Bad arguments and how to spot them

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Ygern
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Ygern » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:59 pm

Too good to pass up, PZ Myers has pointed out another quite ancient and venerable Creationist trope The Argument from Pumpkin . It rhymes too. :shock:

The argument goes thusly:

An imaginary atheist argues that in a well-designed universe, large oak trees ought to bear pumpkin-sized fruit, while little ground-hugging shrubberies out to have acorn-sized fruit. This is easily dismissed by the poet by having an acorn fall on the atheist's head.

Full text here: http://crookedtimber.org/2009/02/17/foo ... vil-solvd/

As you no doubt have noticed it falls into the straw man category of logical fallacies.
The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time ~ Lawrence Krauss
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DollarLama
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by DollarLama » Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:45 pm

Here's an excellent 'instructional video' on open-mindedness.

Image

Everyone needs to see this.

(CatHerder, can you tell me why the 'youtube' tags don't work? I'm using them in the right format:)

Code: Select all

[youtube]T69TOuqaqXI[/youtube]
regards
Ben

Edited to make the topic of the video searchable
Last edited by DollarLama on Thu May 28, 2009 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Religious belief of all kinds shares the same intellectual respectability, evidential base, and rationality as belief in the existence of fairies." AC Grayling
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by CatHerder » Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:55 pm

DollarLama wrote:(CatHerder, can you tell me why the 'youtube' tags don't work? I'm using them in the right format:)

Code: Select all

[youtube]T69TOuqaqXI[/youtube]
Yep you are doing it right, I just haven't taken the time to install it properly or figure out what's wrong with it. Forum and blog been getting a lot of spam. Been looking into that first :)

I'll remove the feature for now till I get around to it.
odowdbj
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by odowdbj » Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:51 pm

I think people are disagreeing with Seamus Murphy's letter for the sake of it here, I don't think anything he said in that letter was factually wrong.

Also the following is not a fallacy at all:
1. Religion per se, and/or Christianity, is not hostile to Science
2. Roman Catholicism is a Christian religion
Therefore
3. Roman Catholicism in not hostile to Science

If A is a subset of B, and elements of B have a quality X then elements of A must have that quality also.
DollarLama
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by DollarLama » Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:05 pm

odowdbj wrote:I think people are disagreeing with Seamus Murphy's letter for the sake of it here, I don't think anything he said in that letter was factually wrong.

Also the following is not a fallacy at all:
1. Religion per se, and/or Christianity, is not hostile to Science
2. Roman Catholicism is a Christian religion
Therefore
3. Roman Catholicism in not hostile to Science

If A is a subset of B, and elements of B have a quality X then elements of A must have that quality also.
The logic is impeccable, but you're assuming the antecedent ("Religion [...] is not hostile to science") is true. History indicates that this statement is false.
"Religious belief of all kinds shares the same intellectual respectability, evidential base, and rationality as belief in the existence of fairies." AC Grayling
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by odowdbj » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:11 pm

The fallacy of division is a line of argument that can arrive at conclusions that are wrong. Arranging a debateable statement to look like a fallacy of division doesn't make that statement wrong. It would be more productive to look at cases for and against the statement "Religion is hostile to science", such as those in Seamus Murphy's letter.

Secondly, if, like me, you don't believe in a god, that doesn't mean you have to go blackening everything ever done in the name of religion. There either is a god or there isn't, and whether or not people help or kill people in the name of religion won't change that. Whether or not the Catholic Church aided science more than it hindered it doesn't make a god more likely to exist.

Finally let me just say that I am really put off by the smug, self-rightous attitude on these forums. Telling people who believe in a god that they're stupid isn't going to do you any favours. Consider the following statement from a post on this forum: "Things like genocide, raping little boys and girls ... well. That will get you prayed for from the pulpit."
I have two uncles that are priests. The above is as much to say that they pray for rapists and murderers. This is insulting and narrow-minded in the extreme and yet on a forum called "Bad arguments and how to spot them" nobody spotted this.
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by FXR » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:34 pm

odowdbj wrote:Finally let me just say that I am really put off by the smug, self-rightous attitude on these forums. Telling people who believe in a god that they're stupid isn't going to do you any favours. Consider the following statement from a post on this forum: "Things like genocide, raping little boys and girls ... well. That will get you prayed for from the pulpit."
I have two uncles that are priests. The above is as much to say that they pray for rapists and murderers. This is insulting and narrow-minded in the extreme and yet on a forum called "Bad arguments and how to spot them" nobody spotted this.
"Holy Mary mother of god pray for us and for all sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen".

All sinners would include child rapists and murderers. If they pray only for people who have not "sinned" that would leave them, according to their belief system, praying for just about nobody on planet earth including themselves. "Sinners" are the fuel that Catholicism runs on.

