Friday, September 2, 2016

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

This fallacy occurs when someone uses existing spiteful and bitter feelings in order to dismiss an opponent’s position. Instead of actually evaluating evidence for the opponent’s position, they are exploiting the emotions of those listening in order convince them. We do this to ourselves if we justify disagreeing with someone out of existing spite instead of examining the issues. This is especially useful when combined with stereotypes (the overgeneralization fallacy) toward a particular demographic. For example, saying that you can never vote for a career politician because they are all untrustworthy combines stereotyping (all politicians are untrustworthy) with the appeal for spite (a general dislike for politicians).

For example, you would be appealing to spite if you refused to support someone running for a local office because you knew that person as a teenager and they were mean to you. You aren’t actually looking at their position and critically evaluating their arguments; you’re dismissing them because of some other unrelated issue.

Not all scenarios that instill spite are appeals to spite. If you happen to know that your childhood friend also has a history of stealing from those with whom he works, then that’s good evidence that he may not be the best person to be responsible for taxpayer money. But you would be making your judgment not based on your feelings of spite toward that person but because of their track record and history.


"Bill claims that the earth revolves around the sun. But remember that dirty trick he pulled on you last week. Now, doesn't my claim that the sun revolves around the earth make sense to you?"

Bill: "I think that Jane did a great job this year. I'm going to nominate her for the award."
Dave: "Have you forgotten last year? Remember that she didn't nominate you last year."
Bill: "You're right. I'm not going to nominate her."

Jill: "I think Jane's idea is a really good one and will really save a lot of money for the department."
Bill: "Maybe. Remember how she showed that your paper had a fatal flaw when you read it at the convention last year..."
Jill:"I had just about forgotten about that! I think I'll go with your idea instead."

Why shouldn't prisoners be forced to do hard labor? Prisons are full of scumbags!

"Stop recycling! Aren't you tired of Hollywood celebrities preaching to everyone about saving the Earth?"

Why should benefits for certain students be reinstated, when I got nothing from the state and had to sacrifice to pay for my studies?

If you buy this dress you'll be the belle of the ball. And you'll really show up those poor fools who can't afford such luxury.

Don't you hate the way the planning committee always helps their 'friends'. This is a great way to get what you want and really show them up.

Give it to me, not them. They don't deserve it.

Are you tired of being ignored by your government? Is it right that the top 1% have so much when the rest of us have so little? I urge you to vote for me today! (The structure of this argument provided no link between voting for this person and alleviating your problems, so making this claim without providing clear evidence of how the person would do it is fallacious.)

How can you possibly think that humans evolved from monkeys! Do I look like a flippin' monkey to you? (Ignoring the fact that we didn’t evolve from monkeys, the arguer’s emotional reaction is irrelevant.)

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