It’s been a very long time since I added anything here. What can I say? Things have just been so busy for me and most of the time, I do things on a whim anyway. And now, I’m only back to add something because I already wrote an article for another blog of mine. Still, since I think the subject fits in here, I’d like to share it here with you all:
This past weekend, I had the chance to observe a debate competition. While watching the kids, I noticed they were making arguments that broke a couple of logic rules. I don’t mean to take anything away from the kids as the competition was great and these logical fallacies are made by many people from all walks of life. So here I am, inspired to summarize some of the most common ones below:
False Analogy: An argument by analogy in which the analogy is poorly suited. In other words, you try to make a comparison between two ideas or objects that seemingly have similar characteristics, but the comparison does not hold up. Major example relevant to the world right now is this. Most extremists follow Islam. Therefore, Islam is a religion that propagates extremism.
Confirmation Bias: This is the tendency to favor information that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses and to ignore information that disagrees with one’s point of view. This is a common concept in psychology and one that afflicts the “internet age.” With the abundance of (faulty) information out there, people can usually just google for information that fits in with a preconceived conclusion. Think the current vaccine issue and climate change deniers.
False Attribution: This is when someone appeals to an irrelevant, unqualified, unidentified, biased, or fabricated source in support of an argument. For the most part, you can file this under a “duh” compartment but I wanted to point out anyway that this is a legitimate problem with certain arguments. We all know that one person who cites something like “spiritual science” (what the heck is that anyway?!) as a legitimate source.
False Dichotomy: This is when two alternative theories are held to be the only options, when in reality, there are more. This type of arguing is favored quite heavily by the “with me or against me” crowd.
Hedging: Using words with ambiguous meanings, and then changing the meanings later on. This is used quite often by the “smooth talkers” out there.
Raising the Bar: This is when evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. For those that love using this method, almost no evidence is ever enough.
Aside from these common logical fallacies, there’s also another special category called “red herring”, which is basically providing a response that is irrelevant and draws attention away from the subject of argument. Some of those are presented below:
Ad hominem: Attacking the arguer instead of the argument. If you’re a fan of law dramas, you should have seen this mentioned quite often on TV.
Appeal to Authority or Accomplishment: This is when an assertion is deemed true because of the position or accomplishment of the person making the argument. “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” “I know what I’m talking about because I went to Harvard.” You get the point.
Appeal to Tradition: A conclusion supported solely because it has long been held to be true. In other words, just because something “has always been this way” does not mean it is true. The was most prominently seen during the time of Galileo when many people still held on to the idea that the Earth revolved around the sun.
There are many more logical fallacies than the ones listed above, but these are the most common. If you’re looking for an awesome way to learn more, check out this awesome free online book!