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.

This can subtly come into play with reputations. There is rarely any evidence that an individual’s reputation actually is deserved, but the assessment of the reputation is substituted for an assessment of the person. You may have heard that the new principal at the school isn’t a very good disciplinarian (which you may think is a terrible idea), but you shouldn’t assume that the principal is a terrible person or take the reputation of concrete proof of his ability to discipline.


You should support the new housing bill. We can't continue to see people living in the streets; we must have cheaper housing. (We may agree that housing is important, even though we disagree with the housing bill.)

I say we should support affirmative action. White males have run the country for 500 years. They run most of government and industry today. You can't deny that this sort of discrimination is intolerable. (The author has proven that there is discrimination, but not that affirmative action will end that discrimination.)

Grizzly bears can't be dangerous to humans, because they look so cute.

Spinach can't be good for me, it tastes terrible.

Man with dog in car, speaking to police officer: "Hey I'm not crazy....sure, I let him drive once in a while, but he's never, never off this leash for even a second." ? Far Side cartoon

"I think that we should make the academic requirements stricter for students. I recommend that you support this, because we are in a budget crisis and we do not want our salaries affected."

“I think we should support Donald Trump. He’s not a career politician, so he’s not corrupt.”

(From the movie, “Thank You for Smoking”)
Nick Naylor: OK, let's say that you're defending chocolate, and I'm defending vanilla. Now if I were to say to you: 'Vanilla is the best flavour ice-cream', you'd say...
Joey Naylor: No, chocolate is.
Nick Naylor: Exactly, but you can't win that argument... so, I'll ask you: so you think chocolate is the end all and be all of ice-cream, do you?
Joey Naylor: It's the best ice-cream, I wouldn't order any other.
Nick Naylor: Oh! So it's all chocolate for you is it?
Joey Naylor: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
Nick Naylor: Well, I need more than chocolate, and for that matter I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom. And choice when it comes to our ice-cream, and that Joey Naylor, that is the defintion of liberty.
Joey Naylor: But that's not what we're talking about
Nick Naylor: Ah! But that's what I'm talking about.
Joey Naylor: ...but you didn't prove that vanilla was the best...
Nick Naylor: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong I'm right.
Joey Naylor: But you still didn't convince me
Nick Naylor: It's that I'm not after you. I'm after them.

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