Talk:Logical fallacy

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This logic related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

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  • Better organisation of the list required.
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Some of us aren't that clever[edit]

A logical fallacy is not necessarily a Bayesian fallacy, so given a particular circumstance, jumping to the conclusion will be more likely than not, and get baked into human thinking as a heuristic. When the heuristic is applied outside its reasonable bounds, it becomes a cognitive bias.

Can we have that in terms that us thickos will understand. Starting with

  • What makes a fallacy Bayesian?
  • What does heuristic mean - OK, so I can look it up but I shouldn't need to resort to a dictionary to read a RW article
  • What's a cognative bias?

Please, some of us haven't got the education. Doxys Midnight Runner (talk) 14:33, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

It means that DG has been hanging around on LessWrong again. :| For the last question, we have cognitive bias. At least I think we have it.--ZooGuard (talk) 14:53, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
We have articles on Bayesian and heuristic too. These should be linked, but even with the words I can't figure out what the sentence is trying to say; the whole sentence structure is awkward. €₳$£ΘĪÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 19:17, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm profoundly sleep deprived and making less sense than usual. And anyway, common sense pretty much covers what I meant - David Gerard (talk) 20:52, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

New ideas to add[edit]

I stumbled upon this one on wikipedia which is to summarize: "You cannot define properly the subject/matter at hand so you cannot discuss it." It could work with the many and sometimes contradictory / illogical definitions of what a god is or ought to be / do. Imadmagician (talk) 15:16, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Good vs. Bad Arguments[edit]

I disagree with the premise of "good" and "bad" arguments under conditional fallacies. Any argument from a fallacy is fallacious, even if the conclusion is true. The article points out that 95 percent of climatoligsts believe global warming exists, with the conclusion that global warming is a scientific fact, and asserts that this is a "good" argument. While global warming does exist, this argument is still fallacious. There was a time where 95 percent of scientists believed the Universe had always existed. Later scientific discoveries led to the Big Bang theory with a finite age for the Universe. So clearly it's possible for 95 percent of scientists to be wrong. Of course, deniers will pull a Galileo gambit and claim this "proves" global warming is a hoax, and that's also fallacious. If 95 percent of scientists agree on something, they're usually right. But not always. And it's still a fallacious argument even if the conclusion is true. There are valid arguments for that. Citing the actual climate data is one of those ways. Simply citing what people believe is fallacious appeal to authority no matter what. Gak92 (talk) 18:20, 19 May 2015 (UTC)

