In my previous post, I talked about how a friend posted a link by Curt Danhauser called Logical Thinking, which was a series of educational videos modeled after the Saturday morning cartoon videos but done in the style of the Star Trek animated series, with Mr. Spock providing each logical lesson. I enjoyed that article so much that I looked up Curt Danhauser further, and found that he had done more videos of the Logical Thinking series on his YouTube page (among other videos) after he had posted his webpage. So this blog is a continuation of those videos.
Argumentum Ad Baculum (Appeal to Force)
A special case of argumentum ad consequential, or appeal to consequences.
This fallacy is an argument or force coercion or the threat of force is given as a justification for accepting the conclusion.
In Logically Fallacious’ page on this fallacy, they include this exception:
If the force, coercion, or threat of force is not being used as a reason but as a fact or consequence, then it would not be fallacious, especially when a legitimate reason is given with the “threat”, direct or implied.
Melvin: Boss, why do I have to wear this goofy-looking hardhat?
Boss: It is state law; therefore, company policy. No hat, no job.
Confirmation Bias & Sunk Cost Fallacy
Cognitive Bias – Sunk Cost Fallacy:
This is the phenomenon where people justify increased investment of time, money, life, etc in a decision based on the cumulative prior investment despite new evidence suggesting that the cost beginning immediately of continuing the decision outweighs the expected benefit.
This fallacy seems to be mostly an economic one. As an article on Time puts it:
“The sunk cost effect is the general tendency for people to continue an endeavor, or continue consuming or pursuing an option, if they’ve invested time or money or some resource in it…That effect becomes a fallacy if it’s pushing you to do things that are making you unhappy or worse off.”
Cognitive Bias – Confirmation Bias:
The tendency to favor information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypothesis while giving less consideration to alternative possibilities. Those who show a confirmation bias only seek out evidence confirming their position instead of equally researching contradicting evidence or looking into alternatives. This will lead them to base their decision upon information skewed toward one result over the other.
Confirmation Bias is a hard one because everyone does it. Everyone. As RationalWiki puts it:
Confirmation bias is one of the traits that just comes with the human condition. There is a human tendency to favour testing the predictions of a hypothesis that only confirm or prove it, at the expense of testing any predictions that would disprove a hypothesis.
People who say that they don’t suffer from it are fooling themselves. I asked some people smarter than I am about this to get a deeper understanding of it.
Mark Lambert of the Hey Pastor blog puts it, one could respond to such a charge with, “Do you have evidence of my confirmation bias, or are you just believing it because you want it to be true?”
Nick Peters of Deeper Waters says that “Confirmation bias is often an excuse to avoid looking at the evidence.”
Tommy Cunningham of Apologists for Christ said, “Just because you have confirmation bias doesn’t mean you’re wrong.” To which another elaborated, “It’s not whether the propositional statement isn’t biased. The question is, is the propositional statement true.
We are accused of making weak or fallacious arguments. All I ask is the statement “true” or false? If false, what is their evidence to demonstrate it to be false?”
Evan Minton of Cerebral Faith added:
People who throw that term around usually don’t even know what it means. It’s when a person only considers information that confirms their pre-existent views. It can’t be used as a defeater to any argument.
Jordan Apodaca of Ratio Christi at CSU Sacramento added:
Bias is when you believe something for reasons that don’t actually pertain to the issue at hand. If you believe in God because you don’t want to disappoint your family, your belief is biased by wanting to please your family. If you are an atheist because you don’t want to disappoint your colleague, your belief is biased by wanting to please your colleagues.
Argumentum Ad Vercundiam (Appeal to Authority)
Also known as the Argument from Prestige.
the fallacy of appealing to the testimony of an authority outside his special field.
