Article

The Top Four Logical Fallacies

In nearly 5 years of blogging experience, I’ve run across the same fallacious arguments over and over again.  These have been reproduced elsewhere, as lengthy lists of logical fallacies.  But there’s really no need for such long and detailed lists, unless you are a serious student of critical thinking.  For casual debates, avoiding the top four logical fallacies will suffice.  I will elaborate them here for easy reference.

  1. ARGUMENT FROM RESULT: This is the process of mounting an argument against a point of view, based on what would happen if that point of view were true.  EXAMPLE: "If there is no God, then people would have no reason to keep from killing each other."  FALLACY: This has nothing to do with the ontological question of theism.  They are separate issues.  Human laws plus fear of retribution deter murder. Either a deity exists or it doesn’t.  Even if lack of belief in a deity could be shown to result in higher murder rates, it would still have no bearing on the question of existence or nonexistence of a deity.
  2. ARGUMENT FROM AUTHORITY: This is the process of mounting an argument based on the social station or position of the person who makes the argument.  EXAMPLE: "stem cell research is unethical because the Pope says so."  FALLACY: People in positions of authority are just as subject to error as anyone else.  A person in authority is simply expressing their opinion.  A person in authority has the burden of proof, when making an assertion, as anyone else would.  This is also sometimes referred to as the "bully pulpit" from the knowledge that many humans simply unquestioningly accept statements made by authority figures.  To our example, objectively, stem cell research can be shown to have the potential to cure millions of fully-formed and sentient adult humans at the cost of destroying a few non-self-aware cells.  A close corollary of "argument from authority" is argument from "lack of authority."  EXAMPLE: "The director of Jihad Watch is a Catholic, therefore he cannot be objective about Islam."  FALLACY: Arguments or philosophies of a given organization, or published under a given banner, need to be evaluated individually based on their merits.  Objectivity is the only cure for argument from authority or lack thereof.
  3. ARGUMENT FROM POPULARITY: The process of mounting an argument based on the fact of the number of other people who share the same opinion.  EXAMPLE: "atheism is false, because 85% of people believe in God."  FALLACY: Nearly 100% of people used to believe in a flat earth.  They were all wrong.  This seems self evident, yet it’s amazing how many times the argument from popularity is still used.  Democracy itself is one big argument from popularity.  As we can see, not only can a person win the popular vote and be wrong, they can be spectacularly wrong as we have seen with many disgraced politicians.  Government by polls leads to incredible short-term thinking and it is incompatible with either long-term planning, or protection of minority rights.  Popularity is subjectivity: depending on your point of view, it can either be "the wisdom of crowds" or "mob rule."  Historically, it has been the latter.
  4. ASSOCIATIVE FALLACY:  Also known as "guilt by association." This is an extension of the argument from authority.  EXAMPLE: recently, in correspondence, I quoted Karl Marx to make a point.  The respondent literally flipped out that I would have quoted Marx at all — ranting on about the "tens of millions of deaths" caused by Marxist philosophy.  The quote I used was: "you have nothing to lose but your chains," referring to mental chains of subjectivity, unreason, and lack of critical thinking skills.  It was simply a metaphor.  FALLACY: Invoking a metaphor popularized by a particular individual should not imply agreement with everything else that individual said or did.  The reverse associative fallacy is the error of concluding that correlation proves causation.  EXAMPLE: The same correspondent asserted that a number of historical luminaries such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and John Muir should be valued because of their religious belief.  FALLACY: As with Newton and Copernicus, religious belief was irrelevant to the achievements of these great human beings.  They lived in societies where professions of belief were required in order for them to be politically respected.  In almost all cases, the contributions we value from these luminaries fall in to the category of secular principles.  Thomas Jefferson in fact, was one of the leading proponents of secular government–he was also a deist, which was as close as you could come in those days to openly declaring yourself an atheist. Jefferson rejected supernatural revelations.  Newton and Copernicus were part of creating the framework which established physical causality for events, eliminating the need to use the "divine hand" for explanation.  Though both highly religious men, Martin Luther King and Gandhi fought for principles of human equality, which were actually highly antithetical to the hierarchical structures of religion.

This website uses IntenseDebate comments, but they are not currently loaded because either your browser doesn't support JavaScript, or they didn't load fast enough.

Comments (28 comments)

Pregnancy / May 30th, 2014, 2:53 am / #1

Conclave sorcery numerous of your website divulges. I staleness incriminate i disaster this allegiance individual to mostly be purpose arrange. I bread a weblog similarly also insufficiency to Re-educate a portion assents of your lie's on my general adapt terrain. Should it be alright if I usage this as legion I boost image your trap blog.

selectgender / June 23rd, 2014, 3:25 am / #2

The most common argument i get from atheists is based on the argument from result you have quoted above. The common variation for me is that "if god is real then why is there so much suffering around the world"?

jogos de cozinhar / September 22nd, 2014, 5:42 am / #3

thsi is actyually very great gui

jogos de moto / September 22nd, 2014, 5:43 am / #4

great

vitalplant09 / December 7th, 2014, 12:34 am / #5

I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed surfing

vitalplant09 / December 7th, 2014, 12:52 am / #6

really? Do you think so?

cashcontrol / December 7th, 2014, 1:28 am / #7

Terrific work! This is the type of info that are supposed

Doris W. Hodge / December 13th, 2014, 4:19 pm / #8

The subsequent can be a listing of popular plausible misconceptions associated with question. Although this specific referrals seriously isn't thorough, one of the most frequently experienced are generally outlined in brief down below along with good examples so that the thinker may become quickly aware of this techniques people trick by themselves and fool others. Endeavors to control imagined are readily available, and understanding plausible misconceptions is really a wholesome safeguard, especially when employed inside philosophical question where the fact is apparently wanted, in spite of no matter what ulterior schedule is present. personal narrative essay

