Friday, March 20, 2009

42 Logical Fallacies

You’ll find many web sites that list logical fallacies. Here is one of them. Good content that is simply written with a basic layout. Also recommended is Nonsense: A Handbook of Logical Fallacies by Robert J. Gula.

Check out 42 Logical Fallacies.

Enjoy.


8 Comments

  1. Chucky March 22, 2009

    My favourite is the the genetic fallacy. I hear this one a lot when I’m talking about Christianity. “You only believe that because you were brought up that way…” which often comes from people who have no idea how I was brought up or not, or what led me to Christianity.

  2. Lee March 22, 2009

    Hi Chucky,

    Sorry, have to ask – to clear up my own fuzzy thinking.

    You quoted “You only believe that because you were brought up that way…”

    Now, I often thought that the only reason people are Christian is because someone told them about Christianity and Jesus. After all, when explorers go to new lands and met new people – they never meet a Christian for some crazy reason 🙂

    To put it another way, outside of the bible – what actually do you know about Jesus?

    This leads me to think the only evidence (if it can be called that) for Christianity is the bible itself – but how do we know the bible is telling the truth? Why not the Koran for example. (And I don’t care that the Bible and Koran contradict one another – they both could be wrong after all)

    Now, can someone reason their way to Christianity?

    What discovery or physical evidence can one look at (apart from the bible) that shows Christianity to be true?

    The fact that there are many Christians is not evidence, there are after all many Muslims.

    So in conclusion, if someone is a Christian, it really does seem like it is because they were taught about Jesus at some point. I have not seen another explanation… but then I know nothing about you are most Christians. Can you help me out?

    Lee

  3. Brian March 22, 2009

    Lee, the point of the genetic fallacy is that it discredits a proposition as untrue because of how one came to believe it. How someone comes to believe something is irrelevant to whether it is true or false. See here.

    I’ll let Chucky respond the the other stuff if he wants.

  4. Lee March 23, 2009

    Hi Brian,

    Lee, the point of the genetic fallacy is that it discredits a proposition as untrue because of how one came to believe it. How someone comes to believe something is irrelevant to whether it is true or false.

    Yes and no.

    I have not tried to discredit a proposition as untrue based on that – yet I still think it is right to question how someone came to their belief, was it by reason? (The ‘no’ part of my reply)

    Someone could be believing in something that is true (as you rightly say) without good reason – by chance they could have been born to the right parents, at the right time, in the right country, who just so happened to hold the right religious view and educated their child in these teachings.

    My point though still remains, do they have good reasons to hold that position, and can they share them to others?

    So, the belief could be true, but the person doesn’t know why. So here I agree with you. (The yes part of my reply)

    All I ask is how can a sceptic reason their way into Christianity? Can it be done?

    I know I am circling around this genetic fallacy, but have I actually committed a logical fallacy? If I have, please point out where so I do not make it again in the future

    My argument seems reasonable to me… but maybe it isn’t?

    Many thanks

    Lee

  5. Brian March 23, 2009

    Lee,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion.
    I think I agree with you on a number of points, so I don’t want to give the impression that we are completely contrary in our views. But I primarily want to address the core of the topic at the moment – where the genetic fallacy may happen for some.

    The important thing to distinguish, I think, is the difference between the originating why for a belief and the rational why of a belief.

    From this let me give an example: 2+2=4. I may have been taught this by my parents. That is the “originating why” of the belief. But the reason I maintain that belief is not because my parents taught me that. The reason I continue in the belief is the “rational why.”

    So it is important that we not equivocate on the term “why” we believe. Why do I believe 2+2=4? Because my parents taught me (origin), and because it is true (rational). Now replace 2+2 with any other proposition. You commit the genetic fallacy that something is wrong because of the origin of the belief, as opposed to the rationality behind the belief.

    So Lee, I think we agree that we should judge based on reasons and not origins of belief. The only time one commits the genetic fallacy is if they say that a someone’s belief is wrong because of how they came to believe it. Or to judge something as wrong because of motivation. That is not an adequate truth test.

    Your other question — How can a skeptic reason their way to Christianity? Can it be done? — I think I would answer the second question first and say yes, it can be done. There are many people who have. See here for a list. However, there is the element of will that is involved; “a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” may apply. All the “evidence” in the world may not convince the unwilling. But this is a big subject too far off the topic of this post.

    Finally, If someone doesn’t fully know why they believe, they may not have the sort of justification that others require, but they may have sufficient personal reasons for their beliefs. I am of the persuasion that there may be any number of ways to come to believe something, but truth claims should be put the the test to see if they are systematic consistent.

    Lee, thanks for your comments. Please don’t take my lengthy reply as a rebuttal or a complete disagreement with you. I just wanted to take time to get a bit more clarity and to elaborate on those main questions.

    Take care!

  6. Lee March 24, 2009

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for continuing the discussion.

