Category Archives: Logical Fallacies

Pelosi condemns Rubio because Baltimore Catechism

Marco Rubio:

“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater …. the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech.

Nancy Pelosi:

I thoroughly disagree (with Rubio’s opposition to gay marriage), being raised in a Catholic family … the Baltimore Catechism, to get back to our hometown of Baltimore, was what we were raised on. And I think that this statement by Senator Rubio is most unfortunate. It’s a polarizing statement. The fact is, is that what we’re taught was to respect people in our faith and to say that this endangers mainstream Christian thinking is so completely wrong.”

2015_05 Pelosi Logical Fallacy Baltimore Catechism

Sources:

3 Comments

Filed under Catholic Church, Christianity, Logical Fallacies, Marco Rubio, Marriage & Family Life, Nancy Pelosi

The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy

No True Scotsman

I thought I was fairly familiar with logical fallacies, but I had never heard of this one before today. “No True Scotsman” not only provides an intellectual response to two common Dem-witted “arguments” — i.e., “no true woman is Republican” and “no true black is Republican” — but also it comes complete with a funny video made by PBS!  What lib could argue with PBS?!  That would be like KILLING BIG BIIRD!!  LOL

The “No True Scotsman” Fallacy

Source:
http://twitchy.com/2014/11/16/richard-dawkins-uses-logical-fallacy-to-man-splain-feminism-video/

5 Comments

Filed under Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacies: Argumentum ad Temperantiam

“I would say that easily more than 50% of the arguments I hear in politics are based on fallacies. That includes people on both sides of the aisle. Learning to identify fallacies and making other people aware of them is a huge part of winning the battle.” – Mafia Rose

Today, I want to address Argumentum ad Temperantiam. Temperantiam means temperance.

This logical fallacy is also known as the Middle Ground Fallacy, the Golden Mean Fallacy, the Gray Area Fallacy, the Fallacy of Moderation and Splitting the Difference. It has a sub-category containing False Compromises in which the arguer proposes a middle ground position that doesn’t actually exist.

Argumentum ad Temperantiam states that the correct position is the one in the middle. Since compromise is essential in many areas of life, we are tempted to fall into the trap of assuming that compromise is always desirable. But compromise, in and of itself, has nothing to do with truth.

Chrissy’s Site Bites: http://news.webshots.com/photo/2111896820056011884muTwxt

Click on graphic to embiggen.

I had never even heard of Argumentum ad Temperantiam before I began researching for this series and it doesn’t show up on every list of logical fallacies that I looked at. But it did show up on a few and it really stuck out for me, because we encounter it so often in politics. Just last week, I had someone sitting on my couch who said something I said myself for decades, but now reject. You’ve all heard versions of it:

Why can’t we just get along?

Bipartisanship is wrong.

We should just compromise.

In our system of government, it is often necessary to make trade-offs in order to get a law passed. The resulting law generally makes no one group totally happy, but at least it got passed and sometimes (i.e., the federal budget) that is better than nothing. But compromise, in and of itself, has nothing to do with truth.

When you consider the propensity we have to prefer compromise over confrontation and the necessity of compromising to get laws passed, it’s little wonder politicians so often accuse their opponents of blocking solutions by refusing to compromise. I used to uncritically buy their arguments, but then I noticed how often Democrats (aided by the media) would sit firmly on their extreme Leftist position and act all outraged at the alleged intransigence of Republicans who had already compromised repeatedly.

Another reason I bought their argument is that I naively assumed they were telling the truth. Duh me.

In his December 3, 2011, weekly address, Obama said, “This week, they [Republicans] actually said ‘no’ to cutting taxes for middle-class families.”

My not-so-gullible-now self notes (a) Democrats lie a lot, (b) Republicans are very unlikely to have objected to extending the payroll tax cut, and (c) legislators don’t have a line item vote on bills.

So, my inquiring and cynical mind wants to know … what ELSE was in the bill that forced Republicans to vote against the payroll tax cut?

None of this is to say that compromise is a bad thing, only that compromise – in and of itself – is not evidence of the truth of a proposition. Sometimes the middle position is a good choice. But those who want to argue on behalf of some compromise must demonstrate logically why their proposal is superior.

For example, a moderate amount of exercise is better than too much or too little exercise. This is a dumb argument, since too much and too little are, by definition, not the best. Still, we can use the example to show how to properly argue on behalf of a moderate position.

In order to show that a moderate amount of exercise is best, we must:

  1. Define the actual meanings of “too much” and “too little” exercise. Remember Dudley Dursley who demanded a television in the kitchen, because he considered walking from the living room to the kitchen for snacks to be too much exercise.
  2. Define what we mean by “best” with respect to exercise. Off hand, I’d say we’d have to define an age group and existing health issues in any discussion of exercise. Buzz and his great-grandma hardly have the same need for exercise.
  3. Demonstrate that what has been defined as “moderate” is actually healthier for our target group. Even professional athletes have different exercise needs when their sport is in season than they do when they’re on hiatus.

False Compromise Fallacies

Sometimes a Middle Ground arguer proposes a compromise that doesn’t actually exist. These generally fall into one of these two categories:

The Common Denominator Fallacy where the arguer claims there is no dispute by focusing on some minor point of agreement while ignoring all the central points of disagreement. “Whether abortion in the case of rape is right or wrong, at least we all agree that rape is wrong, so you see, we really do agree.”

The Phantom Distinction Fallacy draws a distinction without a difference. Since the drawing of distinctions is so frequently associated with good reasoning, these often slip right past us. I said the following to Dearest a few minutes ago: “I’m not a feminist. I just think women should have the same rights as men.” He accepted it without argument. Granted, he’s at the end of his day and thinking more about dinner than logic, but still … he let it go right past him because it sounded “logical.”

Middle Ground fallacies are commonly used to keep the peace.

E.g., Before someone gets a turkey wing shoved up his nose, Mom will say, “I think we all agree that we want what’s best for this country. Anyone for pie?”

They are also invoked to speed up a resolution.

E.g., A busy public defender says to the District Attorney, “You think my client needs to spend some time in jail, but we think twenty years is excessive. Let’s agree on ten years, and we can all go home.”

These may be useful in greasing the wheels of life, but we should be cautious about using them, because they do nothing to help us arrive at truth.

5 Comments

Filed under Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacies: Argumentum ad Hominem

Ad Hominem is one of the most familiar logical fallacies. Hominem means “human being” so this means “arguing to the person.”

An ad Hominem FALLACY is an argument that says, “You’re a jerk, so your ideas must be wrong.” This argument is a fallacy, because a person’s character has no bearing on the truth or falsity of his ideas.

If someone tells you the time of day, the fact that you know he lies a lot has no bearing on whether he’s told you the correct time. However, whether you decide to believe him without corroborating evidence is another story.

Not all ad Hominem arguments qualify as logical fallacies. As with believing our liar about the time, sometimes the character of the person is the point of the argument.

We can see a great example of these distinctions in the spate of women accusing Herman Cain of various improprieties. The Left may not care much if a man cheats on his wife, but the Right certainly does, so the question of Cain’s fitness for office vis-à-vis his history of marital fidelity is a valid issue.

But what about the truth of those accusations? Does the “bimbo!” response constitute an ad Hominem fallacy?

  • Yes, in so far as we claim that their morally-challenged past behaviors prove Cain did nothing wrong.
  • No, in so far as we claim that we choose not to take their words for anything Cain said or did.

Why are ad Hominem arguments so common?

They are common, because they are effective at diverting an audience’s attention from the facts and logic of the argument itself. For the Left, which cannot otherwise defend its ineffective and destructive policies, ad Hominem is a potent tool.

For example: We argue that nationalized health care is bad for society. They scream, “You want poor people to die!”

This works, because the none-too-bright sheeple who do not want to poke their heads up above any crowd and get noticed by the powerful keepers of of political correctness knee jerk with, “I care about poor people! I support ObamaCare!”

How can we fight this?

I think we’ve seen how to do it with Global Warming.

“An Inconvenient Truth” came out in 2006. Gore and his ilk used their political chops to get it mandated as school curriculum. It was shown in my church, for crying out loud. And for a while, the majority were on board the “We have to stop Global Warming” train.

Today, just five years later, Gore complains:

Chrissy’s Site Bites: http://news.webshots.com/photo/2327641290056011884eGpZds

What happened to sway public opinion so far and so fast?

Good arguments were presented over and over, in person, on film, in radio and blogs and books. Smart people listened and became convinced. Then they, being recognized leaders in their communities, swayed the go-alongers who are more concerned with being in the right group than in being right.

How do we recognize and respond successfully to ad Hominem attacks?

  • Ad Hominem arguments succeed when the accused feels compelled to defend himself.
  • Ad Hominem arguments fail when the accused exposes the logical fallacy behind the accusation.

The keys are to stay calm, point out the flaws in our opponents’ arguments, make sure our arguments are based on facts and good logic, and wait.

Why wait? Because our target audience is neither the loud, potty-mouthed, camera hogs nor the go-alongers. Our target audience is the small group of local leaders. These are the quiet people in an audience who listen, rather than shout or sneer, who recognize and value logical argument as a path to truth, and who are known and respected by their loved ones and peers because they are intelligent, thoughtful and honest.

These are the people who get watched by those who care more about being in the right crowd than about being right. Have you ever seen how, when someone in a group tells a joke, there are two kinds of responders? The first responders laugh or roll their eyes at the joke itself. The second responders look at those first responders and copy them. Our target audience is those first responders. We convince them and the go-alongers will follow.

Ad Hominem arguments usually fall into one of these categories:

One: Character assault

E.g., If you disagree with Obama, you’re a RAAACIST. Successful comeback:

Two: Circumstances assault

E.g., You’re a man, so your opinion about abortion should be disregarded. Possible comeback: “My gender has nothing to do with whether or not abortion violates the civil rights of unborn human beings.”

