The Top 10 Logical Fallacies in Everyday Arguments
Tries to counter an argument by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument itself.
States that a specific belief is true because we don’t know that it isn’t true.
Argument from authority
Argues that something is true because a respected individual (an individual with authority) says it is.
Correlation implies causation
Fairly self-explanatory. Correlation DOES NOT imply causation.
Reducing a set of many possibilities to only two, in order to make a choice seem obvious when it is not.
“Doesn’t follow”. When the conclusion of an argument does not follow from its premises.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc
“After this, therefore because of this”. Implies that because B happened after A, A must have caused B.
Misrepresenting an argument in order to make it easier to argue against.
“You too”. Justifying an action because someone else did it first, or damning a claim because its proposer has not adhered to it in the past.
Presenting an argument which, although it may be true, is not relevant to the topic in hand.
Cafferty...you know better than that...
“the african american unemployment is 17.something%. That’s nearly double the national average”
Cafferty, you know better than that….you’re comparing the percentage taken from smaller group to a percentage taken from a larger group. That’s a percentage fallacy (thank you LSATS).
I expected more from you Cafferty….bad math…bad math.
Shut up and speak to me
Take a seat and be standing while
I yell softly at you for an eternal moment
I have nothing to tell you
And you will want to hear what I have to say
I slept on a thought that had yet occur to me
And awoke to this evening’s morning light deciding that I was unsure —
I know exactly where I am heading in my directionless life
But I am blinded by seeing the world crystal clear
I walked to the kitchen as I could not get out of bed
Took the last swig from my coffee
Put the full mug down on the bench
And looked at my reflection in the kitchen’s brick wall
I spoke eloquently without moving my tongue
And asked the world at large why it was so small
I was floored by the answer when the world did not respond
The world spoke to me in muted silence
While I listened to the words it wrote with an empty pen
“Uncertainty is certain
Looking at daylight outside through a mirror in a dark room
Will assure you that the surer you get the more you are unsure of.”
A logical statement that makes no sense
Some words can reverse everything
Ad Hominem Fallacy
It has come to my attention that on issues most often discussed on Tumblr, and throughout the internet, that the ad hominem fallacy is the most commonly used argument by people against potentially logical arguments. Using such fallacies can completely discredit a person’s reputation as a participant of discussion. Be careful of the use of arguments like this.
I suggest that if you encounter someone using fallacies in arguments, that you point them out calmly one time, and if they persist, ignore them entirely. In the medium of discussion that is the internet, people act and write in such a way that they other wise would not. Some people have zero respect for the way text discussions over the internet work so they revert to personal attacks, such as ad hominem, as the basis of their argument.
Ad homenim (meaning “to the man”), I believe is accurately defined by Wiki is: “an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it.” A simple example is to look at electoral campaigns. A person may be discredited based on something they did in the past or currently are doing. For instance, Obama’s campaign was attacked due to his affiliation with a certain church. This is a personal attack not relevant to the issues he was discussing on his campaign and is therefore a fallacy.
No actions or characteristics of a person can discredit any argument that they may have. This type of fallacy is closely tied to the genetic fallacy that no claim can be automatically logical or illogical simply based on its source.
Tu Quoque: There are a few different forms of ad hominem to be aware of as well. But I would like to take this time to address the most commonly used one on Tumblr: tu quoque, meaning, “You also.”
A very basic example of this is to look at two smokers. Smoker A tells Smoker B that he should quit smoking because it is bad for him. Smoker B then rebuts, “Well maybe you should take your own advice! You’re a smoker yourself!” Smoker B’s rebuttal is an example of the tu quoque strain of ad hominem fallacy because the fact that Smoker A is also a smoker, it does not disprove or weaken Smoker A’s argument that B should quit because of the unhealthy nature of smoking.
This type of fallacy is used so commonly on Tumblr arguments and rebuttals. This is particularly the case when anarchists and other radicals make the claim of apathy among the masses. Radicals will talk often about how people are stuck to their screens and get sucked into the system we reject so much, yet people will turn around and say, “Well look at you! You’re on Tumblr, you’re on Facebook, you use G+! You are just as apathetic.” Claims like this, claiming radical’s claims are hypocritical, do not make them any less true (though I will still refute even their hypocrisy because we are conscious of the tools we are using and we are using them to educate).
Association: Just another strain of ad hominem to be aware of is the guilt by association fallacy. Claiming that any claim a person makes is untrue or illogical simply because the same claim or a similar claim is also made by an undesirable group. This does not necessarily mean that the person identifies with said group personally (in fact there is a name for that as well that I will explain in a minute), but only that they make the same claim.
Circumstantial: This strain of ad hominem calls a claim false because of the predisposition to make such a claim. Person A makes a claim and the rebuttal being, “You would say that! You’re a republican!” Similar to the association fallacy, only this one claims a persons argument is false before they even make it simply because of their potential ideological label. This ties very close to the genetic fallacy that a claim is automatically invalid because of its source.
I was thinking about all this a lot this morning and I wanted to make a post to express my anger with fallacy. Especially this one because it is probably the most commonly used one I see on Tumblr.
I’m writing this so people can be aware of these kinds of things and avoid them. Avoid using them, and avoid getting sucked into arguments where people use them. It is a waste of time and effort.