The pitfalls of logical fallacies

In general, a fallacy is an error in reasoning, not an error in actual facts. It's an argument that even though all the premises of the argument are true, the conclusion can still be false. They don't provide enough support to make the conclusion solid, the conclusion may still be the right one, but the logical argument does not back it up.

An example of a fallacy at work is:
Premise: "When I went to SC I did not see any schools."
Conclusion: "There are no schools in SC."

Obviously we know this to be false, but it gets harder to tell with more vague topics and different fallacies, sometimes a logical fallacy can lead people to believe something that others know to be obviously false like "All people who like BDSM are perverts and criminals."

There are many types of fallacies, and more fallacies than anyone would likely list or want to read, I am only going to touch on the common ones, and provide links to where others are detailed.

Appeal to probability - Just because something can happen, does not mean it will. "Heavy S&M play leads to injuries. Therefore, if you do heavy S&M play, you will get hurt."

Argument from fallacy - Making the assumption that because someone used a logical fallacy to support their conclusion that their conclusion is false. "I enjoy spanking others so I am a top. But switches spank people too, so you must not be a top."

Denying the correlative - Either/or arguments, sometimes things can be both or neither. "Everyone is a dominant or a submissive. This ignores the fact that some people are switches, and some people don't take power exchange roles at all."

False dichotomy - Assuming there are only two possible conclusions. I think everyone has seen examples of black & white thinking, ignoring the shades of grey that exist in the middle. This also gets extended in the lifestyle to an assumption that because there is no "right" or "true" way that there are no "wrong" ways.

Is-ought problem - Just because that is the way things are done, does not mean it is the correct way.

Masked man fallacy - A list of semi-related true facts may not lead to a supportable conclusion. "I know about Person A. I don't know about Person B. Therefore person A and B are different people." - In a lifestyle where people use aliases and have multiple names, this can be an easy one to fall into.

Nirvana fallacy - Sometimes there is no perfect solution to a problem, reality is not perfect, only fantasy is.

Package deal fallacy - Grouping things may not always mean what you think it does. "Sue really likes knife play, so I know she will enjoy artistic cutting."

Equivocation - Using different word meaning and contexts to equate something different. "Something has to be done about X. Y is something. We must do Y."

Proof by example - Using a single example to assume a broad truth. See the example at the beginning of the article about SC and Schools for this type.

Argument from repetition (Ad nauseam) - The subject has been argued many many times before, and people are tired of discussing it.

Appeal to ridicule - Representing an argument in a way to make it seem foolish. "You are just a kid/sock puppet, no one should believe what you say."

Argument from ignorance - Failure to prove something true or false does not make it the opposite. "Since bob has been unable to prove he did not ignore Sue's safeword he must have ignored it."

Circular arguments - The conclusion is a premise to it's own premise. "Bob has no experience with the whip. No one will let bob use a whip on them."

Correlation does not imply causation - Just because we see two things together commonly does not mean one causes the other. We see a lot of abuse victims in the lifestyle, however it is incorrect to assume abuse leads to being in the lifestyle.

As you can see there are many fallacies used in arguments, for more you can go to Wikipedia list of fallacies or Nizkor Project - Fallacies.

Comments (0) 7 Mar 2011 12:01:00

Care & Feeding of trolls

We have all seen trolls in chat rooms and forums online, they seem to be everywhere, but what are they, what causes them to be that way, and how do we deal with them?

Before we get too far into discussing how to deal with trolls we need to define what a troll is. In general terms a troll is someone who posts messages that are inflammatory with the intent of provoking others or disrupting the topic of the thread of conversation.

Of course we have all heard the common adage "Don't feed the troll." And invariably this does not work because someone will feed the troll, someone will give the troll the emotionally driven response they seek, to starve a troll would require everyone abstain from responding, even when the troll ramps up their efforts. This is the real world, sooner or later someone will feed the troll, so obviously this solution has flaws.

Other solutions have been to ban the troll, criticize the troll or even to shut down the forum the troll is using to troll. All of these have flaws, ban him, he will just make a new ID. Shut down the forum and move somewhere else, the troll will follow. And of course confrontation will just feed him and make him more active.

So, what can we do? Some of the more successful solutions are to ask the troll to give details of why they feel a particular way, or to agree with them on some points. Overall the biggest step is to keep your head and keep your cool, knee jerk reactions are just going to feed the fire. Perhaps there is a middle ground that can be negotiated.

Learning effective communication is key of course, the following is some advice for communication:

  • Keep calm - Getting emotional and responding without thinking it through will more than likely make things worse, not better.
  • Choose your words carefully - Veiled threats, hidden emotional undercurrents, passive aggressive methods are all going to cause the issue to get worse.
  • Be polite - Insults and treating someone like garbage is just going to rile them up more.
  • Be verbose, but not too verbose - Something too short will not tell people what you really mean and leaves a lot to be assumed (and assumptions are dangerous), but don't be too long, people will zone out and not really read what you are saying.
  • When quoting prior comments, use enough to make sure the context is there, but don't go quoting the whole thing if it is long.
  • Don't assume, ask - If you are nto clear on what someone meant, ask them to clarify it, but don't ask in a way that says you have already assumed the worst.
  • If you are trying to diffuse a situation, use soft words like "I think", "In my opinion", etc. Talk to the subject matter, not the method used to communicate it, picking at someone about their spelling is not productive.
  • Avoid logical fallacies, these weaken your argument and give strength to opposing views, I should probably list these, but that would make this article much longer, so I will work on another article just for fallacies.

Hopefully people will think about this a little and the world will be a little better. (Yeah I know, leave me my fantasy world...)

Comments (0) 7 Mar 2011 12:00:00

[blank] Nazi

I have been described at various times as a seat belt nazi, the anti-drinking nazi, the anti-smoking nazi, and heck, probably some other things that have been said out of earshot. I admit I am a judgmental bastard. I know the whole judge not lest ye be judged bit, but judging others is part of human nature, but when you take it to extremes it does get to be a problem.

When I see someone taking smoke breaks or drinking a lot or drinking when I know they have to drive, yeah I judge them for it. It shows how out of control or irresponsible they are. I know the argument, it's my body, I can do what I want with it, but what does it say about how you care for your loved ones? I lost my Grandfather to cancer, and aunt and several friends to drinking, I am loosing a dog I love dearly to cancer, working as an EMT I got to see people dead in car wrecks that they could have lived through if they had worn a seat belt. Yeah, it's your body, but it's the people you leave behind that have to deal with the loss, if no one loves you or relies on you for support, then sure go kill yourself.

"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions" - Dorothy Day

You want people to see you as responsible or in control, show them, you want them to see you as a child or as reckless, you can show them that too, and far too many are showing just how reckless and irresponsible they are.

Comments (0) 4 Jan 2011 12:00:00

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