especially clear in cases in which there is a significant number of steps or gradations between one event and another.

    Real life example: The government is trying to regulate guns. Soon, they will try to regulate every aspect of our lives, from the way we eat to the way we think, making us their slaves.

    Note that there isn't a stated causal relationship between the two; the latter half of the argument forces a causal relationship upon the former half and takes the matter for granted. By leaving out any logical cause-effect relationships, the speaker neatly avoids having to justify his case, and can easily "prove" that completely unrelated events are, in his mind, direct results of one another.

    I hope these help you with your arguments. Feel free to call out people's attempts to fool you with these fallacies.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  2. #2
    sishgupta
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    If anyone is super serious about arguing (debating), and would like to do it well, i recommend a book called "With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies" by S. Morris Engel (PH.D in philosophy at the University of Toronto, and a retired prof from York U)

    My bro bought me this book a while back and while i havent read the entire thing, i have read sections of it and its very good. its only 316 pages including a glossary and index. Its basically a expanded version of what apok wrote above, and it includes comics and examples.

    One can purchase this book on amazon.com:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...lance&n=507846

    or most likely in their bookstore

    One great thing about knowing informal fallacies is you can point them out to your opponent in an arugement and it can help a great deal in proving your point.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sishgupta
    If anyone is super serious about arguing (debating), and would like to do it well, i recommend a book called "With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies" by S. Morris Engel (PH.D in philosophy at the University of Toronto, and a retired prof from York U)

    My bro bought me this book a while back and while i havent read the entire thing, i have read sections of it and its very good. its only 316 pages including a glossary and index. Its basically a expanded version of what apok wrote above, and it includes comics and examples.

    One can purchase this book on amazon.com:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...lance&n=507846

    or most likely in their bookstore

    One great thing about knowing informal fallacies is you can point them out to your opponent in an arugement and it can help a great deal in proving your point.
    I miight actually give it a look. I know that reading voluntarily is a heck of a lot more funner than being forced to read a book.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Fish...er...Sish.

    I'm going to start a member recommendation area soon. Your book is exactly what we are looking for. I'll buy it soon probably and let ya know what I think.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  5. #5
    sishgupta
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    Thanks Fish...er...Sish.

    I'm going to start a member recommendation area soon. Your book is exactly what we are looking for. I'll buy it soon probably and let ya know what I think.
    since i quit online gaming entirely due to getting a life i thought it would be better to use my real name =)

    For the recomendation section, you could have book of the month, and it could be a contraversial book, and perhaps a section of the community would read this book and then could debate on whatever it is about?
    I don't know if thats what you were thinking, but it could give something to debate about if the forum ever dries.

    Anyway, long time no see apok. I hope things are going well for you, your family and the doughnut family.
    I expect much from this community. Hopefully a high level of intelligence and maturity.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sishgupta
    For the recomendation section, you could have book of the month, and it could be a contraversial book, and perhaps a section of the community would read this book and then could debate on whatever it is about?
    I don't know if thats what you were thinking, but it could give something to debate about if the forum ever dries.
    Hmmm... I'm reading "LIES (And the LYING LIARS Who Tell them) A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken. Very interesting, and it will definetely pop up as a source in a couple of my arguements.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLCL
    Hmmm... I'm reading "LIES (And the LYING LIARS Who Tell them) A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken. Very interesting, and it will definetely pop up as a source in a couple of my arguements.

    Isnít the very tilt of that book an ad hominum fallacy?

  8. #8
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    The appeal to Reason Usually means some sort of predetermined agenda, bais or slant somewhere. Whose 'reason'? There appears an inference that the appellant holds the high ground of reason.

    ps. FLCL : Is Al Franken going to write a book on the Left and its lies, just to keep things balanced and credible?

  9. #9
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    ....hmmm...I don't think that is an actual fallacy FnN. I've never heard of it (and I thought I knew almost all of 'em). Can you source it?

    Are you sure you don't mean "irrelevant reason"? Or perhaps "appeal to belief"? But even then, it doesn't exactly fit your defintion.

    I'm planning a more exhaustive fallacy index w/ the new site layout.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  10. #10
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    I'm planning a more exhaustive fallacy index w/ the new site layout.
    I hope so, since this thread has become a useful source in real life debates.

    ps. FLCL : Is Al Franken going to write a book on the Left and its lies, just to keep things balanced and credible?
    The left don't tell lies!
    -=]Iluvatar[=-
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    "I'm not really here. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what's good for them."

  11. #11
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Iluvatar
    I hope so, since this thread has become a useful source in real life debates.


    The left don't tell lies!

    Can we add, 'The left don't tell lies', to that list of logical fallacies? Or is it closer to 'The Honest Lawer', and therefore an OXYMORON.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    I notice you mention in appeal to authority the rubber- stamping by a famous person who is not expert in that field.
    I take it to mean we should listen to the experts. We are all in some measure in the hands of experts.
    Often the experts disagree then where are we without expertees? Suppose I say I don't understand physics but I believe the big bang theory. Should I an uniformed layman dispute such an esoteric theory?

  13. #13
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    Quote Originally Posted by kaptonok View Post
    Often the experts disagree then where are we without expertees?
    Not without expertees, but without grounds to invoke an expert in an attempt to deal a killer argument.

