I’d really like to know what would happen to society if everybody knew all common logical fallacies and did their best to avoid them. What if that was part of basic education for everyone in the world?

I’m sure most people make these errors all the time and don’t even notice. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t hardwired for perfect logic and even if we know the basic rules, that doesn’t mean that all our thoughts will automatically be sound. But there is something in the way our brains work that leads to somewhat predictable errors.

I’ll list some examples here, but there are many more (just google “logical fallacies“, there are sites that explain them quite well, with many examples!).

“Ad Hominem”: Person A claims X, Person B makes a personal attack against A, therefore X is false.

“Ad Verecundiam”: Person A claims X and claims to be an authority on the subject, therefore X is true.

“Begging the Question / Circular Reasoning”: X implies Y and Y implies X. Therefore X is true.

“False Dilemma”: X is either A or B (when it could also be C). X is not A. Therefore X is B. (Only fallacious if there are more than two possibilities of course)

“Appeal to Emotion”: X is favorable, or a false X would be terrible. Therefore X is true.

One important thing to note is that one particular fallacy could lead to rejecting the truth behind logical fallacies altogether. If you think you used faulty reasoning but came to the right conclusion, this doesn’t mean your reasoning was true. Simply put, if the premise or your reasoning are false, the outcome can be anything (true or false!). What’s worse, your brain likes to forget negative memories more often than positive ones, so you’ll end up thinking that everything works just fine.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 24th, 2009 at 21:52 and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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