But that essentially means that nothing is ever a scientific fact. The condition is that an overwhelming scientific consensus equals a scientific fact which is a pretty good working definition of how we usually understand scientific facts. A "hidden" condition of this is of course one involved in all science, namely that results are always provisional, but again that's the way science works (it's a feature, not a bug). So, I think it's a valid argument unless you want to start redefining either science or how we usually define scientific facts.
No, it means something isn't automatically a scientific fact because people believe it. It's a scientific fact because of the data behind it. Just because the conclusion is true doesn't mean the argument isn't a fallacy. It's the corollary to the fallacy fallacy. Gak92 (talk) 11:44, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Citing climate data is useless, because data is not self-explanatory but needs to be interpreted by qualified scientists. In this case, we have well-qualified scientists speaking as experts on a subject which means that their opinions are based on interpreting oodles of data while a condition is that the sum of these interpretations is unlikely to be wrong and anyway the closest thing to certainty we can get. This kind of opinion is clearly different from personal opinions à la "95% of climate scientists think vanilla ice cream is the tastiest food ever, therefore it's a scientific fact that vanilla ice cream is the tastiest food ever". Hence, what these scientists "believe" in this context is not analogous to whether people "believe" in God or "believe" that 7even is a great movie or similar kind of "gut feeling"-style of personal opinions. ScepticWombat (talk) 22:08, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Actually, when the question is just "Is global warming a real thing?" or slightly rephrased "Has there been a rising trend in the average temperature of Earth in recent years?", then you can just look at the data and conclude: Yep. No high intelligence or expertise required for that. Of course if you wanna go talk about what's causing it and what it'll mean for Earth's climate, you'd best defer to the scientists. (talk) 23:22, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, .236, but the actual P1 in the article isn't just in plain text (which could be interpreted in the narrow sense of rising temperatures only). Instead P1 is: "Global warming is agreed to exist by over 95% of climatologists". This means that it directly refers to the RW article which is about AGW and the question of the cause of the rising temperatures, not merely the whether temperatures are rising. Sure, we can always lawyer this to death, but... ScepticWombat (talk) 23:46, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
The bottom line is that just because the conclusion is true doesn't mean the argument isn't a fallacy. It's the corollary to the fallacy fallacy. If we were to change P1 to "Global temperatures have been rising steadily in recent years" and change P2 to simply say "global warming is a rise in global temperature over a period of time" then it would no longer be fallacious. It also wouldn't be appeal to authority. Gak92 (talk) 11:44, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
So, it's a fallacy to cite an overwhelming consensus among the relevant experts in a scientific field as constituting what we usually understand as a scientific fact?
I still don't get it: Scientific facts are based on overwhelming consensus of the relevant scientists who in turn draw on their research etc. Scientific facts don't just magically appear by themselves or are "self evident" from the data. Sure, it could be wrong, but so could any other bit of science, and using this objection is effectively a science was wrong before. It's not a fallacious appeal to authority, it's how science actually works. The "opinions" of climate scientists, or, more precisely, the consensus within the community of climate scientists on climate change, which is based on their expertise and research, is the relevant criterion for determining what's regarded as a scientific fact. If we were to change the question, then things would be different, eh, yes they would. This would also, I think, needlessly narrow the question based on an mistaken application of the appeal to authority fallacy.
But let me turn the question around: If the scientific consensus among climate scientists isn't what determines whether climate change is a "scientific fact", what does? ScepticWombat (talk) 13:30, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
The data, as I have already said. Gak92 (talk) 14:27, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Repeat: The data doesn't speak for itself. And your change of the question doesn't really change anything - it simply "disguises" the involvement of the scientists and their consensus by only citing measurements. It would also mean that the only things that can ever be regarded as "scientific facts" would be such first order effects as rising temperatures. To take another example, evolution could not be described as a scientific fact using such a narrow definition, only genetic change. In other words, we end up with a definition so narrow as to be practically useless, because we would simply have to invent a different designation to describe such well-established interpretations for rising global temperatures/genetic changes as AGW/evolution. ScepticWombat (talk) 15:26, 21 May 2015 (UTC)
Fair point, when you put it that way. I'm inclined to agree with you at this point. I'll withdraw what I said earlier. Gak92 (talk) 14:19, 22 May 2015 (UTC)
No worries, I've enjoyed this debate - you've presented your points well and they're certainly not without merit. We should always be careful when citing scientific consensus, exactly because it's always provisional, but at least it's open to falsification - unlike certain other academic fields. ;-) ScepticWombat (talk) 15:56, 22 May 2015 (UTC)

Is there a name for the fallacy that refusal to engage with my argument means my argument is correct?[edit]

In essence: "You added me to your block list? Clearly I have the logical and moral upper hand!"

Is this an existing fallacy? If not, may I humbly suggest it be named the Sealion Fallacy?— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

