Posted by anonymouse on:
"Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - JOHN F. KENNEDY
Watching "news" on the TV, listening to the radio, one hears a lot of information. So-called factual reporting, that actually consists of greatly distorted accounts. Minimum facts and a lot of ideological contortions to make the stories mean what someone wants them to mean.
Rush Limbaugh is a classic study in the enthusiastic promulgation of arguments and conclusions without validity. He makes classic mistakes of logic. He uses vague claims, imprecise claims by comparison, confuses matters of fact with matters of opinion. When someone disagrees with his ideological premise he doesn't argue against the argument he argues against the person, making ad hominem attacks on the individual.
We use words and concepts in very imprecise ways. With our media world infected with this kind of faulty thinking, we have to be very careful not to fall into the same kinds of murky reasoning.
Given that we are again (sigh) entering an election cycle, and that we are daily bombarded with public officials and personalities who are looking for our ideological and financial support, here are a few "Fallacies of Relevance" we might want to consider when listening to other's arguments, and to remember while making arguments of our own.
Ad Ignorantium - Arguing that something is true because no one has proved it to be false.
Ad Baculum - The so called argument from force. Arguing to support the acceptance of an argument by a threat or use of force, which results in the termination of logical argumentation, because it elicits other kinds such as fear, anger and reciprocal use of force.
Ad Miseriecordiam - This is the argument eliciting pity. Arguing by appealing to emotional pity in order to have a point accepted.
Ad Vericundiam - The argument to authority. This is the appealing to authority, including customs, traditions, institutions, etc. In order to gain acceptance of a point at issue. There is also the mistaken appeal to the feelings of reverence or respect we have of those in authority, or who are famous.
Ad Hominiem - This is the mirror image of the appeal to authority. We are encouraged to reject a proposition because it is the stated opinion of someone regarded as disreputable in some way. Remember PERSONALITY IS IRRELEVANT TO THE TRUTH.
Ignoratio Elenchi - This is the irrelevant conclusion, and it tries to establish the truth of a proposition by offering an argument that really provides support for an entirely different conclusion.
Ad Populum - The appeal to the masses. Things that are common practice to believe, peer pressure, and the appeal to belief without reason to believe.
I learned about these and other aids to critical thinking and logic, sitting in on, and taking notes in a Critical Thinking class at our wonderful Santa Barbara City College.
To all my fellow citizens, humans, mice and other creatures, think about these, practice listening for them, and work at thinking things through. Take one small argument at a time, see what you come up with.
'Head on Backwards' photo thanks to George Eastman House