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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Using Logical Fallacies

When I first learned the names of various logical fallacies I started using them to say where somebody was mistaken. But I do not want to do this anymore. Because from seeing how logical fallacies are used by other people they are usually abused, and not applicable.

Take for example the "strawman". When I first learned that mischarachterizing the position of someone else and then refuting that position is known as a "strawman", I would tell others that they have strawmaned my position.

I always knew that mischarachterization of a position is not a real argument to be used. I just never knew it had a name and a category to it. Once I learned about the classification of the fallacy I started to call it out.

However, I noticed that nearly everybody online likes to claim that someone is strawmanning them. In certain cases they are. But in other cases they are not. Sometimes satire is used in place of a mischarachterization. If you tell me what you believe and I point out the stupity of it in a satirical manner then that is not a strawman.

Somehow people cannot understand this. At any moment you reveal to them why their position is stupid, even if you stick to it like it actually is, they will likely say you are strawmanning them.

Another fallacy that people like to call is the ad hominen attack. I get accused of this all the time. They say that I used an insult therefore my argument is a fallacy. No. That is not how an ad hominen attack works. Ad hominen is not when somebody is insulted. Ad hominen is when an insult is used in place of an argument. If I have an argument and I add an insult to it, I still have an argument. It is only if I replace my argument with an insult then does it become an ad hominen fallacy.

Or consider the false dichotomy. When I present two choices many people tell me I have committed a false dichotomy. That is my problem. Just because two choices are presented does not mean it is a false dichotomy. Sometimes two choices are the only two choices. Sadly, a lot of people think that any time you present two choices it automatically is a false dichotomy.

The way logical fallacies really work, in most conversations, is to give people an excuse to avoid the argument. What most likely happens is that people take a college course that taught them about logical fallacies. And from that point in their lives they think they are intelligent that they know the name of these fallacies. Though they do not know how these fallacies are actually used.

People who are able to think rationally and correctly do not need names for fallacies. They can realize what are good arguments and what are not. I never had to learn about various logical fallacies to think properly. But if people are dumb and they cannot think properly, or they refuse to think properly, then it does not matter if you teach them different logical fallacies. They will simply use the names of these logical fallacies as an excuse to avoid responding to people.

So I suggest for people to just stop using names of logical fallacies and simply point out where the error is. That way people would not have an excuse to avoid responding by simply labeling a fallacy. That is a lot more meaningful.

It just seems that the internet is filled with people who learned a few names for some logical fallacies and from that point on they use these names to label anything they do not agree with as a fallacy.

This is not really related to this, but since we are on the topic of argument I figured I should say this. There are people who tell you, "we need respectful and polite conversations".

Fuck respectful conversations and fuck these people who say this. Respectful conversations put to me sleep. They are unbelievably boring. Christopher Hitchens is exciting to watch precisely because he is not respecful.

As long as you make rational arguments and you have a point to what you are saying then I do not care. If that is all you do then you are way too boring for me. If you only make jokes and insults then you are too dumb for me. I want to see the two mixed.

I want to see angry intellectual bullies that destroy arguments of people. That is a lot more fun. Not just fun but it is more persuasive. If you are too boring, but you make all the arguments, who are you going to convert? No one. You cannot convert people who you bored to death. You cannot convert people who fell asleep on you. Be exciting. Just make sure you actually argue something.

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