edited: Friday, January 04, 2008
By Absolute Truth
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, September 14, 2007
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This article is on mistakes in thinking people often made.
Logical Fallacies are mistakes made in reasonings.
Reasoning is a process of thinking in a certain way, a process we use whereby we arrive at conclusions. If our process is incorrect, our conclusion will be also, incorrect.
"Reasoning" relies of logic and rationality.
"Logic" is a science of reasoning. It has rules and regulations and prohibitions. An "argument" is a form of thought, specifically structured in accordance to the rules.
If the form is incorrect, the arrived at conclusion will also be incorrect.
"Correct" and "incorrect" is defined by logic.
There are two forms of correct and incorrect. Validity and truth.
"Validity" addresses the form, "truth" addresses the content.
But we are human and often make mistakes. We are therefore, fallible. In order for us not to make mistakes in reasonings that will lead to an absurdity and an improper judgment, we must be cautious to adopt a dicretion technique that will allow us to differentiate between the proper argument form and an improper argument form. Forearmed is forewarned, and being aware of what constitutes some major logical fallacies known to women/men kind will be helpful.
Knowing the fallacies can also protect us from becoming a victim to the unscrupulous ones who use fallacies to pass a wrong conclusion.
Logical fallacies are counterfeit arguments whose premises seem to support conclusion but really do not. The trick of fallacies is that the premises seem to be relevant to the argument but only seem so. Arguments that are fallacious are examples in bad or poor reasoning. These arguments could be a result of subjective thinking (which the person is trying to on purpose or perhaps by accident, convince of her or his own mistake!) posing as objective. That is why the argument is presented as an argument and not just a statement that could be taken as is, subjective. The maker of the argument attempts to do a lot more than to state her or his like or dislike or personal opinion, he or she attempts to present them as The Reality proper, concluded logically! But we will see that often some people make arguments that they attempt to present as convincing and that are only the reflections of reality, and are not such, but are either sneaky attempts at pushing one’s own perception or a mistake in which they are themselves entangled.
The logical fallacies' number is numerous and they are listed below under their proper Latin or English names, with every day explanations and examples we all can relate to. Some fallacies are products of thought that presents irrational perceptions as evidence, others present doubtful and uncertain information as supporting, and others simply mistakenly mistructured.
Fallacy one: Subjectivity
The believed or desired reality is presented as true merely because we believe or wish for it to be so. The desire or belief cannot be used as an evidence for something. In the logical world, it is not allowed. In order to ascertain that something is or not true , meaning, has a certain existence that can be proven, we have to know it, not merely believe it or wish it. One’s thoughts and emotions are not facts of something’s being true or not. It may well be that we feel something or want something, and it is the fact that we do, but the desired or believed reality does not become factual simply because we desire it. Our emotions may be true , but they may not correspond to reality. Sometimes people use subjectivism as a way to avoid accepting the truth. They deny the existence of some facts simply because they do not wish to accept them. This is called denial. Also, truth cannot be true for one person and not true for another. If something is true , it is always true , to refuse that truth would be to engage in subjectivism, and go into denial. Not liking something is not going to undo the reality of that something. To deny it is to engage in subjectivism.
When do you encounter this type of an argument made? With a person who is unreasonable, irrational and willful. This argument is akin to the one made by your little brother or sister who claims that the cat is a witch-prince who had a spell laid on him. Just because your brother feels that way.
An example of subjectivism in action is:
Two people talking. One of them, a woman, points out the evidence for women being treated as a second class citizens by society in general and men specifically. She outlines the examples of denial of open expression of one’s emotions, thoughts and ideas, imposed from outside rigid dress code, very judgmental remarks about slightest mistakes the young and the developing women make, open encouragement of initiative for men and not for women. The other person listens and says the following:
I believe that women are free and can do whatever they want.
To any inquiries for evidence or facts from person A, person B continues to repeat the belief in women being free and not oppressed and nothing else. The person is engaging in wishful thinking whereas he presents the wished or perceived reality, as true , without evidence.
Fallacy two: appeal to majority
This argument attempts to pass the majority opinion’s on a subject as a measure of the truth of something or other. It is in principle the same as subjectivism argument, but the focus is shifted from “I” beliefs and wishes being supporting premises, to “everyone” or “many” beliefs and opinions being the supporting premises. The argument gains numbers but not evidence. The many accepting something or wishing it to be true only demonstrates the strength of their desire but not the truth of the argument. Simply because some people, even in large amounts support something or believe something does not make some idea or thought or belief The Truth.