I think the answer is no. And honestly, it's hard to really assert a fallacy when a discussion isn't taking place. At that point it's really not a debate anymore. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 15:52, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Fallacies exist in terms of pure logic, regardless of whether a debate is contested or not. For instance, I could write a blog post attacking someone, and my argument could be full of fallacies. That those fallacies exist in my argument is independent of whether or not the person I attack chooses to defend themselves (or is defended by others). To continue, if I then proclaim victory because they chose not to defend themselves, that's a further logical fallacy. (talk) 16:00, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, you're totally right. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 16:05, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
That reminds me of when Animalian was posting huge blocks of text to debate Castaigne about abortion and Castaigne repeatedly and outrightly refused to engage in debate. At the end of it, Animalian proclaimed having won the debate, failing to realize the debate's lack of existence. (talk) 16:13, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I reworded the question in the title because I realise that "winning" can have an ambiguous meaning in terms of debates. But in essence your example illustrates what I mean better than I did. Thanks! (talk) 16:24, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
You might try argument by silence, but we don't have a page on that (yet). oʇɐʇoԀʇɐϽʎzznℲ (talk/stalk) 16:24, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Someone else suggested it's merely a niche of an ad hominem: "You're not engaging with me, therefore you are wrong". I suppose I can't fault that view. (talk) 16:33, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
It really depends on why. Animalian was debated many times and when he was backed into a corner he just created a new debate thread. When people consistently told him that they weren't going to keep debating because he pretty much ignored everything said previously....he declared victory and finally went somewhere else. There are articles detailing those tactics and why it makes people want to smack some sense into those who do it. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 16:50, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
Dunno if it has a name, but it's much like a written Gish gallop, where the annoying foolish person spams you with a wall of text and asserts victory if you don't refute every point to their personal satisfaction.
OTOH, actually running away is common in woomeisters arguing with skeptics - David Gerard (talk) 17:26, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I've often seen the argument "my comments make you angry so I must be right", especially on RW. ЩєазєюіδWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel
Oh my that gets so old. Doesn't matter what you say either. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 17:41, 8 July 2015 (UTC)
I think it has elements of and argument by assertion, an ad hominem, and a reversal of the burden of proof, but without fitting either entirely. I'd call it the "I'm right by default"-fallacy and one who's really keen on it (and the Gish Gallop) is William Lane Craig who uses it in an awful lot of his "debates", typically in the form of something like "My opponent failed to address my point X*, so I assume he conceits it." (*X often being Craig's straw man or red herring). ScepticWombat (talk) 07:55, 9 July 2015 (UTC)

e-Penis size contest[edit]

Who's got the longest biggest collection of phalluses fallacies?

  1. RationalWiki: 196 fallacy articles, 4 fallacy collections, 3 funspace articles, 2 userspace articles, 2 templates, no recurrences
  2. Wikipedia: 185 articles, including recurring entries
  3. Logically Fallacious: 178 articles, 98 fallacy list entries on "B-list", 276 total
  4. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: 137 non-redirect fallacy entries
  5. Fallacy Files: 86 unique articles
  6. Nizkor Project: 42 articles
  7. Your Logical Fallacy Is: 24 articles
  8. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy does not have a list of fallacy articles; a search for the query "fallacy" returned 203 articles, of which many are not about the fallacy itself.

Moved from my userspace. Cømяade FυzzчCαтPøтαтø (talk/stalk) 20:46, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

Title headings[edit]

Hi, I've noticed some title headings have deviated from the original format found on Fallacy Files and I'm wondering if these extensions are necessary or even helpful. Unfortunately I often find myself reminding people that elaboration rarely equals clarification and it seems some select headings have mutated against this principle. For example, to my mind, "Non-enthymematic Propositional fallacies or Inconsistencies" may serve simply as "Propositional fallacies" in accordance with the FF taxonomy. These mutations are particularly glaring when contrasted with most other headings, which remain concise. Thanks. (talk) 14:52, 8 January 2019 (UTC)

About the (possible) "read all the books" or "appeal to accomplishment" fallacy[edit]

Hi, if anyone can do it, I think there should be an entry on something like the "read all the books" fallacy (if it is how it should be called) as discussed in Thanks. Gquenot (talk) 12:02, 7 July 2019 (UTC)

Example of logical fallacy is wrong[edit]

"One may be wrong in how one arrived at a conclusion, but that doesn't mean the conclusion itself is wrong. It may be true based on some other premise or logical conclusion. For example, one may say:"
P1: Bears have four legs.
P2: All three legged animals are mammals.
C: Therefore a bear is a mammal.