    Some subjects lend themselves to having experts disagree because there is reasonable grounds for debate. Macro-economics and public policy are good exemples. In those cases it's fallacious to invoke an expert opinion because there is no concensus amongst the community of experts.
    A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
    - Wayne Gretzky

  14. #14
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    The new index will contain 30-40 fallacies at least. It will include not only the definition, but also examples of how it occurs, it's form, source material for more info, and it will be searchable w/ a new site search engine.

    The left don't tell lies!
    ...ok now pull this leg, it plays Jingle Bells.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson




  15. #15
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    "The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." 1984, By George Orwell. Part 2: Chapter 9.

  16. #16
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    Appeal to Reverence is the same as the Argumnetum Ad Numeri then?

    Also, what about the No True Scottsman fallacy. I see that one pop up A LOT!


    I don't remember the exact wording of the classic example but it is something like...

    Two Scottsmen sit in a pub drinking beers. The first orders an imported American beer and the second says "No true Scottsman would drink that crap!". The first replies: "My father drank that beer every day!"
    Ah..." the second replies "But not TRUE Scottsman would drink that!"

    This one is usually invoked in debates over christianity and morality where a christian will assert that they follow an infallible, objective morality but when it is pointed out that Hitler was a Christian or somesuch they counter with an assertion that that person was not a true christian.

    Sometimes, particularly militant, 'Strong' atheists will assert that weak atheists adn agnostic atheists are not "true atheists" as well.

  17. #17
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    It's not a fallacy if the subject truly isn't a part of that group. Hitler for example...was certainly not a believer or practitioner of Christian doctrine...nothing he did or believed could be supported by scripture.

    Simply claiming it is not the same as it being actual.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  18. #18
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    It's not a fallacy if the subject truly isn't a part of that group. Hitler for example...was certainly not a believer or practitioner of Christian doctrine...nothing he did or believed could be supported by scripture.

    Simply claiming it is not the same as it being actual.

    This is wrong. You are just commiting said fallacy yourself! Hitler spoke publicly of his affinity/affiliation for God and christ. He even supported the intermingling of Bible study and prayer in public schools. That his interpretations disagree with yours no more excludes him from Christianity than it excludes any TBN preacher or those who blow up clinics to stop abortion.
    You are fine to believe that Hitler is wrong in his interpretations but you must realize that NO RELIGION including christianity has some objectively discernable teachings/rules by which everyone agrees.

  19. #19
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    Quote Originally Posted by GodlessSkept
    This is wrong. You are just commiting said fallacy yourself! Hitler spoke publicly of his affinity/affiliation for God and christ. He even supported the intermingling of Bible study and prayer in public schools. That his interpretations disagree with yours no more excludes him from Christianity than it excludes any TBN preacher or those who blow up clinics to stop abortion.
    You are fine to believe that Hitler is wrong in his interpretations but you must realize that NO RELIGION including christianity has some objectively discernable teachings/rules by which everyone agrees.
    A religion doesn't have to have 100% agreement in all counts. In fact, no philosophy or belief system is subjec to such standards...not even the subject of philosophy, or the theory of fallacious reasoning.

    What you are saying is:

    Someone calls himself a Muslim. He believes in Allah. However, he doesn't believe in practicing the 5 pillars...and believes that Allah is merely one of 2,439 Gods that he worships. Also, when he dies, he will be reincarnated into a camel, will commune with ants, and will have divine knowledge.

    Any reasonable, objective, learned individual...will properly and accurately declare...this man is not a Muslim.

    But you disagree. You would say that he is...just because 1) he says he is, and 2) he believes at least SOME part of the philosophy, is this correct?

    Very well....I am an atheist. However, I believe in God. I'm an atheist who believes in God, and no one can tell me otherwise.

    Frankly...it's absurd. If anyone could be anything they wanted to be simply by declaration (and not by qualification or practice), this would be one jacked up world.
    -=]Apokalupsis[=-
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  20. #20
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    Re: Logical Fallacies

    Quote Originally Posted by Apokalupsis
    A religion doesn't have to have 100% agreement in all counts. In fact, no philosophy or belief system is subjec to such standards...not even the subject of philosophy, or the theory of fallacious reasoning.

    What you are saying is:

    Someone calls himself a Muslim. He believes in Allah. However, he doesn't believe in practicing the 5 pillars...and believes that Allah is merely one of 2,439 Gods that he worships. Also, when he dies, he will be reincarnated into a camel, will commune with ants, and will have divine knowledge.

    Any reasonable, objective, learned individual...will properly and accurately declare...this man is not a Muslim.

    But you disagree. You would say that he is...just because 1) he says he is, and 2) he believes at least SOME part of the philosophy, is this correct?

    Very well....I am an atheist. However, I believe in God. I'm an atheist who believes in God, and no one can tell me otherwise.

    Frankly...it's absurd. If anyone could be anything they wanted to be simply by declaration (and not by qualification or practice), this would be one jacked up world.
    Where does one draw a definitive line though? Is someone who is not fully in touch with Christian doctrine, but follows as closely as he/she can, a true Christian?

 

 
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