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List of false arguments and why when posting we could use these to make an argument for or against

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Every once and a while I read something that seems to work against the idea of shared information and verbose discussions. We each make discovery's and try to put out what we have found and how we did that. It also seems that sometimes people cast doubt on certain ideas but instead of giving good sound reason why it might work, they use what are termed in Western Philosophy as false arguments. These are simple things that people do all the time in a discussion which do not support what they say but redirect the discussion in a manner which does not further the discussion. An example would be someone attacking a person "your not an engineer how could you know that" "it has all ways been done that way" These are kinds of false arguments. It is not that the person stating these things is wrong, just that the logic that was used to come to the conclusion is not based on the information given. This kind of rebuttal does not further the discussion. It only clouds the ideas and usually degrades into a personal attack. There are many "false arguments" but after 10 I get a little overwhelmed. So the top 10 ways to redirect a discussion are as fallows. Note: I took this from another website and it is only a part of what was written. It used examples which may be misunderstood and thought of as an attack against a population or a group. I will try to re write the info without any references to any persons way of life, If my examples are less than stellar I can only hope that this is a starting point to a search for what a "false argument" might be. Please do your own search to discover what they really are. I am not an expert and make these mistake all the time. I just try to ask myself if what I am saying can be supported with data. If I am reacting from a personal bias or is there some evidence to support this idea I am discussing.

1. Don't attack the person’s character, but the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)

Example: Dave listens to Punk rock, therefore his arguments against other kinds of music are worthless. After all, would you trust someone who listens that junk to have any taste in music?

2. Don't misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (“Straw Man Fallacy”)

Example: After Jimmy said that we should put more money into health and education, Steve responded by saying that he was surprised that Jimmy hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending.

3. Don't not small numbers to represent the whole. (“Hasty Generalization”)

Example: Climate Change Deniers take a small sample set of data to demonstrate that the Earth is cooling, not warming. They do this by zooming in on 10 years of data, ignoring the trend that is present in the entire data set which spans a century.

4. Don't argue the position by assuming one of its premises is true. (“Begging the Question”)


Sheldon: “Science must exist.”
Wilbert: “How do you know?”
Sheldon: “Because my text book say so.”
Wilbert: “Why should I believe that text book?”
Sheldon: “Because that text book was written by scientist.”
Wilbert: “Hu?”

Here, Sheldon is making the assumption that Scientist wrote the book(so to speak), therefore his premise – That science exits is true. (this has nothing to do with science or weather I think it is true it is the way it is stated)

5. Don't claim that because something occurred before, it must be the cause. (“Post Hoc/False Cause”).

This can also be read as “correlation does not imply causation”.

Example: There were 3 murders in Dallas this week and on each day, it was raining. Therefore, murders occur on rainy days.

6. Don't reduce the argument down to only two possibilities when there is a clear middle ground. (“False Dichotomy”)

Example: You’re either with me, or against me. Being neutral is not an option.

7. Don't argue that because of our ignorance, the claim must be true or false. (“Ad Ignorantiam”).

Example: 95% of unidentified flying objects have been explained. 5% have not. Therefore, the 5% that are unexplained prove that aliens exist.

8. Though shall not lay the burnen of proof onto him that is questioning the claim. (“Burden of Proof Reversal”).

Example: Marcy claims she sees the ghosts of dead people, then challenges you to prove her wrong. The burden of proof is on Marcy, not you, since Marcy made the extraordinary claim.

9. Don't assume that “this” follows “that”, when “it” has no logical connection. (“Non Sequitur”).

Similar, but the difference between the post hoc and non sequitur fallacies is that, whereas the post hoc fallacy is due to lack of a causal connection, in the non sequitur fallacy, the error is due to lack of a logical connection.

Example: If you do not buy this Vitamin X supplements for your infant, you are neglecting your her.

10. Don't claim that because a premise is popular, therefore, it must be true. (“Bandwagon Fallacy”).

Example: Just because a celebrity like Dr. Oz endorses a product, it doesn’t make it any more legitimate.

I changed the original "Thou shall not) to (Don't) to avoid any references to anything.

This is just the short list there are many ways to derail a discussion, I just think if we can gently insert reason over emotion we would find ourselves coming to more conclusions that would serve us better.

Mother Tree
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This is a really interesting subject, and one that has been on my list of things to get my head around one day for years.

Paul even wrote an article on the subject once. Here's the link - Paul's fallacy article
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Sometimes I wish I'd taken a class in rhetoric, so I'd be better at spotting fallacies when they show up in a conversation/discussion.

Thanks for bringing this up. I recall that I heard people complain about "ad hominem" attacks for ages before I really knew what that meant.
Mikael Long
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Thanks Burra

I had a hard time rapping my head around this stuff. Some of it so engrained in things we say it just seems natural, still working on it.


I hated this class and argued tooth and nail with the teacher but after facing so many less then well supported discussions I revued them again and found them freeing and comforting.

Yeah, but does being a ninja come with a dental plan? And what about this tiny ad?
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