This is obviously great and everyone should agree with me.
November 2, 2015 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Comment trolls got you down? Feel like you can't make headway in a good old fashioned debate anymore because no one is following the rules? Logical Fallacy Ref is here to help.
posted by hindmost (48 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
In keeping with the sporting theme, here's a photo of every internet comments section.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:51 PM on November 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


Man, I need this guy to come out and ref the conversations I have about veganism.
posted by Gymnopedist at 1:57 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Too many Hitlers on the field violation" is great.

However "There is a red herring on the field" should be followed by "That argument is not reviewable"
posted by lmfsilva at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Man, I need this guy to come out and ref the conversations I have about [my hobby horse or the moment here].
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Mental Wimp: Point taken, but can you name another hobby horse/movement that routinely shuts down people's logic circuits so much that they begin to mistake Lion King quotes for reasonable arguments?
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:02 PM on November 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


Player illegally substituted vocabulary for logic.

Love it.
posted by sio42 at 2:10 PM on November 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


There are no conversations about veganism, just monologues.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:21 PM on November 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Overzealous grammatician" seems to be a popular one these days.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:25 PM on November 2, 2015


The most popular one online (in my opinion) is actually missing, so I've decided to fill the gap.
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:27 PM on November 2, 2015 [31 favorites]


This will come in handy while watching presidential debates.
posted by Ratio at 2:28 PM on November 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


"There is a red herring on the field. What the hell does this have to do with anything?" Perfect, and useful.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:32 PM on November 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I appreciate the effort to match the gestures with the offenses.
posted by a halcyon day at 2:42 PM on November 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


can you name another hobby horse/movement that routinely shuts down people's logic circuits so much that they begin to mistake Lion King quotes for reasonable arguments?

Pretty much any discussion on any topic involving the Middle East?
posted by kanewai at 3:09 PM on November 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Gymnopedist: "Mental Wimp: Point taken, but can you name another hobby horse/movement that routinely shuts down people's logic circuits so much that they begin to mistake Lion King quotes for reasonable arguments?"

But let me explain. When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.
posted by Splunge at 3:12 PM on November 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


There are no conversations about veganism, just monologues...

Only vaguely related, but cannot resist, sorry...
posted by MessageInABottle at 3:12 PM on November 2, 2015


Pretty much any discussion on any topic involving the Middle East?


Point really taken

Aside, re: fallacy fallacy, there really ought to be a rhetorical guide for shutting down runaway fallacies -- i.e., pointing out "xyz fallacy!" is almost never helpful (nobody is ever like "oh, I see your point, I have argued fallaciously," at least in casual conversation), but there are effective ways of engaging with people over them in a way that leads them to realize their arguments weren't making sense (at least if they were honestly trying to speak with you and not just arguing to hear themselves talk). A little handbook for that would be pretty cool.
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:14 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is there a fallacy based on citing fallacies to try to shut down legitimate debate?

I'm not even limiting it to specious arguments, but also cases where someone smugly acts like they "won" the argument because they caught the other party making a fallacy. It misses the point, as I see knowledge of fallacies as a way to make effective arguments for productive debate. It's okay to call out a fallacy, but I'm sick of people using them to poison discussion rather than enhancing it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:31 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Somewhat to Gynopedist's point, there is a tendency I've seen in Internet conversation (overwhelmingly on reddit, at least) to simply shout "fallacy!" and assume that this is a helpful (and, I think, righteous) move. It's not. On preview, mccarty.tim makes a related point.

Beyond that, I would argue that what are often called out as "ad hominem" and "appeal to authority" fallacies are often not; instead, it's often the case that who a person is has a relevant bearing on how to contextualize and evaluate their arguments. (This is a more robust epistemology than trying to strip who the person is away from their argument--as if that's even possible.)
posted by tummy_rub at 3:35 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is there a fallacy based on citing fallacies to try to shut down legitimate debate?

Yes there is: the fallacy fallacy. (As demonstrated by Fallacy Man.)

(Has “fallacy” stopped sounding like a word yet?)
posted by Rangi at 3:36 PM on November 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think y'all are talking about the argument from fallacy/fallacy fallacy, which is really cool and circular.
posted by Gymnopedist at 3:37 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Hakuna Matata stops here.
posted by y2karl at 3:50 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Beyond that, I would argue that what are often called out as "ad hominem" and "appeal to authority" fallacies are often not