When will you encounter this type of an argument? With people who are used to or rely on winning points through popular support or even force. Their arguments are akin to arguments made by two fighting groups who attempt to gain more numbers and support by swaying people with the peer pressure technique and pack mentality.
An example of appeal to majority in action:
A person is expressing her opinion that women should be taught to exercise and know their bodies, to like sports and to enjoy exercises for the mind. She continues to explain how these things will benefit the development of these human beings, when another person interrupts and says that “women should look and act like women.” When asked what that means, he explains: feminine, no muscles, make up, heels, skirts, obedience to men and home, kitchen, religious practices, no more than that. He says that her opinion in women’s development is wrong. As a "proof" of her wrongness, the person brings the authority of god Krshna, who commanded in his “holy” book to keep women subordinate to men, and encouraged the policy of artificializing them. When the person supportive of women's true development is not convinced, the person B insists that this is The Truth because “every religious book in the world states that women are inferior and must be controlled and be made act like women.”
Fallacy three: appeal to emotion (argumentum ad populum)
This argument attempts to make you accept its premises because of the emotion it instills in you. It is similar to subjectivism but instead of presenting own opinion as true or a majority opinion as a support for itself, it presents the "proof" as an emotion. This argument's reason is not stubborn conviction, numbers, but emotion. The real reasons are never names, instead the focus is shifted from mind to your heart. You are made to feel instead of think. Be it pity, jealousy, anger, frustration, hostility that the argument is loaded with, the hope of the argumentor is all the same: to sway you through your emotions to adopt some stand or accept some opinion. Since our emotions can get out of control and feel so powerful, it often is a great technique to have us accept things we would not have otherwise and adopt a stand that we know very little about.
Where will you encounter this type of argument? Everywhere, but especially among the groups that attempt to sell something (like advertisements), promote support for oneself or others (political figures showing off their mental or physical wounds the “evil” opponent has inflicted on him or her), or simply groups that need your raw support and want to rise you to irrational and powerful action for some cause.
An example of argumentum ad populum is the following:
A person is attempting to present her or his person as a candidate for local project for a community renewal. The project requires organizational skills, knowledge of Rent Stabilized housing laws, experience in legal interaction. The person has none of the skills necessary but the people never get to find out because he makes the following argument to them:
You should choose me because I will lead you into the bright future and deliver you your hopes and dreams. You deserve better than what you have now and I cannot allow you to tolerate the conditions that are not what you deserve. You should be outraged at how you have been treated! How could you allow it! Look what has come to pass to your community! I promise you that I will not stand by and watch everything fall apart, I am in love with the community and hate the person who did that to you. I am angry and frustrated and furious! Furious! And you should be too! Who’s with me?
Fallacy four: appeal to force (argumentum ad baculum)
This argument attempts to “convince” you by using force. The force used could be real or a threat of it, but regardless, the argument does not present supporting statements but makes you agree because you are scared into submission.
Where would you encounter this type of an argument? In many place and among many groups: governments, teachers, parents, friends and often lovers all attempt to force you to accept their world views or else. Often, very often it is used to sway women from their development and opinion and to force them to accept men's point of view.
An example of the argumentum ad baculum would be this:
A person of less means requests a person of greater means to buy her food because she has lost her job, and now has barely made her rent. The two people are friends. The person of greater means professes to be a friend of the one who has made a request. The acknowledgment of friendship is mutual. Using the opportunity of his friend on the down-low, the person on means purchases the food but conducts the following conversation with the person of lesser means.
Person of greater means: so, you are hungry?
Person of lesser means: yeah. The jobs are hard to come nowadays, and the rent money has taken my last savings.
POGM: Ok, I will feed you.
POLM: Thank you!
POGM: You know, there is a job place I know off.
POGM: Yes, go and interview there.
POLM: Should I wear all black?
POGM: A black top and a black skirt.
POLM: Oh, I don’t wear skirts.
POGM: But they won’t interview you if you don’t.
POLM: Can’t I wear pants?
POGM: Perhaps, but you will need to shave.
POGM: Your legs.
POLM: I don’t do it, and why would I shave my legs if I a wearing pants?
