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Post No.: 0648argument

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

After our sojourn in the dark realm of appeals back in Post No.: 0602, we emerge, bleary-eyed but in full health after sharing a healing spell, in the barbarous kingdom of argument strategies that may prove fallacious…

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

I think I’ll need to bring a big ol’ bastard with me this time.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Right.

 

Attacking a straw man – this one is about misrepresenting a position in an attempt to make it easier to criticise, thus one ends up attacking a position that the other side didn’t actually make or hold. So one might create a distorted or simplified caricature of the arguments of one’s opponent and then start arguing against that instead of their real or intended arguments.

 

Or, for instance, if someone else were to disagree with a female politician’s proposed policies on the grounds that they are unworkable but we, ourselves, support her and her policies, we might retort by arguing that they only disagree with her because they’re ‘intimidated by strong women’.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Red herring, a smokescreen or digression – introducing, whether on purpose or otherwise, irrelevant evidence, materials or factors to distract the audience from the true argument or topic at hand and/or in order to lead them towards a different conclusion.

 

This could also be about avoiding answering a question by answering one that wasn’t asked, or introducing a separate argument or changing the subject to one that one believes is easier to speak about. When one has no decent rebuttal but has the gift of the gab, one might present fake arguments that are intended to replace the lack of real arguments.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Outright lies, suppressed evidence or half-truths – a known falsehood repeated and spread as if a fact, or intentionally failing to present evidence which counts against one’s own position, or cherry-picking evidence or drawing an unwarranted conclusion from premises that are only partially correct.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Missing the point – this is when making an argument that may in itself be valid but does not address the issue in question.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Incomplete or inconsistent comparisons – this is when insufficient information is provided to make a complete comparison, or where different methods of comparison are used in different cases, which leaves others with a false or unfair impression of the whole comparison.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Quibbling – complaining about a minor point and then falsely believing that this quibble somehow undermines the entire argument, when it doesn’t.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Tokenism – interpreting a merely token gesture as an adequate substitute for the real thing.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Proof by verbosity, proof by intimidation or shotgun argumentation – submitting others to an argument that’s too complex and/or verbose to reasonably deal with in all of its intimate details in time, or offering such a dauntingly large number of arguments that the opponent cannot possibly respond to all of them. This is one strategy employed during filibusters to halt the progress of bills or motions in parliament. One could contest that this doesn’t really present a fallacy but we should aim to present clear and concise arguments if we can and not purposely make an argument seem more complex than it really is. This is because if an argument isn’t unclear then it’ll fail to not be completely understood, it’ll have the absolutely opposite effect to being non-persuasive, and it…

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Obscurum per obscurius – explaining something that’s obscure or mysterious by presenting something that’s even more obscure or mysterious. This is a popular strategy with pseudoscientific treatments or medicines. The churn of new marketing-friendly science-y-sounding buzzwords hide either what is actually nothing special or is total bullcrap.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Homunculus fallacy – this is when a ‘middleperson’ is used to explain something without actually explaining the real nature of that thing. Or explaining a concept in terms of another concept without first defining or explaining the original concept, thus leading to an infinite regress of concepts to explain concepts to explain concepts!

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Style over substance – being swayed by factors that aren’t anything to do with the argument itself, such as the confident tone of the speaker or the fancy erudite words that were used, or the incorrect spelling or poor grammar in a written piece (as long as the meaning of the message wasn’t affected by it).

 

Although we should always argue by treating the other side with respect and be treated with respect in return, either praising or criticising someone’s tone (in terms of their voice or rudeness), the way they look, or simply anything that’s nothing to do with the content of their actual arguments, isn’t proper, generally speaking, despite how natural it is to do. We hear voters intuitively judge the appearance, accents and delivery styles of politicians all of the time as opposed to just their policies, claims, arguments and track records. And it usually takes someone to explicitly point out, “What’s that got to do with anything?” before people start to engage in more critical rather than superficial thinking.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Appeal to ridicule – unfairly presenting the opponent’s argument in a way that makes it appear absurd.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Playing the Nazi card – comparing an opponent or their argument to Hitler or Nazism in an attempt to associate their position with one that’s almost universally reviled. An example is calling a feisty female group a bunch of ‘feminazis’ in a thought-terminating way. (We also have a tendency to compare ourselves to the worst examples of something we can think of in an attempt to justify our own ill behaviours and look good by comparison. For example, claiming to be not as terrible as a particular infamous despot!)

