I am constantly amazed at how “emotional” many discussions end up being. Often individuals want to make a point, but when their position ends up not being defensible, or it is defensible, but they are not sure how to defend their position, they turn to common fallacies. But when I point out their fallacy, more often that not, I get a blank stare! Now, I know that both our private and public schools teach these fallacies in English class and even in Speech and other classes such as debate. But for some reason, many leave high school with no ability to recognize these fallacies in real life.
What has really amazed me is that now Scientists and Journalists have begun to regularly use fallacies. Two professions that used to pride themselves on holding a higher standard due to their stated policies of never using fallacies for support or making a point. (Which as far as I know, they still would say they do not use fallacies, but it does not take much effort to prove otherwise.)
Here is a quick primer on fallacies – something we all need to recognize.
The following information on fallacies is taken from (from https://literarydevices.net/fallacy/)
A fallacy is an erroneous argument dependent upon an unsound or illogical contention. There are many fallacy examples that we can find in everyday conversations.
Types of Fallacies
Here are a few well-known kinds of fallacies you might experience when making an argument:
1. Appeal to Ignorance
Appeal to ignorance happens when one individual utilizes another individual’s lack of information on a specific subject as proof that his or her own particular argument is right.
“You can’t demonstrate that there aren’t Martians living in caves on the surface of Mars, so it is sensible for me to accept there are.”
2. Appeal to Authority
This sort of error is also known as “Argumentum Verecundia” (argument from modesty). Instead of concentrating on the benefits of an argument, the arguer will attempt to append their argument to an individual of power or authority in an effort to give trustworthiness to their argument.
“Well, Isaac Newton trusted in Alchemy, do you suppose you know more than Isaac Newton?”
3. Appeal to Popular Opinion
This sort of appeal is when somebody asserts that a thought or conviction is correct since it is the thing that the general population accept.
“Lots of individuals purchased this collection, so it must be great.”
4. Association Fallacy
Sometimes called “guilt by affiliation,” this happens when somebody connects a particular thought or drill to something or somebody negative so as to infer blame on another individual.
“Hitler was a veggie lover, in this way, I don’t trust vegans.”
5. Attacking the Person
Also regarded as “Argumentum ad Hominem” (argument against the man), this is a common fallacy used during debates where an individual substitutes a rebuttal with a personal insult.
“Don’t listen to Eddie’s contentions on instruction, he’s a simpleton.”
6. Begging the Question
The conclusion of a contention is accepted in the statement of the inquiry itself.
“If outsiders didn’t take my daily paper, who did?” (accept that the daily paper was really stolen).
7. Circular Argument
This fallacy is also known as “Circulus in Probando”. This error is committed when an argument takes its evidence from an element inside the argument itself instead of from an outside one.
“I accept that Frosted Flakes are incredible since it says as much on the Frosted Flakes bundling.”
8. Relationship Implies Causation Fallacy
Also called “Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc”, this fallacy is a deception in which the individual making the contention joins two occasions that happen consecutively and accepts that one made the other.
“I saw a jaybird and ten minutes after the fact, I crashed my auto, in this manner, jaybirds are terrible fortunes.”
9. False Dilemma/Dichotomy
Sometimes called “Bifurcation”, this sort of error happens when somebody presents their argument in such a way that there are just two conceivable alternatives left.
“If you don’t vote for this applicant, you must be a Communist.”
10. Illogical conclusion
This is a fallacy wherein somebody attests a conclusion that does not follow from the suggestions.
“All Dubliners are from Ireland. Ronan is not a Dubliner, in this manner, he is not Irish.”
11. Slippery Slope
The error happens when one contends that an exceptionally minor movement will unavoidably prompt great and frequently ludicrous conclusions.
“If we permit gay individuals to get hitched, what’s afterward? Permitting individuals to wed their pooches?”
12. Syllogism Fallacy
This fallacy may also be used to form incorrect conclusions that are odd. Syllogism fallacy is a false argument as it implies an incorrect conclusion.
“All crows are black and the bird in my cage is black. So, the bird in my cage is a crow.”
Remember, none of these fallacies adds to the underlying understanding of a discussion. Emotional appeal maybe, but not to get to a greater understanding.
So quiz yourself. Can you tell which fallacies appear in each of these statements?
- “Everyone knows that global warming is happening and that it is just a matter of time before a catastrophe happens.”
- “So tell me then, how do you suppose Government has to help the refugees?”
- “So you don’t want your tax money spent to help these needy people, so you are not kind and compassionate and are a selfish pig.”
- “If you cut the corporate tax rate the company leaders will pocket the money and because they will take more than their fair share and will not pay the needed taxes poverty and hardships will increase, then crime will increase and our country will be a huge mess.”
- “Don’t tell me Christians are good people, just remember those greedy, immoral TV preachers. The whole lot of Christians are bad.”
- “Who are you to tell me there are universal rights and wrongs? I have more degrees than you and you could not even get into a good college!”
(Key 1 – #3, 2 – #6, 3 – #7, 4 – #11, 5 – #4, 6 – #5)
Parents and grandparents, we need to teach our children to watch for these fallacies. While watching the news, or right after a discussion, “debrief” your children and grandchildren and show them how fallacies are being used. Help them understand good arguments.
Of course, every belief can not actually be defended or argued and won. That is because we each start with a different set of assumptions I call Worldview. But, we can teach our family to watch for fallacies and how to present their side in an effective way.