Sunday, August 25, 2013

3 part Christian videos about logical fallacies

Educating people about logical fallacies and debate techniques is a good thing, reminding people of that everyone can and will use them, at least a couple of times, in their lives, is a good thing, but... the examples are... hilarious :-D So, don't just take what is being said as the truth, because someone made a video of it and I posted it here :-D Take it as an exercise of learning more about logical fallacies
The problem here is that the person making the videos hasn't quite understood what the logical fallacies are and how they work, so his examples are in some cases not good. Nevertheless, they are a base for further discussion:)

Here are the examples "telemantros" gave in the videos:

Part 1

1. Ad hominem - Attacking the individual instead of the argument
X: "I believe God exists because he has revealed himself through the Bible, nature and archaeology" 
A: "You are an idiot for believing in myths"

2. Appeal to force - The hearer is told that something bad will happen to him if he does not accept the argument.
X: "I believe God exists because he has revealed himself through the Bible, nature and archaeology" 
A: "If you don't stop talking about God, you'll be sorry"
B: "Convert or die!"

3. Appeal to pity - The hearer is urged to accept the argument based upon an appeal to emotions, sympathy, etc.
X: "I believe God exists because he has revealed himself through the Bible, nature and archaeology" 
A: "How could you honestly believe in God if there are starving children in Africa?"
(The correct "appeal to pity" argument here would be "How can you believe in an all-mighty God who allows innocent children suffer?")

4. Appeal to the popular - the hearer is urged to accept a position because a majority of people hold to it.
X: "I believe the Bible to be the standard of truth about God's Character" 
A: "Science disproved God long ago, everybody knows that. Why don't you?"

5. Appeal to tradition - trying to get someone to accept something because it has been done or believed
X: "I believe the Bible to be the standard of truth about God's Character" 
A: "Our churches' tradition demonstrates that this doctrine is true. This is the way we've always done it, so it is the right way"

6. Begging the Question - Assuming the thing to be true that you are trying to prove. It is circular.
X: "I believe in God"
A: "Science disproved God a long time ago. Science is the only way to test claims. Therefore, we know that God does not exist".

7. Circular Argument - see Begging the Question Division - assuming that what is true of the whole is true for the parts.
A: "Christianity believes in free will. That means since you are a Christian, you believe in free will."

8. Equivocation - The same term is used in an argument in different places but the word has different meanings.
A: "Evolution states that one species can change into another. We see that cars have evolved into different styles. Therefore, since evolution is a fact inc ars, it is true in species."

9. False Dilemma - Two choices are given when in actuality there could be more choices possible.
A: "The Bible we have today is erred. So what had inspiration, the copies or the originals?"

10. Guilt by Association - Rejecting an argument or claim because the person proposing it likes someone is disliked by another.
X: "I believe in Creation Theory"
A: "That means you are a Christian! Christians are delusional, so you are delusional and I can't talk to you."

11. Non Sequitur - Comments or information that do not logically follow from a premise or the conclusion.
A: "Mormon Doctrine teaches an illogical chain of infinite past event." 
B: "Mormon Doctrine is not illogical, they don't practice polygamy anymore."

12. Poisoning the well - Presenting negative information about a person before he/she speaks so as to discredit the person's argument.
A: "That speaker over there is a Christian... Christians are delusional and illogical."

13. Red Herring - The introduction of a topic not related to the subject at hand.
X: "Jesus fulfilled prophecy hundreds of years after they were foretold. That is evidence of Jesus being God." 
A: "I know there is prophecy in the Bible, but that doesn't answer the problem about all the starving children in the world".

14. Special Pleading (double standard) - Applying a different standard to another that is applied to oneself.
A: "That's a straw man argument"
B: "By claiming that I am using a straw man, you are using a straw man."
The problem is that B just made a claim of straw man, yet he feels that his argument is not a straw man. This is a different standard he is applying to A

15. Straw Man Argument - Producing an argument to attack that is a weaker representation of the truth.
A: "Why would God allow torture of Job? God can't be loving"
This leaves out the end, and main point of the book of Job and does not accurately represent the situation.

16. Category Mistake - Attributing a property to something that could not possibly have that property.
A: "The Bible cannot be proven through science and therefore, the Bible is not true"
The problem is that the Bible is a historical document that contains scientific claims, it is not a scientific document.

Part 2
1. appeal to ridicule
Fallacy where ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an "argument"
A: "I believe that God exists"
B: "You can claim God exists all you want, the theistic position is still laughable"

2. hasty generalization
Fallacy where conclusions are reached by using not enough exemplification or when examples are used that are irrelevant and non-representative
A: "Christians can't argue their point because they all rely on blatant lies and fallacies"

3. middle ground
Fallacy in which a middle position is assumed to be correct because it is in-between two extreme positions
A: "Some say that God exists and some say that God does not exist. It seems reasonable to accept the middle position, so it's likely that God exists, but that He is not all powerful, all knowing and omnipresent. That seems fair to both sides."