    And I thank you… as I’ve mentioned before, it is a shame we both don’t have a little more time for online discussions (though even as a sceptic, I am careful for what I wish for 🙂 )

    I think I agree with you on a number of points, so I don’t want to give the impression that we are completely contrary in our views.

    I think we agree on most points on this topic…

    From this let me give an example: 2+2=4. I may have been taught this by my parents. That is the “originating why” of the belief. But the reason I maintain that belief is not because my parents taught me that. The reason I continue in the belief is the “rational why.”

    I agree

    Why do I believe 2+2=4? Because my parents taught me (origin), and because it is true (rational).

    I still agree, but may I try a different example – one more practical than the abstract example you used.

    Let’s say my parents taught me the Earth was flat, unmovable and the centre of the solar system (Erm.. . or would that be Earth system?) and I believe this with all my heart BTW 🙂

    Now the origin of this belief is my parents… this doesn’t make it a fact as we both will agree.

    We can both think of empirical proofs to help confirm or falsify this position of mine.

    So whether the original belief taught to me as a child was true or not can be confirmed one way or the other to both our agreements.

    It isn’t about my beliefs, or when I was taught it – maybe what my parents taught me was correct, maybe it was wrong – the only thing though that is important is what is true. What I can show to be (likely) true.

    We can agree I am sure (since I hope I have just rephrased what you have been saying)

    For you to believe, like me, that the world is flat, unmoveable and the centre of the universe – the burden of proof is with me to logical and empirically prove it to you. (I think I just got off topic – sorry)

    Now, what about someone’s belief about the Christian God?

    Again, it has nothing to do whether someone was taught this information as a child (though I still maintain this is the only way to come to Christian’s conclusions and I have history on my side)

    If the Christian position is a reasonable one, I should be able to reason to it (Again we agree I think)

    So Lee, I think we agree that we should judge based on reasons and not origins of belief.

    Yep

    The only time one commits the genetic fallacy is if they say that a someone’s belief is wrong because of how they came to believe it.

    Phew… I think I am not guilty of making this fallacy then. (Or am I?)

    Your other question — How can a skeptic reason their way to Christianity? Can it be done? — I think I would answer the second question first and say yes, it can be done. There are many people who have. See here for a list.

    This list will take me time to read since of course, I need to see their reasons and not just a list of names (and the first two links I followed are dead links)

    However, there is the element of will that is involved; “a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” may apply.

    This makes no sense to me, my education is in science – evidence overrides personal beliefs for me.

    I may wish to be convinced that there are no moons around Jupiter – but a quick look through a telescope will confirm against my will that I am wrong.

    All the “evidence” in the world may not convince the unwilling. But this is a big subject too far off the topic of this post.

    I heard WLC say in his debate against Richard Carrier say God wants for us to love Him, and this cannot be done against our will. I can agree to that. However, my belief in God is down to the evidence/proofs – whether I love Him is a different matter.

    I cannot chose to not believe in the Sun as another example. God could provide similar evidence.

    Finally, If someone doesn’t fully know why they believe, they may not have the sort of justification that others require, but they may have sufficient personal reasons for their beliefs.

    Then I am reasonable to maintain a position of doubt on their claims.

    I am of the persuasion that there may be any number of ways to come to believe something, but truth claims should be put the the test to see if they are systematic consistent.

    I agree… I would like to know how you do this.

    Please don’t take my lengthy reply as a rebuttal or a complete disagreement with you. I just wanted to take time to get a bit more clarity and to elaborate on those main questions.

    And thanks for doing so.

    Have to go, the wife wants the computer now.

    Take care.

    Lee

  7. Brian March 24, 2009

    I have omitted responses to a couple of the comments due to time constraints… but here are the core comments.

    Again, it has nothing to do whether someone was taught this information as a child (though I still maintain this is the only way to come to Christian’s conclusions and I have history on my side)

    This seems like quite a claim to make, Lee. If you say that being taught these things as a child is the ONLY way to come to Christian conclusions, I would ask you to substantiate this claim with your historical sources, if you can. : )

    This list will take me time to read since of course, I need to see their reasons and not just a list of names (and the first two links I followed are dead links)

    The I will narrow the list to two: Josh McDowell, Astronomer Hugh Ross.

    I agree… I would like to know how you do this.

    In regard to testing truth claims for systematic consistency, that is a large subject as well, which I think for now I will save for another day. This is getting a little off the topic of the genetic fallacy, heh heh.

  8. Anonymous May 3, 2013

    Lee,
    Logic has the same problem as the Bible. Both beg the question. Why is logic true. Because it says it is logically true. Logic cannot be proved or disproved apart from logic. Logic cannot be proven by chemistry for example. Further logic would still be true if all created life that can think ceased to exist because it is from God.
    check out cosmological agreement for the existence of God.
    further the majority of historical documents cannot be proven true by scientific method. I think that is a category mistake.
    Yet there is evidence the manuscript and the archeological and the prophetic and the statistical probability evidence to name a few.
    .