ComingOne.com    Daniel Speck   5.22.10

 

Logic and Debate Fallacies or Bogus Arguments

 

 

Straw Man: An argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position

 

Ad hominem: A personal attack on the opponent instead of the opponent’s premise

 

Missing the point: Answering an argument with a counterpoint that has nothing to do with the original argument.

 

Cherry picking: Selecting only the evidence which support one’s own argument while deliberately ignoring relevant facts which would support the opponent’s argument.

 

Post hoc (false cause, Non Sequitur): Assuming that because B comes after A, A caused B

 

Weak analogy: Two things that are being compared aren't really alike in the relevant respects

 

Appeal to authority: Attempting to impress by referring to irrelevant sources or authorities

 

Ad populum: An appeal through popularity or bandwagon.

 

Tu quoque (you too?): An ad hominem attack based on the opponent’s group or behavior.

 

Appeal to ignorance: The use of the lack of evidence as support for a positive claim about the truth of a conclusion.

 

False dichotomy: Attempting to portray a situation as having two opposite or different parts when in reality they may be similar or grouped together.

 

False Equivalence: Claiming that two different conditions or results are equivalent when in reality one is much greater than the other and so much more consequential.  

 

Red Herring: Going off on a tangent or raising a side issue to avoid answering an opponent’s point or question.

 

Smoke Screen: An attempt to cloud or confuse the real issue with irrelevant facts, arguments or inventions.

 

Begging the question: (petitio principii): Where the conclusion of an argument is implicitly or explicitly assumed in one of the premises.

 

Circular reasoning: A premise that says essentially the same thing as the conclusion, using a conclusion as evidence instead of distinct evidence

 

Equivocation: Using two or more different meanings of a single word or phrase in the same argument.

 

Negative proof fallacy: Because a premise cannot be proven false, the premise must be true; or, because a premise cannot be proven true, the premise must be false.

 

Proof by example: Examples offered as inductive proof for a universal proposition. ("This apple is red, therefore all apples are red.")

 

Correlation does not imply causation: (cum hoc ergo propter hoc): A phrase used in the sciences and the statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not imply that one causes the other.

 

Etymological fallacy: Incorrectly assumes that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily identical to how it was always used thereafter.

 

Moving the goalpost (raising the bar): Argument in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded.

 

Two sets of rules (uneven playing field): Attempting to censor your opponent’s methods, strategies, or evidence which you allow yourself to use.

 

Stacking the Deck: Attempting to limit or include evidence or arguments allowed in the debate to unfairly favor one side.  

 

Stalling: Attempting to run the debate clock out by refusing to address a relevant fact or important question.

 

Copycat doctrines: Assuming that a doctrine, law or practice that applied to one group in the past can be applied to a present day group, without understanding the important differences between the time, situation and covenantal relationships of the two groups. (for instance: Sabbath keeping or speaking in tongues)

 

Event inventions: Fabricating non-existent events or descriptions based on assumptions that are unsupported by the text or the context. (for instance: 144,000 “evangelists” and an “invisible” Second Coming)

 

House of Cards: Theories based on a theories or assumptions based on assumptions presented as fact unsupported by the evidence directly (example: “Life arose spontaneously and randomly on this planet, therefore millions of other planets undoubtedly have life as well”)

 

Out of Context: A text or quote is removed from its surrounding material in such a way as to distort its intended meaning or to far surpass its intended purpose.

 

Obviously true fallacy: Declaring one’s own premise as obvious true, common knowledge, beyond question, or exclusively intelligent when it is no such thing

 

Fallacious Definition: Defining a word or phrase incorrectly to support one’s argument.

 

Hasty Generalization: An argument drawn from too little evidence to support the conclusion

 

Misquoting: Incorrectly quoting a source in such a way as to change the intended meaning or attributing a quote to the wrong source.

 

Symbolic-Literal Fallacy: Incorrectly describing literal language as symbolic or symbolic language a literal.

 

Translated Word Fallacy: Using a translated word or phrase as if it had special meaning only in the translated language. (for instance: “Adam means ‘A is damned’”).

 

Reading In: Attributing a meaning, fact or statement to a text that is clearly not there.

 

Corrupting Text: Deliberately inserting (or removing) a word, phrase, punctuation, or capitalization directly into a text or translation so as to change its original meaning in a significant way. (as in “the Word was a god” instead of “The Word was God”)

 

Fallacy of Grammar: Misunderstanding or misuse of a sentence’s grammar so as to change its intended meaning in a significant way.  

