May 29, 2006

When making sense makes no sense

Since logical fallacies have been employed so routinely and repeatedly in comments here, the "straw man" being a particular favorite of certain commenters, I found this bit on Daily KOS on "false dichotomies" of interest.

A list of logical fallacies with brief descriptions is found here, while for a more extensive and in-depth exploration, go here.
In order to understand what a fallacy is, one must understand what an argument is. Very briefly, an argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement (a sentence that is either true or false) that is offered in support of the claim being made, which is the conclusion (which is also a sentence that is either true or false).
A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an "argument" in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply "arguments" which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true.
Look over the list. Which have you seen employed here or elsewhere? I've probably used a few myself.


At 5/29/2006 9:45 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Perhaps my favorite fallacious argument of all time is "Marijuan is a gateway drug for heroin and other hard drugs. It begins with the almost irrefutable argument that virtually 100% of hard dopers begin with weed, then leaps to conclusion that weed almost inexorably leads to hard drug addiciton.

Probably is, you cans say the same thing about mother's milk or shampoo or bathroom tissue. viturally 100% of users began on them, too.

Weed is either bad for one's healtyh or not but that's a different free standing argument. The gateway thing falls from the minor premise of the argument being too general.

At 5/30/2006 12:36 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

True UMR.... the "marijuana leads to hard drugs because most heroin users started with pot" argument is an example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc or the "after this, therefore because of this" logical fallacy.

And I can't recall the source unfortunately, but I recently saw a news report of a study (I think in Europe, though I'm not sure) which showed that regular pot smoking does not lead to an increased incidence of lung cancer as previously thought, and which might be assumed.

I don't like smoking pot and never did, just never enjoyed it. And I've seen the negative effects of people who smoke too much pot. But the evidence that pot should be decriminalized continues to mount.

It's certainly more benign than alcohol, and doesn't lead to such negative consequences as reckless driving, domestic abuse, and the millions upon millions of crimes of violence which involve alcohol.
Alcohol destroys far more lives than pot ever could.

Alcohol tends to make you do things you otherwise wouldn't, which is part of it's appeal. (hence the term "liquid courage")But the things people do while drunk are often tragic and misguided and things they wouldn't think of doing if sober.

I don't think the same can be said of pot, or if so, to a much, much lesser degree. You don't hear of someone getting buzzed on pot and beating their wife, urinating in the middle of the street or driving their car into someone's living room.

And then there's the argument that the government could reap millions upon millions in tax revenue if they'd only legalize it and tax it.

And of course, the fact that jails and prisons house thousands of people busted for pot crimes.

But the legalization debate is another topic entirely. Ooops.

Perhaps I'll do a post on it sometime.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home