POGM: Because you need to go there “well-groomed.”
POLM: Shaving one’s legs is not a matter of bad or good grooming. It is a custom. I do not uphold it out of principles.
POGM: You have to shave your legs! It is good grooming habit!
POGM: I thought you said the job needed me to shave my legs…
POLM: You look horrible with hair.
POLM: It is natural, you have it too, and this is what I do and how I do it. What does it have to do with the job, your like and dislike?
POGM: Do you want me to buy you food or not?
POLM: And the return price is forfeiting my beliefs.
POGM: No, just shave your legs.
POLM: (to herself) ...and accepting yours!
The person of greater means has attempted two arguments from force. One: he denied her a job lead because she did not comply with his usurpatory views on her body, and two: he threatened to starve her if she did not comply with his perception of reality. In both cases his opinion was presented as The Truth and supported in its claim by...force. The account is factual and the person of lesser means did not fall for the fallacious argument, by the way.
Sometimes arguments made, need to rely on authority of sorts. The authority has to have expertise and knowledge in the area in which it is used as an authority, and it also must have pure intentions that will ensure she or he will not lie, cheat or mislead the audience. If one of these premises for the authority to be proper, is not present, the authority is not sufficient and cannot be used in an argument as supporting evidence.
Fallacy five: appeal to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam)
This argument attempts to pass a stinking fish and present authority that is not such at all or not such on the matters of the argument’s territory. The person who is a great building technician does not make an authority on architecture, and a person who is a Eastern doctor does not automatically become an authority on matters of physics.
Where would you encounter this type of argument? Among people that run out of information and have to rely on some source who they know is good at something, as the source good at this something else they need to prove. Usually this type of argument works among people who are content to accept anyone with any authority as an authority on any subject.Simple matter of authority seems to be sufficient and necessary condition. The arguments can invoke anyone and anything under the sky: president on the matters of personal development, scientists on matters of linguistics, Joe from the block who is good at game of knuckles as a judge of good and bad qualities in a fellow disliked female human being.
An example of argumentum ad verecundiam is the following:
Two people are talking on the subject of proper amount of work-out in the gym. Person A covers the specifics of a developing female body and the necessities that it has. She is concerned with the proper distribution for the maximum muscles increase and cardiovascular health. Person B is oblivious to these specifics and is quoting an Olympic male javelin thrower on the preliminaries of the training and the training itself. Although the authority used may be good in his area of expertise of javelin throwing, he is doubtfully going to know the specifics of a female human body in muscle building or cardiovascular health.
Fallacy six: ad hominem argument.
This argument attacks the person and not her argument. The person attacking the one who makes an argument capitalizes on his or her negative trait that is irrelevant to the argument’s worth. The argument should be estimated on its merits, not on the merit of the one who is making it. The person could be advising to do something she or he does not do, or could have an interest in our acceptance of the argument’s conclusion or even be championing a fight against something he or she secretly practices, it is all irrelevant. Regardless of how despicable and bad the person is, regardless of the view he holds, her or his argument should be analyzed and thought about on the merits of itself, that is, the argument, and not dismissed because the person is a bad or unseemly person.
Where would be encounter ad hominem argument?
In places where people can’t control their emotions and do not care for the truth. People that have comprised opinion about other people would often dismiss or sometimes accept their arguments simply because they have an opinion of them.
An example of Ad Hominem argument:
A woman politician runs for the office. She is presenting an argument for a new medical insurance, and meets with disapproval from journalists who state that “what could a promiscuous woman like Ms. X,Y,Z know about medicine! She has contracted an STD when in college.” This is a very typical and very popular Ad Hominem especially by men against women who attempt to make changes or state something they do know, with authority. Very often if not always, the undoing of a woman who is rising becomes some dirty rumor or gossip, completely irrelevant to the job she want to do, and often petty and personal, but nonetheless the public seems to bait and many a good and talented people have perished this way. As you can tell, Ms.X's STD has little to do with her medical plan proposal.
Fallacy seven: begging the question (circular argument)
This argument has the same proposition in the conclusion as in premise. In other words, the argument supports what is intends to prove with what it intends to prove. In order for the conclusion to be valid, it must follow from premises. But if the conclusion follows out of the premise that is a conclusion which is supported by the premise that is a conclusion that is supported by the premise that is…Now you understand why it is called a “circular argument.” Although, technically, it is valid as conclusion does follow out of its premises..
Where would you meet a circular argument?
Whenever people are either unconsciously convinced of the rightness of their statements or when they are trying to be sneaky on you and pass the conviction for their beliefs under the table, without having sufficient evidence themselves.
An example of a circular argument:
Two people are conversing on the subject of the rights of the human beings. One person explains that women don’t need any rights because they are not human beings. When person B asks to explain why is it that person A does not consider women human being the person A answers the following:
Women are not human beings because they do not have any rights.
The person B questions why women do not have rights - and gets a response: because they are not human beings.
And when the person B questions person A why is it that women are not human being, person A replies that it is so because they do not have rights.
Basically, person A is convinced that women are not human beings because they do not have rights, and prooves his argument that women do not have any rights, by explaining that they are not human beings.
Fallacy eight: post hoc propter ergo hoc (post hoc)
“After this therefore because of this” This argument, as the translation shows relates possibly unrelated but preceding events to the effect. It is a fallacy of correlation. Why is this incorrect? Well, because in order to conclude that something follows from another, we need to see the causal relationship between the two. Perhaps things preceded one another in time but were unconnected in cause.
Where will you encounter post hoc?
Among people who are superstitious and easily convinced by half an evidence as to the “truth” of something. It is enough for something to happen once, and some previous event etchitself into their minds, and they will go on believing the “truth” of that coincidence forever.
An example of post hoc propto ergo hoc:
A person A is accusing another person for causing the “vibe"to "become weird.” A person B is a customer at a incense East Village store. The person A is a sales person at an incense east village store. The person B is taking her time to find appropriate items when person A attacks her and accuses her in the following manner:
Person A: you are here long time. No one else takes such a long time and now because you take a long time you have made a vibe weird.
This is more of an argument from absurdity, but the strange and unusual correlation of time with weirdness produced, apparently for this person ,a valid argument. the person A seems as longevity of presence in the store correlated with the vibe of weirdness. However, he did not study about logical fallacies and does not know that he is guilty of post hoc propto ergo hoc...He may be excused from his mistake.
Fallacy nine: false dichotomy
This argument present things only partially, often deliberately so. According to the argument, the choice is desperate, the situation is dire, the options are only few! The argument presents us with alternatives that are either narrowed falsely (there are other options or narrowed along extremes) or narrowed along unrelated and non-opposed lines.
Where will you encounter the false dichotomy?
Often with people that want to rally you to their cause and not to the pursuit of the truth. Politicians, demagogues, religious fanatics or simply people that want your help, or see things black and white. They all convince, foaming at the mouth, yelling, screaming, becoming hysterical that if you do not throw your support with them, if you do not become their supporter, a terrible, terrible thing witll happen! A terrible misfortune will come to pass. Sometimes it is true , often it isn't, but you will need to estimate the argument on its merits and see if it presents the situation deliberately lopsided.
The example of a false dichotomy is:
The landlord and the tenant are having a conversation. The tenant is complaining about the presence of bed bugs. The landlord says the following:
Person B, the landlord: You must squish the bed bugs or loose the lease.
Here is an example of a subtle appeal to authority masked in a cloak of false dichotomy. According to the argument it appears as if the only two options a poor tenant has are either: kill the bugs with her or his fingers or move out! Moreover,this false "choice" is also a threat and an "argument" from authority. The authority in question is the landlord's power of refusal.
Fallacy ten: appeal to ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantum)
The argument makes a claim that something it true because it is not proven to be false. There are many things that may not be true but are not known yet to be so.
There are many things that are not proven to be false yet may not be true . This argument literally relies on your ignorance of the subject to make its point.
Where would you encounter argumentum ad ignorantum?
Anywhere where a person want to sway you to his or her point without much work: just threaten you with the ignorance charge and you will let the argument pass because well, what may you retort?...
An example of argumentum ad ignorantum is:
A person A asks person B if she knocked on her window. The person B says that there is no need to deny because person B knows it was person A. When asked for the proof, person B responds: can you prove it was not you? The person B assumes here that just because person A immediately cannot prove that she did not knock on the window of person A, it must be she who did it. Well, perhaps person A cannot furnish the immediate alibi because she never even thought of being cross-examined by a person A! Just because the accusation of knocking on a window cannot be proven false, does not mean it is not true . Proven innocent until guilty does not stand with the appeal to ignorance, it is an accusation that allows no contradiction if immediate knowledge of that contradiction is not at hand. It is an argument that is convince of its own truth before proven. An argument of people who love power.