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Inconsistency or contradiction – inconsistent argumentation or holding double standards for different arguments depending on whether we support them or not, and other kinds of contradictions.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Kettle logic – this is using multiple arguments to defend a point but when those arguments are themselves contradictory with each other.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Argument from repetition – repeating or discussing something extensively until nobody cares to discuss it anymore. Alternatively, it’s assuming that something that’s been talked about so much before doesn’t need to be talked about anymore, isn’t worth solving or has apparently been solved when it hasn’t yet, such as racial discrimination.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Argument from silence – this is where the conclusion is based on the absence of contrary evidence rather than the existence of affirming evidence. Or silence is taken as either tacit acceptance or rejection, depending on one’s bias. But something isn’t automatically true or acceptable if no one voices (or moreover if one fails to personally hear) any objections to it, because, for instance, one could be listening to an echo chamber.

 

In a related manner, just because there is an absence of data, it doesn’t mean that one can come to one’s own assumptions about what that data would’ve been if one or someone else had bothered to conduct that research. Meow.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Let’s now move swiftly onto several common fallacies of language.

 

Ambiguity or equivocation – this involves interpreting ambiguous words, tonal emphases or definitions as if they weren’t ambiguous, or this is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time, or using deliberately ambiguous language to cover all bases where one can then cement the intended interpretation afterwards when using the benefit of hindsight.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Ambiguous middle term or the fallacy of four terms – closely related to the one above, this is a common ambiguity in syllogisms in which the middle term is equivocated (using the same word or phrase but with a different meaning each time).

 

When a syllogism has four or more terms rather than the requisite three, the form of this kind of argument is invalid too. For example, a major premise could be ‘all cats have claws’, the minor premise could be ‘all Birmans are cats’, and the conclusion presented could be ‘all cows have claws’, which obviously doesn’t connect. The two premises are insufficient to connect the four different terms (cats, claws, Birmans and cows). There must be one term common to both premises in order to establish a connection between them.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

If-by-whiskey – presenting an argument that supports both sides of an issue by using ‘doublespeak’ or terms that are selectively emotionally connotative in order to appear to affirm both sides of an issue and to agree with whichever side the listener supports. This is in effect taking a position without actually taking a position.

 

So if by cars you mean the freedom, convenience and joy they offer then I’m for them. But if by cars you mean the congestion, pollution and accidents they create then I’m against them.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Loaded language – putting forth a loaded question or a question that already assumes a conclusion, usually in order to confirm one’s existing biases, because, “You were the one who forgot to replace the toilet paper weren’t you?”

 

“No need to have a go at me! I didn’t accuse you. I was only asking” is then how such conversations typically go(!)

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Crikey!

 

No true Scotsman, appeal to purity, semantic arguments or syntactic arguments – attempting to include a conclusion about something by using a highly arbitrary or incorrectly used definition of the word itself. Or when faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, then rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, we modify the subject of the assertion to exclude that specific case or others like it through rhetoric, without reference to any specific or objective rule.

 

As a simplified example, I might assert that no chef uses a microwave. And you might point out a chef who you know uses a microwave. And then I respond by saying, “But no true chef uses a microwave”, as a stubborn ad hoc rescue for my original assertion.

 

One might also change the definition of a word or phrase to suit one’s own argument (semantically via word ambiguity, and syntactically via phrase or sentence ambiguity).

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Definist fallacy – the confusion between two properties by defining one in terms of the other. Or (re)defining a term in a biased way that makes one’s position much easier to defend.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Etymological fallacy – arguing that the original or historical meaning of a word or phrase is necessarily the same as its present-day meaning.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Referential fallacy – assuming that all words refer to existing things and that the meanings of words reside within the things they refer to, as opposed to words that sometimes refer to no real object or that the meanings of words often come from how we contextually use them.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Reification or hypostatisation – when an abstract belief or hypothetical construct is treated as if it were a concretely and objectively real event or physical entity.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

Tautology – repeating the same assertion but using different terminologies or paraphrasing things, which, whilst not logically faulty, does not advance or provide adequate reasoning for the conclusion forwarded.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Weasel words or guarding terms – the usage of vague, non-committal, non-specific references and language, or using terms such as ‘I think’ or ‘might’ to weaken one’s claims in order to make them much easier to defend against refutation. Sometimes the vagueness is required and fair because an issue isn’t clear-cut or one isn’t entirely sure of something, but sometimes people are just deliberately sitting on the fence.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

…Once more, you’ll have probably noticed that a lot of these fallacies overlap with others and that’s because putting them all into neat categories is difficult. This doesn’t really matter though as long as we’re learning about them.

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

I think next time will be the final stretch of this monumental odyssey.

 

Fluffystealthkitten says:

 

We will grind and farm to stock up on potions and rations in the meantime. Meow!

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

Woof!

 

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