Debate Teaching Material-day 2-Fallacy

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  THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES A logical fallacy is a aw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments thatare weak tend to use logical fallacies to appear stronger than they are. They're like tricks or illusions of thought, and they're often very sneakily used by politicians, the media, and others to fool people.Don’t be fooled This logical fallacy has been designed to help you identify and call out dodgy logicwherever it may raise its ugly, incoherent head. !f you see someone committing a logical fallacy online, linkthem to the relevant fallacy to school them in thinkiness e.g. strawman This logical fallacy is published under a #reative #ommons $o Derivative %orks license &(& by  JesseRichardson . )ou are free to print, copy, and redistribute this artwork, with the binding proviso that youreproduce it in full so that others may share alike. This logical fallacy can be downloaded for free at thewebsite. Here are some pretty reat reasons to ha!e this oica #a acy$ (.To hang up near your computer for when you are arguing with people on the internets.&.To put up in your kids' bedroom so that they get all clever and whatnot, and are able to tell the di*erence between real news and fau+ news cough.-.To gift, in a slightly passiveaggressive yet still socially acceptable way, to someone who is forever making weak arguments peppered with fallacies./.To hang up in a classroom, common room or other public space to make the world a more rational place.0.1otato.#reated by 2esse 3ichardson, Andy Smith and Som 4eaden. %ebsite content published under a creative commons attribution and noncommercial license &(&.%ebsite5 http5  %& STRA'MAN 4isrepresenting someone’s argument to make iteasier to attack.6y e+aggerating, misrepresenting, or 7ustcompletely fabricating someone's argument, it'smuch easier to present your own position as beingreasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves toundermine rational debate.A straw man argument is one which sets up aposition the opponent does not hold to discreditthem by demolishing it.8+ample5 (9 After %ill said that we should put more moneyinto health and education, %arren responded bysaying that he was surprised that %ill hates ourcountry so much that he wants to leave itdefenceless by cutting military spending.   &9 :4y opponent wants to retire the Tridentsubmarine. ;e wishes to leave us without any formof defense.< Since few people are for totaldisarmament the opponent is made to look weak.1eople like to watch straw men being torn down.!t’s far easier than attacking real positions and 7ustas fun. (& SLI))ER*    SLO)E Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then = willconse>uently happen too, therefore A should nothappen. The problem with this reasoning is that it avoidsengaging with the issue at hand, and instead shiftsattention to baseless e+treme hypotheticals. Themerits of the srcinal argument are then tainted byunsubstantiated con7ecture. The slippery slope is a common argument. Theerror in the slippery slope is that there are oftencommon sense steps between what the person isarguing against and the hypothetical fear they areintroducing. 8+ample5 :!f we let homose+uals marry then soon people willbe marrying their parents, their cars, toasters,horses and even monkeys< +& S)ECIAL )LEA,ING 4oving the goalposts or making up e+ceptionswhen a claim is shown to be false.;umans are funny creatures and have a foolishaversion to being wrong. 3ather than appreciatethe bene?ts of being able to change one’s mindthrough better understanding, many will inventways to cling to old beliefs.8+ample5 8dward 2ohns claimed to be psychic, but when his@abilities’ were tested under proper scienti?cconditions, they magically disappeared. 8dwarde+plained this saying that one had to have faith in (  his abilities for them to work. -& THE GAM.LER/S FALLAC*  6elieving that @runs’ occur to statisticallyindependent phenomena such as roulette wheelspins. This commonly believed fallacy can be said to havehelped create a city in the desert of $evada SA. Though the overall odds of a @ big run’ happeningmay be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirelyindependent from the last.8+ample5 3ed had come up si+ times in a row on the roulettewheel, so Breg knew that was close to certain thatblack would be ne+t up. Su ering an economic formof natural selection with this thinking, he soon lostall of his savings. 0& .LAC12OR2'HITE %here two alternative states are presented as theonly possibilities, when in fact more possibilitiese+ist. Also known as the false dilemma, this insidioustactic has the appearance of forming a logicalargument, but under closer scrutiny it becomesevident that there are more possibilities than theeither or choice that is presented.8+ample5 %hilst rallying support for his plan tofundamentally undermine citiCens’ rights, theSupreme eader told the people they were eitheron his side, or on the side of the enemy. 3& FALSE CAUSE 1ost hoc ergo procter hoc E @After it, thereforebecause of it.’ This fallacy is hardwired into ourbrains. All humans, and many animals, have astrict sense of causation. That is how superstitionsform.1resuming that a real or perceived relationshipbetween things means that one is the cause of theother.4any people confuse correlation Fthings happeningtogether or in se>uence9 for causation Fthat onething actually causes the other to happen9.Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may beattributable to a common cause.    2ust because things fall into a se>uence, howeverneat or comforting it might be, does not prove adirect relationship.8+ample5 (9 :! was wearing these pants when ! took the test.! got an A. Therefore these pants will help me getan A on this test.<&9 1ointing to a fancy chart, 3oger shows howtemperatures have been rising over the past fewcenturies, whilst at the same time the numbers of pirates have been decreasingG thus pirates cool theworld and global warming is a hoa+. 4& A, HOMINEM @To the man’ arguments are ones which attack theopponent to discredit him without addressing thedispute. Attacking your opponent’s character orpersonal traits in an attempt to undermine theirargument.Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtlyattacking somebody, or casting doubt on theircharacter. The result of an ad hom attack can be toundermine someone without actually engagingwith the substance of their argument.Hccasionally a person’s character is meaningful toa discussion but only when directly related to thematter at hand. Ad hominem attacks are alwaysamusing to spot because they make the arguerappear like a petulant child.8+ample5 :Dr 4adeup is an adulterer, therefore you shouldignore his medical advice.<:After Sally presents an elo>uent and compellingcase for a more e>uitable ta+ation system, Samasks the audience whether we should believeanything from a woman who isn’t married, wasonce arrested, and smells a bit weird.< 5& LOA,E, 6UESTION Asking a >uestion that has an assumption built intoit so that it can’t be answered without appearingguilty.oaded >uestion fallacies are particularly e ectiveat derailing rational debates because of their inammatory nature  the recipient of the loaded>uestion is compelled to defend themselves andmay appear ustered or on the back foot.8+ample5 Brace and ;elen were both romantically interestedin 6rad. Hne day, with 6rad sitting within earshot,Brace asked in an in>uisitive tone whether ;elenwas having any problems with a fungal infection. 7& A))EAL TO )O)ULARIT* @Ad populum.’ bandwagon. Appealing to popularityor the fact that many people do something as anattempted form of validation. This argument, that if a ma7ority believessomething it must be true, is a very tempting one. There is safety in numbers. nfortunately, orperhaps fortunately, reality is not a democracy. The aw in this argument is that the popularity of an &  idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity. !f itdid, then the 8arth would have made itself at formost of history to accommodate this popular belief.8+ample5 (9 Shamus pointed a drunken ?nger at Sean andasked him to e+plain how so many people couldbelieve in leprechauns if they’re only a silly oldsuperstition. Sean, however, had had a few toomany Buinness himself and fell of his chair.&9 8ven if everyone believes in unicorns it is stillnecessary to produce one if your argumentdepends on having a horny horse. %8& .EGGING THE 6UESTION A circular argument in which the conclusion isincluded in the premise. This logically incoherent argument often arises insituations where people have an assumption that isvery ingrained, and therefore taken in their mindsas a given. #ircular reasoning is bad mostlybecause it’s not very good.8+ample5  The word of =orbo the Breat is awless and perfect.%e know this because it says so in The Breat and!nfallible 6ook of =orbo’s 6est and 4ost Truest Things that are De?nitely True and Should $ot 8ver6e Iuestioned. %%& A))EAL TO AUTHORIT*  Saying that because an authority thinks something,it must therefore be true. @!pse di+it E ;e said it.’ The appeal to authority can be useful only whenthe authority a person holds is directly related tothe argument.!t’s important to note that this fallacy should not beused to dismiss the claims of e+perts, or scienti?cconsensus. Appeals to authority are not validarguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard theclaims of e+perts who have a demonstrated depthof knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding.8+ample5 (9 $ot able to defend his position that evolution@isn’t true’ 6ob says that he knows a scientist whoalso >uestions evolution Fand presumably isn’therself a primate9.   &9 :;e has a medical degree, take the medicine heprescribed< is still reasonable. 6ut :;e is adoctor president architect and he says that Bod isreal, therefore there is a chap in the sky< is simplyan attempt to add a veneer of respectability to anotherwise unsupported statement. %(& A))EAL TO NATURE 4aking the argument that because something is@natural’ it is therefore valid, 7usti?ed, inevitable,good, or ideal.4any @natural’ things are also considered @good’,and this can bias our thinkingG but naturalnessitself doesn’t make something good or bad. Jorinstance murder could be seen as very natural, butthat doesn’t mean it’s 7usti?able.8+ample5  The medicine man rolled into town on hisbandwagon o*ering various natural remedies, suchas very special plain water. ;e said that it was onlynatural that people should be wary of @arti?cial’medicines like antibiotics.  %+& COM)OSITION9,I:ISION Assuming that what’s true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, partsof it.Hften when something is true for the part it doesalso apply to the whole, but because this isn’talways the case it can’t be presumed to be true.