Friday, June 24, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Ambiguity!

(amphiboly, semantical ambiguity, type-token ambiguity, vagueness, double meaning)

This fallacy occurs when someone uses imprecise language in their argument in order to mislead the audience. Many languages include words that have multiple meanings, and when these words are used in arguments, we must be clear as to the precise definition of the word that we are using. Ambiguity is often the reason behind failed deductive reasoning. Because ambiguity is inherent to many languages, the mere presence of an ambiguous word or phrase does not automatically make it fallacious. It becomes a fallacy when it is misleading or misrepresenting the truth. This is common with politicians and psychics as a means of protection; the more vague the statement is, the less likely it will come back to hurt you. When we hear an ambiguous statement, we tend to believe the interpretation that we agree with the most.

Friday, June 17, 2016

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

(Questioning Motives)

Both a type of Ad Hominem and a type of red herring, this fallacy occurs when an argument is dismissed or supported because of the motives of the one making the claim, not the actual argument itself. Just because someone appears to have questionable motives does not mean that their position is wrong, and just because appears someone has excellent motives doesn’t mean that theirs is good. Arguments must be examined based on the evidence presented, not the person presenting the evidence. Often this fallacy is used even without evidence of a questionable motive, only the mere possibility that it might exist. Too often people rely on someone’s supposed intention as evidence for their idea: a “good person” would never recommend a bad action, a “good Christian woman” would never do something mean, and an “evil atheist” would never stop and help someone on the street. This is further complicated by the fact that, while we like to believe that we can discern someone’s motivations, we rarely even understand our own motives moreover the motives of someone else (which is why we have therapists). Relying on perceived motivations as a means of rejecting or accepting an idea is rarely wise.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Appeal to Heaven!

(Deus Vult, Gott mit Uns, Manifest Destiny, the Special Covenant)

An extremely dangerous fallacy, this occurs when someone argues a position because it is the “will of God,” thus claiming that God has ordered, supports, or approves of a particular position or action and that it cannot be wrong or questioned. This fallacy seems more absurd when the God or religion being invoked is not one in which the listener believes, but it is exceptionally persuasive dangerous in groups of like-minded people with similar beliefs and intents.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Irrelevant Conclusion!

(ignoratio elenchi, Latin: “an ignoring of a refutation”)

This fallacy occurs when someone presents an argument that appears to address the issue but actually doesn’t. Those who use this fallacy subtly switch arguments from the one at hand to one closely related. For example, if you were attempting to argue the evidence that a particular person has committed a horrible crime, but instead argue that the crime that he is accused of is horrible, some may mistakenly believe that you addressed the original issue. However, whether or not the individual in question has committed the crime is still unresolved. This fallacy is easier to catch when written as opposed to spoken as many listeners are easily distracted, and it’s often paired with the bandwagon fallacy which uses the opinions of what is popular to sway listeners.