originally posted by: omniEther
Here's a nice read and well put together exposition on fallacious arguements and/or counter-topics. Some are even used here on ATS....
List of common fallacies
Compiled by Jim Walker
originated: 27 July 1997
additions made: 26 March 2004
You don't need to take drugs to hallucinate; improper language can fill your world with phantoms and spooks of many kinds.
-Robert A. Wilson
When arguing with someone in an attempt to get at an answer or an explanation, you may come across a person who makes logical fallacies. Such
discussions may prove futile. You might try asking for evidence and independent confirmation or provide other hypothesis that give a better or simpler
explanation. If this fails, try to pinpoint the problem of your arguer's position. You might spot the problem of logic that prevents further
exploration and attempt to inform your arguer about his fallacy. The following briefly describes some of the most common fallacies:
Latin for "to the man." An arguer who uses ad hominems attacks the person instead of the argument. Whenever an arguer cannot defend his position with
evidence, facts or reason, he or she may resort to attacking an opponent either through: labeling, straw man arguments, name calling, offensive
remarks and anger.
appeal to ignorance
(argumentum ex silentio) appealing to ignorance as evidence for something. (e.g., We have no evidence that God doesn't exist, therefore, he must
exist. Or: Because we have no knowledge of alien visitors, that means they do not exist). Ignorance about something says nothing about its existence
argument from omniscience:
(e.g., All people believe in something. Everyone knows that.) An arguer would need omniscience to know about everyone's beliefs or disbeliefs or about
their knowledge. Beware of words like "all," "everyone," "everything," "absolute."
appeal to faith:
(e.g., if you have no faith, you cannot learn) if the arguer relies on faith as the bases of his argument, then you can gain little from further
discussion. Faith, by definition, relies on a belief that does not rest on logic or evidence. Faith depends on irrational thought and produces
appeal to tradition (similar to the bandwagon fallacy):
(e.g., astrology, religion, slavery) just because people practice a tradition, says nothing about its viability.
argument from authority (argumentum ad verecundiam):
using the words of an "expert" or authority as the bases of the argument instead of using the logic or evidence that supports an argument. (e.g.,
Professor so-and-so believes in creation-science.) Simply because an authority makes a claim does not necessarily mean he got it right. If an arguer
presents the testimony from an expert, look to see if it accompanies reason and sources of evidence behind it.
argument from adverse consequences:
(e.g., We should judge the accused as guilty, otherwise others will commit similar crimes) Just because a repugnant crime or act occurred, does not
necessarily mean that a defendant committed the crime or that we should judge him guilty. (Or: disasters occur because God punishes non-believers;
therefore, we should all believe in God) Just because calamities or tragedies occur, says nothing about the existence of gods or that we should
believe in a certain way.
argumentum ad baculum:
An argument based on an appeal to fear or a threat. (e.g., If you don't believe in God, you'll burn in hell)
argumentum ad ignorantiam:
A misleading argument used in reliance on people's ignorance.
argumentum ad populum:
An argument aimed to sway popular support by appealing to sentimental weakness rather than facts and reasons.
concluding that an idea has merit simply because many people believe it or practice it. (e.g., Most people believe in a god; therefore, it must prove
true.) Simply because many people may believe something says nothing about the fact of that something. For example many people during the Black plague
believed that demons caused disease. The number of believers say nothing at all about the cause of disease.
begging the question (or assuming the answer):
(e.g., We must encourage our youth to worship God to instill moral behavior.) But does religion and worship actually produce moral behavior?
stating in one's proposition that which one aims to prove. (e.g. God exists because the Bible says so; the Bible exists because God influenced it.)
when the conclusion of an argument depends on an erroneous characteristic from parts of something to the whole or vice versa. (e.g., Humans have
consciousness and human bodies and brains consist of atoms; therefore, atoms have consciousness. Or: a word processor program consists of many bytes;
therefore a byte forms a fraction of a word processor.)
confirmation bias (similar to observational selection):
This refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already believe while ignoring evidence that refutes
their beliefs. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when people base their beliefs upon faith, tradition and prejudice. For example, if someone
believes in the power of prayer, the believer will notice the few "answered" prayers while ignoring the majority of unanswered prayers (which would
indicate that prayer has no more value than random chance at worst or a placebo effect, when applied to health effects, at best).
confusion of correlation and causation:
(e.g., More men play chess than women, therefore, men make better chess players than women. Or: Children who watch violence on TV tend to act
violently when they grow up.) But does television programming cause violence or do violence oriented children prefer to watch violent programs?
Perhaps an entirely different reason creates violence not related to television at all. Stephen Jay Gould called the invalid assumption that
correlation implies cause as "probably among the two or three most serious and common errors of human reasoning" (The Mismeasure of Man).
excluded middle (or false dichotomy):
considering only the extremes. Many people use Aristotelian either/or logic tending to describe in terms of up/down, black/white, true/false,
love/hate, etc. (e.g., You either like it or you don't. He either stands guilty or not guilty.) Many times, a continuum occurs between the extremes
that people fail to see. The universe also contains many "maybes."
half truths (suppressed evidence):
An statement usually intended to deceive that omits some of the facts necessary for an accurate description.
embodies an assumption that, if answered, indicates an implied agreement. (e.g., Have you stopped beating your wife yet?)
(e.g., "How high is up?" "Is everything possible?") "Up" describes a direction, not a measurable entity. If everything proved possible, then the
possibility exists for the impossible, a contradiction. Although everything may not prove possible, there may occur an infinite number of
possibilities as well as an infinite number of impossibilities. Many meaningless questions include empty words such as "is," "are," "were," "was,"
"am," "be," or "been."
misunderstanding the nature of statistics: