Misuse of logical fallacies
#1
Let us use this thread to list out some common misuses of logical fallacies.

Here are a couple that I have come across:

Ad-Hominem - When an argument is responded to and additionally, a personal attack is made, that is not an ad-hominem fallacy. Ad-hominem is when the only response to your argument is a personal attack. This doesn't mean personal attacks should be tolerated in a discussion, but calling that out as an ad-hominem is itself a fallacy.

Appeal to Authority - Citing statements from someone who is an authority in that field is not a fallacy. It would be a fallacy if you cite someone who is an authority in another field, but not in the field related to the citation. More here.

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#2
Thanks for initiating that ^ i was procrastinating for a long time for starting this , i suppose this will be a good resource to point to future newbies wannabes and posers and will also help us too preventing us from getting overboard with logical fallacy detection
and to add to your points , an attack is different an ad-hominem fallacy,
for example I can call someone "stupid"; that's not an ad-hominem. It's just a barb. I can even say "You are wrong, therefore you are stupid", which isn't necessarily a true statement per se, but it still isn't an ad-hominem. If, however, I were to switch it around and say "You are stupid, therefore you are wrong", THAT is an ad-hominem.

Bottom line, an insult is an ad-hominem IF AND ONLY IF the insult is being used to dismiss a legitimate argument. If I call you stupid, but otherwise refute your argument normally, I am not making an ad-hominem. I'm just refuting your argument while jabbing you at the same time.
some examples of abuse

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Quote:Appeal to Authority - Citing statements from someone who is an authority in that field is not a fallacy. It would be a fallacy if you cite someone who is an authority in another field, but not in the field related to the citation. More here.
@lije , i read the link provided, it is new to me i thought it will still be a fallacy if expert is from the field it is only a fallacy if it goes " expert says so so it is true period"!, i mean i thought it could still be a fallacy even if expert is respectable and from the field because i mean a statement cannot be deemed to be true just because he/she says so, the article talks not about whether argument is fallacious/non-fallacious (structurally) it talks about good/bad or strong/weak arguments however since appeal to authority is an informal fallacy not a formal one so i think article does make sense .

, in any case it is not a fallacy if however, if the citations are used to support your claims or to provide a link for further info besides your argument ,as here it is used :
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, another commonly abused logical fallacy is strawman it thrown ever so often even though this site records that people were able to identify it only 27 % of times compared to mostly 70,80,90 % in others
The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of "reasoning" has the following pattern:

1. Person A has position X.
2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
3. Person B attacks position Y.
4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

4th point is what is often missed, it is not a strawman if the person did not get your point, if he confused x with y maybe you were unclear it is not a strawman if it does not go back to x ,it is also not straw man if the person is simply distracting ,it may be a red herring,

i happened to come across this example , from feature request thread , "liked the banner"
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edit -
Quote:On an unrelated note, I think when pasting screenshots from facebook, it is better to blank out user names like how they do it on reddit, unless we have permission from the authors. Most people may not mind it, but I think we should be respecting their privacy by default. We should make it a forum wide policy.
done

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#3
(07-Jul-2011, 12:57 AM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: @lije , i read the link provided, it is new to me i thought it will still be a fallacy if expert is from the field it is only a fallacy if it goes " expert says so so it is true period"!, i mean i thought it could still be a fallacy even if expert is respectable and from the field because i mean a statement cannot be deemed to be true just because he/she says , the article talks not about whether argument is fallacious/non-fallacious (structurally) it talks about good/bad or strong/weak arguments however since appeal to authority is an informal fallacy not a formal one so i think article does make sense .

We actually had a discussion on that a long time back. You are right. Saying something is true just because an expert says so is an appeal to authority.

On an unrelated note, I think when pasting screenshots from facebook, it is better to blank out user names like how they do it on reddit, unless we have permission from the authors. Most people may not mind it, but I think we should be respecting their privacy by default. We should make it a forum wide policy.
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#4
Thanks for starting this thread.

False analogy is a fallacy that is often mistakenly called out on, especially when resemblances between the two things compared as inescapable. For example, Godwin's Law is used as an excuse by apologists to dismiss a valid comparison even when the resemblances between the establishment they defend and the Third Reich are obvious.
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#5
hi what are your views on this article
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#6
(11-Jul-2011, 06:55 PM)lalitmohanchawla Wrote: hi what are your views on this article

As I kept reading it, my BS detectors were beeping incessantly and for good reason. It is high grade weaseling a.k.a apologetics done right.

He muddles arguments which involve the subjective and arguments which involve the objective. When you are arguing over fact propositions (Ex: The Earth is 6000 years old), the fallacies he mention hold very well. When it comes to normative claims, any discussion involving them should first establish a common ground. Once that is done, the fallacies do hold good.

In the very beginning he mentions the strawman of scientism:

Quote:In the absence of higher philosophical criteria, academics are left with the faulty premise of scientism, namely that everything in existence can be explained by the methods of mathematical and physical science.

Nobody is saying moral arguments are reducible to scientific facts. Having established this strawman, the apologist then uses it to attack some fallacies that apologists are generally guilty of making. Here are some I noticed:

From Ad Hominem Argument section:

Quote:If it can be shown that the person making the argument has a reputation for mendacity or unscrupulousness, we should be well advised to view his arguments with skepticism, as we would avoid smooth talking salesmen.

Before we even get into a discussion, the question to be asked is what are we trying to achieve from that discussion. If we are arguing if homosexuality is good or bad for society, it doesn't matter if the person presenting the argument is a chronic liar or not. That's because an assumption in such a discussion is that there is some objective evidence available which can be analyzed. But note how the apologist sneaks in an example of a salesman who is trying to sell us something on which we may not have any data. If we have data, we can decide for ourselves without heeding what the salesman is saying. The apologist is comparing two different cases!

