[LMB] OT: Types of Logical Fallacies

Raymond Collins rcrcoll6 at gmail.com
Thu Sep 2 00:20:40 BST 2021

Very concise. I like it since I hear just about every logical fallacies
under the sun in the news these days.
Incidentally, I've become so tired of anti-vaccine arguments that Ibefore
somebody wants to argue with me, I ask them three basic questions on
biology.  First question is, What's Mitochondria?  Where does it come from?
And, What does it do? That usually works.

On Wed, Sep 1, 2021, 7:41 AM B Van Look <vanlook19 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Some of the discussions have devolved into exchanges of logical fallacies.
> Here's a list of some of the most common. It is by no means a complete list
> As a special bonus, I've read various (mostly OT) threads and got to play
> Logical Fallacy Bingo!
> You misrepresented someone’s argument to make it easier to attack.
> By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone's
> argument, it's much easier to present your own position as being
> reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational
> debate.
> *Example: After Will said that we should put more money into health and
> education, Warren responded by saying that he was surprised that Will hates
> our country so much that he wants to leave it defenceless by cutting
> military spending.*
> You presumed that a real or perceived relationship between things means
> that one is the cause of the other.
> Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence)
> for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen).
> Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a
> common cause.
> *Example: Pointing to a fancy chart, Roger shows how temperatures have been
> rising over the past few centuries, whilst at the same time the numbers of
> pirates have been decreasing; thus pirates cool the world and global
> warming is a hoax.*
> You attempted to manipulate an emotional response in place of a valid or
> compelling argument.
> Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy, hatred, pity, pride, and
> more. It's important to note that sometimes a logically coherent argument
> may inspire emotion or have an emotional aspect, but the problem and
> fallacy occurs when emotion is used instead of a logical argument, or to
> obscure the fact that no compelling rational reason exists for one's
> position. Everyone, bar sociopaths, is affected by emotion, and so appeals
> to emotion are a very common and effective argument tactic, but they're
> ultimately flawed, dishonest, and tend to make one's opponents justifiably
> emotional.
> *Example: Luke didn't want to eat his sheep's brains with chopped liver and
> brussel sprouts, but his father told him to think about the poor, starving
> children in a third world country who weren't fortunate enough to have any
> food at all.*
> You presumed that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has
> been made, that the claim itself must be wrong.
> It is entirely possible to make a claim that is false yet argue with
> logical coherency for that claim, just as it is possible to make a claim
> that is true and justify it with various fallacies and poor arguments.
> *Example: Recognising that Amanda had committed a fallacy in arguing that
> we should eat healthy food because a nutritionist said it was popular,
> Alyse said we should therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgers every day.*
> You said that if we allow A to happen, then Z will eventually happen too,
> therefore A should not happen.
> The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue
> at hand, and instead shifts attention to extreme hypotheticals. Because no
> proof is presented to show that such extreme hypotheticals will in fact
> occur, this fallacy has the form of an appeal to emotion fallacy by
> leveraging fear. In effect the argument at hand is unfairly tainted by
> unsubstantiated conjecture.
> *Example: Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry,
> then the next thing we know we'll be allowing people to marry their
> parents, their cars and even monkeys.*
> You attacked your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to
> undermine their argument.
> Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or more
> subtly casting doubt on their character or personal attributes as a way to
> discredit their argument. The result of an ad hom attack can be to
> undermine someone's case without actually having to engage with it.
> *Example: After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case for a more
> equitable taxation system, Sam asks the audience whether we should believe
> anything from a woman who isn't married, was once arrested, and smells a
> bit weird.*
> You avoided having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the
> accuser - you answered criticism with criticism.
> Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as 'you too' this fallacy is
> also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an
> effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to
> defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person
> making the criticism.
> *Example: Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy,
> but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole
> of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation.*
> Because you found something difficult to understand, or are unaware of how
> it works, you made out like it’s probably not true.
> Complex subjects like biological evolution through natural selection
> require some amount of understanding before one is able to make an informed
> judgement about the subject at hand; this fallacy is usually used in place
> of that understanding.
> *Example: Kirk drew a picture of a fish and a human and with effusive
> disdain asked Richard if he really thought we were stupid enough to believe
> that a fish somehow turned into a human through just, like, random things
> happening over time.*
> You moved the goalposts or made up an exception when your claim was shown
> to be false.
> Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong.
> Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one's mind
> through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old
> beliefs. One of the most common ways that people do this is to
> post-rationalize a reason why what they thought to be true must remain to
> be true. It's usually very easy to find a reason to believe something that
> suits us, and it requires integrity and genuine honesty with oneself to
> examine one's own beliefs and motivations without falling into the trap of
> justifying our existing ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us.
> *Example: Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his 'abilities' were
> tested under proper scientific conditions, they magically disappeared.
> Edward explained this saying that one had to have faith in his abilities
> for them to work.*
> You asked a question that had a presumption built into it so that it
> couldn’t be answered without appearing guilty.
> Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational
> debates because of their inflammatory nature - the recipient of the loaded
> question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on
> the back foot.
> *Example: Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One
> day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone
> whether Helen was still having problems with her drug habit.*
> You said that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the
> claim, but with someone else to disprove.
> The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not
> upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove
> a claim does not render that claim valid, nor give it any credence
> whatsoever. However it is important to note that we can never be certain of
> anything, and so we must assign value to any claim based on the available
> evidence, and to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn't been proven
> beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.
> *Example: Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit
> around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can
> prove him wrong, his claim is therefore a valid one.*
> You used a double meaning or ambiguity of language to mislead or
> misrepresent the truth.
> Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later
> point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under
> scrutiny. The reason that it qualifies as a fallacy is that it is
> intrinsically misleading.
> *Example: When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn't paid his parking
> fines, he said that he shouldn't have to pay them because the sign said
> 'Fine for parking here' and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine
> to park there.*
> You said that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as
> roulette wheel spins.
> This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create an entire
> city in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a 'big run'
> happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent
> from the last. So whilst there may be a very small chance that heads will
> come up 20 times in a row if you flip a coin, the chances of heads coming
> up on each individual flip remain 50/50, and aren't influenced by what
> happened before.
> *Example: Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg
> knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an
> economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of
> his savings.*
> You appealed to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an
> attempted form of validation.
> The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely
> no bearing on its validity. If it did, then the Earth would have made
> itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.
> *Example: Seamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain
> how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they're only a silly old
> superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and
> fell off his chair.*
> You said that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be
> true.
> It's important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the
> claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not
> valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of
> experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar
> level of understanding and/or access to empirical evidence. However, it is
> entirely possible that the opinion of a person or institution of authority
> is wrong; therefore the authority that such a person or institution holds
> does not have any intrinsic bearing upon whether their claims are true or
> not.
> *Example: Not able to defend his position that evolution 'isn't true' Bob
> says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably
> isn't a primate).*
> You assumed that one part of something has to be applied to all, or other,
> parts of it; or that the whole must apply to its parts.
> Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole,
> or vice versa, but the crucial difference is whether there exists good
> evidence to show that this is the case. Because we observe consistencies in
> things, our thinking can become biased so that we presume consistency to
> exist where it does not.
> *Example: Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He
> reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and
> therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost
> the game of hide and go seek.*
> You made what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss
> relevant criticisms or flaws of your argument.
> In this form of faulty reasoning one's belief is rendered unfalsifiable
> because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the
> goalposts so that it wouldn't apply to a supposedly 'true' example. This
> kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one's
> argument.
> *Example: Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge,
> to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his
> porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman
> sugars his porridge.*
> You judged something as either good or bad on the basis of where it comes
> from, or from whom it came.
> This fallacy avoids the argument by shifting focus onto something's or
> someone's origins. It's similar to an ad hominem fallacy in that it
> leverages existing negative perceptions to make someone's argument look
> bad, without actually presenting a case for why the argument itself lacks
> merit.
> *Example: Accused on the 6 o'clock news of corruption and taking bribes,
> the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in
> the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.*
> You presented two alternative states as the only possibilities, when in
> fact more possibilities exist.
> Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance
> of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident
> that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is
> presented. Binary, black-or-white thinking doesn't allow for the many
> different variables, conditions, and contexts in which there would exist
> more than just the two possibilities put forth. It frames the argument
> misleadingly and obscures rational, honest debate.
> *Example: Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine
> citizens' rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on
> his side, or they were on the side of the enemy.*
> You presented a circular argument in which the conclusion was included in
> the premise.
> This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people
> have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their
> minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it's not very
> good.
> *Example: The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this
> because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo's Best and
> Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be
> Questioned.*
> You argued that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid,
> justified, inevitable, good or ideal.
> Many 'natural' things are also considered 'good', and this can bias our
> thinking; but naturalness itself doesn't make something good or bad. For
> instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn't mean it's
> good or justifiable.
> *Example: The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon offering
> various natural remedies, such as very special plain water. He said that it
> was only natural that people should be wary of 'artificial' medicines such
> as antibiotics.*
> You used a personal experience or an isolated example instead of a sound
> argument or compelling evidence.
> It's often much easier for people to believe someone's testimony as opposed
> to understanding complex data and variation across a continuum.
> Quantitative scientific measures are almost always more accurate than
> personal perceptions and experiences, but our inclination is to believe
> that which is tangible to us, and/or the word of someone we trust over a
> more 'abstract' statistical reality.
> *Example: Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his
> grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived until 97 - so don't
> believe everything you read about meta analyses of methodologically sound
> studies showing proven causal relationships.*
> You cherry-picked a data cluster to suit your argument, or found a pattern
> to fit a presumption.
> This 'false cause' fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting randomly at
> barns and then painting bullseye targets around the spot where the most
> bullet holes appear, making it appear as if he's a really good shot.
> Clusters naturally appear by chance, but don't necessarily indicate that
> there is a causal relationship.
> *Example: The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing
> that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units,
> three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore
> Sugarette drinks are healthy.*
> You claimed that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must
> be the truth.
> Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but
> this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a
> compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still
> a lie.
> *Example: Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children, but her
> scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this claim had been
> debunked and proven false. Their friend Alice offered a compromise that
> vaccinations must cause some autism, just not all autism.*
> --
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