Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Logical Fallacies : Part II

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Continuation of the 4-part series of Logical Fallacy .. (Part 1)

  • Poisoning The Well

Ronn : Have you read about Evolution before? You will be marveled of how Evolution works.

Nnor : Only an idiot will believe in Evolution. Everyone knows God did it. Don’t you think so?

Ronn : Uh … haha…..

If Ronn insists on believing in Evolution, then in some sense, he acknowledges Nnor’s claim that he is an idiot. Hence, this is a logical ‘trap’ set by Nnor and is fallacious because the claim is only an insult and not constructive enough to be an argument.

Therefore this logical fallacy, Poisoning The Well, is a good smokescreen to make your opponent look foolish with the hope of shifting the attention of people to focus on the insult instead of the validity of the argument. Also, it makes you look witty and confident and perhaps would conceal the fact that you are wrong.

  • The Straw Man

Ronn : There’s a research done which shows that boys generally excel better than girls in designing creative arts.

Nnor : That’s nonsense. I know a girl who is internationally-famed in drawing abstract art, so how can you say boys are better than girls in creative arts?

There is a purpose of saying the word ‘generally’. Therefore, it is invalid to take the point to the extreme and justify your argument by creating a straw man and dismissing the generalized statement. A straw man is made so that when you can’t refute your opponent’s argument, you can knock down the straw man instead.

Even today, applause can be gained for ‘refuting’ the theory of evolution. You can set up a straw man and, by knocking it down, give the impression you have ‘refuted’ the theory of evolution. One common straw man fallacy frequently created against Evolution is dismissing the possibility of macro-evolution.  Deniers often  claimed that although there’s plenty of evidence for micro-evolution, there’s very little fossil evidence for macro-evolution (which hypothesize that a species evolved from one species into another eg. fish evolved to reptile), hence the theory of Evolution must be flawed.

Whether, it’s micro-evolution or macro-evolution, they are the same. Both forms of evolution involves the process of natural selection, genetic drift, genetic flow and mutation. The difference between the two are – one take place in a small but observable scale (few months or years; eg cross-breeding cats or dogs) and another is in large and unobservable scale (which takes perhaps thousand or million of years to observe – eg. microorganism evolved to small fishes ).  That’s why, it is easier for deniers to exploit and create a straw man and attack macro-evolution since it’s pretty impossible for human being to keep observing Evolution for million of years.

  • Shifting The Burden of Proof

Ronn : A flying dragon must have existed before or else it wouldn’t have became a world wide symbol. Look, many previous empires are using it as an icon on their flag and there were many historical tales about it too.

Nnor : No, i think dragon is just a folklore myth. I don’t think you can ever convincingly prove to anyone that dragon is real.

Ronn : Alright, why not you try to prove and convince me instead that dragon do not exist?

Shifting the burden to the opponent is simply a logical fallacy because Ronn is supposed be the one who supply the reasons why his beliefs are right and credible and not the other way round since he initiated the claim first.

In the back of our mind, we often thought that he who says ‘prove it,’ and he who says ‘prove it isn’t’ are on equal ground. But clearly it’s not.  The one who asks for proof is simply declaring an intention not to accept more than the evidence requires. The other is declaring his intent to assume more than that.

This form of logical fallacy – Shifting The Burden of Proof, will enable you to put forward views for which there is not a shred of evidence like mythical creatures, Santa Clause and … God.

  • One Sided Assessment

Ronn : I think marriage is a bad idea. I don’t want to get married.

Nnor : Why not?

Ronn : Because there will be extra responsibilities to my spouse, the loss of my freedom, increasing expenses to purchase new home and car, the cost of rising the children up, and many many more. It’s unbearable!

If marriage is indeed such a horrifying thing to happen, then no one would ever do it. But it happens all the time.

Every single thing we do or event we are involved in always have their pros and cons. Hence, we should judge the overall balance between the pros and cons, not just act according to our personal bias and look only from one side or angle.


Written by elan85

August 12, 2008 at 6:03 am

Posted in Philosophy

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