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.

7 Mar 2011 12:01:00


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