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03 - Logical Fallacies


These are the bread and butter of forming coherent and logically consistent arguments. What these are, are a set of illogical means of making arguments or forming opinions that many people use. They describe the underhanded tactics some people use when debating their points, as well as the dishonesty in ways of conducting yourself.

To start off with, I would like to share the page I most enjoy about this: This is a nice visual guide to what logical fallacies are, and some examples. For this website, I will be providing my own examples to better suit the conspiracy angle.

I really want to start with a big one: The Black or White Fallacy.

This fallacy poses that there are only two possibilities or answers to a question. This is one of the most common, and highly committed logical fallacy I see alternative-thinkers, including who I used to be, using. Either something is or isn't.  Example: Either 5G technology is completely safe, or it's going to cause cancer and kill you. Either vaccines are completely safe 100% of the time, or they're dangerous death injections that cause autism. Either the world is under no control, or is constantly and completely under strict control by the elites of the world. This way of thinking, completely erases some of the most important things of all, being nuance, and the ability to see the gradations in a situation. 

The next one, while on the subject of fallacies, is the Fallacy Fallacy.

This singular fallacy keeps you in check from asserting some kind of personal superiority over people who may be correct but are forming their opinions badly. Just because someone commits a fallacy, doesn't mean they're wrong in content, it just means their argument is badly delivered. For example, if someone says you committed the black or white fallacy when you claim that take-away pizza is either amazing or awful, sure you haven't allowed for any variation, but it doesn't mean you're wrong. You are probably more likely to be, but it isn't a one-hit-kill instant win either.

A very important fallacy to understand is the Ad-Hominem Fallacy.

If you've been in a debate about a conspiracy, either on the side of the conspiracy, or arguing against it, you've likely said, or had said to you: 

Wake up. Do some research. Why are you so blind? How can you be this stupid? You need to open your eyes. You're brainwashed. You're so ignorant.

Does this sound familiar? What about a storm of laughing emojis? These are ad hominem attacks designed to undermine your argument by attacking your character or personal traits. This is done on both sides, but the vast majority of this is committed by the alternative-thinker. Remembering the ground rules from before about honestly searching for the truth, this is very dishonest, and unhelpful behaviour. If the only way you can help your argument is to attack the other person, then maybe your argument is the problem.

This next one is absolutely vital and is hands down the most committed fallacy by alternative-thinkers: The Burden of Proof

When arguing or making your claims, it is your own responsibility to prove them to be correct with factual evidence.  Have you ever said or had said to you the following? Prove me wrong. I hear this so so much. Allow me to explain why this is such a big problem with two examples: one involving law, and the other involving fantasy.

The first big problem with reversing the burden of proof, and demanding people prove you wrong, is that it allows you to make un-falsifiable claims. For instance, I could say that In the Andromeda galaxy, is a star surrounded by frozen pink elephants, prove me wrong. This is un-falsifiable. You can't disprove that, but somehow the alternative-thinker thinks, that your inability to disprove that pink elephants orbit a sun in the Andromeda galaxy, is in of itself, concrete proof that it's correct. It works in the same way as saying: God exists, prove me wrong. You can't test that.

The second example involves the law. There is a reason that in the court of law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and not guilty until proven innocent. This is also something to consider when someone is accused of something and social media convicts them before the person can even respond. Imagine this scenario:  You've been accused of armed robbery. You enter the courtroom and the prosecutor has no evidence, nothing linking you to the crime, and then asks you to prove you didn't do it. That's really messed up. Just think about that. With no evidence, no reason to think you did it other than the initial claim, they demand you prove them wrong. The reversal of the burden of proof is a dishonest practice at best, and at worst can be dangerous.

I want to close this page with one more fallacy. The next page will include fallacies I think are useful for dispelling conspiracy mentality, while this page is more about flawed reasoning and debate practice. 

This next one is the Personal Incredulity Fallacy. This is a fancy way of saying that something must be untrue if you can't understand it. There is more nuance to this than you might think. It isn't so black and white as it appears. For instance, if you say to me that mobile phones cause cancer, and it's been proven, and I then find a study you referenced that explains why what you said isn't true, then it isn't a correct response to say you don't understand that, you aren't going to read it, and you're still right.

It isn't limited to this, however. I've had many conversations with alternative-thinkers over different topics, and the outcome is almost always the same. One of the common themes is, that when presented with scientific evidence, either in the form of established science or peer-reviewed studies, they don't want to read it, and continue to make assertions that they would know are false if they just read the evidence. The personal incredulity fallacy, when thinking about alternative-thinkers, is as much a wanting to not know, so that they can continue to feel they're right. I used to do this as well, so I know how easy it is to do, and it isn't a conscious decision either. You don't actively perpetuate this, it just happens because of your mentality and how you approach things. Another term for this fallacy is arguing from ignorance.

I want to elaborate on this with a personal experience. My Dad is into ancient aliens. He enjoys bringing it up, you can see the joy in his face when he mentions he's been watching more episodes, knowing that I don't believe it anymore. His justification for repeating claims made on the series usually runs along the lines of, "we don't know how they made the pyramids", and I would respond with "there actually are theories supported by evidence", which he would follow with, "no, but it's possible. I like learning things". One day, I attempted to show him a small section of the video I found debunking ancient aliens. He fell asleep in seconds. No exaggeration. He didn't want to know what the evidence was, and was willing and happy to argue from ignorance.

That's enough for this page. Next we'll go over fallacies that are relevant when examining conspiracies.

Next page: Philosophy - Fallacies to Protect Against

Logical Fallacies Narratedby Bobby
00:00 / 07:47
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