4. spotlight
When an individual uncritically assumes that members or causes are like those that receive the most attention or coverage on the media.
A: "Hey, Bob, did you know I'm a Christian"
B: "You can't be. I've read about Christians in the Newspaper. They go around protesting funerals because people were killed via punishment from God and you don't do that."

5. factual error

6. argument from ignorance
Fallacy where it is argued that something is true because it has not been proven false, or something is false because it has not been proven true.
A: "God doesn't exist, because you can't prove He does!"
or "God exists, because you can't prove he doesn't"

7. plurium interrogationum
Fallacy where an individual asks for a simple answer to a complex question.
A: "Is the Christian Church unified, yes, or no?"

8. meaningless question
Fallacy in which a question that cannot be asked because it is incompatible with itself, has been asked. The question invalidates itself because one part makes another portion of the question impossible and vice-versa. Meaningless questions are questions that are illogical.
A: "Can God create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it?"

9. the masked man fallacy
or Illicit Substitution of Identities
Fallacy where an assumption is made that because something is known under one perspective, it must also be known under a different perspective.
A: "Creationists agree that it is a known fact that changes occur within a species over time, therefore creationists agree that evolution occurs."

10. improper notion of probabilities
Fallacy in which a low probability is used as proof that something could not have happened
"There are hundreds of religions in the world that require faith and each one of them states that it's true. Since it is so unlikely that faith would bring you to the right religion, Christianity cannot be the right religion."

11. false analogy
A false analogy is present any time similarities between objects or events are assumed without proof, just because they are similar in some other way.
"Christianity shares characteristics with Mithran mythology and Mithran mythology is false, therefore Christianity is false."

Part 3
1. ad hominem tu quoque
Fallacy in which an individual claim is concluded as false because it conflicts with past claims or actions of the one making the original claim.
The fact that a person makes inconsisten claims does not make any particular claim he makes false. Also, the fact that a person's claims are not consistent with his actions might indicate that the person is a hypocrite, but this does not prove his claims are false.

X: "God's heart is for all people, that's why I help the poor and needy" A: "God doesn't have a heart for anyone, I've never once seen you help anyone other than yourself!"

2. amphiboly
Fallacy in which a premise is used in an argument that is ambiguous because of ungrammatical phrasing and the meaning is not clear.

X: "I know Jesus is God."
A: "Christians shouldn't be allowed to believe in God, it's too dangerous."
This fallacy can be used to confuse or make subconscious implications, intentional or not.

3. anecdotal evidence
Fallacy in which an individual relies on anecdotes to prove their argument.

"I prayed for Jesus to appear to me and he didn't, therefore Jesus does not exist."

It is valid to use experience to illustrate a point, as experience is one of the three methodologies that naturalism uses to illustrate itself (experience, science and logic) but not valid to prove your point.

4. appeal to consequences of a belief
Fallacy in which the consequences of a position proves the position to be true. This line of reasoning is fallacious because the consequences of a belief have no bearing on whether the belief is true or false.

"God is false because accepting that God's existence is false leads to deeper and more free thinking"

5. audiatur et altera pars (hear the other side)
Principle that states that all premises of an argument should be stated explicitly, arguing from assumptions not stated This is not always a strict fallacy per se, but illustrates a principle that is often broken during discussion and should be avoided when possible.

X: "I believe in God".
A: "There is no evidence of God's existence".

"A is guilty of "jumping to conclusions" in regards to what he considers evidence, for the criteria for evidence is an assumption and was not explained"

6. circumstantial ad hominem
Fallacy in which one attacks a claim by asserting that the claim is made out of self interest and is therefore false.

"... a person's interests and circumstances have no bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made. while a person's interests will provide them with motives to support certain claims, the claims stand or fall on their own."

A: "The universe began to exist, and therefore has a cause". 
B: "You only believe that because you are a Christian."

7. composition
Fallacy in which a conclusion is drawn about the whole, based on the individual constituents (or parts) within the whole

"Islam and Mormonism are proven false via science, therefore all religions are false."

8. division
Fallacy in which it is inferred that what is true about the whole must also be true about the parts that make up the whole.

"Religion is incoherent, therefore Islam, Christianity and Mormonism are incoherent".

9. genetic fallacy
Fallacy in which a perceived defect in the origin of the claim is taken as evidence that the claim is false.

A: "I believe in Jesus"
B: "People only believe in Jesus out of fear and weakness. Christianity is a crutch."

10. slippery slope
Fallacy in which an assertion is made that if some event occurs then so will another inevitable event without any clarification This sort of reasoning is fallacious because there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitable follow from another without an argument for such a claim.

"If we allow religion back in our schools, my children will be forced to start reading the Bible!"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Audi alteram partem (or audiatur et altera pars)

Audi alteram partem (or audiatur et altera pars) is a Latin phrase that means, literally, hear the other side. It is most often used to refer to the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against him.