%e must show evidence for why a consistency wille+ist. The argument of composition is one whichattributes the characteristics of a part to thewhole. This argument is often a form of generaliCation where guilt of one person is used topaint a whole group as guilty.8+ample5 Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking forlogic. ;e reasoned that atoms are invisible, andthat he was made of atoms and therefore invisibletoo. nfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lostthe game of hide and go seek. %-& ANEC,OTAL sing personal e+perience or an isolated e+ampleinstead of a valid argument, especially to dismissstatistics.!t’s often much easier for people to believesomeone’s testimony as opposed to understandingvariation across a continuum. Scienti?c andstatistical measures are almost always moreaccurate than individual perceptions ande+periences.8+ample5  2ason said that that was all cool and everything,but his grandfather smoked, like, - cigarettes aday and lived until KL  so don’t believe everythingyou read about meta analyses of sound studiesshowing proven causal relationships. %0& A))EAL TO EMOTION 4anipulating an emotional response in place of avalid or compelling argument.Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy,hatred, pity, guilt, and more. Though a valid, and -  reasoned, argument may sometimes have anemotional aspect, one must be careful thatemotion doesn’t obscure or replace reason.8+ample5 uke didn’t want to eat his sheep’s brains withchopped liver and brussels sprouts, but his fathertold him to think about the poor, starving childrenin a third world country who weren’t fortunateenough to have any food at all. %3& TU 6UO6UE Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turningit back on the accuser  answering criticism withcriticism.iterally translating as @you too’ this fallacy iscommonly employed as an e*ective red herringbecause it takes the heat of the accused having todefend themselves and shifts the focus back ontothe accuser themselves.    This is a special case of the ad hominem attackand works on the principle of the moral highground. !t appeals to our sense of character. !f theaccuser is Mawed, why should we believe himNAgain the defense, as with most of these fallacies,is to stick to the matter at hand.8+ample5 :! may be a thief, but you are gambler.<:$icole identi?ed that ;annah had committed alogical fallacy, but instead of addressing thesubstance of her claim, ;annah accused $icole of committing a fallacy earlier on in theconversation.< %4& .UR,EN OF )ROOF Saying that the burden of proof lies not with theperson making the claim, but with someone else todisprove. The burden of proof lies with someone who ismaking a claim, and is not upon anyone else todisprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprovea claim does not make it valid Fhowever we mustalways go by the best available evidence9.%hen somebody makes a claim it is up to them toproduce evidence in favor of it. This logical fallacyis often used in the form of :1rove it doesn’t e+ist<;ere the arguer is attempting to move the burdenof proof from himself to his opponent. Since it isalmost impossible to prove that something doesnot e+ist the opponent becomes stuck. !t is alwaysfor the person making the positive statement toproduce positive evidence.8+ample5 6ertrand declares that a teapot is, at this verymoment, in orbit around the Sun between the 8arthand 4ars, and that because no one can prove himwrong his claim is therefore a valid one. %5& NO TRUE SCOTSMAN 4aking what could be called an appeal to purity asa way to dismiss relevant criticisms or aws of anargument. This fallacy is often employed as a measure of lastresort when a point has been lost. Seeing that acriticism is valid, yet not wanting to admit it, newcriteria are invoked to dissociate oneself or one’sargument.8+ample5 Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar ontheir porridge, to which achlan points out that heis a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge.Jurious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no trueScotsman sugars his porridge. %7& THE TE;AS SHAR)SOOTER #herrypicking data clusters to suit an argument, or?nding a pattern to ?t a presumption. This @false cause’ fallacy is coined after amarksman shooting at barns and then painting abullseye target around the spot where the mostbullet holes appear. #lusters naturally appear bychance, and don’t necessarily indicate causation.8+ample5  The makers of Sugarette #andy Drinks point toresearch showing that of the ?ve countries whereSugarette drinks sell the most units, three of themare in the top ten healthiest countries on 8arth,therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy. (8& THE FALLAC* FALLAC*  1resuming a claim to be necessarily wrong becausea fallacy has been committed.!t is entirely possibly to make a claim that is falseyet argue with logical coherency for that claim, 7ustas is possible to make a claim that is true and 7ustify it with various fallacies and poor arguments. This fallacy can occur when you catch an opponenton using a fallacy.:)ou used a fallacy, therefore all that you said iswrong.< To avoid it you have to use your 7udgmenton each assertion you opponent makes and notgeneraliCe their argument. !n fact 7udging eachthing we encounter on its individual merits wouldprobably help us all avoid most fallacies.8+ample5 3ecognising that Amanda had committed a fallacyin arguing that we should eat healthy food becausea nutritionist said it was popular, Alyse said weshould therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgersevery day. /
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