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Learn to Spot Logical Lies

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Posted 25 November 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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Learn to Spot Logical Lies

It is important to be able to spot logical lies.

Logical lies are the logical fallacies. The logical fallacies the common errors in logic. Everyday, people commit logical fallacies in order to purposely mislead others, or simply as a mental mistake.

Facts are facts. So there is only one, "true", truth: but there are many ways to misrepresent the truth. This is why we need logic. Logic is a system of thinking that is intended to ensure that your mind corresponds to reality. Any form of illogical thinking means that you risk breaking the link between your mental representation of the world, and the facts of the real world. I.e. you risk making a mistake.

Logical fallacies are a list of common mistakes that people make in their thinking and in their speech. You need to know about logical fallacies for two main reasons.

  1. To help to NOT make rookie mistakes in your logic and thus to make sure that you are doing the right thing.
  2. To help you to spot when other people are trying to fool you with their illogical argument, or when their reasoning is faulty and is leading you to an error.

My general point I want to suggest to you is this: Study the logical fallacies.

There are about 50 good fallacies that you should know. They have been classified, named and organised; and if you were to make them the object of some serious study, then the payback would be enormous for you and your family.

Think of learning the logical fallacies as attending a class in intellectual self-defence.

To get you started in your studies, I will give you four common fallacies in the hope that you will feel inspired to learn the other 46.

Four examples of logical fallacies.

1. Ad hominem

This common fallacy is the act of attacking the character of the person presenting an idea as opposed to attacking the idea itself.

An example would be: "You say that I shouldn't eat so much because my being so obese is bad for my long term health. What would you know? You are pretty fat yourself. You have no right to tell me about good eating habits".

Example: "You say that I should buy insurance to cover my house contents. You are only saying that because you earn commission if you manage to sell me a policy".

2. Wishful thinking

This is the fallacy of believing (or not believing) something, simply because the idea is desirable or undesirable. Wishful thinking is the act of believing what you WANT to believe.

Example 1. "If Darwin was right that would mean that I am descended from an apelike creature. That is a horrible idea. I would prefer to believe that I am made in the likeness of God. So I refuse to believe Darwin's evolutionary principle and instead I will believe in creationism."

3. Democratic fallacy

This is the fallacy of that tends to think that the truth is whatever the majority opinion says it is. Conversely, that the minority view is wrong, simply because it is the minority view.

Example 1. "You must be wrong; because you are the only one who thinks it!"
Example 2. "The majority of scientists (we asked) said that they believed in human caused climate change. Therefore human caused climate change is a scientific fact."

4. False alternative

A false alternative is the act of reducing the options to only two and asking the person to pick one of them. In reality there are usually more than two options in any given set of circumstances. False alternatives are very common.

Beware the person who says things like this:

"You are either with us or against us".
"You are either part of the problem or part of the solution."
"You have a choice between Labour and Conservative."
"There are always two sides to an argument. Your way and the correct way!"

You get the idea don't you?

Learn the logical fallacies. If you do, you will know the proper rules governing the game of life.

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