Bad arguments and how to spot them

Please give this a quick read
FXR
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Post by FXR » Sun Nov 16, 2008 6:47 pm

Ygern wrote:
FXR wrote:... unmarried mothers locked up ... burning heretics at the stake...


You say that like its a bad thing. FXR, so judgemental this evening! :wink:

There's nothing like a bit of banning and burning to raise the Standards of Morality in a country.


I'm sure if you mentioned the Inquisition to some people they say "sure it did'nt do our ancestors any harm and there was lot less drugs and drink driving because of it......"
Human communication is a very rickety rope bridge between minds. Its too narrow to allow but a few thoughts to cross at a time. Many are lost in the chasms of noise, suspicion, misinterpretation and shooting the message through dislike of the messenger.
Ygern
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Post by Ygern » Sun Nov 16, 2008 7:03 pm

FXR wrote:I'm sure if you mentioned the Inquisition to some people they say "sure it did'nt do our ancestors any harm and there was lot less drugs and drink driving because of it......"


The mental pictures had me roaring with laughter... :)

But yes, I'm sure you would find some people who would say that.

The response to that line of (pig-ignorant) argument is to point out that Christian-driven movements like Prohibition were 100% responsible for the emergence of murderous gangster-thugs like Al Capone.
FXR
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Post by FXR » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:46 pm

Ygern wrote:
The response to that line of (pig-ignorant) argument is to point out that Christian-driven movements like Prohibition were 100% responsible for the emergence of murderous gangster-thugs like Al Capone.


And on the tail of that it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that the Mafia is an exclusively Catholic orgnaisation none of whom (I could be wrong) has ever been excommunicated for murder, corruption or drug dealing.......

Of course ya know your're going to hear: "Sure the Pope is only showing compassion and isnt every sinner worthy of forgivness and compassion. Of course not those dirty homos, now there's a bunch of filthy degenerates. Them lot takin' un-natural liberties with the body that God gave them, bumpin into the back of each other like train carriages, the dirty lot.
At least the boys in the Cosa Nostra were always good Catholics and went to Mass and Confession and ahsked for forgivness."
Human communication is a very rickety rope bridge between minds. Its too narrow to allow but a few thoughts to cross at a time. Many are lost in the chasms of noise, suspicion, misinterpretation and shooting the message through dislike of the messenger.
Ygern
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Post by Ygern » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:03 pm

Pish and tosh, FXR. The Church uses excommunication only for serious offenses.

Things like marrying a divorced Protestant
Being female and wanting to be a priest
Needing an abortion
and if wackaloon Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo has his way,
performing stem cell research

(this being the same Trujillo who felt that it was Good and Proper to lie to naive Catholics about condoms being manufactured with holes in them that let through the AIDS virus)

Things like genocide, raping little boys and girls ... well. That will get you prayed for from the pulpit.
Qu1zMaster
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Post by Qu1zMaster » Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:36 am

Another logical fallacy is the reverse kind.
None of us has ever seen X therefore X does not exist.

Example: Are swans black or white?
White of course, you never see a black one so there are no black ones.


In fact there are black swans. Mostly in Australia but I've seen at least one in Ireland.

This is a great thread and thanks for starting it.
A good way to argue with someone is to start off by respecting their POV, and only gradually and gently breaking it down, taking them with you at every step. Reach out, folks. Don't just point and laugh at believers.
Ygern
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Post by Ygern » Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:05 am

Qu1zMaster wrote:Another logical fallacy is the reverse kind.
None of us has ever seen X therefore X does not exist...



I think inedifix called it 'affirming the consequent'. Of course, the logic forming it is flawed; but just as importantly as you example shows, its also factually incorrect - an argument from ignorance.

Don't just point and laugh at believers.


