Talk:Self-refuting idea

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search


Wow, what a lame article. Could it at least explain what the title "means"? humanUser talk:Human 03:01, 14 February 2008 (EST)

That's what the first sentence is intended to do. Ungtss 10:24, 14 February 2008 (EST)
I find it a good article. It's a fallacy however. Maybe there already is a fallacy by a different name? Editor at CPBring TK back 10:36, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Thanks:). I've never seen it characterized as a fallacy -- might be though -- any ideas? Ungtss 10:43, 14 February 2008 (EST)
It seems similar, linguistically at least, to fallacies like "begging the question". Perhaps a better term might involve something like "overbroad generalisation", or "proofs that assume they themselves are true"? humanUser talk:Human 14:07, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Seems like it's kind of the opposite of begging the question -- if the proof is true, then the proof is false. Or, if the proof is true, then all sorts of other things are true which we know aren't true. Ungtss 15:45, 14 February 2008 (EST)
I only said it was similar linguistically, not in meaning. In other words, it's an English phrase that tries to capture a failure in logic (not necessarily a fallacy, per se), whereas most (but not all) straightforward logical fallacies have fancy Latin names, or very specific English names ("assuming the antecedent", for example). humanUser talk:Human 16:17, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Ah, got it. "Overbroad criteria?" Not sure that's any better than what we got. Ungtss 16:18, 14 February 2008 (EST)
I suppose we could use the latin adage in the last example? Ungtss 16:25, 14 February 2008 (EST)

Loving the passive-aggressive commentary section[edit]

Why can't some people just say what they mean? GrandSoviet 18:03, 23 March 2008 (EDT)

I believe this disaster was constructed during an edit war with an undercover Cdesign proponentsistser, who was trying to use it as a point elsewhere. humanUser talk:Human 18:35, 23 March 2008 (EDT)

I've removed it. Here it is:

Since none of these examples make clear what is meant,[1] let us now say what the error is. It is an attempt to somehow prove[2] the existence of supernatural entities, and their involvement in human life, by whining[3] about logical positivism and materialism as somehow flawed at their basic level.[4] Which is amusing, since they are the only tools that have ever proved useful in the attempt to understand the world around us.[citation needed]

It confuses the article by suggesting that this logical fallacy only exists in the context of trying to prove the existence of God or other supernaturals. This directly contradicts some of the examples above (e.g. the one about human beliefs stemming from wish fulfillment). weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 15:25, 17 December 2008 (EST)

  1. Or any damn sense, for that matter.
  2. Despite the absence of any reference to the supernatural or any identifiable arguments that it exists; in fact, the author does not believe the word "supernatural" holds any meaning.
  3. Whining: v. 1) The act of criticizing my beliefs through logic when I lack the mental resources to understanding what is being said; 2) The act of defending your beliefs when I lack the mental resources to understand what you mean.
  4. Which they might very well be.

Monty Python example[edit]

It certainly contains a logical fallacy, but I think it would go better as an example of false analogy or correlation does not equal causation rather than 'proving too much'. It doesn't fit in with the rest of the examples which are paradoxical statements. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 14:07, 26 September 2008 (EDT)

No response after several weeks, so I'm takin' it out. weaseLOIdWeaselly.jpg~ 15:15, 17 December 2008 (EST)

Revision please![edit]

There's nothing categorically fallacious about this just because some people apparently can't handle figures of speech everyone else understands*. A note should be added that this only applies to their usage in a strictly scientifical context where language is bound to very specific rules so as to conform to very specific requirements not found in everyday parlour.

  • this, too, was a mere figure of speech, and I want to emphasize that I did not intend to suggest that indeed 100% of all non-Asperger/comparable individual or multiple personalities that have ever existed or are currently existing or even might once exist throughout time and universe will indeed understand.

