I went to a bit of a strange private “university model” religious high school where I graduated in a class of nine people.
Needless to say, I’ve got some complaints. And…stories.
Nevertheless, there is one element of that education for which I will truly and earnestly be forever grateful. My sophomore year there, I took a logic class.
The second semester covered “formal logic,” which is basically a math-like breakdown of the structure of arguments, but we started with “informal logic,” which is the study of the way people reason and try to convince each other rhetorically, and the traps they fall into. It covered, basically, this Reddit post:
So let’s see how much I can remember. I’ll try to label these bad bits of argument rhetoric. Anything with an official fallacy name I’ll put in Italics, anything I don’t know the name for I’ll just try to coin something.
1. I’d call this the “argument from sudden amnesia.”
When they start responding with “who asked” even though they started it.
2. Red herring fallacy.
Trying to focus on side points of yours that dont really have anything to do with the main point as a means of diversion
3. Basically “red herring,” with a hint of chaos.
When they go completely off topic
4. Appeal to guilt.
“I guess I’m just a terrible mother!”
5. The “knowing things is dumb” gambit.
When they just start yelling shit like “LOOK AT YOU! YOU KNOW SO MUCH? SMART *SS B*TCH! YOU KNOW THIS IS WHY YOUR EX CHEATED! YOU’RE INSUFFERABLE!” and loudly banging things, stomping, etc
6. Conspiratorial thinking.
When youre told “thats what they want you to believe”
7. Ad hominem fallacy.
When personal attacking starts
8. I’m not saying you can’t think that, I’m just saying you’re wrong.
“I have a right to my opinion.”
Of course you do, and usually at this point in the argument no one has said otherwise, but that doesn’t mean your opinion is supported by evidence.
9. The false apathy approach.
“Whatever, I don’t really care anyway.”
10. I’d call this the “appeal to fake news.”
Writing off reliable sources of information that they don’t like.
11. “Google doctorate syndrome.”
When they tell you to “do your research.”
12. Good ol’ fashioned evasion.
A refusal to answer direct questions that are clearly designed to demonstrate the flaw in your reasoning.
The only reason you have to refuse to answer a question is if you know that the answer is going to lead you to admit that you’re wrong.
And if you can’t admit that you’re wrong, then you’re no longer interested in meaningful discussion.
13. This is called “lying.”
When they start saying inaccurate stuff.
You can’t win against wrong.
14. The “irrelevant first amendment discussion.”
people tend to confuse being legally in the clear with being justified more broadly.
I remember arguing with a friend that a particular movement was stupid, and he replied, “Well the same right that allows you to criticize them allows them to do it.” And it’s like, yeah, of course they have the right to do it. That doesn’t make it a smart thing to do.
15. Appeal to accomplishment?
“You’ll change tune when you’re older”.
No I won’t and I’m over 30 already.
If you’ve never read up on informal logic, give it a go. We can make the internet a better place together.
What argument tactic can you not stand?
Tell us in the comments.