As a logical error, it refers to the fact that people will argue from assumptions which they don't bother to state. The principle of Audiatur et Altera Pars is that all of the premises of an argument should be stated explicitly. It's not a fallacy to fail to state all of your assumptions; however, it's often viewed with suspicion.

The premises of an argument are often introduced with words such as "Assume...", "Since..." and "Because...." It's a good idea to get your opponent to agree with the premises of your argument before proceeding any further.

The word "obviously" should not be used, though. It occasionally gets used to persuade people to accept false statements, rather than admit that they don't understand why something is 'obvious'. So don't be afraid to question statements which people tell you are 'obvious' -- when you've heard the explanation you can always say something like "You're right, now that I think about it that way, it is obvious."


Principle that states that all premises of an argument should be stated explicitly, arguing from assumptions not stated This is not always a strict fallacy per se, but illustrates a principle that is often broken during discussion and should be avoided when possible.

X: "I believe in God".
A: "There is no evidence of God's existence".

"A is guilty of "jumping to conclusions" in regards to what he considers evidence, for the criteria for evidence is an assumption and was not explained"


Well... it is a generally accepted fact that there is no evidence of God's existence, that you cannot prove God exists nor that God doesn't exist. Accusing "A" of "jumping to conclusions" is like accusing X of "jumping to conclusions" because he doesn't state properly what he means with "God" or "believe".


This is more like some people discussing about an issue, and then someone gets into the discussion, and after a while one of the people in the discussion tells the newcomer that he should be quiet, because he doesn't know what they are talking about, referring to another discussion, that was not in any way or manner mentioned in this discussion earlier.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Pity

Argumentum ad misericordiam - Appeal to Pity, Appeal to Sympathy The Galileo Argument

How you feel about someone or something effects your opinion about the someone or something. Nevertheless, it's totally irrelevant to the argument at hands.

"Power of Weak" is an effort to create sympathy to one of the arguers, thus causing the majority to side with the "weak one".

"Think of all the poor, starving Ethiopian children! How could we be so cruel as not to help them?"

A US jury has been shown graphic images of people burned to death in the 11 September 2001 attack on the Pentagon. The jurors will decide whether al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui should be executed or jailed for life... Prosecutors hope such emotional evidence will persuade the jury to opt for the death penalty.

Pro-life campaigners have recently adopted a strategy that capitalises on the strength of appeals to pity. By showing images of aborted foetuses, anti-abortion materials seek to disgust people, and so turn them against the practice of abortion.

"I did not murder my mother and father with an axe! Please don't find me guilty; I'm suffering enough through being an orphan."

"My client is an integral part of this community. If he is sent to prison not only will this city suffer but also he will be most missed by his family. You surely cannot find it in your hearts to reach any other verdict than "not guilty"."

"I am a single parent, solely responsible for the financial support of my children. If you give me this traffic ticket, I will lose my license and be unable to drive to work. If I cannot work, my children and I will become homeless and may starve to death. Therefore, you should not give me this traffic ticket."

"You guys are young men...are you unemployed? How can you spend so much time refuting an old lady with a bad hip. You both know that from having checked me out last year. I am who I say I am.
I have an excuse to be here. My life has shut down due to age and a disability."

"My life has never, ever been as busy as it is now, and I actually neglect things I need to get done for work and myself to spend as much time on --- as I do. I cannot afford to continue doing this."

This fallacy is also called "the pity card"

One variation of this is "the Galileo Argument"

"Scientists scoffed at Copernicus and Galileo; they laughed at Edison, Tesla and Marconi; they won't give my ideas a fair hearing either. But time will be the judge. I can wait; I am patient; sooner or later science will be forced to admit that all matter is built, not of atoms, but of tiny capsules of TIME."

This includes the idea that the opponent is "suffering for their beliefs". You know "laugh now, but I'll show you!"

"I must be doing something right, or I wouldn't be attracting all this attention from the Big Green Machine."
-- response from a person arguing that there is no global warming, when she is met with opposition

The Galileo Fallacy is often accompanied by the Gadfly Corollary. It goes something like this
"Great thinkers throughout history have make people upset, angry, irritated, or insulted. I make people upset, angry, irritated, or insulted. Therefore, I must be a great thinker."

Whenever someone says, "I'm really getting under people's skin -- I must be doing something right," or, "If people are this pissed off at what I say, then I must be doing my job" -- that's the Gadfly Corollary in action.

Variant of this is when the opposer refuses to answer the questions about their claims because "you're mean, you've hurt my feelings" or because the question is "personal".

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Logical Fallacy: Demanding a simple answer to a complex question

This is more a debate trick than logical fallacy.

Q: "Do you think taxes are too high - yes or no?"

When you encounter such a question, you should refuse to try an offer a simplistic answer because you are only likely to run into trouble. Instead, you should insist that the discussion start out more simply.

A: "That depends upon which taxes we are talking about."