Below are the statements and answers to the Logic Quiz posted a few days ago. See how many you got right. A few comments also follow each identified fallacy.
Featured Fallacies For the Quiz
- Appeal to Force
- Appeal to Pity
- Straw Man
- Red Herring
- Reductio ad Hitlerum
- Lowering the Bar
- Appeal to Unqualified Authority
- Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
- Appeal to Popularity
1. “Your claim about life beginning at conception is interesting, but the science of the fetus is not settled. Besides, we must give women the right to abortion because it’s their bodies, and a woman has the right to control her own body. Women’s rights must be respected at all times.”
Fallacy: Red Herring
Comment: Basic Biology 101 clearly demonstrates that life begins at conception. Moreover, a superb 2008 White Paper by Dr. Maureen Condic on this reality is available online at http://www.westchesterinstitute.net/images/wi_whitepaper_life_print.pdf
The abortion issue is essentially about honoring and protecting innocent life from the moment of conception. Mentioning other things and skipping over the reality of biology is a classic red herring used to deflect the attention away from the primary argument. Many liberals in favor of abortion either deny the biology or simply ignore it, and they declare that other things are more important to think about concerning abortion. When confronting such people, do not get caught up arguing their bogus issues. Stay focused on the ultimate reality of life beginning at conception.
2. “If he doesn’t get arrested and convicted of murder, then more people will be encouraged to shoot minorities and claim self-defense. Also, without the conviction, there will be riots everywhere.”
Fallacy: Appeal to Force
Comment: Instead of promoting justice based on reason and legitimate law enforcement, threats of violence and other dangers are presented in an effort to force a desired outcome. This fallacy is used to appeal to emotions rather than reason because a more reasoned approach might bring about an undesired outcome for those who make the appeal to force. This fallacy often finds particular favor with people who do not like to play by the rules of a civil society.
3. “I can’t believe that Gingrich opposes abortion. Nazis also opposed abortion, and look at the monsters they were.”
Fallacy: Reductio ad Hitlerum
Comment: This one is quite obvious. What’s sad and frustrating is that it is used quite frequently by liberals and others who do not want to argue the merits of a particular issue. Simply tar and feather a person by linking him or her to Hitler or Nazis in any way possible no matter how silly in the hopes that this will persuade others to reject the argument. This fallacy is also a version of the Ad Hominem fallacy, which pertains to attacking a person instead of the person’s argument.
4. “The polar bear community in that region is down 2%. The water levels over there are down .005%. Hurricanes are down 20% this year, but they were up 10% last year. The average temperature in the United States was actually warmest during the decade of the 1930s, but models show that the temperature could be higher in future decades. The cause is clear: Man-made global warming.”
Fallacy: Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
Comment: The claim that humans are the primary cause of global warming, which in turn causes so many other disastrous things is based on flimsy evidence at best, and outright distorted facts at worst. All of these unrelated statistics are combined to turn them into a bogus target of sorts that globaloneyists use to give a scientific veneer to their claim that so-called man-made global warming is the cause of all sorts of problems.
By the bye, the warmest year on record in the United States in terms of average temperature is 1934, and the 1930s is still the warmest decade on record. You can verify this via NASA or other applicable records. How could this be possible when more CO2 and other alleged contributions to global warming by humans have increased since that time? Just another real “inconvenient truth,” I suppose. 🙂
5. “Notwithstanding what the Church teaches on homosexuality, that gay fellow is quite impressive, and so, too is his gay companion. Besides, he enjoys an overwhelming majority of support from his fellow parishioners so he should be allowed to serve on the committee.”
Fallacy: Appeal to Popularity
Comment: Say it ain’t so, Joe. 😦 This fallacy substitutes the appeal to popularity in place of reason and common sense. A kind of Red Herring is also involved here by ignoring the more important issue concerning Church teaching and coming to a conclusion based more on popularity instead of the defense of truth and high moral standards.
All those who obey the cardinal rules of logical thinking never let popularity of any kind trump the reality of the truth.
6. “Mr. Romney has called for a reduction in federal spending on welfare programs. It’s obvious that he hates poor people because they are the ones who benefit from such spending.”
Fallacy: Straw Man
Comment: A favorite tactic of liberals to ignore any kind of legitimate reason for a position, and simply mischaracterize the position by proposing another would-be rationale for it that is more easily dismissed.
As the campaign for the presidency continues over the next few months, expect to see more and more straw men arguments like the one above. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and various talk show hosts on MSNBC are accomplished practitioners of the straw man fallacy. Some Ad Hominem-type elements also frequently appear in Straw Man creations.
7. “American people believe in feeding the hungry, and I won’t let people starve on my watch. Consider your hungry neighbors when you enter the voting booth. A vote for me is a vote that will help the hungry. Yes, we can.”
Fallacy: Appeal to Pity
Comment: Hoping to garner support by tugging at the heart strings instead of proposing a position or policy that should be argued on its merits.
8. “Of course, Father G. was wrong to withhold Communion. I’m the ultimate canon lawyer, so it doesn’t matter what others may believe or what facts they provide. They don’t have my skills, education, and background.”
Comment: A tactic of arrogance used to avoid more in-depth discussion and the legitimate consideration of other possibilities by declaring superior “expertise” as the final word on a particular matter. A few canon lawyers have recently adopted this form of arrogance in their comments on the Father Guarnizo case.
A person who flaunts his or her credentials instead of addressing arguments in full is a practitioner of credentialism. Another sign of credentialism involves seeking the credentials of opponents to arguments instead of addressing the merits of an opponent’s arguments.
When confronted by a credentialist, remind such a person of some of the more infamous “credentialists” who at one time asked, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” Stay focused on the merits of the arguments, and don’t let a credentialist bully you into accepting a position based on the credentials of the one proposing it.
9. “If God exists, science will be able to prove it.”
Fallacy: Appeal to False Authority
Comment: Science deals with physical measurements alone, but many people believe science is the end-all-and-be-all, so it is looked upon as the lone authority to prove that which it cannot do. Science has no authority whatsoever regarding the question of God’s existence, but even some scientists foolishly believe it does.
10. “Despite the fact that our policies added three times as much debt as our predecessor and also increased unemployment, the recession would have been much worse without our policies in place.”
Fallacy: Lowering the Bar
Comment: Another favored fallacy used by the Obama Administration and liberals in general. Of course, this particular claim is used in place of any argument in support of the policies that caused the problems, and it can catch people off guard if they do not insist upon real evidence in support of the claim. This also has some Red Herring in it by seeking to divert the attention away from a more in-depth analysis of the failed policies.