9:26 AM — Logical Fallacy
has a great article on logical fallacies
in arguments that often crop up online. Below I wish to mention a few and how I usually see them. It'd be awesome if we could remove most of these from arguments on my blog, though you'll see below I do believe in one in certain circumstances.
- Ad hominem refers to personal attacks, or attacks on a person's character. Often used in heated debates between liberals and conservatives, and though I try to be above such things, sometimes it eludes even me. (See Talking Tina debate.)
- Appeal to authority - Despite the claims of scientists to the contrary, much of science is based upon the principle that we should start with believing what others tell us. This doesn't mean that we should believe everything we hear, but instead that we should determine who is a reputable authority, and then believe only him or her. For example, I strongly believe in evolution, but I probably will NEVER see the evidence that evolutionary biologists used to come to this conclusion. Therefore, I believe the authority of those biologists who have seen it. On the other had, I also believe in the Big Bang and I HAVE had the opportunity to weigh the data for and against it, so I do not need an appeal to authority. I will accept an appeal to authority IFF (if and only if) the person proposing to do so sufficiently proves that the individual IS authoritative. "He/She is famous" isn't good enough.
- Appeal to belief is defined by Wikipedia as assuming something is true because most people believe it. I feel it's also related to the concept of the false premise, in which your arguments are based upon faulty assumptions. Unfortunately, this is what many people do when they quote from the Bible to try and convince me of something. For example, in this post Paul argues that as it says in Romans 1:18-22, "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (evidence of God is staring us all in the face, therefore atheists are so willingly). In order for me to believe that argument, I either have to accept an appeal to belief ("so many others believe the Bible, so should I!"), or a false or unproven premise (Assumption: the Bible is absolute truth, everything within its pages is true; Conclusion: God exists, etc.). Sorry Paulie, you've gotta first prove to me that the Bible actually IS the word of God for me to start accepting quotes from it.