Equivocation

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Equivocation is a logical fallacy that relies on the different meanings a word can have in different contexts. It is a favorite fallacy of creationist and woo hucksters alike. It can be used both to seemingly belittle a concept or idea, or to raise one up to false pretenses. It can be used to disguise bullshit like in quantum woo where people like Deepak Chopra use equivocation to make their ideas sound like they have some basis in reality.

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[edit] Examples

  • "Because it's called the theory of evolution, evolution is an unproven assumption!" This is fallacious because it equivocates two different meanings of the word "theory."
  • "You have faith in science, and I have faith in God." This exploits the fact that "faith" is often used to mean "confidence," that is having a solid reason to be confident of something due to its past performance -- this argument is an effort to equate science with religion, when in reality science does not require faith (meaning belief without evidence).
  • "Because the word 'Nazi' is short for 'National Socialism,' socialists are Nazis." Tell that to SOPADE. For a modern equivalent, look at the Liberal Party of Australia, who are not in any way liberals.
  • "The theory of relativity is immoral because it promotes moral relativism." This equivocates two different meanings of the word "relative."
  • "Since evolutionism is based on the work of Darwin, Evolutionists are in favor of Social Darwinism." Social Darwinism, while named after Darwin, was not supported by him, nor is it even supported by modern evolutionary theory.
  • "People who agitate for income equality, marriage equality, and gender equality are doomed because individual humans don't have equal abilities."[1] Equality of ability is irrelevant to equality under the law.
  • "Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth." (Macbeth; Act 4, Scene 1)[2]
    Macbeth's enemy Macduff had been born by Caesarian section; is he "of woman born"?

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