I semi agree :D

If someone starts spouting Creation Science though, the gloves are off; and the ridicule shall commence.
Ygern
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Post by Ygern » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:22 pm

If you're looking for some light entertainment, GodlessGeeks have posted hundreds of 'proofs' that God exists. You will have heard several of them. It includes Ray Comfort's Argument from Banana

A few of my favorites:

370. ARGUMENT FROM DON'T BE IMPRISONED BY YOUR OWN LOGIC
(1) You could see the beauty of God if you would just open your eyes.
(2) God won't show himself to a person who has his eyes closed, you know.
(3) Logic can keep you from God, but only if you let it.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

391. ARGUMENT FROM UNDERSTANDING
(1) You're not meant to understand.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

471. ARGUMENT FROM SALAD BAR
(1) I only believe in the parts of the Bible that I want to believe.
(2) The parts I believe are logical and make sense.
(3) Therefore, the Bible is logical and makes sense.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

499. ARGUMENT FROM EVIL ATHEIST BOARD
(1) Look at this board. People are so cynical, sarcastic, abusive, hateful, etc.
(2) On the other hand, Christian boards are always gentle, nice, supportive, considerate, etc.
(3) I'll just ignore all the censorship rules in Christian boards, and also my own attitude.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

571. ARGUMENT FROM MULTIPLICITY (V) (recursive internet edition)
(1) There exists a web page ( http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm )
(2) That page has hundreds of purported proofs of the existence of God.
(3) They can't all be wrong.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
adamd164
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Post by adamd164 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 11:14 pm

Ygern wrote:391. ARGUMENT FROM UNDERSTANDING
(1) You're not meant to understand.
(2) Therefore, God exists.


I laughed out loud at this! :lol: Funny cause it's actually used.

Ygern wrote:499. ARGUMENT FROM EVIL ATHEIST BOARD
(1) Look at this board. People are so cynical, sarcastic, abusive, hateful, etc.
(2) On the other hand, Christian boards are always gentle, nice, supportive, considerate, etc.
(3) I'll just ignore all the censorship rules in Christian boards, and also my own attitude.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

Are we really that bad, collectively!? Cynical bastards like myself are in the minority I'd have thought. :P
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Post by Patrick Fowke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:26 am

Hi

"Argument from mass consensus
Example:
Thousands of people believe in ghosts. Therefore ghosts must exist"

Thousands of people believe in ghosts because they have SEEN (as opposed to just having a gut belief in) ghosts. You can question the validity of 'seen'. Nevertheless there is a big difference between just 'believe' and jumping from this to 'must exist'.
Secondly, leading on from 'seen', the fact that many people claim to have seen 'ghosts' makes the subject, at least, worthy of some level of investigation / exploration as opposed to flat out rejection.

"Burden of proof"

- But what do you mean by "proof" let-alone "burden of".

Even science doesn't necessarily require "proof".
THEORETICAL SCIENCE. Multiple dimensions - an important new area of quantum phyics - is about a subject that is precisely beyond proof because multiple dimensions are beyond ours of time / space / matter.
EXPERIMENTAL SCIENCE. Experimental science - i.e whatever works - is a fundamental part of science. Faraday, for example, was one of its greatest exponents. It is precisely 'whatever works' as opposed to understanding why it works which is the crucial thing (believers might not understand the metaphysical peace and joy that they receive through prayer, for example, but they know it works - and to them it is beyond something that the body, for example, could induce through physical stimulation - and more besides - trying to keep post to reasonable length here ..).

You seem to suggest that "proof" is the ultimate yardstick by which we judge reality. Clearly this is not the case for science (in particular modern 20th century theoretical science, and experimental science). And in doing so you appear to reject subjects where "proof" is, also, absent i.e Philosophy and the Arts. What is the value of Philososphy and the Arts if both are absent of "proof". Philosophy is precisely about subjects beyond the realm of "proof" (otherwise it would be in the realm of science) and the Arts are about the poetic and so on.

What is the 'poetic'? What is art? What is beauty?

What is Mathematics for that matter? I mean the truths of Maths are nominal - they exist outside our natural world? Where do these truths really exist? Where did they come from?

Where did the laws of physics come from? Where do they reside? If they are dominant over the natural world then how can they, also, be part of the natural world? Who controls the laws of physics. How did the laws of physics come out of chaos to form order that would impress order on other areas of existence? (and where did existence come from - did it come out of absolutely nothing? or has it existed in some shape or from infinetly).

