Winning Discussions: No True Scotsman (Effective Pirating)

Winning Discussions: No True Scotsman (Effective Pirating)

Logical fallacies are techniques that people use to make an argument appear convincing even when it is wrong. Learning how to identify and refute logical fallacies is one of the best ways to win in a discussion. Catching an opponent committing a fallacy will force him to retract his error or he will appear foolish or manipulative to his audience. There is a dark side to this. Once you learn to identify logical fallacies you will also be able to use them. Do not deliberately use them against fellow Pirates; it is extreme bad manners and you will most probably be caught out.

The Logical Fallacy – No True Scotsman

This fallacy is used by people who get a valid counter claim to their argument especially in response to a generalisation. The name of the fallacy comes from a book by Antony Flew called Thinking About Thinking. He wrote

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again”. Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing”. The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen  man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing”.

It can also be more subtle than this. Words like ‘unchristian’, ‘unamerican’, ‘not British’ or ‘inhuman’ are often used to distance one from a particular subject.

Examples:

Christians are not gay. John is a Christian and is openly gay. John is not a true Christian.

The Tea Party phrase ‘Republican in name only’ (RINO).

True atheists don’t believe in ghosts.

A real Pirate would campaign for charter schools.

 

………………………

You can read more about the No True Scotsman  logical fallacy in a wikipedia post and logical fallacies in general in this wikipedia article.
Remember that just because someone commits a logical fallacy it does not mean their argument is necessarily incorrect. If you have the time and resources then use the principles of scepticism to test their reasoning objectively.

This article is a part of a series called Effective Pirating:

Winning Discussions: No True Scotsman (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: The Fallacy Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 09/01/15
Winning Discussions: The Gambler’s Fallacy (Effective Pirating)
28/12/14
Winning Discussions: argumentum ad ignorantiam (Effective Pirating)
21/11/14
Winning Discussions: post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Effective Pirating)
13/11/14
Winning Discussions: Ad Hominem (Effective Pirating)
23/10/14
Winning Discussions: Appeal to Fear (Effective Pirating) 21/10/14
Winning Discussions: Begging the Question (Effective Pirating) 17/8/14
Winning Discussions – The Bandwagon Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 11/8/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – Tu Quoque 24/7/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man 17/7/14
Effective Pirating: Choose your Opponents Carefully 7/7/14

Featured image: CC BY-SA JFPerry

http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational