Friday, November 27, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Bandwagon!

(argument from common sense, argumentum ad populum [“appeal to the people”], appeal to the crowd, appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to democracy, appeal to popularity, argument by consensus, consensus fallacy, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy, argumentum ad numerum ["appeal to the number"], consensus gentium ["agreement of the clans"])

This fallacy occurs when someone suggests that something is true because it is popular. The flaw here is that the popularity of a position does not guarantee that it is valid. Opinions can be popular for a variety of reasons: cultural custom, religious belief, lack evidence to the contrary, small sample size, and pressures to conform to the norm. Essentially, this is the fallacy of “peer pressure.” It is also often reversed in order to convince people to “step out of the norm.”

Friday, November 20, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Argument from Consequences!

(argumentum ad consequentiam, appeal to consequences of a belief, argument to the consequences)

This fallacy occurs when someone argues that something cannot be true because the consequences are unacceptable (or is true because the consequences are desirable). This is a fallacy for several reasons: 1) desirability is a subjective concept; 2) it seeks to convince through an emotional appeal as the consequences often evoke fear or desire; and 3) it is teleological in nature (reverses cause in effect) by asserting that something is caused by its own effect. The consequences of something are irrelevant to whether or not it actually exists; children may behave well if they believe in Santa, but that does not mean that Santa must exist.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Because I Have Been Given Much": Why We Don't Have to Repeat 1939

With the recent terrorist attacks in Beruit and Paris (among other places), I was among many who watched, listened, and read in horror and heartache for those who have lost their loved ones. Social media erupted with images and videos expressing love and support for those who were hurting. Moments of silence and candlelight vigils were planned across the country, and many wanted to know what they could do to help.

It didn't take long, however, for the shock to devolve into fear. Within days, if not hours, the tragedies were turned into opportunities for political activism

Instead of hearing, "We love you," I began to hear, "Leave us alone." 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... “We Have to Do Something!"

(Politician's syllogism)

A very dangerous contemporary fallacy, this one arises when tragedies and crises triggers the response: “We have to do something!” – regardless of whether or not that “something” is an overreaction, ineffective, or even makes things works. The logic, or lack thereof, usually flows like this:

1. We must do something.
2. This is something.
3. Therefore, we must do this.

Friday, November 6, 2015

"Family First" Includes Same-Sex Families: Why the LDS Church Updated Its Policies Concerning Same-Sex Marriage

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an ally of the LGBTQ community and have long-supported their right to equal protections under the law. So you can imagine my response when I read that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints updated their policy concerning the definitions of apostasy (and includes the possibility of excommunication) to include individuals who are in a same-sex marriage. It also added a policy concerning children of parents who are in a same-sex cohabitation or marriage that requires two things in order for a child to become baptized:
  1. The child "accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church and specifically disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage," and 
  2. The child must be "of legal age" and not living "with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage."
I was stunned. 

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Tu Quoque!

[pronounced “too-KWO-kwee”] (Two Wrongs Make a Right, Look Who’s Talking, The Appeal to Hypocrisy, a variety of the Ad Hominem, related to Red Herring) 

Literally translating as “you too,” this fallacy attempts to justify a wrong action because someone else also does it. It’s commonly used as a red herring because it distracts from the real argument, and the one employing it manages to avoid having to defend their argument. Many who use this argument do so to avoid moral blame for their actions (or inactions), but just because he or she is not alone in his or her morally corrupt position does not mean that his or her position is justified. It is also common in revenge scenarios: “Well, my girlfriend cheated on me, so I’m going to cheat on her.”