Three: Tu quoque assault

Tu quoque means “you too”; this is the “You did it too, hypocrite!” fallacy. Possible comeback: A. “He lied.” B. “You lied too, so you can’t accuse him.” A. “If and when I lied, it was wrong of me to do so. But we’re not talking about my alleged lies now. We’re talking about his.”

I saw a brilliant ad Hominem comeback once at a Pro-Life lecture I attended at a liberal university during the Gulf War.

A man in the audience asked the speaker, “Do you support the war?”

The speaker said he had given it a lot of thought and decided that he did.

The man sneered and said that the speaker was a hypocrite to be opposed to abortion, while supporting a war.

The speaker correctly identified the tu quoque fallacy and called the guy out on it, saying, “I may be as hypocritical as you say I am, but that does not make me wrong about abortion.”

It was a beautiful moment. But it got even better when the speaker proceeded to take the guy down by using his own tu quoque argument against him!

First he asked, “I’m guessing you oppose the war?”

The man in the (liberal) audience visibly preened and announced, “Yes, I am!”

The speaker then said, “Yet you support abortion?”

At this, the man positively wilted, mumbled, “Yeah, I guess I do.” And sat down.

If the man in the audience had paid attention to how the speaker turned his club into a wet noodle, he would have responded, “I may be a hypocrite, too. But that doesn’t make me wrong.” Instead, he accepted the charge of hypocrisy as a valid argument against his position on abortion, which it wasn’t.

Check how well you understood the lesson!

I found this fun example of what is and what is not an ad Hominem argument @ http://plover.net/~bonds/adhominem.html:

A: “All rodents are mammals, but a weasel isn’t a rodent, so it can’t be a mammal.”

B: “That does not logically follow.”

A: “*Sigh* Do I have to spell it out for you? All rodents are mammals, right, but a weasel isn’t a rodent, so it can’t be a mammal! What’s so hard to understand???!?”

B: “I’m afraid you’re mistaken. Look at it logically. If p implies q, then it does not follow that not-p implies not-q.”

A: “I don’t care about so-called logic and Ps and Qs and that stuff, I’m talking COMMON SENSE. A weasel ISN’T a mammal.”

B: “Okay, this guy’s an idiot. Ignore this one, folks.”

A: “AD HOMINEM!!!! I WIN!!!!!

Although B is the one who uses insulting language, it is actually A who is guilty of using an ad Hominem argument. In fact, I think he does it two times in this short exchange.

First, he suggests to the audience with his sighing and “What’s so hard to understand???!?” that B is dumber than dirt, so he must be wrong about weasels. But B’s IQ has nothing to do with the taxonomy of weasels.

Second, he claims that B’s “idiot” insult means he (A) wins the argument. But winning an argument means you’ve proven your case, which A definitely did not do.

Moreover, when B says that A is an idiot, he is not using an ad Hominem fallacy. His “idiot” insult does not refer to weasels; B had already proven logically that A’s argument about weasels was false.

B’s “idiot” insult refers to the fact that A had started his argument with a logical syllogism, but then – having been defeated by the rules of logic –  has declared he doesn’t care about logic, which is idiotic.

A never proves that weasels are not mammals; however, he does manage to confirm that he is an idiot when he declares that B’s allegedly breaking a rule of logic makes A and his “weasels are not mammals” the winner in the logic game he dismissed as stupid two seconds before!

5 Comments

Filed under Abortion, Al Gore, Climate, Logical Fallacies, Newt Gingrich

Logical Fallacies

A logical fallacy is a flaw in an argument that is bad enough to negate the value of the conclusion.

They get used a lot by the Left because, as we here all know, the Left can’t defend their policies for real.

Too often, we let them get away with it. And I say it’s time we stopped. Not only do we have the facts on our side, but also Americans really HATE being taken for suckers.

Whenever we can expose the Left’s attempts to manipulate the audience, we will both win the debate and shift the audience away from allegiance to the schmucks who tried to con them.

It’s very win-win.

There are a lot of logical fallacies. I’ve spent most of today researching and … well, I’m whipped!

So you will all have to just HOLD YOUR BREATH another day (or two, I have company coming tomorrow).

I’ll try to make it worth the wait 🙂

7 Comments

Filed under Logical Fallacies

Let’s be logical

Before I act, I must first decide to act. Common sense tells me this is true, but I’ve also read about brain studies that show the brain lighting up before a person performs an action such as lifting one hand.

If I want to have the best chance of having my actions lead to good outcomes, then I must do a good job at deciding. Again, common sense tells me this is true and also, I have experienced that it is true in my own life.

If I want to do a good job at deciding, I need to reason correctly. Reasoning is the process of considering various solutions to a problem and then choosing which one is best.

Logic is the study of correct reasoning. Therefore, studying logic will help me improve my reasoning skills, so that I can make good decisions about how to act.

Logically, therefore, I conclude that understanding the structure of logical arguments will be very useful. 🙂

In coming days, I will be talking more about logic. Lucky you!

Click to embiggen. The small print is interesting!

Chrissy’s Site Bites: http://news.webshots.com/photo/2573890270056011884zGTJAO

2 Comments

Filed under Logical Fallacies