Joon Kim / April 18th, 2015, 4:31 pm / #9

Ahh!! I wish i could went there . Really beautifully city and also hotels. Ahh i think i should make a plan to went there with my family and i am damn sure all are enjoy it so much .Thanks for sharing such an informative article with us . Visit college essay for best essays. Outsourced IT Service Dallas

Joon Kim / April 18th, 2015, 4:35 pm / #10

Many of us hear all relating to the powerful tactic you convey simple tips via the web site and welcome contribution from people on the concept then our favorite girl is always being taught a lot of things. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the year. You're performing a very good job. Outsourced IT Service Dallas

essay-on-time / May 8th, 2015, 1:55 pm / #11

Educated or literate people mostly have high goals and targets. While uneducated or literate do not set high goals and targets. This is because they do not have much more resources.

jassica / May 18th, 2015, 3:13 am / #12

This kind of surface leads to slippage from the pedestrians’ as well as staff to prevent slippage right now rubber flooring and mats are utilized in the actual hallways as well as corridors from the airport, sometimes unintentionally people drive others in a rush to get in one terminal to a different.rubber floors and mats

Studio Kenya / May 24th, 2015, 9:24 am / #13

You hhad researched for this. I can tel.
http://rjideas.co.ke

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:25 am / #14

Business as a term is vast and career can be sketched out of any kind of business under taken. Analysing the need of the consumer and implementing it to produce the right product defines how the IT resources can operate within the organization and boost the success of the business at the end of the day. http://www.mumsnewbusiness.net

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:25 am / #15

The Master in Business degree has developed as one among the foremost vital masters' degrees and has nice job chance. Folks opt for the Master in Business degree to earn additional and to advance their career. This degree offers them to extend their Business confidence and it makes them a decent leader. http://www.businessinfusion.net

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:25 am / #16

To get accomplishment in today's present day business world, it is extremely vital for organization coordinator to be more adaptable and have exceptional plans and managerial abilities. Numerous business visionaries begin organizations with imagining that from the first day in the wake of opening the entryways they will begin profiting. http://www.businessofscience.net

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:25 am / #17

It is common knowledge that no business would do well without a marketing strategy. Once the dirt bike business is up and running it is important to advertise it. Some of the avenues that can be used include sports magazines and online handbooks. A blog as well would be a good way to go. It is a very powerful way of ensuring that users communicate among one another and increases chances of snowballing dirt bike parts sales from the business. http://www.smallbusinesscrowd.net

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:26 am / #18

You can choose to operate this business online or offline and make money through three different methods using the FlexKom system. So if you don't like to go away from your seat, you be capable of simply take the path which will make you remaining profits effective online. However, if you are capable to go out for an only some clear daylights, and then you can build further a large amount. You just spend a few afternoons talking to people. Either route you choose to obtain, rest guaranteed that FlexKom UK will put you up everlastingly. http://www.4businessnetworks.net

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:26 am / #19

For these kinds of help of business grants, you may get the help to establish your business, expansion of business and some other kinds of helps for your business. In the very beginning you will get the helps from the government so that you can start it so easily. http://www.morrisbusiness.net

adminpool / May 25th, 2015, 4:26 am / #20

Visit several home business blogs every day from the search engine like google, yahoo or bing, read the most recent post, and write a comment about it. Make sure your comment is relate to their blog and not just an ad for your business. How you'll end up getting more traffic? Leave your blog or website in the comment You will not believe the traffic you can generate using this simple concept. Commenting on other home business blogs is simple and easy. http://www.wetakecareofbusiness.net

Larapole123 / June 6th, 2015, 3:52 am / #21

On a side note, I have found many lists of logical fallacies, and they tend to differ along the “lumper vs splitter” spectrum dissertationcorp.co.uk

clothing factory / August 11th, 2015, 4:43 am / #22

The most common argument i get from atheists is based on the argument from result you have quoted above. The common variation for me is that "if god is real then why is there so much suffering around the world"?

Best Suits Hong Kong / November 6th, 2015, 2:20 am / #23

Interesting Post You Shared, I Liked your Post..

martelli demolitori / January 13th, 2016, 1:00 am / #24

I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed surfing

Vee / January 20th, 2016, 9:26 pm / #25

I'm studying English and Psychology at the moment so this is a subject I'm very interested in. Bought some books online http://www.used.forsale/blog going into the subject and other areas of debate surrounding the subject. Really enjoyed your blog. Many blogs are full of pointless and uninteresting facts but I found your blog very intuitive and a great read throughout.

Isidro J. Alverez / February 26th, 2016, 3:03 am / #26

Though both highly religious men, Martin Luther King and Gandhi fought for principles of human equality, which were actually highly antithetical to the hierarchical structures of religion.
ergonomic mats.

adil / September 17th, 2016, 6:20 am / #27

AMMA Private Equity are the only Private Equity Firm to work exclusively with over 300 accounting firms. AMMA Equity

adil / September 22nd, 2016, 6:15 am / #28

When you want to be sure that you are able to potentially save a person’s life, it is important to understand how to conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This form of care, also known as CPR for short is able to save lives and will help you out potentially if you find yourself in a situation in which it becomes necessary for you to use it. Healthy Blue

Post a comment

Comments are closed for this post.