Avoiding Logical Fallacies – How To Be Less Stupid

Logical Fallacies

Hey there, today I’m gonna share 10 logical fallacies which are often used by people to state inaccurate and biased logic that lacks rationality. These are really common and through examples you can recognize them and the fallacies behind them soon if you look closely enough. I’ve written about those fallacies below. So let’s get started…

Strawman

Strawman Fallacy
Strawman Fallacy

You tell your friend that eating fats can be part of a healthy diet and he gets mad and starts yelling at you. “Oh! so you want me to eat McDonald’s all day? You want me to eat trans fats all day? Is that what you call healthy?” In his mind he’s somehow rebutting your argument. However what he’s done is essentially twisted what you said into something that you didn’t say and now he’s attacking his own little constructed argument. You tell him that you were thinking more along the lines of nuts and seeds but for some reason he continues to be very angry with you.

Red Herring

You and your friend are debating the complex question of how taxes should be collected and you’re more fiscally conservative while he’s more fiscally liberal and so far the argument has been going great but all of a sudden he
brings up Donald Trump and all the bad things Trump has done in his life. He goes on and on about Trump, maybe
thinking that he somehow strengthening his position but he’s essentially introduced something that’s irrelevant to the debate and his argument of whether Trump is a good guy or a bad guy really says nothing overall about the
merits of fiscal conservatism. Just like whether Hillary is a sketchy lady or a nice lady says nothing about the merits of fiscal liberalism.

Ad Hominem

Ad Hominem Fallacy
Ad Hominem Fallacy
You’re debating with your friend about a topic and you bring up some very valid points and instead of addressing those points he gets angry and starts telling you how you’re wrong because you’re an asshole or because you’re ugly. Implying that your character or your physical attributes somehow have anything to do with the validity of your argument.

Argument from Ignorance

A friend of yours asks you to explain in detail everything since the start of the universe you tell them that even though we know quite a bit we don’t know every single detail about everything but we’re looking for evidence constantly and working on putting the puzzle together. He laughs in your face. “See! you have no answers but he does he tells you that the spaghetti monster created everything with his loving tentacles. You’ve just been served an argument from ignorance. We don’t know certain things for sure therefore it must be the spaghetti monster!

Argument from Authority

Your friend tells you that he saw on TV that if he’d some crazy herb everyday he won’t get cancer anymore. You’re kind of skeptical and ask for more evidence and he tells you that it’s true because the guy who said it on TV is this famous doctor and he also has a PhD. Unfortunately just because someone has a PhD doesn’t mean that they’re not full of biases and also unfortunately a lot of people don’t seem to understand this.

Argumentum ad populum

you tell your friend that the claims he’s making are pretty absurd and that he has no evidence for them whatsoever. Instead of addressing the issue he tells you that if they were so absurd, 1.6 billion other people wouldn’t believe in them. Congratulations! You’ve unfortunately just been served Argumentum ad populum. Apparently just because 1.6 billion people believe in something, it must be true according to the same logic the world must have been flat a few thousand years ago since a lot of people believed in that too.

Anecdotal Evidence

Your friend tells you that her grandma only ate carrots her whole life and she lived to be a hundred and nine years old. You tell her, okay cool. Good for her. But she’s not content with that she wants you to eat carrots as well if her
grandma had such great results you’ll surely have great results as well. You tell her that you look at evidence
through scientific studies involving large sample sizes for what is ideal to eat but she doesn’t understand. In her
world, smoking is beneficial since there’s a hundred and nine year old smoker somewhere in the world right now without lung cancer.

Correlation proves causation

A friend of yours tells you that he started using this new soap and his acne have been getting much better. You realize that that might very well be true but you’re also skeptical. So you share this with him and he gets mad, “What do
you mean!” He knows for a fact that ever since he started using the soap, his acne have been getting better. You tell him that, yes well that could be true. But it could also be because we’re getting more Sun now. Because it’s the summer, he changed his diet a little while ago and that also might be affecting it. He also got a new job and might be less stressed. You bring up all these points and tell him that even though the soap could be legit, you can’t really say for sure. He’s still mad though, he doesn’t understand that correlation does not prove causation.

Wishful Thinking

One your friend tells you that he loves the thought of being massaged by the spaghetti monster and his tentacles for eternity. You ask him if he has a reason to believe in something like that. He tells you that it’s so consoling to him. What is your alternative you die and then there might be nothing. All you can tell him is I don’t know that kind of uncertainty sounds terrible and isn’t very consoling therefore the whole spaghetti monster gently caressing you for eternity thing must be true.

Shifting The Burden of Proof

A friend of yours tells you that Zeus exists and that he is the one true God. You ask him if he has any reason to make
that claim or if there’s any way he can prove that statement. He laughs at you and tells you well how about you prove
that he doesn’t exist. You tell them you can’t do that just like you can’t disprove that there isn’t a teapot orbiting somewhere around the Sun right now. Even though we would never just assume that a teapot like that existed. He laughs again and says see you can’t disprove it therefore Zeus exists. You want to bring up the point again that the burden of proof lies on the person making the claim but at this point you hopefully realize that you’re not really going anywhere with this and perhaps have an even more important realization that you really need some less shitty friends.

Summary of Logical Fallacies

1. Strawman – Twisting people’s arguments into things they didn’t say and then attacking your own little fabricated arguments.
2. Red herring – Introducing irrelevant topics to mislead or distract from the argument.
3. Ad Hominem – Your nose looks weird so that makes what you’re saying invalid.
4. Argument from ignorance – We don’t know something? Cool. Zeus did it.
5. Argument from authority – Someone has a PhD or is considered an authority on the topic, therefore they must to be right.
6. Argumentum ad populum – This video is going to get a lot of likes, therefore what it says is true.
7. Anecdotal evidence – My grandpa only ate bread and bacon and he lived to be over 100, so that somehow says anything about what’s ideal to eat.
8. Correlation proves causation – I was sick for three days and then I drank kombucha and my sickness went away, therefore it was the kombucha. Yeah, it could be, or it could also be that you were about to get well anyway.
9. Wishful thinking – Something’s consoling to me, therefore it’s true.
10. Shifting the burden of proof – I made a claim. Instead of offering my proof for it, I ask you to disprove it.
One thing I noticed is that people get really mad if you use what they sympathize with just as an example of when it’s argued wrong. That was kind of ridiculous. Anything can be argued wrong. Doesn’t matter if you’re liberal or conservative. Doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not. Literally any point can be argued wrong. For example, I like to eat kale. I put it in my smoothies and shit but it would be insane for me to get mad if someone said that it’s stupid to say, “Kale is great for you because it’s becoming more and more popular today.” If you’re going to get mad at an example of the point you sympathize with when it’s there to just demonstrate how it can be argued wrong, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re not actually looking to be reasonable. You’re just psychotic about your little cause.
If you liked this article, please share with others to let them know about all these fallacies as well and help to build better human minds and conversations. Which of these fallacies you encountered most often? Let me know in comments. Thanks a lot for reading.

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About the Author: Pritam Chakraborty

A simple human being. Trying to understand the nature of this universe. Love to read, listen & think.

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