Could go on. Will stop ..
adamd164
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Post by adamd164 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:42 am

Hi Patrick, thanks for joining us on the forum. :)

Patrick Fowke wrote:Thousands of people believe in ghosts because they have SEEN (as opposed to just having a gut belief in) ghosts. You can question the validity of 'seen'. Nevertheless there is a big difference between just 'believe' and jumping from this to 'must exist'.
Secondly, leading on from 'seen', the fact that many people claim to have seen 'ghosts' makes the subject, at least, worthy of some level of investigation / exploration as opposed to flat out rejection.


I'm curious to know what sort of independent, empirically-driven investigation you feel would be appopriate for this? Certainly I am highly skeptical of it, and I feel we ought to be skeptical of extraordinary claims such as these. I suppose something like lie-detector tests would be a start; however, this wouldn't at all rule out self-delusion. I'd genuinely be delighted if rigorous data could be collected on the matter though. Regardless, surely you can see that the quotation you use is simply making the point that just because so many people claim to have seen them doesn't mean that they do, as a matter of fact, exist?

Patrick Fowke wrote:Even science doesn't necessarily require "proof".
THEORETICAL SCIENCE. Multiple dimensions - an important new area of quantum phyics - is about a subject that is precisely beyond proof because multiple dimensions are beyond ours of time / space / matter.


Whoa there! Quantum physics - we're talking about mathematically-based constructs to explain observed phenomena as being part of the natural world (because remember, regardless of whether or not we can directly experience it, no one in the physics community is claiming it to be supernatural in any sense - it's within the physical laws of the Universe. If you accept their conclusions, it's as much a part of the physical world as you or I.) You're surely not trying to draw a parallel between this peer-reviewed, evidence-substantiating and mathematically-sound literature on unseeable aspects of the NATURAL world, bound by laws and not free to transcend, and religious faith, which actually flies in the face of the methods here used, are you?

Religious belief is the anti-thesis of this: it celebrates blind faith as virtuous... if you claim to believe something, then - well - that's your belief, and how dare I or anyone else question it. Quite apart from the miscellany of supernatural events and occurences in which Christians/Jews/Muslims claim to believe accoding to their holy books, for example transubstantiation in the case of the Catholics (and if you're a deist or some sort of pantheist, none of the preceding will apply to you, so please ignore), I'm often told by religious people that the world we inhabit is evidence of devine intervention. Sure: even in this day and age it's probably easy to believe, when sat here subjectively on planet Earth, that we're at the centre of the Universe still, but it's an illusion brought on by our brains - evolved to deal with human-centered objects on the plains of Africa as they are. Take every planet around every star; billions and billions of them, you don't think it inevitable that at least in ONE instance the conditions would be favourable towards the evolution of life? The anthropic principle: the very fact that we're here means we must necessarily happen to be on just such a planet; it implies nothing about how often this occurs or how "special" it is.

Patrick Fowke wrote:It is precisely 'whatever works' as opposed to understanding why it works which is the crucial thing (believers might not understand the metaphysical peace and joy that they receive through prayer, for example, but they know it works - and to them it is beyond something that the body, for example, could induce through physical stimulation - and more besides - trying to keep post to reasonable length here ..)

....

I certainly wouldn't at all deny that the placebo effect can be very powerful. If someone is finding life difficult to deal with, then prayer may well be an effective means of relieving stress if one truly believes in the efficacy of it. I suspect in most situations, however, that it's more a case of hope than belief. Actually, it's interesting that you mentioning prayer specifically, because double-blind testing actually has been carried out by the American Heart Journal (in fact, just to show that this wasn't cold-hearted science stomping all over dearly-held faith, it was initiated and actually paid-for by the Templeton Foundation, a religious organisation!)

Here is a direct link to the paper. As you can see, they had three separate groups of people praying for three different cardiac bypass patients. Two of the patients were told that they may or may not receive prayer (one then did, and the other did not), while the last patient was told that they would receive prayer, and did. They found more complications in those prayed-for than in the lucky sod who wasn't!

Adam.
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