||[Apr. 5th, 2007|09:50 am]
Why am I listing out logical fallacies? Knowing about them can be more important than many people think. When talking to people, it is important to be able to pull out inconsistencies in what they say, lest you are tricked into something that isn't the right way. On the other side, it is always important to make sure we are using correct reasoning in our own beliefs.
So look out for the following types of reasoning to avoid:
1) Hasty Generalization - jumping to conclusions based on too little evidence. A good example would be racism, in which someone makes a generalization about an entire race based on one or two individuals that they have met.
2) False Cause - the mistaken assumption that because one event follows another, the first event must have caused the second. An example would be if you got a new friend, and then your grades went down, someone might assume the friend was the cause of the drop, without realizing it was something different.
3) Invalid Analogy - comparing two things that are not essentially alike enough to make a valid comparison. An example might be assuming someone is good at basketball because they are good at baseball.
4) Red Herring - introducing an irrelevant issue to divert attention from the issue being discussed. An example of this would be 'How dare you question my activities when people are starving in Africa!'. Yes, the thing they brought up is bad, but it has nothing to do with their activities.
5) Ad Hominem - attacking the speaker rather than the issue. Politicians do this.. often, like "My opponent has interesting economic proposals, but one should note they come from a very wealthy family." The person usually has little to do with the idea, and this usually makes the person being spoken about too angry to reason with you.
6) Either/Or - forcing a choice between two alternatives when more than two alternatives exist. An example 'the government must either raise the tax on gas or reduce services to the poor'.
7) Bandwagon - assuming that because a majority of people do it, it must be correct. The primary misuse of this would be assuming one belief is correct only because more people subscribe to it. Jesus paid special attention to warning against this fallacy, yet so many of his followers have fallen into it!
8) Slippery Slope - Assuming that taking the first step will invariably lead to a much more extreme event, such as assuming that controlling the amount of violence in day time television will result in a total curtailing of free speech rights.
I got these from "The Art of Public Speaking" 7th Edition by Stephen E Lucas, just to give proper credit. I thought, somehow, they might be useful to people here. To be sure, it would be near impossible to always avoid all of these, but we should at least avoid their more extreme manifestations.
Remember, making someone that you speak to angry, or isolating them, are the last things you want to do! Also be careful not to make people feel cornered or overwhelmed by you, causing them to retreat or cease listening to you altogether. Lean a bit of empathy, the art of detecting the emotions of others to be sure you are not getting on their nerves, and being able to impress a positive attitude onto them.
Also, one thing surprisingly few people can do, is listening. Someone has different beliefs? Well, listen to them; having different beliefs are one thing that makes our world beautiful! When someone believes that you have given their beliefs consideration (even if you only became aware of their existence and nothing else), it will make them more ought to listen to things you say in return. This also gives you the opportunity to politely point out inconsistencies, if they are open to such things.
Remember to be certain yourself, do not try to convince someone of something you are not adequately convinced of. There is no shame in studying up an issue on your own to be sure you do not lead people astray.
And most importantly, as Raelians, remember that our mission is to INFORM, not to CONVINCE. Whether or not a person believes you should not even be important. The only thing to be fanatical about, as Rael has mentioned, is non-violence. We must help people to understand that all beliefs are important, and that no belief deserves to be forced on another living being.