Logical Fallacies 101

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Forums -> Misc Topics -> Logical Fallacies 101

Logical Fallacies 101
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

Logical fallacy, as defined by the free online dictionary, is as follows:

1.logical fallacy - a fallacy in logical argumentation.

2.fallacy, false belief - a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning.

To sum it up, a fallacy is committed when a person is arguing/debating/holding a position, and said position is held based on bad reasoning and error in logic. There are two main types of logical fallacies: deductive and inductive. " A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply "arguments" which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true. "(Nizkor)

So why am I posting this here? When debating something, or simply trying to understand it, it is not uncommon to see several logical fallacies occur. These logical fallacies can inhibit our ability to actually debate and discuss,to learn something through discussion, and often lead to argument or the abandonment of a topic. Throughout this post I will list the most common ones, explain what they are, and try to give an example of how it might be seen on this site. Hopefully, we will be able to recognize if we are committing any fallacies and change them in an attempt to be more knowledgeable, formal and intellectual when discussing various things. In that type of environment, we may come to more agreements about certain topics and thus provide more space for learning.

Note: I am only listing a few, and this list is by no means complete. The following fallacies are simply ones I have seen repeated consistently throughout discussions between members.

1. Ad hominem (argument at man)

This is a fallacy where a claim is made and someone attempts to reject it by listing random and often pointless facts or assumptions about the author of the original claim. Generally, the person attacking the author will bring up irrelevant information, such as attacking the character of the person of their circumstances. This type of fallacy should not be avoided for several reasons. 1) It is wrong to attack someone on a personal level for their beliefs. 2) This type of fallacy completely ignores the possible truth of the original claim that was made and does not offer contradicting information.

Here's an example:

Person A: I believe magick works this way, __________.

Person B: I bet you do. I bet you also believe in ______, because you're _____.

2.Ad ignorantiam (argument from ignorance)

This type of fallacy occurs when someone claims that a claim must be true, since we don't know that it isn't true. Or vice versa. It can occur when someone claims that a claim must not be true, since we cant prove that it is or isnt. (People tend to make claims such as "well, we don't know everything about the human brain or the universe" and find other excuses to back this fallacy up)

Heres an example:

Person A: Well, ____ isnt true, because ___ hasnt been proven or disproven yet and we dont know everything.

And vice versa:

Person B: Well, ____ is true, because ____ hasnt been proven or disproven yet and we dont know everything.

3. Appeal to Authority

Someone may claim to be an expert or have some sort of knowledge and deep understanding of a subject. If you believe automatically that anything they claim related to said subject is correct, without checking the legitimacy of their claim, than you have just committed the appeal to authority fallacy. To assess if someone is legitimate, here are some key points to look for: 1) The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question. 2)The claim being made by the person is within his/her area(s) of expertise. 3) There is an adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question. 4) The person in question is not significantly biased. 5) The area of expertise is a legitimate area or discipline. 6) The authority in question must be identified.

Heres an example:

Person A: Billy-bob says that hes studied ___ for years and is an expert. Since he said ___ he must be right about ___.

4. Bandwagon Fallacy (argumentum ad populum)

Peer pressure is another name for this fallacy. The name comes from the commonly known phrase jump on the bandwagon. This tends to occur when someone expresses an idea(Y), then sees that another idea(x) is more popularly accepted and therefore assumes that idea X must be correct.

Heres an example:

Person A: Three people agreed with so-and-so about _____, so _____ must be correct since so many people say it is.

5. False Dilemma/Black and White thinking

This fallacy is also known as the either-or fallacy. This usually occurs when Person A makes a claim and narrows the possibilities down to only two or an unrealistic amount. Person A tries to get a group of people to agree with their idea by only presenting two possibly options and making one more favorable.

Heres an example:

Person A: I think people do far too many bad things with black magick. The best type of magick is white, obviously, since black is so awful.

6. Red Herring (Smoke screen)

Have you ever seen someone join in a discussion and next thing you know the entire discussion has shifted to something completely irrelevant? This is the red herring fallacy. Person A presents topic A to be discussed. Person B interjects with topic B (which is unrelated to topic A, though sometimes under the guise that it is in some roundabout way) hoping to win the argument through distraction. Eventually topic A is often forgotten. This is a fallacy because there was no discussion or debate between the persons, simply a switch in topic.

Heres an example:

Person A: Im really interested in ____, and I think ______.

Person B: You know, I heard ____ about ___. So I think ____ about ___.

7. Slippery Slope

This fallacy occurs when someone assumes that an event must follow a preceding event without supporting the claim with any evidence or reason. It assumes that event A will lead to event B, with no correspondence between the two to suggest this. It is often someone jumping to a conclusion, based on a personal perception of something. It tends to go to extremes and is not consistent.

Heres an example:

Person A: We shouldnt allow ___ to be taught because then _____ will happen!

8. Straw Man

One of the most occurring fallacies: the straw man fallacy refers to when someone substitutes a straw man ( a similar but often distorted and inaccurate, misrepresentative version of whatever they are arguing against). Sometimes this straw man will come in multiple forms: it can be that person B has taken person As claim and oversimplified it. This is a fallacy because you are not actually debating or discussing the original topic; instead you are skewing it and making it easily refutable.

Heres an example:

Person A: I think __________, which consists of __ and ___. I also think ____ and believe in ____.

Person B: So you think _________? Well, let me tell you why ____ is wrong.

If you wish to view more, there are several links below. I think should be come to recognize that these types of arguments are not promoting provocative thought in discussion and are actually crippling some topics, we will be better off in the long-haul. Debating can be an art, if done properly.


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Re: Logical Fallacies 101
Post # 2
Great post Peronified! Really gives people food for thought.
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Re: Logical Fallacies 101
Post # 3
Why do I feel this has something to do with Aethes >>
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Re: Logical Fallacies 101
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 4
I take inspiration from varying sources, Dark. :P

I simply think if people want to "debate" and "discuss" they need to know how to do those things and prevent doing things as listed above. Those fallacies lead to arguments which lead to nowhere.
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Re: Logical Fallacies 101
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 5
Words of wisdom Personified.
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Re: Logical Fallacies 101
Post # 6
Want to beat someone who really knows their physics in physics? Mention Black Holes stump them every time ^^
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