Saturday, March 25, 2006

Logical Fallacies

More often than not, I find myself expressing strong disagreement with what someone is saying, ranting and ranting and trying to explain myself. And more often than not, the point which I disagree with is not their actual point.

An enormous amount of people around me fall into what are, to me, painfully obvious "mistakes" in their arguments. Trying to explain and support something which may be correct or true or a matter of their own tastes and preferences, they use annoying amounts of arguments that are blatant logical fallacies.

From irrelevant or inadequate appeals to authority to "begging the question", from post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies to straw man demagogies, from hasty generalisations to abstractions, from circular arguments to irrelevant conclusions, they're easy to fall into yet easy to spot - they're hard to avoid when arguing, and hard to explain to the person who's just fallen into one if they see you as a "debating opponent". And the most annoying thing is to be aware of one's use of them yet unable to explain them; to be the one striving for logical argumentation and a combined quest for the "truth somewhere in the middle" and be talking to someone who uses Sophism and treachery (even in their own mind) in order to "win the debate". I'm not your enemy, you ninny... I'm your compadre in our common search for the truth!

A lot of people I converse with often find me "annoying" in this sense, since, to them, I debate in a way that is not "relevant" to the question... I spend ages going over and over details in their argumentation, instead of just stating a general conclusion which I believe to be true (or not). And it's all in the eye of the beholder... I DO want to agree with people, I sincerely do, even if it's just to "agree to disagree"... But I speak in a language that's foreign to them, which is not necessarily "wrong" - we're just incompatible in conversation.

I allow for personal tastes, as long as they are identified by the argumentor instead of stated as general "A is better/nicer/cooler than B" facts, and I allow for less "strong" statements, such as "this MAY be true" and "that is PROBABLY NOT true", but I can't accept an argument that, with logic, can just not be PROVEN as "true" or as "false", when it is presented as such. Yet I seem to be one of a tiny handful of people who cares for that...

And the funniest thing is that I spend hours annoyed by this happenstance, instead of just ignoring it (and its supporters) when I recognise it being done - most people don't care about logical theory or philosophical argumentation, and I can't say they're wrong not to care. But I, personally, care a great deal. I love to learn new things, and as such I see disagreements as challenges, as a chance to discover why and how the other person believes what he or she does, to find even a tiny fragment of truth I can learn from them. Yet when I disagree, most people assume I disagree with their actual point, with the truth of the logical argument, whereas I spend more time examining and testing the logical path that led them there.

They just want to be "right", they feel they are and as such they need to prove they are, or just reject me as an idiot in this occasion. I just want to find out the truth, or prove / show them the truth if I know it to be thus. I don't know why... I can't really do otherwise (although it should stop bugging me as much as it does, I should just accept it as one of humanity's absurdities). But it's just... well, WRONG... It's not my fault...
It. Does. Not. Compute.


Chip Chief said...

my favorite argfuement is when people tell me to "ask their friends," as if their friends are any more reliable or intelligent then they are.

Bunny Dee said...

Heehee... Well, if they use that as an argument, their friends probably ARE more intelligent, hmmm? ;)