Imagine the scene, it is the early hours of the morning and you desperately need to sleep, but you can’t leave that forum argument yet. Your antagonist is not only ‘wrong’, but irritatingly unfamiliar with the basics of logic. It’s an argument that you can’t possibly lose in any logical sense, but your opponent is fuelled by a combination of testosterone and ignorance, and unless mocked into submission, will keep going all night until everyone else has quit and gone to bed.
Worry no more… your dilemma is over.
Simply identify one, or more, of the errors in their argument and link to the relevant fallacy page in this section.
Your opponent will be mocked, and corrected… and more importantly, anyone else following the link will have a chuckle at their expense.
Then you can sleep soundly.
I ask no money for this service, it is enough for me to know that I helped mock, and then educate, an ignorant person 🙂
The 'loaded question' is typified by the often used example 'did you stop beating your wife yet'. It is one of the most difficult techniques to deal with, as any attempt to point out the fallacy seems like you are trying to avoid the question. If you are faced with this tactic, don't say anything, just point them to this page.
The False Dilemma fallacy 'might' be used in ignorance, but more often is used deliberately to attempt to channel your argument into an area where your opponent thinks they can win. Usually your antagonist will present two options, one supporting their argument, and the other an extreme and indefensible twisting of your position. The suggestion is that only one can be right. Don't get sucked in, just point them to this page.
This fallacy happens when your opponent make the mistake of assuming that his position is correct simply because the majority of people believe in it. Clearly this is an easy one to deal with, and you probably don't need our help, but point them to this page anyway, it should add to their embarrassment, even if you have already humbled them.
If your opponent in a debate tries to invoke an authority figure as proof that they are correct, then point them to this page. The fact that someone famous, or supposedly 'an expert' on the subject, supports their view does not make them correct. You could probably find a similar figure to support your side of the debate, but then it becomes an argument by proxy, which is pointless.
They should have the confidence to debate the argument themselves, or leave the debate.
This is one of the most common fallacies, and it is one that we are all prone to. It happens when we assume that our views are representative of the views of the majority. They might be, and they might not, we are all far more different than we like to assume. The more insecure a person is, the more likely they are to fall victim to this as they are probably putting a lot of effort into trying to be the same as everyone else.
Your opponent makes this mistake when they see two events happening close together as being linked in a cause and effect relationship. For example, 'A' happened, then 'B' happened.. so 'A' must have caused 'B'.
This error is one of the most common you will come across. It is 'hard wired' into our brains to spot patterns and draw conclusions, but we should not use these observations as proof, only as a indicator that further investigation might be needed. People who make this mistake can be pointed to this page, they probably won't understand it, but others following the debate will, and that's what matters.
If your opponents argument has the form "If You Can't Prove Me Wrong, then I am Right", then he/she is at best, a fool, or, even worse, could be consciously trying to win an argument with bad logic. This fallacy is known as 'Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam', sometimes referred to as 'an appeal to ignorance'. Most people using this argument are not skilled debaters, and will probably include many of the other fallacies listed here, so you are not really in any danger of losing the argument.
If your opponent tries to win the debate by making personal attacks on you, or any of the other proponents of your argument, they have committed the ‘Ad Hominem’ fallacy.
It is the act of a desperate opponent, they know they are losing and are trying to distract you into defending yourself, or others, instead of attacking the flaws in their argument.
Clearly, anyone who relies on ‘Ad Hominem’ in their arguments should be given the link to this page, then mocked, then, when the laughter has died down, ignored.
When linking to one of these pages, please be aware that your opponent may well have grounds to accuse you of committing the Argumentum Ad Verecundiam fallacy yourself.
Best protect against that risk with some kind of disclaimer before you drop the link – otherwise we could end up in a ‘fallacy loop’, and who knows what will happen then. Probably logic will stop working, or computers will explode…. so, don’t, Ok.
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