Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Logical Fallacies : Part I.

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Recognizing and Learning logical fallacy is one big step towards critical thinking. Logical fallacies are basically bad errors in reasoning, hence, flawed. Part 1 out of 4.

  • The Relativist Fallacy

Ronn : Belief in Santa Claus are false. There’s no evidence to suggest that they exist, and plenty of evidence that they don’t. So, it does not make sense for you to believe in them.

Nnor : Well, that Santa Claus do exist may not be true for you, but it’s true for me because i believe in it.

What is “it’s true for me” supposed to mean, exactly? Suppose that a man come to you and say ‘I believe that Paris is the capital of Germany’ and insist that he is right, does it mean that he is REALLY right? Suppose that a group of people proclaim that UFO exist, are they really right? Sometimes, we instantly know what the truth is (former example), and many times, we never know (the latter).

When we do not know something, it’s not the problem with the reality or nature. The truth has always been there. Rather, it’s the state of ignorance in our mind. Hence, to understand truth, we need to look very objectively, not subjectively. We always think highly of our personal opinion, but yet our personal bias, opinion or point of view do very little to understand the reality.

  • The False Dilemma

Ronn: Either we invade Neverland or we allow Neverland to take over the world.

Nnor: I don’t agree with war. It’s not necessary to solve conflict by using aggression. Besides that, Neverland may not have any intention to attack us at all.

Ronn: Either you are with us or against us. It seems to me you are opposing us and want Neverland to attack us. You’re not patriotic.

It’s common to argue like this : Either A or B. If A is false, therefore B must be right. But sometimes we are presented with argument that insist we have just two mutually exclusive choices – A or B – when in fact there might be wider range of options.

We often see this in Creation vs Evolution arguments on the origin of life. Often, people try to put down sides which they oppose because if Creation/Evolution is wrong then Evolution/Creation must be right.

Imagine if we live in a Matrix world controlled by computer. What will that be – creation or evolution?

  • Loaded Words

Ronn: So, how was the tennis match last night?

Nnor: Rafa Nadal was lucky enough to win the first set but Federer played extremely well  and his effort were well rewarded in the second set.

Both equally strong tennis rival, but one was lucky to win a set while the other won because his great effort paid off?

This fallacy is often used by politics and media for propaganda purposes. It is possible to influence the outcome of a judgment by the deliberate use of prejudiced terms or words. Words can be easily manipulated to conjure up an  influence on people to be more favourable or more hostile towards a subject. 

It is common for human being to unleash this form of bias as we often have our own preference or favorite on something.  Imagine a situation when two person got themselves into a debate and both of them insist that they are both right.

Ronn : Why are you so stubborn and keep insisting to implement this flawed idea?

Nnor : No, i’m not stubborn. I’m just firm with my idea. You on the other hand is a pig-headed fool for simply dismissing this wonderful idea.

Whether it is Firm, Stubborn, or Pig-Headed fool, all of them have the same level of meaning…. Just different level of ‘correctness’ and prejudice in the words used.

  • Emotional Appeals

Ronn : How can we achieve world peace? What can we do to bring us together?

Nnor: Most of the troubles of this world are caused by people thinking it out, instead of responding naturally with warmth and humanity. We should ignore these facts about Third World dictatorships, and reach out with love in our hearts and treat every single human being as our kin and siblings. We need to start loving and understand each other more.

When emotions becomes the means of deciding the soundness of an argument, this steps over the boundary of good reasoning. While it might be appropriate to show pity to a convicted criminal, it is certainly not sound procedure to let pity affect our judgment of whether he did it or not.

Emotional Appeals do not just limit itself to positive emotions but also negative emotions such as fear. One good example would be CERN’s The Large Hardron Collider.

There were several people who claimed this gigantic machine is dangerous of creating a blackhole and sucking everything on Earth inside it (due to physicist attempting to understand what has happen several seconds after Big Bang). Hence, several petitions were formed to against the construction LHC. A subjectively-imposed fear does not stand side by side with good reasoning.

David Hume put it succinctly, telling us that passion moves us to act, whereas reason directs the course of those actions. Emotion, in other words, motivates us to do things, but reason enables us to calculate what to do.

  • The Complex Question

Ronn:  ‘Is your stupidity inborn?’

Nnor : NO! Errr ..  i mean ….

If the answer is Yes , that means he admits that he is stupid. If NO is the answer, he still acknowledge that he is stupid.

When several questions are combined into one, in such a way that a yes-or-no answer is required, the person they are asked of has no chance to give separate replies to each, and the fallacy of the complex question is committed.

Lawyers often deploy this method as a means to confuse witnesses or defendants. Take for example:

Ronn : ‘Why did you make your wife alter her will in your favour? And why did you then go along to the chemist to buy rat poison? Why did you then put it into her coffee, and how did you do it without attracting her attention?’

The complex question is a very effective as a means of introducing the semblance of democracy. It enables you to give people a sense of choice over their destinies. But when you think harder, you will realize the choices are in fact, pretty limited. For instance:

Ronn : Nnor, would you prefer to buy me a new iPhone or a PSP for my birthday?

Nnor : Errrr……………..

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Written by elan85

July 25, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Philosophy

2 Responses

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  1. […] Logical Fallacies : Part II Posted in Philosophy by elan85 on August 12th, 2008 Continuation of the 4-part series of Logical Fallacy .. (Part 1) […]

  2. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s
    both equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.

    Now i’m very happy that I stumbled across this duuring myy hunt for something regarding this.

    Madeline Marsh

    November 23, 2013 at 10:23 am


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