There are several fallacies particularly prone to being inappropriately invoked - see also "correlation doesn't imply causation" whenever you don't like the implied interpretation of the correlation.
posted by atoxyl at 3:55 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Appeal to authority is actually a reasonable argumentative point, even if it's a logical fallacy. "Some physics thing is true because Stephen Hawking said so" may not be an airtight argument, but as neither one of us has the requisite skills or knowledge to evaluate the physics thing on its own merits, appealing to Hawking is as close as we are going to get to resolving it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:23 PM on November 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


several fallacies particularly prone to being inappropriately invoked

iirc, a few of them were classified as "fallacies of relevance" in the ol' logic textbook (red herring, straw man for sure, and maybe ad hominem and appeal to authority) and there can always be contention about what is relevant

in the other direction of inappropriateness, it is funny that people invoke a "slippery slope" believing that they are making a good argument, although it's even the name of an informal logical fallacy. I mean, they will say out loud "But there is a slippery slope" when arguing, without any real grounds, that one step will escalate inevitably to a bad outcome, and intending that term to be persuasive. And it probably works! Oh, there's a slippery slope!? Wake up sheeple.
posted by thelonius at 4:24 PM on November 2, 2015


As a failed-logician-turned-sports-person, I declare this meme to be AWESOME.
posted by stargell at 4:40 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


And the ref here is, of course, the great (?) Ed "Guns" Hochuli.
posted by stargell at 4:45 PM on November 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean, this is the best of the Internet. Just the greatest fucking thing.
posted by stargell at 4:52 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't guys ever get tired of whipping-out their fallacies?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:57 PM on November 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Somewhat to Gynopedist's point, there is a tendency I've seen in Internet conversation (overwhelmingly on reddit, at least) to simply shout "fallacy!" and assume that this is a helpful (and, I think, righteous) move. It's not.

True.

But in my world I deal a lot with people, mostly political activists, both of the left and of the right, who do not argue in good faith, and I would love to be able to throw down a flag and yell Fallacy! and just end the discussion then and there.

I want a set of playing cards with these on them. Or better yet, a set of cards, a yellow flag, and a ref's whistle.
posted by kanewai at 5:05 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


For MeFites that don't recognize him, the ref used in the images is Ed Hochuli. He is also a well regarded attorney. He has a tendency to offer up extremely wordy explanations for rulings on the field.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:12 PM on November 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


iirc, a few of them were classified as "fallacies of relevance" in the ol' logic textbook (red herring, straw man for sure, and maybe ad hominem and appeal to authority) and there can always be contention about what is relevant

The straw man is a fallacy of relevance because it consists of attacking an argument which is not actually being made. The thing with ad hom and appeal to authority is that the fallacy is in the assumption that pointing out the nature of the source of an argument is sufficient to deductively prove or disprove it. It's not of course but that doesn't mean that it can't be part of valid inductive reasoning.
posted by atoxyl at 5:14 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Many times it has appeared to me that the person who (stridently) says "A-ha! You committed the 'X' Fallacy" is seeking to win an argument rather than to participate in a discussion. My favourite is the person who proposes a dichotomy, finds themselves unable to hold this ground, and then accuses their interlocutor of the "No middle ground fallacy".

Happy days.
posted by nfalkner at 5:15 PM on November 2, 2015


Liked this. One of my favourite philosophy courses was taught by the guy who wrote Logical Self Defense. It was a two-semester course, and he was a hard marker.

Consequently, my skin crawls whenever anyone misuses the phrase "begging the question."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:25 PM on November 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Don't guys ever get tired of whipping-out their fallacies?

OMG an actual in-the-wild sighting of the fallacy/phallusy fallacy!
posted by jamjam at 5:31 PM on November 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


can you name another hobby horse/movement that routinely shuts down people's logic circuits so much that they begin to mistake Lion King quotes for reasonable arguments?

Legions. But I'll just put "X is not SF" on the table and walk away.
posted by eriko at 6:06 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


For MeFites that don't recognize him, the ref used in the images is Ed Hochuli. He is also a well regarded attorney. He has a tendency to offer up extremely wordy explanations for rulings on the field.

I don't watch football and have generally no interest in football but after watching those videos I now kind of love that guy.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:58 PM on November 2, 2015


Another missing one i see is calling literally any discussion of how anyone is engaging a tone argument.

That could fall under fallacy fallacy i guess, but it's done so often that it really deserves to be its own thing.
posted by emptythought at 9:20 PM on November 2, 2015


Also, the refs depicted therein kind of have a hot authoritative thing going on when they're combined with fallacies. Too many hot daddies on the field. YMMV.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:22 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would argue that what are often called out as "ad hominem" and "appeal to authority" fallacies are often not

The ad hominem fallacy fallacy.

