Announcement: Join the FF Saturnalia Party 2017.

Tag Archive | "Cognition"

Its only a Fallacy when it's an Observable Fact

Ad hominem, ad vericundum, poisoning the well, straw man, etc. All of these claims can only be true when they are observably verified by the audience. Fallacies are not Latin phrases to be used like some charm or spell to attack one’s opposition.  Arguments have gotten pretty complicated these days, and if you follow the FF forums you are witness to the pretty interesting evolution that is going on.

One side will claim ad hominem, straw man, ad vericundum, appeal to ridicule etc… even if the earlier claim was substantiated by an observable FACT (typically a QUOTE) that supports a negative description (the negative description is called out with a fallacy). Here we see people learning the Latin names of these fallacies, fail to understand that when FACTS support a “negative” portrayal of their argument or their behavior it is not a fallacy. Now instead of analyzing where the observation of the fact can be wrong or maybe pointing out where another fact would soundly put the matter to rest, another fallacy is brought up. It’s become enough to just know the Latin, and the facts become second place.

The problem begins to escalate when you are the audience and the two or multiple sides claiming fallacies and someone’s lack of self control creates very long winded arguments making the discussion a big confusing mess.

Now here is a simple solution: slow down and work with the clearest, easiest to follow or simplest fact that needs addressing. Although one or a few sides might slow down, it just takes one side to ruin it. One side might not consider the cognitive biases that make any fact appear different with multiple perspectives. That side with the least cognitive empathy will be the most inclined to rattle on and sweep away that slowly building clear and coherent framework the other parties may be trying to create. One off comment, a lack of argument discipline, and the house of cards will fall. 

As for the audience, to anyone who is skeptical, longer and confusing arguments can be the most suspicious, especially since all B$, fast-talk or cons work by confusing the listener. The only side worth following boils down to who seems the most transparent and coherent. Following doesn’t mean being on that side, but what happens is by contrast the more confusing argument basically becomes gibberish and no one will support something they can’t thoroughly understand or follow.

It seems discussions have to be a bit simpler, more for the benefit of an audience who can best allow for some objective observations than for the most enthusiastic debater.

Posted in Philosophy, ScienceComments (1)