It's a fallacy to assume that because you don't want to believe something about your uncles that therefore it's must not be true.
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.
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by Ygern » Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:15 pm

odowdbj wrote: Finally let me just say that I am really put off by the smug, self-rightous attitude on these forums. Telling people who believe in a god that they're stupid isn't going to do you any favours. Consider the following statement from a post on this forum: "Things like genocide, raping little boys and girls ... well. That will get you prayed for from the pulpit."
I have two uncles that are priests. The above is as much to say that they pray for rapists and murderers. This is insulting and narrow-minded in the extreme and yet on a forum called "Bad arguments and how to spot them" nobody spotted this.

What you're doing there is quote-mining to manufacture offense. Let me be quite clear - feel free to be as offended as you like. But you argument is incorrect.
First of all the quote, if you put it in context, was a reference to official church policy. The two examples in question were (1) Adolf Hitler (he's the genocide reference in case you're wondering) where after of the 1933 diplomatic accord between Hitler's government and the Vatican the pope ordered on his birthday "warmest congratulations to the Führer" and "fervent prayers"; and (2) a case in Brazil in March this year where a mother and doctors of a nine year old rape victim were excommunicated for procuring an abortion for the child. The (rapist) stepfather's actions were were not sufficient to cause him to be excommunicated, the archbishop in question defended this decision by saying that rape was not as grave a sin as abortion. The decision has been ratified by the Vatican.

The point, in case you are still not getting it, is that these were not the actions of rogue baddies hiding within the church. These were examples of the official policy of the institution of the church - the Holy See - The Holy Father in Rome - Holy Mother Church in Her Wisdom - allowing Really Bad People to get away with Really Bad Things.

No-one has ever suggested on this forum that all Catholic clergy or all Catholic laity are bad or even condone bad things. It is utterly dishonest of you to suggest that they have. But the fact that good people might belong to an organisation that has proved itself to be corrupt and self-serving is not sufficient to prevent me or other people from pointing out those corruptions and abuses. Some of them, although far too few, do object to the corruption and lies perpetrated by the Church. Most of them sit meekly and do nothing except continue obediently putting their coins in the collection plate every Sunday.

Still feel offended? Me too, I'm offended that good people can belong to a corrupt institution and do little or nothing about it, year after year, decade after decade; except feel embarrassed and saddened every time yet another Church scandal comes to light. In the mean time the Church keeps on growing in its tax-free and ever-growing wealth; and keeps on championing bigotry and ignorance wherever it chooses.
The universe is huge and old, and rare things happen all the time ~ Lawrence Krauss
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nozzferrahhtoo
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by nozzferrahhtoo » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:14 am

DollarLama wrote:The logic is impeccable
I'm not sure the logic is even as impeccable as you give it credit for. If you have a set {1, 2, 3, 4} and you have a set {2,4} Then the second is a subset of the first as all its attributes are present in the first. If however the second set was {2,5} the logic falls apart instantly.

Similarly, I am not sure his "logic" is a safe assumption with catholicism. Is EVERY aspect of the sub-religion contained within the parent set? I do not think this is so. The 33820* branches of Christianity attest to this.

So not only is DL right that the 1st sentence is an assumption, that Religion is not hostile to science, I think the 2nd is assumption too, that catholicism is solely a true subset of Christianity.

So I find no logic at all in the user above's appraisal of the situation.

*World Christian Encyclopedia (year 2000 version)
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Re: Bad arguments and how to spot them

Post by odowdbj » Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:24 am

"What you're doing there is quote-mining to manufacture offense... ...First of all the quote, if you put it in context, was a reference to official church policy"

Up to that point in the forum, nobody, including the post I quoted from, mentioned anything about the rape case in Brazil or anything about a pardon given to Hitler. That is the context of the quote.

Imagine this discussion were to take place on tv or radio and somebody said "Things like genocide, raping little boys and girls ... well. That will get you prayed for from the pulpit" and then sat down without giving any references or appropriate context. Would this really do the atheist movement any favours? Are sweeping generalisations in the absence of context going to win over new members? I think its very important to raise issues and find the truth to the cases you're talking about, but this is not the way to go about it. Like you, I don't think anyone has the right not to be offended, but a little tact during discussions, especially if you're trying to win the opinion of an audience, will go a long way. Certainly if you find yourself in a debate where an audience is trying to decide who is right and wrong, you won't be helped by announcing "Arrogance only works when you’re right".

To nozzferrahhtoo, I would also agree that a set theory approach would be the best way to look at that argument, as religions are groups of people. If everyone in Burgertown likes burgers, then members of a family living in Burgertown likes burgers also. If you are to believe the first two elements of:
1. Religion per se, and/or Christianity, is not hostile to Science
2. Roman Catholicism is a Christian religion
then it is correct to conclude that:
Therefore
3. Roman Catholicism in[sic] not hostile to Science.
Now whether or not you agree with 1 and 2 is up to yourself, I'm not going to tell you what to believe, but I do think it is incorrect to post this as an example of a fallacy of division without bothering to say why you don't believe in 1 or 2 (and therefore 3).
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