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A Fallacy Recognition Handbook

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A Fallacy Recognition Handbook

CONTENTS

Zen & Understanding the Middle East

Introduction
Sellers' Market
Will to Believe
Rules of Thumb

"The truth is out there "
Use & misuse of words
False information signals more false information
Technical whiz-bang
Understand the Context
Lies, More Lies, Damn Lies and Newspapers
Beware of Generalizations
Theology and scripture
Misleading Statistics
Smoke in your eyes
What is Missing?
Myth versus fact versus narrative
The past was not like the present; the future will be different

Fallacy Recognition in the Middle East

Fallacies and Arguments
Cause and Effect
Slippery Slope
Gambler's Fallacy
Ad Hominem
Authority
Beliefs
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Emotion
Appeal to Tradition
False Dilemma or Black and White Thinking
Special Pleading
The Spotlight Fallacy
Who is to Say?

Fallacy Handbook

Fallacies and Arguments

Fallacies

Ad Hominem

Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

Appeal to Authority

Appeal to Belief

Appeal to Common Practice

Appeal to Consequences of a Belief

Appeal to Emotion

Appeal to Fear

Appeal to Flattery

Appeal to Novelty

Appeal to Pity

Appeal to Popularity

Appeal to Ridicule

Appeal to Spite

Appeal to Tradition

Bandwagon

Begging the Question

Biased Sample

Burden of Proof

Circumstantial Ad Hominem

Composition

Confusing Cause and Effect

Division

False Dilemma

Gambler's Fallacy

Genetic Fallacy

Guilt By Association

Hasty Generalization

Ignoring A Common Cause

Middle Ground

Misleading Vividness

Peer Pressure

Personal Attack

Poisoning the Well

Post Hoc

Questionable Cause

Red Herring

Relativist Fallacy

Slippery Slope

Special Pleading

Spotlight

Straw Man

2 Wrongs Make A Right
Who is to say

Personal Attack

Also Known as: Ad Hominem Abusive

Description:

A personal attack is committed when a person substitutes abusive remarks for evidence when attacking another person’s claim or claims. This line of “reasoning” is fallacious because the attack is directed at the person making the claim and not the claim itself. The truth value of a claim is independent of the person making the claim. After all, no matter how repugnant an individual might be, he or she can still make true claims.

Not all ad Hominems are fallacious. In some cases, an individual’s characteristics can have a bearing on the question of the veracity of her claims. For example, if someone is shown to be a pathological liar, then what he says can be considered to be unreliable. However, such attacks are weak, since even pathological liars might speak the truth on occasion.

In general, it is best to focus one’s attention on the content of the claim and not on who made the claim. It is the content that determines the truth of the claim and not the characteristics of the person making the claim.

Example #1:

In a school debate, Bill claims that the President’s economic plan is unrealistic. His opponent, a professor, retorts by saying “the freshman has his facts wrong.”

Example #2:

“This theory about a potential cure for cancer has been introduced by a doctor who is a known lesbian feminist. I don’t see why we should extend an invitation for her to speak at the World Conference on Cancer.”

Example #3:

“Bill says that we should give tax breaks to companies. But he is untrustworthy, so it must be wrong to do that.”

Example #4:

“That claim cannot be true. Dave believes it, and we know how morally repulsive he is.”

Example #5:

“Bill claims that Jane would be a good treasurer. However I find Bill’s behavior offensive, so I’m not going to vote for Jill.”

Example #6

“Jane says that drug use is morally wrong, but she is just a goody-two shoes Christian, so we don’t have to listen to her.”

Example #7

Bill: “I don’t think it is a good idea to cut social programs.”

Jill: “Why not?”

Bill: “Well, many people do not get a fair start in life and hence need some help. After all, some people have wealthy parents and have it fairly easy. Others are born into poverty and…”

Jill: “You just say that stuff because you have a soft heart and an equally soft head.”

 

Previous: Peer Pressure  Next: Poisoning the Well

 

See Also: Ad Hominem  Ad Hominem Tu Quoque  and Ad Hominem in Midde East Falacies.


Legal Information

This book is copyright 2002 by Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere. It may be freely distributed for personal or educational use provided that it is not modified and no fee above the normal cost of distribution is charged for it. Visit my web site at www.opifex.cnchost.com.

Reproduced by permission


 

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