Wednesday, November 16, 2005

List of Common Fallacies

This is the first in a series of posts dedicated to commonly used fallacies used during arguements, debates, and defenses. It seems like I'm always stuck in a discussion where someone feels they either need to attack me or my point of view instead of finding a logical reason to back up their point of view. If anyone has anything to add to this, please feel free to do so. All information regarding fallacies is from the website listed below.

FALLACIES OF RELEVANCE: These fallacies appeal to evidence or examples that are not relevant to the argument at hand.

Appeal to Force (Argumentum Ad Baculum or the "Might-Makes-Right" Fallacy): This argument uses force, the threat of force, or some other unpleasant backlash to make the audience accept a conclusion.

Genetic Fallacy: The genetic fallacy is the claim that an idea, product, or person must be untrustworthy because of its racial, geographic, or ethnic origin.

Personal Attack (Argumentum Ad Hominem, literally, "argument toward the man." Also called "Poisoning the Well"): Attacking or praising the people who make an argument, rather than discussing the argument itself.

(1) Abusive: To argue that proposals, assertions, or arguments must be false or dangerous because they originate with atheists, Christians, Communists, capitalists, the John Birch Society, Catholics, anti-Catholics, racists, anti-racists, feminists, misogynists (or any other group) is fallacious
(2) Circumstantial: To argue that an opponent should accept an argument because of circumstances in his or her life.

Argumentum ad Populum (Literally "Argument to the People): Using an appeal to popular assent, often by arousing the feelings and enthusiasm of the multitude rather than building an argument.

(1) Bandwagon Approach: “Everybody is doing it.” This argumentum ad populum asserts that, since the majority of people believes an argument or chooses a particular course of action, the argument must be true, or the course of action must be followed, or the decision must be the best choice.
(2) Patriotic Approach: "Draping oneself in the flag." This argument asserts that a certain stance is true or correct because it is somehow patriotic, and that those who disagree are unpatriotic.
(3) Snob Approach: This type of argumentum ad populum doesn’t assert “everybody is doing it,” but rather that “all the best people are doing it.”

Appeal to Tradition (Argumentum Ad Traditio): This line of thought asserts that a premise must be true because people have always believed it or done it.

Appeal to Improper Authority (Argumentum Ad Verecundium, literally "argument from that which is improper"): An appeal to an improper authority, such as a famous person or a source that may not be reliable. This fallacy attempts to capitalize upon feelings of respect or familiarity with a famous individual.
A subcategory is the Appeal to Biased Authority. In this sort of appeal, the authority is one who is knowledgeable on the matter, but one who may have professional or personal motivations that render his professional judgment suspect: for instance, "To determine whether fraternities are beneficial to this campus, we interviewed all the frat presidents."

Appeal to Emotion (Argumentum Ad Misericordiam, literally, "argument from pity"): An emotional appeal concerning what should be a logical issue during a debate.


Lefty Metalhead said...

You nailed it! You could easily link to to find various examples of neocon elitist bloggers using such tactics to refute liberals. They never tackle an argument.

Furthermore, when challenged with facts and logic, they resort to the "you miscomprehended my argument, you're an idiot" tactic. Once a whole is found in their argument, they resort to personal attacks.

Anonymous said...

This is mostly because liberals have a problem admitting wrongs lest their entire argument be blown out of the water.

BigNewsDay said...

^^ Great example of an Abusive Personal Attack Fallacy. I think your getting the hang of this whole fallacy thing. Generally, I would delete comments of this nature that don’t make a point, but you actually made my point.

But to address your point like I stated in our discussion yesterday on BBMouth, when have I ever not admitted to being wrong? The reason for blogs like this and Lefty's, is for politically-minded people can discuss issues rationally without stupid, childish insults and accusations like the ones so commonly thrown out on BBMouth. I don't mind conservative-minded people expressing their points of view, actually I welcome it.