Monday, February 18, 2008

Rules of the Road Part I

I find that discussion on blogs generally progresses quite slowly due to the partipants avoiding the issue. If bloggers studied logic, their discussion would be far more productive. As it stands, most discussions are like one Sophist against another. This way of arguing is wonderful if you are wrong, but want to make your opponent look like a fool, but lousy if you seek truth. I think 90% of the problem falls under the non-linguist fallacy of avoiding the issue:

"Ignoring the issue" is evading the topic by, for example, disproving what your opponent never said or proving a point not under discussion. It is also know as the “Straw Man” or “House of cards.” Here is a list of prime examples (there are longer lists, but IMHO the longer list have duplicative items):
a)Argumentum ad hominem (“appeal to the man”)
-ignore the issue by attacking the person.
b) Argumentum ad populum (“appeal to the masses”)
-Appealing to the prejudices and\or biases.
-This is an appeal to mass psychology.
c) Argumentum ad baculum (“appeal to the stick”)
-Threats of violence.
-Shouting down your opponent or talking so much he can't talk.
d) Argumentum ad misericordiam (appeal to pity)
-used especially by lawyers to get their client off.
e) Argumentum ad verecundiam (appeal to reverence)
-invoke authority, uphold tradition.
f) Argumentum ad ignorantiam (appeal to ignorance)
-“Snow Job”
-Use of exaggerated statistics.

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