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Logical Fallacies how to spot them

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Hello All

Can someone provide examples of how to spot someone using them when in a heated discussion. I am guessing that if someone cannot provide empirical evidence for what they believe in it comes under the category of a logical fallacy ? such as conspiracy theories.

 

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In a "heated discussion", the key is to manage your arguments carefully. Present them simply, support them well, and insist on focus and clarity from the responses. Don't let someone put words in your mouth, or make the argument about something else that's easier to refute. This makes attempts at strawmen and goalpost moving more obvious.

People arguing conspiracy are trying to assume their suspicions are true, but lacking evidence they usually use Begging the Question and Argument from Incredulity to prop up unsupported reasoning. Over the years here at SFN , we've learned that conspiracy isn't suited to discussion, mainly because its theorists can''t argue without fallacious reasoning and intellectually dishonest tactics. And after all, when there IS actionable evidence, it's not a conspiracy, it's a crime, right?

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Very good advice IMO you're getting here.

Just for completeness and to add to what @iNow is providing:

https://philosophy.hku.hk/think/fallacy/list.php

Very intelligent people have made very silly mistakes by not taking them into account. My favourite example is Enrico Fermi, who once said extraterrestrial life must not exist because, otherwise, we would have noticed already. I'm not saying extraterrestrial life must exist (which I think it does,) I'm just saying Fermi's argument is not valid.

That's argument from silence (argumento ex silentio,) very well known to historians and archaeologists.

Marco Polo didn't mention the Great Wall of China. Should we assume it doesn't exist?

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1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

And after all, when there IS actionable evidence, it's not a conspiracy, it's a crime, right?

Indeed actionable evidence but it should be remembered that not all conspiracies are bad or evil.

Mom and Pop conspire to hide the Christmas / birthday presents from junior unless the event.

A conspiracy is simply when two or more persons agree to conceal something from at least one other.

1 hour ago, joigus said:

Very intelligent people have made very silly mistakes by not taking them into account. My favourite example is Enrico Fermi, who once said extraterrestrial life must not exist because, otherwise, we would have noticed already. I'm not saying extraterrestrial life must exist (which I think it does,) I'm just saying Fermi's argument is not valid.

That's argument from silence (argumento ex silentio,) very well known to historians and archaeologists.

Marco Polo didn't mention the Great Wall of China. Should we assume it doesn't exist?

 

Nice one.  +1

It's the favourite of policicians and mangers who wish to push through a particular policy stating " There's no evidence to the contrary" when no one has actually looked for any.

Edited by studiot

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3 hours ago, studiot said:

It's the favourite of policicians and mangers who wish to push through a particular policy stating " There's no evidence to the contrary" when no one has actually looked for any.

Wonderful source to study political fallacies is Yes, Minister. Priceless. It never gets old.

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Almost downvoted you, Joigus, for picking on one of my favorite Physicists, Enrico Fermi.
The last theoretical AND experimental Physicist.
( kidding )

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Spotting the fallacies on the fly - during a heated debate - is not my strong point. Face to face is not my strong point and expect that dealing with any experienced debater with a full bag of rhetorical tricks would go badly for me. I can only suggest that doing your homework - including being familiar with the commonly used but false arguments as well as knowing the subject itself - will be essential. But be aware of the fallacy of the fallacy - ie that just because someone uses a fallacious argument it doesn't mean the conclusion is wrong, eg it may be a logical fallacy to argue that something is true because expert authorities say so, but it is also a logical fallacy to presume those experts are wrong; what the expert authorities say is most often correct, and will be based in turn on evidence and reason with more substance.

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I'm not well versed in fallacies either, Ken.
And I probably commit my fair share of them.

I also get the impression that sometimes fallacies are tossed about, because of a failure to understand/communicate properly.
Or even because " It doesn't make sense/seem logical/follow proper reasoning to me, so it must be fallacious".

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12 hours ago, MigL said:

Almost downvoted you, Joigus, for picking on one of my favorite Physicists, Enrico Fermi.
The last theoretical AND experimental Physicist.
( kidding )

:D . I've got a wonderful anecdote about Fermi. He was to be thesis advisor of a young researcher. One of the questions he asked: How many barber shops are in Chicago? Now, that's devilishly clever. (Just to compensate.)

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