Winning Discussions: The Fallacy Fallacy (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 – The Fallacy Fallacy
While we are examining the arguments that we and others present for logical fallacies it is wise to remember that a badly presented argument does not mean the argument itself is necessarily invalid. It is itself a fallacy to dismiss an argument merely because the argument contains a logical fallacy. An attempt should be made to find evidence to support the argument for the position being presented from other sources than the erroneous one. This is especially relevant to highly technical and complex arguments; expert opinion should be sought where the validity of the argument is not easily seen.
- Cats have four legs. Rover has four legs. Therefore, Rover is a cat.
The fact that other animals have four legs making this a logical fallacy does not exclude Rover from being the name of a particular cat.
- Obama is the President of the United States because he went to school.
This is a non-sequitur but he is still the President (at the date of writing).
You can read more about the bandwagon 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: 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-NC Vincent Easley