Thinking about it, I might be the one who is splitting hairs too much while indeed everyone is aware of that distinction and lets it pass unsaid. In that case I blame my Asperger's diagnosis.— Unsigned, by: Sumpfkraut / talk / contribs

The definition is unclear, too short and doesn't fit the examples[edit] well as what I've found on the Internet for "proving too much".--ZooGuard (talk) 13:41, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Possibly because this article was just made up from nowhere. Scarlet A.pngDon't click here 22:16, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Commiting a fallacy while claiming one[edit]

The claim that "most of these can be fixed with a qualifier" is actually nonsense, since it either results in saying nothing at all or special pleading. The final example is a perfect case of special pleading in its "fixed" form: "everything is subjective, with a single completely arbitrary exception I require to make this statement." It's very similar to the special pleading of the "creation requires a creator" argument.

The actual fallacy of drawing a conclusion that is logically undermined by its own argument or premises is generally called Stolen Concept. Or "self refuting idea" if you dislike terms coined by Objectivists.

It's prone to being used to construct strawman by addressing versions of opposing arguments that were never supposed to be taken literally (the classic Objectivist example of Stolen Concept is "property is theft," noting that the concept of theft requires the concept of lawful property, even though it's obvious that's not what the statement is addressing), but it can be usefully applied to genuinely broken arguments. King Skeleton (talk) 08:05, 14 October 2014 (UTC)


Some content from and Herr FüzzyCätPötätö (talk/stalk) 03:12, 1 August 2015 (UTC)

Maybe I'm just being weird[edit]

But I feel like the examples section is cluttered with less-than-ideally illustrative examples.

  • While "reality is a simulation" is completely unhelpful as a thought experiment, and provides no insight, because as we note, the simulation existing is functionally the same as reality just existing: that's more of an occam's razor thing. An unnecessary theory complication. The no-utility philosophy involved doesn't contradict itself. It merely presents a statement that cannot be distinguished true from false.
  • "Logic is arbitrary" doesn't contradict itself. It might be wrong for the reason given, but that reason isn't contained within the concept of arbitrariness.
  • "Whether or not anything exists, nothing can be known about anything that exists" is not something anyone has ever said ever. And it's way too awkward and weirdly written to be a purely hypothetical example of the purest fallacy.

The ones about omniscience/omnipotence are at least categorically famous examples. But a lot of it feels crufty.

Am I crazy? Or are we actually way off? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 21:06, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

Yeah this article is way off. All examples need to be redone to contain actual self-refuting statements. A good one is actually Alder's razor and another good one is the general theme of logical positivism. Vive Liberté! 22:09, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

Special pleading is not a self-refuting statement[edit]

See the title. Many of the examples are bad and need to be rewritten. In the interest of not starting an edit war, here's the talk page post. KoiDevelopment (thanks, Love!) 22:07, 30 November 2018 (UTC)

I have a counter-argument. Special pleading is a dishonest way of resolving a self refuting idea. "All parts of a traffic jam is caused by one car stopping in front of another car" is self-refuting, because what's in front of the front-most car? "Oh well the front most thing isn't actually a car, but a slow-moving garbage truck" is special pleading. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 19:54, 1 December 2018 (UTC)
In very limited instances yes but on the whole, no. Special pleading is when you say "Always X except for my specific instance Y which is different because I need/want it to be." This very well can refer to a self-refuting statement. For sure. But normally? No. Special pleading is a bigger fallacy than self-refuting statements and the two should not be conflated in the examples section. L'homme Idéal (je rigole). 12:57, 2 December 2018 (UTC)
Also your self-refuting statement isn't self-refuting. It's just wrong. A self-refuting statement is something like "the only things we can know are those things we can test scientifically," which is self-refuting because you can't test that statement scientifically. It can't hold up to its own claim. Vive Liberté! 12:59, 2 December 2018 (UTC)
So would the statement "I'm not certain, but I think all knowledge is doubtful" be a form of special pleading, or just a form of being a jerk? :-) --Bertrc (talk) 15:52, 13 June 2019 (UTC)