 

Hyper-Contextualizing: Taking an absolute statement and presumptuously confining it exclusively to its immediate context.

 

Complexity arrogance: (a type of smoke screen): Arguing that a topic or issue is so complex that it cannot be effectively addressed in the present forum, inferring that only they have the ability to understand it and reach a correct conclusion and you don’t.

 

Invisible Evidence: Insisting that a premise must be accepted but refusing to disclose important evidence because it may be challenged.

 

Loaded language: Inserting words or phrases which are intended to prejudice opinion and create a visceral reaction simply by the way they sound or are emotionally perceived.

 

Loaded Question: A question that also contains a false assumption so as to make any answer an automatic admission of guilt, error or agreement (as in: “When did you stop beating your wife?”)

 

Bogus Statistics: Using statistics that are false, misleading, insufficient, irrelevant, or whose source is dishonestly prejudiced for one side of the argument.

 

Junk Science: Science that is not really science, but based on dubious or prejudiced methodologies, or opinion passed off as science, or mere theory supported by insufficient or contradictory evidence.

 

Revisionist History: Deliberately changing historical facts, or ignoring important facts of history to create an alternative history that never really existed.

 

Poisoning the Well: Ignoring the details of the evidence and instead trying to discredit a legitimate source.

 

Exaggerated Consequences: Attempting to frighten by exaggerating the consequences of choosing a particular alternative.

 

Flattery: Attempting to prejudice someone’s opinion, attitude, affection or allegiance by the use of flattery.

 

Mixing Apples and Oranges: Attempting to evidence a comparison by using two types of subjects or facts that are too fundamentally different to support the conclusion.

 

Ax Grinding: Using a debate forum to express nasty, abusive, vengeful, judgmental, vicious, or angry impulses in order to get back at the world or hurt others

 

Violent Intimidation: Making personal threats of violence or harm to intimidate or silence an opponent.

 

Troll: An opponent who deceptively pretends to be neutral or support the opposite side in order to hide their prejudices, cause trouble, get attention, ridicule, draw blame or misrepresent the beliefs, claims or methods of the other side

 

Proof by verbosity: (a snow job): Using an argument with an overwhelming volume of material which superficially appears to be well-researched, but would be extremely time consuming to untangle and fact check, in an attempt to intimidate the participants into accepting its legitimacy out of hand.

 

Appeal of Force: Might makes right. He who has the gold makes the rules. Shut up!

 

Appeal of Personality (or false authority): A premise is argued as correct based solely on the authority, identity, or force of personality of an individual’s support.

 

Hypothetical Speculation: Arguing a premise about something in the real world using only imaginary or absurd examples

 

Double Standard (hypocrisy): An argument which condemns the actions of one individual, but allows another to commit the same act without any such condemnation.

 

Presumptuous Expertise: Assuming that a source is automatically correct based on the amount of research they have done, expertise they claim, education they have achieved, respect they are afforded, notoriety they enjoy, or a label they have attached to themselves.

 

Unrelated Connections: Unrelated points are treated as if they should be accepted or rejected together, when each point should be accepted or rejected on its own merits.

 

Complex Questions: Asking two or more distinct questions in the form of one question which are impossible to answer correctly together.  

 

Twisting: Misrepresenting a quote or text in attempt to make it say the opposite or something completely different than what the speaker or writer stated.

 

Putting words in the mouth: Stating that an opponent or source is saying something which the opponent or source has not said

 

Symbolism Inflation: A legitimate parable, symbol, or type taken farther than the author originally intended

 

Misconstrued Symbolism: Interpretation of a legitimate symbol, parable or type that is fundamentally or completely wrong

 

Elephant in the room: Deliberately ignoring or hiding an overwhelming fact or a massive presence of evidence in order to make one’s own point or evidence seem stronger, more important or more legitimate than it really is

 

The Emperor has no clothes: An obvious truth that a large population refuses to acknowledge for fear of going against popular opinion or an intimidating authority.   

 

Convoluted weak argument: The more convoluted and lengthy an argument is, the more likely it is that the position is invalid.

 

Orwellian: Arguing a position with an absurd level of double speak, thought policing, or political correctness from a totalitarian mentality.

 

Uncivil: Using rude, obscene, discourteous, nasty, vicious, or slanderous words instead of a factual and reasoned argument.

 

Offended Bigot: Arguing that a legitimate position, action or belief is personally offensive based solely on one’s own intolerance or bigotry. (As in: “I am offended that you are a Christian.”)

 

 

 

© Daniel Speck 5.44.10

 

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