"One of the most widely misused terms on the Net is "ad hominem". It is most often introduced into a discussion by certain delicate types, delicate of personality and mind, whenever their opponents resort to a bit of sarcasm. As soon as the suspicion of an insult appears, they summon the angels of ad hominem to smite down their foes, before ascending to argument heaven in a blaze of sanctimonious glory. They may not have much up top, but by God, they don't need it when they've got ad hominem on their side. It's the secret weapon that delivers them from any argument unscathed."
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:40 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I consider ad hominem and the argument from authority to be similar to the fallacies of relevance because there is a question of interpreting an objection as being relevant or not. If I argue that the Higgs boson has been found, because the experts in particle physics agree that the new experimental results are valid, I am not committing a fallacy: their expertise is relevant and it is reliable enough to base evidentiary claims on. Saying that someone's argument should be distrusted because they are biased may be correct; they may be a paid spokesman. say, who systematically distorts and suppresses evidence in favor of his employer. Not every witness is reliable. In my spokesman example, the identity of the arguer is relevant to the question of their reliability.
posted by thelonius at 7:50 AM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hate everything about this. From years of experience with the Internet I've come to believe lists of fallacies are best used when applied to one's own ideas to look for oversights, or at most when requested by a willing conversation partner who wants to receive critical feedback.

Using them in conversations/arguments/personal attacks, as this image macro encourages, is almost always a violation of Wheaton's Law in practice, and often occurrs when people disagree on which of those three things it is—the one who thinks it's the more aggressive one (argument versus conversation, attack versus argument) tends to be the fallacy-accuser.

Echoing others' complaints: many scientific processes that are technically discussions of the reliability of claims about facts, thus not logical argument forms at all, can be and are accused of "ad hominem", "appeal to authority", or "bandwagon". What's more, performing an experiment or discussing its results, if treated as logic, could be "appeal to the stone".

(That's not the only flawed accusation of appealing to the stone: a unicorn, a qzyppig, and that piece of beef Cypher thinks he's eating could all be said to not exist, but they don't exist in three different ways. "Existence" is a predicate that needs more careful defining sometimes, and if someone's using it overly-broadly (an equivocation fallacy), asserting the need for a narrower definition (and declaring which one you're using) can be done dramatically by kicking a rock.)

Many exist in matched pairs, where the question of which fallacy was truly used (if any) comes down to questions that are also outside the realm of logic: either every position I believe in comes in the form of a 500-page volume, or I'm allowed some amount of vagueness and reserve the right to add clarifying specificity later. Or is that an "illegal goalpost move"? But if I'm expected to pre-load my statements with ponderous hedges and caveats, would that be a "continuum fallacy"?

So, so often online the question of whether one position is "no true scotsman" or another position is a "strawman" depends on the statistical question of whether a particular behavior is truly representative of "most bicyclists" or "most feminists" or whatever.

And Godwin's Law conflicts with the idea of "never forget"—we must remember the lessons learned from the history of what the Nazis did, but must also never remember them?

I have more, but the last one I'll bring up is the most relevant to my overall complaint I think: the "proof by intimidation" image is self-refuting—what is the person using that referee supposed to be doing but shouting down a point rather than refuting it? Or are they a moderator, and have special authority to declare some things off-limits without it counting as "shouting down". And what happens if the point under discussion is being treated as something abstract and/or game-like by some people, but it's not abstract to me? It affects me materially? I'd be pissed as hell if people treated my loud and repeated protests to "please stop" as intimidation.

And that affects us here on MeFi, too. We need to be continuously re-negotiating social norms of discourse. But how well do we support a person saying "whoa, that went too far I think" without treating it as a piling-on (in thread) or calling-out (in MeTa)?

No, this whole image macro is unnecessary for the people who could use it responsibly, and a Sea Lioning Starter Kit for everyone else.
posted by traveler_ at 4:57 PM on November 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


traveler_, for me this is less a thing to actually use in any kind of conversation and more like a kind of funny fantasy, like, "jeez, wouldn't it be cool if this magic ref would step in during some of these conversations I'm having?"
posted by Gymnopedist at 7:22 PM on November 3, 2015


Buffalo buffalo fallacy/fallacy fallacy Buffalo buffalo.
posted by mcrandello at 10:47 PM on November 3, 2015


Simply phallacious.
posted by y2karl at 4:39 PM on November 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


jesus fuck traveler_ it's a light-hearted joke
posted by sidereal at 7:32 AM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nonsequiturical!
posted by y2karl at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm thinking traveler_'s comment falls into some kind of 'SRS BIZNESS' fallacy, where someone decides to remove all context of potential humour and takes something at complete face value, and then goes as far into analysis they need to for the joke to become clearly offensive, and therefore wrong.

Discussions/arguments that involve sarcasm and especially satire are prone to this response.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:58 PM on November 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which is also why I'm hoping against hope that the comment was an attempt at humour, because otherwise it was a miniature masterpiece of missing the point and wet blanketism.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:59 PM on November 5, 2015


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