About a week ago, Rebekkah and I were talking about problematic argument styles and how pervasive they’ve become on social media because of this election. I thought it would be a cool subject to write about here but when I began to study the various fallacies, I realized two things. One, there are too many of them and two, they are rather boring. The list is here if you’re interested.
Instead, I’ll just write about a few really popular ways for people to disagree with each other on Facebook that is making my head hurt.
These days, you literally can’t voice any complaint about how Trump is running our government without someone pointing out something about Obama. This is called a distraction fallacy. This type of argument makes me nuts because a) I didn’t vote for Obama, and b) just because someone else did it, doesn’t make it right.
|One way of winning an argument is to distract the person from the real point, leading them up the garden path of a side issue or something completely irrelevant to the real subject. The main argument may thus never be completed to a logical conclusion, especially if agreeing with the side issue can be substituted for the real agreement. courtesy of changingminds.org|
Statement: President Donald Trump’s constant tweeting on Twitter about perceived wrongs makes him appear to be thin-skinned.
Distraction Fallacy Argument: Obama was was a self absorbed narcissistic racist who had no problem doing the same things you accuse Trump of.
Breakdown: One has nothing to do with the other. Maybe they were both thin-skinned. Maybe neither of them are. One statement does not add any proof whatsoever to the subject of the original statement.
False Dilemma Fallacy
The false dilemma fallacy is the assumption that you must choose A or B; that both statements can’t be true at the same time. False Dilemma Fallacy
Statement: I believe America should help refugees from Syria.
False Dilemma Fallacy: You don’t care about our veterans more than helping refugees.
Breakdown: A person can easily care equally about refugees as well as veterans. In fact, a person with a generally caring nature will probably care deeply for all kinds of oppressed or neglected groups. It’s actually more probable than for the people who only care about the group they themselves belong to.
I hate this argument for so many reasons. Both of my parents were
Marines. I have a brother and sister that were in the Army, two ex-husbands that served in the Army, and my daughter is in the Air Force. Of course I care about our veterans! I also still think that we, as a rich, fat nation have enough resources we can comfortably share what we have with people from war-torn countries.
Appeal to Ridicule Fallacy
Mock and ridicule another person’s claim and argument.
Seriously, this one just amazes me. Instead of just presenting facts, and debating the merits of an argument, we just attack the person’s credibility instead.
Statement: Trump lies a lot.
Appeal to Ridicule Argument: He’s not lying; you’re just stupid.
Breakdown: This argument is a way to bully someone into shutting up because you don’t have a defendable position. If the debate has disintegrated to the point that one person is calling the other one names, you’ve both lost.
This one is one of Trump’s favorites. If he says something enough, it will become true. If enough people believe something, it has to be true.
The repetition fallacy is when you say something often enough, and enough people pick it up and repeat it, it takes on a “truth”-like feel to it. Trump really relies on this method, as is evidenced on his many interviews, when he refers to “many, many people have said this”.
Statement: 3 million votes were cast by illegal immigrants in favor of Hillary Clinton. Not one of those fraudulent votes was for Donald Trump.
Repetition Fallacy: Because Trump said it many times on tv, and because I see it repeated over and over again on the internet and cable talk shows, it must be true.
Breakdown: A fact is simply a fact, and it doesn’t matter how many people believe otherwise, it does not change. If you’re being honest, you know — 3 million illegals did not vote for Clinton this past election.
Most people at one point believed the earth was flat. It’s always been round, no matter how many times people said otherwise, or how many of them truly believed it was really flat.
It’s probably silly to write a whole post on a subject that people probably don’t care about, but I’m a nerdy intellect and I know there have got to be other nerdy intellects out there that are finding all of this kind of juvenile and unenlightened. I love a good, well-crafted debate. I really do, but I get disappointed when people use ineffective tools to argue their points.
So, to quote one of my favorite Facebook pages, Weird Nature:
There. That’s a thing you know now. 🙂