Friday, September 11, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Dogmatism!

This fallacy occurs when one doctrine is pushed, often intensely, as the only acceptable conclusion and that that belief is beyond question. Dogmatists are unwilling to even consider an opposing argument and believe that they are so correct that they can’t even examine evidence to the contrary. Some even believe that thinking about questioning the position is wrong. Anyone who disagrees with the position is branded as either stupid or evil.

This is a fallacy for several reasons. Not only does this block all future communication, but by implying that the truth is obvious without providing evidence to back it up (because they won’t discuss it), it shifts the burden of proof to the audience which is a type of fallacy in and of itself.

Dogmatic individuals use their beliefs to interpret the world, and they ignore any and all other explanations or possibilities. They claim that anyone who disagrees with them is “biased” while they alone are “objective.” They frequently tell us not only what to think but how to think. This is common with religious zealots, cults, and political extremists.

Be suspicious when someone refuses to debate a topic (or, in their attempts to "debate," they aren't willing to actually examine positions that they are taking, even if they think that they are debating it). Regardless of whether or not what they are saying is true, if they are demanding that it is the only possible solution, then it’s a dogmatism fallacy.

To avoid this fallacy, avoid setting up walls when someone mentions a subject in which you are emotionally invested. Take a step back, examine why you are reacting the way you are, and remind yourself that truth defends itself. If what you believe is true, then opening it up to criticism will only help you understand it.


The assumption that the economic theory of capitalism explains moral choices.

The assumption that socialism is morally wrong, even though you attend a public university.

The assumption that welfare is wrong and all those who partake in it are lazy (even though you accept federal financial aid or would accept state aid in the case of a catastrophic accident or injury)

The argument that drugs are morally wrong and drug addicts should all be locked up or even executed (although you drink alcohol and coffee and take Ritalin and your grandmother uses anti-depressants and you are grateful your alcoholic uncle was cured via AA).

The assumption that all animals should be treated humanely (although you respect indigenous cultures that subsist on seal meat).

The assumption that because nature is holy, all logging is morally wrong.

The assumption that democratic republics are the best form of government for all people.

“There’s no way that anyone can argue that abortion is anything other than murder.”

“There’s no way a man could ever love a man or a woman could ever love a woman as much as a man and a woman can love each other.”

A zealous preacher speaks: “The truth, my friends, is found right here in this book — The Bible. All our answers are located between these leather covers, and no other truth exists. Any other belief is evil in the eyes of God.” (Taken literally, this suggests that no other truth exists anywhere else in the world. However, gravity is a truth about nature that is not addressed in the Bible. You exist, and this is true, but your name does not appear listed in the Bible. This argument was made by Ken Hamm in his debate with Bill Nye.)

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