I think P2 was supposed to have in it: four legs, not three :D As for this example of logical fallacy: someone arrived to C, because P1 and than P2. Which in current state make 0 sense! Because there is no other premise, from which you could deduce: bears are mammals. Therefore P2 should be: All four legged animals are mammals. — Unsigned, by: Empleat / talk / contribs

Not really. Just because P2 is false, doesn't mean that C is false.
Also, sign your posts with ~~~~ (four tildes). ElectrosPardon? 17:32, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
In fact I get what you are saying. I will update the article to focus more on how sound the argument is rather than the false premise. ShabiDOO 17:57, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
I agree, the fallacy should be in assuming that all 4 legged animals are mammals (which would include iguanas and frogs), but just because not all 4 legged animals are mammals doesn't mean the conclusion that bears is mammals is wrong even though the logic is flawed. CoryUsar (talk) 20:02, 10 November 2020 (UTC)
No the problem was that the argument only contained a false premise (that all three legged animals were mammals). The argument however was sound and shouldn't have been. I adjusted it so that it contained a strange and false premise AND that the argument isn't sound (it doesn't logically follow). ShabiDOO 22:30, 10 November 2020 (UTC)

Base rate fallacy and statistics (says a footnote)[edit]

The footnote statement that statistical inference is the only mathematically valid way to determine guilt or innocence is kind of ridiculous. OK, sure, but that's a lot like saying analytic chemistry is the only valid way to figure out the tasty ingredient in that dish you ate at the restaurant last night. Statistical inference is about estimating a population parameter or making a probabilistic statement about a hypothesis. It is NOT about determine truth/falsehood. Should I only use calculus to determine how much I should press my brake pedal? Should I rely only on neuroscience to decide whether my joke is funny?

Furthermore, the legalistic examples under base rate fallacy are really poor examples. The most common examples are of population disease testing -- very relevant these days. Another good one might be of crime among various demographic subgroups.

[end rant mode] — Unsigned, by: 2601:285:8380:1ac8:19ad:4754:541d:3841 / talk / contribs

Expanding on my comments as a BoN,
1) The two legalistic examples under "base rate fallacy" are not actually base rate fallacies. They are, if anything, misunderstanding of conditional probabilities and the appropriateness of inference based on those probabilities.
2) Although not base-rate fallacies, they do involve some of the same probabilities involved in Bayes rule so, yeah, mistakes are understandable.
3) Bayes rule has several terms that are explicit or implicit: P[A] and P[B], the marginal probabilities; P[A|B] and P[B|A], the conditional probabilties; and P[A,B] (the numerator of Bayes equation when multiplied out), the join probability of A and B. The base-rate fallacy refers to one, and only one, of the marginals. The legalistic examples (prosecutors and defense fallacies) are a grab bag that emphasize the incorrect use of a conditional or joint probability when a different conditional probability is preferred.
4) There are other examples within the prosecutors/defense fallacies that fall outside the realm of Bayes rule.
5) The current text under base-rate fallacy includes dramatic and unclear statements about "blaming the victim" (a consequence of the fallacy and not the actual fallacy), "blindly trusting the accuser" (a hyped up, imprecise way to incorrectly point to the marginal probability), "blah blah importance of Bayes inference" (true, but a weakness of the judicial system and not a fallacy), "ipse dixit" (nope, not the fallacy you're looking for). As such, they are interesting things, but NOT good or relevant discussions of the fallacy
1) The fallacy should be more directly and clearly described as in the entire syllogistic fallacy section;
2) Irrelevant, but interesting, commentary about the justice system should either be purged or exiled to footnotes. I prefer a purge.

MarmotHead (talk) 00:22, 8 December 2020 (UTC) (currently, a grump)