Introduction to Logical Fallacies (Workshop Style)

Introduction:

We are human beings. We used to be Homo erectus, we surpassed our other homo cousins (such as Neanderthals), and now we are homo sapiens. Without a doubt, we progressed. A painful, slow and most of the time dangerous progress, but progress nonetheless. And now that we are here, we may as well ask the question which perhaps enabled our ancestors to reach here: “Why?”

There are a combination of reasons for why we progress; why we, human beings, are beyond any other living creature on this planet. Even the smartest species of mammals, even the closest to us, our Chimpanzee cousins, have not been able to know more and be more than our children of a very young age.

We may have gained a lot of advantages in our path of evolution, but one advantage remains the reason why we evolve, even today. That is our language, our ability to make a claim, say what we think, and reason for its truth value. The way of the argument and reason. The ability to agree or disagree with each other, to ask “Why?” and to answer it. It may have all started with that first homo[1] who around two million years ago, suddenly[2] ask that very same powerful question: “Why?”

Good vs. Bad argument:

A logical argument is not simply a discussion between two or more people, it is a set of statements together, but in a certain structure. It is the support of one statement (conclusion), based on some other statements (premises)[2]. A good argument is those set of premises which will necessarily result the conclusion, and has to meet certain criteria:

  • Well formed structure,
  • Relevant premises,
  • Reasonable, clear and sound premises,
  • Internally consistent,

A fallacy on the other hand is an argument that does not meet the criteria above. Any problem with what came above will result in a faulty argument, and faulty arguments do not result in giving an acceptable conclusion. Keep in mind that this does not mean the conclusion is necessarily “wrong”, it means that the conclusion cannot be accepted in the light of the presented argument.

Before going ahead with introduction of the logical fallacies, it is worth mentioning the number zero fallacy, and that is making a claim without an argument to support it. We all at some point have heard the phrase “But that’s just my opinion”. An opinion is not an argument, and that statement is in fact “the” none-argument. It s a way of running away for those who wish never to give any reason for what they perceive to be true. Those who only wish to have conclusions, and only wish to stop any progress which could be achieved through conversation[3].

Logical fallacies, bad arguments:

What comes in each of the next follow up parts is a rough list of the most common fallacies which we hear nowadays from homophobic groups, religious fanatics and of course politicians[4]. Each fallacy is briefly defined and is accompanied with related examples. I have tried to find at least one example from the real world of news and politics for each section, since they are much more interesting than a made up  example, and frankly easier to find.

______________________________

[1] Literally!

[2] I do not know, but maybe he was washing himself and suddenly it clicked. Maybe he jumped up, and maybe, maybe, he shouted “Eureka! Eureka!”.

[3] “They” usually tend to be religious fundamentalists, fanatics or politicians. Of course it could indicate a comfortable delusion or utter dishonesty.

[4] Of course, politicians are a perfect source for fallacies. Their dishonesty is astonishing, their ability to deceive almost unmatched by any other profession.

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thetruthfulheretic

Dear fellow Homo sapiens, or if you prefer conscious mammals! And of course, friends nonetheless: I created my blog in order to speak my very weird mind, mostly about three subjects (as I identify myself and my state of mind with them): Atheism, as I was born in the Middle East and saw and felt the affects of Islam; Homosexuality and equal rights, as a gay man who has tasted the Homophobia and also Sexism in that society; and Liberalism and political philosophy, which I think is a good ground for secular values and criticism of fundamentalism. If you wish, visit and join your state of mind to mine. I hope they don't short circuit!

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