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Monday, April 03, 2006

Logical fallacies

This just in from Lingamish:
Dear Wayne and all Better Bibles friends,

I'm starting a series of posts on logical fallacies on the Lingamish blog. The purpose of this series is to identify some common arguments used by bloggers (and others) when trying to prove their points. At this point I'm planning on looking at several recent posts, including the "singular they" controversy on Better Bibles and examining different arguments used by those involved. I'd appreciate a plug on Better Bibles for this series. In the early stages I'm hoping to get feedback from as many people as possible.

My original post on logical fallacies

Find the Fallacy 1: Argumentum ad numerum

Many thanks,

I'd like to encourage visitors to BBB to follow this Lingamish series. Lingamish didn't know it but I've felt for several months that I would like to write something on logical fallacies. But I never got around to it. And I've been terribly busy (I arrived safely back on the Indian reservation last night for a week of work).

Here are a couple fallacies I've seen often and hope that Lingamish can address them. I don't know the technical terms for them, so I'll just describe them.

1. Exclusion fallacy: If one point (or person, etc.) is praised/affirmed a logical fallacy is that any other point (or person) is unworthy or has not done something well.

2. Over-generalization: If I point out what seems to be a flaw in something--let's say, an English Bible version, as an example (!!), a logical fallacy drawn is that the entire thing is flawed.

3. Opinion fallacy: I have a different opinion from yours so I call yours inaccurate. That is at minimum a misuse of the English term "inaccurate" and perhaps is a logical fallacy. Many commit this fallacy and do not realize that there is a significant difference between stating a difference of opinion and proving that the other opinion is wrong.

Best wishes with your series, Lingamish.


At Mon Apr 03, 07:55:00 PM, Blogger lingamish said...

Thanks, Wayne for the plug. I'm especially looking for examples of logical fallacies on both sides of an argument so keep your eyes open folks and send me links.

At Tue Apr 04, 07:43:00 AM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...


Excellent idea!!!

If I may suggest one (if this is useful to you, use it):

Slippery slope fallacy: If you go down that pathway, you will end up somewhere that anyone will understand as wrong.

The failure in this fallacy is seen when one realizes the person expressing the statement assumes that his or her perspective is the measure of correctness. All other perspectives revolve around theirs. The person who is being argued against could just as easily say that if the original person continues down their pathway, they will also reach a point that anyone will understand as wrong.

The solution is for both perspectives to: 1) focus on the evidence--what does the evidence say? And 2) to try very hard to see the evidence from the opposite perspective. If one can state well the opposite side and then refute the perspective using both evidence and sound reasoning, then one has won the argument. Hopefully, when coupled with humility, it moves both sides--and the listeners--toward the truth.

At Tue Apr 04, 07:51:00 AM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Lingamish, I apologize for spelling your name wrong. I very likely have done that a number of times, so I'm quite sorry. The problem is the way I've pronounced it in my head. Hopefully, that is corrected (though, ironically, I probably pronounce it wrong since I don't know your native tongue).

At Tue Apr 04, 07:55:00 AM, Blogger lingamish said...


I do want to talk about "slippery slope" in a future post. It is evoked quite often by people. Thanks for your ideas on it.

As for the name Lingamish, it is simply a made up name. I consider myself to be both linguist and missionary and the term I have coined for such a creature is "lingamish."

At Tue Apr 04, 08:20:00 AM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Lingamish wrote: I consider myself to be both linguist and missionary and the term I have coined for such a creature is "lingamish."

That's cool! May your creatures breed.


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