Friday, July 31, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Complex Question!

(fallacy of presupposition, trick question, fallacy of many questions, loaded question, leading question, presumption of guilt, false question, plurium interrogationum) 

A complex question is a rhetorical technique that poses a question that contains assumptions. It is a fallacy when the assumptions are unjustified or when the question is worded in such a way as to force a particular answer. Complex questions must be challenged and analyzed before they can be answered. When the presupposition contains especially inflammatory or negative connotations, it is most appropriately called a “loaded question.” The recipient of these questions often goes on the defensive, appearing flustered and off-put, resulting in appearing guilty without evidence. This is a very common tactic and, while unethical and manipulative, is often used by attorneys, police officers, journalists, therapists, and social researchers as they tend to elicit confessions and manipulate attitudes. This fallacy is similar to both the begging the question fallacy and the double-barreled question fallacy.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Reductio ad absurdum!

(Appeal to Extremes, argument to absurdity, argumentum ad absurdum, reduction to the impossible) 

Literally translating as “reduction to absurdity,” this is actually a valid mode of argumentation if used correctly. It is used appropriately when, if the premises lead to a false conclusion, we conclude that we must then reject at least one of the premises. It is a fallacy when, in order to reach the false conclusion, it is extended to an absurd degree using assertions that are not actually in the original argument; in this case, it is not the premise that fails but the logical progression to the conclusion that does. When it is used incorrectly, it often results in a straw man fallacy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... One Single Proof!

 (“Smoking Gun”)

This fallacy occurs when someone rejects overwhelming circumstantial evidence because of the lack of a single “smoking gun” or specific proof (one that may or may not exist ) and thus declares an entire argument, belief, or position invalid. This is a very common tactic for “denialists,” individuals who deny evidence because the truth contradicts their worldview (usually with the help of a lot of cognitive dissonance). This fallacy is also related to the “Moving the Goalposts” fallacy in which the determination of whether or not the evidence is “good enough” continues to move. This fallacy is seen frequently among global warming denialists, “Birthers,” moon-landing denialists, anti-vaxers, AIDS denialists, holocaust denialists, and creationists.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Ad Hominem!

(personal attack, poisoning the well, Guilt By Association, Damning the Source, a type of genetic fallacy)

Latin for “to the man,” this fallacy occurs when, in an attempt to undermine or dismiss your opponent’s argument, you attack their personal character instead the validity of the evidence. This is a fallacy because the validity of an argument has nothing to do with the character of the person presenting it. Ad Hominem fallacies don’t address the actual points of the argument; they just dismiss them out of hand. This can be done in overtly (by a direct attack on them) or more subtly (casting doubt on someone’s credibility), and are very common in political campaigns. These attacks are often used to discredit an argument without actually having to debate it and are often used when there is little that can be said to counter the argument itself.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Blind Loyalty!

(the Nuremberg Defense, Blind Obedience, the "Team Player" appeal, Argument from Inertia, Appeal to Loyalty) 

This very dangerous fallacy occurs when an argument or action is deemed acceptable or correct because an authority figure (parent, boss, commanding officer, adult, coach, etc.) says so. Instead of examining whether or not the idea or order is ethical, reasonable, or moral, they shift the responsibility of their actions to the authority figure, prioritizing loyalty over truth or conscience in order to justify their behavior, behavior that may harmful or criminal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Common Creationist Complaint: How did biochemical pathways originate?

Common Complaint: How did new biochemical pathways, which involve multiple enzymes working together in sequence, originate? Every pathway and nano-machine requires multiple protein/enzyme components to work. How did lucky accidents create even one of the components, let alone 10 or 20 or 30 at the same time, often in a necessary programmed sequence. Evolutionary biochemist Franklin Harold wrote, “we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”