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HOW TO ARGUE BETTER: Identifying Logical Fallacies pt. 2

Updated: Jan 7



RECAP: WHAT IS A LOGICAL FALLACY?


Logical fallacies are flawed attempts at reasoning.


Many people commit logical fallacies when presenting arguments as they aren’t aware of their own errors in cognition or have had no exposure to thinking critically.


If someone presents an argument and you spot a logical fallacy that argument must be rejected.


Exploring some common logical fallacies:


FALSE ANALOGY


An argument where the two objects or events being compared are relevantly dissimilar.

  • Car accidents are not contagious and do not grow exponentially.

  • Yearly car accidents do not all occur around the same time or in waves.

  • We can't say with certainty what the total number of deaths from this disease will be.

PREJUDICIAL LANGUAGE


Loaded or emotive terms are used to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition.


  • "If you care about children having enough to eat you would oppose the vote to stop free school meals during the holidays."


  • Referring to abortion as "slaughtering innocent children in the womb" , or referring to pro-choice opponents as "pro-death".


  • Insurgent, freedom fighter and terrorist can all be applied to the same group depending on the speaker's perspective.


  • Using the term "Health freedom" instead of anti-vaccine.


ARGUMENTUM AD POPULUM


Appeal to the people. A proposition is argued to be true solely because a majority of people believe it to be so.


  • 'High protein diets damage your kidneys, everyone knows that.'

  • 'How do you explain the thousands of people that swear by foam rolling then?'

  • 'CDB oil must work, why else would everyone be using it?

  • 'You have to lift with your knees, not with your back, this is common knowledge.'


FALSE DILEMMA


False dichotomy or black-or-white fallacy. Only two alternative choices are presented when in reality there are more options. If it isn't X then it must be non-X.


  • 'If you're not a feminist then you are anti-feminist.'

  • 'If you don't make allowances for LGBTQ+ then you are against the LGBTQ+ community.' 'You can’t both believe in science and be religious.'

  • 'Either you are for freedom and lower taxes or you are a communist.'

  • 'You can't support calorie counting if you're anti-diet.'

FALSE COMPROMISE


Argument to moderation, middle ground, fallacy of the mean. Assuming that a compromise between two positions is always correct. E.g.


  • When weighing the pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine stances on autism accepting the conclusion that vaccines have indeed caused some cases of autism, when there is currently no evidence to support this.

  • When weighing the existence of Gods and spiritual beings compromising and claiming that while angels and demons may not be real a at least one God must exist, when there is currently no evidence to support this.


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