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Thread: Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

  1. #1

    Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

    http://www.daltonator.net/durandal/c...allacies.shtml

    Logical Fallacies and How to Spot Them

    In the Evolution vs. Creationism debate, it is important to be able to spot all the logical fallacies that Creationists tend to throw around. This essay covers many bare essentials of logical thinking, as well as ways to critically evaluate an argument. The logical fallacies listed here are the ones most often used by Creationists, although Creationists have, to date, used almost every single logical fallacy in existence to "prove" their case. Each fallacy will have its own little paragraph, describing it, why it is fallacious and how to counter it. Enjoy!

    THE STRAWMAN ATTACK: The strawman is, perhaps, the most heavily-employed tactic used by Creationists. The strawman attack's name comes from the idea of setting up a strawman and knocking it down. The strawman is a false man, metaphorically representing a false argument. The strawman attack is a very dishonest one. Creationists ruthlessly use this tactic to win public support. In essence, the strawman attack is putting words in your opponent's mouth and then attacking the resulting position, while simultaenously evading the real argument.
    It goes on to describe how to counter the strawman attack. Then it describes the "false dilemma" which is at the heart of the creationist argument, i.e. supposes that there are only two possible solutions to a problem (his and the opponent's), ignoring everything else. By doing so, disproval of the opponent's argument automatically proves the attacker's argument.

    It goes on to describe the "appeal to authority", the "appeal to masses", the "Achille's heal" which is based on the generalization that if one pokes one hole in the opponent argument, the entire position collapses. Then there is the shifting the "onus of proof", "the red herring", etc.

    Wise.

  2. #2
    Very timely, I notice


    Whether used by Creationists, or any other person with weak and lazy arguments, these tactics/style of debate and arguments, also (attempt to) 'victimize' the user (by the user) as some lone crusader and on the fringes of the numbed mindset of the mainstream; being disenfranchised EMPOWERS them, and attacks upon them serve to reinforce their manipulative and fallacious tactics.

    It's often emotionally charged and incite emotional reactions in turn, further fueling and provoking those false arguments. It's tiresome to engage, but more tiresome to observe others getting sucked and drawn into it... again and again. I mostly tune them out... but it can be hard to avoid when these types can be among the most vocal and LOUD... with straw man cries that are validated and given credence, hence diluting and/or creating a diversion from any genuine and focused discourse.


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    Last edited by chick; 10-14-2007 at 10:06 PM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by chick
    Very timely, I notice


    Whether used by Creationists, or any other person with weak and lazy arguments, these tactics/style of debate and arguments, also (attempt to) 'victimize' the user (by the user) as some lone crusader and on the fringes of the numbed mindset of the mainstream; being disenfranchised EMPOWERS them, and attacks upon them serve to reinforce their manipulative and fallacious tactics.
    Quite timely indeed. I enjoy reading the poster's arguments, but I posit that the entire essay is a strawman attack on an exaggerated Creationist viewpoint.

    I have known people on both sides (Evolution and Creationism) that are guilty of making fallacious assertions. This is usually because they are lack the skills to form sound and cogent argument.
    Daniel

  4. #4
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    While the article seems to have valid suggestions toward debating creationists, it was written by a 20 year old kid. And a physics major to boot.

    I prefer to get my knowledge from a more mature, educated source. I'm sure there are many better sources for learning debating skills. College professors, books written by persons with a masters or a PhD, or at least someone who has actually graduated from college, come to mind as good sources. Why would you need to take the word of someone who is inexperienced and not educated in debating.

    Thank you Dr. Young, but I'll pass on this nugget of information. I sincerely do thank you for the effort though. IMHO

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chick
    Very timely, I notice
    It's tiresome to engage, but more tiresome to observe others getting sucked and drawn into it... again and again. I mostly tune them out... but it can be hard to avoid when these types can be among the most vocal and LOUD... with straw man cries that are validated and given credence, hence diluting and/or creating a diversion from any genuine and focused discourse.
    Wow. We are on the exact same wave length. Some of the most recent threads have offered great comic relief.
    No one ever became unsuccessful by helping others out

  6. #6
    Senior Member JimD's Avatar
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    The same logical fallacies and how to spot and deal with them are gone into in great detail by the late, lamented Carl Sagan in the book The Demon-Haunted World; Science as a Candle in the Dark. He has a chapter on developing skeptical thinking skills which he refers to as building your own 'baloney-detecting kit'.

    Great read; highly recommended.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimD
    The same logical fallacies and how to spot and deal with them are gone into in great detail by the late, lamented Carl Sagan in the book The Demon-Haunted World; Science as a Candle in the Dark. He has a chapter on developing skeptical thinking skills which he refers to as building your own 'baloney-detecting kit'.

    Great read; highly recommended.
    Yes, yes, yes, what a great suggestion. Carl Sagan was a great man and a great influence on me. I used to love his Cosmos TV show. Anything written by this thoughtful man is an excellent source of information.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_sagan

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JimD
    The same logical fallacies and how to spot and deal with them are gone into in great detail by the late, lamented Carl Sagan in the book The Demon-Haunted World; Science as a Candle in the Dark. He has a chapter on developing skeptical thinking skills which he refers to as building your own 'baloney-detecting kit'.

    Great read; highly recommended.
    As do I. I'll have to take it off the shelf to read again.
    Embrace uncertainty. Hard problems rarely have easy solutions. Jonah Lehrer

  9. #9
    Interesting quote from the book
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World
    "Is it fair to be suspicious of an entire profession because of a few bad apples? There are at least two important differences, it seems to me. First, no one doubts that science actually works, whatever mistaken and fraudulent claim may from time to time be offered. But whether there are *any* "miraculous" cures from faith-healing, beyond the body's own ability to cure itself, is very much at issue. Secondly, the exposé of fraud and error in science is made almost exclusively by science. But the exposure of fraud and error in faith-healing is almost never done by other faith-healers."

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JimD
    The same logical fallacies and how to spot and deal with them are gone into in great detail by the late, lamented Carl Sagan in the book The Demon-Haunted World; Science as a Candle in the Dark. He has a chapter on developing skeptical thinking skills which he refers to as building your own 'baloney-detecting kit'.

    Great read; highly recommended.
    That's an amazing title for a book.


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