From the Appeal To Authority section:

Quote:In all of the foregoing we have assumed that assertion Y is in the speaker's domain of authority X, yet there are cases where a person's domain of authority has nothing to do with his assertion. The most common example is a person of moral authority, who is sufficiently esteemed for his rectitude that he may be trusted with special insight on any testimony within his capacity.

If such a question arises at all in a discussion, it is because all parties of a discussion have not agreed that "a person of moral authority" is indeed a moral authority. At which point everyone should start from the beginning to find a common ground. This isn't a misuse of the Appeal To Authority fallacy. It is a failure to establish a common ground for a discussion.

From the Appeal to Antiquity section:

Quote:There are cases where the antiquity of testimony is germane to an argument, if the ancients were closer to the source of knowledge about the subject in question. This is obviously the case regarding ancient historical facts. Also, in belief systems based on a body of doctrine recorded or expounded in a definite historical period, more ancient witnesses and customs deserve greater credence, as they are closer to the source materials.

Being close to source of knowledge has no bearing on how reliable the testimony is (Fox News).
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#7
(11-Jul-2011, 11:27 PM)Lije Wrote: Nobody is saying moral arguments are reducible to scientific facts.

In a thread about misuse of fallacies, I should be careful about using quantifiers like "nobody". That statement is wrong. There are people who say that moral arguments are reducible to scientific facts. But in philosophy academia, I think they are a minority. So a correct statement would be not all "atheists and philosophical materialists" (to use phrase from the article) subscribe to scientism.

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#8
I liked Lije's analysis so much that I considered starting a new thread so that we don't switch topics on this one, but this is a general thread on misuse of logical fallacies, and we did discuss the Ad Hominem fallacy already. Ohmy

I found this article about "THE AD HOMINEM FALLACY FALLACY".

Quote:" The mere presence of a personal attack does not indicate ad hominem: the attack must be used for the purpose of undermining the argument, or otherwise the logical fallacy isn't there. It is not a logical fallacy to attack someone; the fallacy comes from assuming that a personal attack is also necessarily an attack on that person's arguments."
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#9
Here's a fallacy we fallacy-spotters should be wary of committing - the fallacy fallacy! smile

"The fallacy is committed when you jump to the conclusion that just because one argument for it is fallacious, no cogent argument for it can exist."
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#10
(20-Jul-2011, 08:30 AM)unsorted Wrote: Here's a fallacy we fallacy-spotters should be wary of committing - the fallacy fallacy! smile

"The fallacy is committed when you jump to the conclusion that just because one argument for it is fallacious, no cogent argument for it can exist."

Nice one, Sunil.

I would like to further qualify the fallacy fallacy, because I think this sort of argument is easily misused (a fallacy fallacy fallacy? Thinking ).

It is important that the person invoking the fallacy fallacy establish that the conclusion has clearly been derived from the original fallacy alone and nothing else.

I state this because of the importance of two rules in scientific logic that add to the foundation of inductive reasoning in science.

1. Burden of proof lies on the person making the claim.
2. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Of course these may not apply in the circumstance in question, but given that they often do in the cases that we deal with, where the claims are often fantastical, often requiring entirely new scientific theories and often countering existing scientific theories/laws, I think it is relevant.

An example using the form of syllogism presented in the first link:

Quote:Argument A for the conclusion C is fallacious.
Therefore, C is false.

First using a factual fallacy: Say a creationist argument posits that the eye is irreducibly complex, and concludes that therefore god designed us.
A biologist can easily show how the eye is not irreducibly complex, and that a few rods and cones and a primitive lens is better than none at all, and confers selection advantages to the organism. The biologist then dismisses creationism.
The creationist can claim it is a fallacy to dismiss creationism just because the biologist has shown that the eye is not irreducibly complex (usually creationists do not just stay on one argument and throw everything including the kitchen sink at evolutionary biologists, quickly moving along without pausing at each argument to evaluate it).

The fact is biologists dismiss creationism not JUST because of the fact that the eye is irreducible complex. The only reason why the eye is being discussed is because the creationist brought it up. The biologist has many other reasons to believe that organisms evolved their complex functionality, adding up to a large body of evidence against creationism.

The same thing can be done for logical fallacies as well.

Claim: God exists because there is a lot we don't know.
Response: That is the argument from ignorance (a logical fallacy). God doesn't exist.
Invoking the fallacy fallacy. Just because my argument is logically fallacious you can't conclude that god doesn't exist.

Of course not, but it is reasonable to believe that god doesn't exist because there is no evidence to show s/he does. We usually do not state these rules every time we make the assertion that god is an unsupported idea.
1. Burden of proof lies on the person making the claim.
2. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Also, in science we often say something is true or something is not true, when the likelihood is extremely high. There is never a 100% certainty in science, because the inductive method dictates that we can only talk about those events that have already happened and have been quantified by us. But there are times when a reasonable level of confidence leads us to be certain in practice. So saying that god doesn't exist, and not that the likelihood of a god existing is very small, is ok in practice. It is a claim that is made having taken into account all available data, all of the times that claims of evidence for god have been shown to be wrong, all the scientific theories and laws that would be violated by the presence of this god for which there is no evidence, and all the logical conundrums if such a being were to exist.

We do not state all of these things every time we dismiss god, and we do not have to do so, especially if those detailed arguments have been made previously and/or can be pointed to when asked. So anyone evoking the fallacy fallacy because we evoked the argument from ignorance fallacy must clearly demonstrate that we are saying something to the effect "since you committed the logical fallacy of the argument from ignorance, it implies that god doesn't exist". Saying that, of course, would be logically fallacious.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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