Logical Fallacies, Misconceptions, False Beliefs Intro

This is the Introduction in a series about Logical Fallacies, Misconceptions, False Beliefs. We’re going to go through one fallacy a day (approximately). There are about 20 main fallacies altogether. I’m going to try to explain them with examples then find ways to help you refute those arguments when they occur.

I'm quite reasonable in many aspects of my life, but I don't think my reasoning skills are up to par. I certainly don't argue well, or defend myself in an argument. This is why I've been a closet atheist for so long. I just didn't want to be confronted or verbally attacked by zealous religious people.
  • Logical: Reasoning or capable of reasoning in a clear and consistent manner. Reasonable.
So, since I'm going to learn to think more logically, I will share that information with you. The great thing about this is that you can use it in all aspects of your life, whether it be science vs. pseudo-science, religion vs. atheism or agnosticism, the daily assault of advertising and consumerism, or simply to put your own belief systems to the test. I find that to be very nice, since I am, after all, quite pragmatic in nature. :P

We're going to take our lessons from The Top 20 Logical Fallacies by the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. I think it's a great start and a nice list that is clear and easy to understand. Your comments and suggestions for other resources that might prove useful are always welcome. We'll tackle one Logical Fallacy a day.
  • Fallacy: A deceptive, misleading or false notion or belief. A misleading or unsound argument.
From SGU: All arguments have the same basic structure: A therefore B. They begin with one or more premises (A), which is a fact or assumption upon which the argument is based. They then apply a logical principle (therefore) to arrive at a conclusion (B).

An example of a logical principle is that of equivalence. For example, if you begin with the premises that A=B and B=C, you can apply the logical principle of equivalence to conclude that A=C.

A logical fallacy is a false or incorrect logical principle. An argument that is based upon a logical fallacy is therefore not valid. It is important to note that if the logic of an argument is valid then the conclusion must also be valid, which means that if the premises are all true then the conclusion must also be true. Valid logic applied to one or more false premises, however, leads to an invalid argument. Also, if an argument is not valid the conclusion may, by chance, still be true.
Another thing that is really important as we get started is to keep in mind the difference between Fact versus Opinion, and the difference between Objective versus Subjective.
  • Fact: something that actually exists; reality; truth. Something known to exist or to have happened. Something known to be true.
  • Opinion: a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
Pointing out that an issue is actually not based on fact, but rather an opinion, can end an argument that can never be solved. If I say that I make the best cookies in the world, that isn't based on fact, simply my own opinion.
  • Objective: not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased. Of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.
  • Subjective: existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to Objective)
Ok then, that's enough to get us started, don't you think?

This is a series on Logic, Logical Thinking and Dealing with Logical Fallacies in an Argument. Visit the Logical Fallacies page to see them all.

1 comment:

  1. [...] is Part 1 in a series I introduced yesterday about Logical Fallacies, Misconceptions, False Beliefs. We’re going to go through one fallacy a day (approximately). There are about 20 main [...]