Logically Fallacious expands on this in their exception (emphasis in original):
Be very careful not to confuse “deferring to an authority on the issue” with the appeal to authority fallacy. Remember, a fallacy is an error in reasoning. Dismissing the council of legitimate experts and authorities turns good skepticism into denialism. The appeal to authority is a fallacy in argumentation, but deferring to an authority is a reliable heuristic that we all use virtually every day on issues of relatively little importance. There is always a chance that any authority can be wrong, that’s why the critical thinker accepts facts provisionally. It is not at all unreasonable (or an error in reasoning) to accept information as provisionally true by credible authorities. Of course, the reasonableness is moderated by the claim being made (i.e., how extraordinary, how important) and the authority (how credible, how relevant to the claim).
The appeal to authority is more about claims that require evidence than about facts. For example, if your tour guide told you that Vatican City was founded February 11, 1929, and you accept that information as true, you are not committing a fallacy (because it is not in the context of argumentation) nor are you being unreasonable.
Interestingly, there appears to be an opposite fallacy of this that is an appeal to no authority, that is often seen in conspiracy theories, where the professionals who work in the relevant field are considered part of the accused conspiracy, or even paid off. (Read more about conspiracy theories here.)
Also known as the Argument to Moderation or to Middle Ground.
An informal fallacy which asserts that the truth must be found as a compromise between two opposite positions. Individuals making a false compromise are fallaciously asserting that the positions being considered represent extremes of a continuum of options whereas sometimes there is only a binary choice possible. This argument is incorrect as there are many situations where the middle ground does not achieve an acceptable outcome
Logically Fallacious adds this in one of their explanations:
There is no compromise when it comes to truth. Truth is truth. If there are angels, demons, and God, there are angels, demons, and God. If there aren’t, there aren’t. Compromise and splitting the difference work fine in some cases, but not in determining truth.
There are times when a compromise is warranted and works, and other times that it is an informal fallacy.
Halo Effect & Gambler’s Fallacy
This is a misleading belief that if something happens at a higher than average rate or value during some period it will then happen at a lower rate or value in the future to maintain the average or vice versa. When the occurrence is truly random this belief, though appealing, is false. The gamblers fallacy is a particular application of the so called law of averages. There is no such law.
An observer’s overall impression of a person or other entity unduly influences their thoughts and feelings about that entity’s character or properties.
Google defines this as “the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area.”
Argumentum Ad Ignorantium (Appeal to Ignorance)
This fallacy suggests that a proposition is true simply on the basis that has not been
proved false or that something is false simply because it has not been proven true.
This is one of the logical fallacies that J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig address in their massive book, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview:
This is the fallacy of arguing that a claim is false because there is not sufficient evidence that the claim is true. Our ignorance of evidence for a claim’s truth does not imply the falsity of the claim. [pg 50]
The Philosophy Course Notes for Lander University adds this (emphasis in original):
The uses of the ad ignorantiam in rhetoric and persuasion are often similar to the technique of “raising doubts.” E.g., suppose you wanted to convince a police officer not to give you a ticket by using this technique. “I’m sure you know how unreliable radar detectors are. Why, I saw an a news program a tree was timed at 50 mph, and Florida, at one time, threw out such evidence in court. I certainly wasn’t going that fast. Some other driver must have sent back that erroneous signal. You probably timed the car passing me which looked like mine.”
And Fallacy Files says this about an exception:
Presumptive Reasoning: It is reasonable to argue from a lack of evidence when there is a presumption for or against a proposition. For instance, in American criminal law there is a presumption of innocence of a defendant, and a corresponding burden of proof on the prosecution. If the prosecution fails to provide evidence of guilt, it has failed to meet its burden and the jury is supposed to conclude that the defendant is not guilty, even if the defense has presented no evidence of innocence.
Similarly, the burden of proof is usually on a person making an unusual or improbable claim, and the presumption may be that such a claim is false. For instance, suppose that someone claims that the president is really a reptilian alien shape-shifter from another dimension, but when challenged can supply no evidence for this strange claim. It would not be a fallacious appeal to ignorance for you to reason that, since there is no evidence that the president is an alien, he probably isn’t.