Fallacy eleven: irrelevant conclusion (non-sequitur)
This argument has a variety of forms, but all have the same principle: the conclusion does not follow from the premises. The conclusion by itself is not necessarily a lie per say, but it does not follow from the premises. And since we are dealing with arguments, it is a violation of what the argument is and, is therefore, a fallacy. The argument implies statements that are not defended and are not proven in order for them to make a conclusion. And because the premise is not defended and not explicit, the conclusion does not follow from it. The conclusion first needs to be proven to be what it states, and that comes from being from the premises. A premise may be interesting and vivid, but not causing the conclusion, and the conclusion, therefore, becomes non-sequitur. Sometimes non-sequtur is a ink in your face attempt, sometimes it is an inadvertent mistake. When the vividness of a premise is presented on purpose, to distract from a non-following conclusion, the trick is called "red herring."
The other very famous version of this wonderful variety is a "straw man" argument. In this version the person who defies the other person’s argument does not do justice to that person. The person attacks the argument on its extreme version that it was not, or on some points yanked out of the whole context and presented as The Only Points made. In other words, one person could have been attempting to address the importance of needing to spend some more time together as a couple, and the second person reacts with an angry “you are smothering me and I cannot give you 24/7 of my life”. Here the second person obviously overreacts to the first person's statement because person A never asked for24/7 but suggested that they, as a couple “spend More time together.” “More” is not “24/7” To make an argument against 24/7 and then knock it down as an unreasonable request, is a fallacy of a straw man.
Where would you encounter non sequitur?
When people make arguments without sufficient evidence but are bent on having you “see” their point of view. They, therefore, either distract you from evidence searching or demonize your position, to win. You will also find it among people who do not want to heed the words of another person for the fear of what they might need to do or acknowledge, and therefore attack on false grounds.
An example of non sequitur:
Person A is trying to convince the audience that all women are “bitches and hoes.” He sings songs on “get the hoe” and “this f-g bitch”. He expiates at length on the virtues of manhood and the awfulness of a female gender. “They are all disease, all hoes, all trash” and concludes, “they must be controlled and submitted”. Here is an argument for controlling and dominating a lot of human population simply because it is female. An argument made is a diversion into the land of irrationality and emotion, where images of women as being terrible creatures conjured up and then presented as a conclusive evidence to their enslavement. Never has the presenter presented an "evidence" for women's bitchness. He just simply said that they were, then outlined how much they were, and concluded that they were. He has succesfully "convinced" us that men are superior, because women are horrible and nasty creatures.
Fallacy number twelve (by Dana Zakharov): post facto ergo propter facto (after the fact, therefore before the fact)
This is a fallacy that is not named but yet exists. It is a specific of a patriarchal interaction with women and some very despised and abused men. Post facto ergo propter facto simply means that the event that came before the future event has occurred because of that future event. Meaning, the past has occured because of the future. It is a rationalization and a terrible absurdity, something that gets its causality and precedence all screwed up. This type of thinking is usually engaged when a terrible wrong or an unpleasant fact need to be made acceptable. So, an outright violence by someone in the past is jusitied by some violence by someone else that took place, in the future! Often the nature of a "crime" of a future act is much less than a nature of a crime of the past act. It is irrelevant because fear is a leading mechanism in this case and the major objective on the part of the justifier is to have the past evil and wrong doing to be accepted as valid, because of the future event that has happened and had a slight similarity to that past one. The past is claimed to have followed from the future. Where will you encounter post facto ergo propter facto?
This argument is actually meant to be convincing with abused people in order to gain the support and rally the numbers even be it of zombies behind power hungry people. It is usually abusive men who use this argument with their wives or girlfriends. Abusive employers with their employees. The objective of post facto is to have people believe the validity of their point in the past without any proof and evidence, BECAUSE something has happened in the future. The argument claims logical connection and validity! It is only possible with severely abused people, whose time perception and causal following has been destroyed by stress and abuse.
A specific example of post facto ergo propter facto:
Two people are conversing and one claims that the rain has fallen yesterday because he, today, washed his hands and splattered the water all around…I know, but sometimes it is less obvious.
This concludes the logical fallacies series.