I was meeting a fellow professor who said he was having a hard time with people who do not read the literature outside of their own peer group on Climate Change. As we talked–the topic of creation came up and he basically said he will not engage the evidence for God. Ironic? Yes. He said he was quite unwilling to ascribe any reality at all, to the creationism doctrine. He said that he believed the idea that creationists have an equal place at the table with scientists borders on the absurd. By being unwilling to engage the scientific evidence against his position, he was making the same error he was claiming that the others were making. How many of us are doing the same thing?
I came across the following 10 commandments of Logic which I found helpful and humorous!
These are 10 of the more popular logical fallacies, but there are many others you need to learn in order to master the art of debate…
1. Thou shall not attack the person’s character, but the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)
Example: Dave listens to Marilyn Manson, therefore his arguments against certain parts of religion are worthless. After all, would you trust someone who listens to that devil worshiper?
2. Thou shall not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (“Straw Man Fallacy”)
Example: After Jimmy said that we should put more money into health and education, Steve responded by saying that he was surprised that Jimmy hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenceless by cutting military spending.
3. Thou shall not use small numbers to represent the whole. (“Hasty Generalization”)
Example: Climate Change Deniers take a small sample set of data to demonstrate that the Earth is cooling, not warming. They do this by zooming in on 10 years of data, ignoring the trend that is present in the entire data set which spans a century.
–Notice in 3, the writer is calling people who disagree a politically charged negative term “climate change deniers” or “haters” or something similar that people do to discredit the other side without reading or engaging their evidence!
4. Thou shall not argue thy position by assuming one of its premises is true. (“Begging the Question”)
Sheldon: “God must exist.”
Wilbert: “How do you know?”
Sheldon: “Because the Bible says so.”
Wilbert: “Why should I believe the Bible?”
Sheldon: “Because the Bible was written by God.”
Here, Sheldon is making the assumption that the Bible is true, therefore his premise – that God exists – is also true.
This can be turned upside down on the atheist too
Sheldon: “God must NOT exist.”
Wilbert: “How do you know?”
Sheldon: “Because the reason says so.”
Wilbert: “Why should I believe reason?”
Sheldon: “Because it is reasonable!”
5. Thou shall not claim that because something occurred before, but must be the cause. (“Post Hoc/False Cause”).
This can also be read as “correlation does not imply causation”.
Example: There were 3 murders in Dallas this week and on each day, it was raining. Therefore, murders occur on rainy days.
6. Thou shall not reduce the argument down to only two possibilities when there is a clear middle ground. (“False Dichotomy”)
Example: You’re either with me, or against me. Being neutral is not an option.
7. Thou shall not argue that because of our ignorance, the claim must be true or false. (“Ad Ignorantiam”).
Example: 95% of unidentified flying objects have been explained. 5% have not. Therefore, the 5% that are unexplained prove that aliens exist.
8. Thou shall not lay the burn of proof onto him that is questioning the claim. (“Burden of Proof Reversal”).
Example: Marcy claims she sees the ghosts of dead people, then challenges you to prove her wrong. The burden of proof is on Marcy, not you, since Marcy made the extraordinary claim.
9. Thou shall not assume that “this” follows “that”, when “it” has no logical connection. (“Non Sequitur”).
Similar, but the difference between the post hoc and non sequitur fallacies is that, whereas the post hoc fallacy is due to lack of a causal connection, in the non sequitur fallacy, the error is due to lack of a logical connection.
Example: If you do not buy this Vitamin X supplements for your infant, you are neglecting your her.
10. Thou shall not claim that because a premise is popular, therefore, it must be true. (“Bandwagon Fallacy”).
Example: Just because a celebrity like Dr. Oz endorses a product, it doesn’t make it any more legitimate.
Also, check out this wonderful pseudo debate that you must watch!
A transcript of the show is available here
What do you think?