Fallacies may be present in several ways: verbal, formal, and material. Also, it can either be positive, negative, or emotional. When a disputant uses personal attacks to attack opponents rather than discuss the issues, it counts as fallacies. If a debtor cannot defend his position with evidence, facts, or reasons, he may attack his opponent through “straw man”, equivocation, circular argument, begging the question, or argumentum ad baculum.
“Straw man” is a verbal fallacy. One way to increase the strength of the argument is to anticipate possible reflections and then take a preemptive strike. The ‘straw man’ fallacy is to first turn the other’s point of view into an easily overturned version, and then refute it; however, it is as if a scarecrow tries to scare a bird. Since the impact is limited; therefore, the impact of defeating an opponent’s distorted opinion is equally limited. An example would be according to evolutionary theory, humans are evolved from apes. But what evolution theory really wants to express is that human and apes have the same ancestor.
A circular argument is a verbal fallacy that states a proposition, which needs to be confirmed. An example would be: God exists because it is recorded in the Bible; the Bible exists because it is inspired by God. The problem of this fallacy is that when saying the Bible exists because of God, this unconsciously applied the proposition — God exists. Furthermore, argumentum ad baculum might come after this if the opponent disagrees with the previous idea. These fallacies are based on fear or threat. For example, if one does not believe in God, this person will be burnt in hell. Begging the question is another kind of fallacy. An example would be: we must encourage young people to worship God in order to infuse moral behavior. Does religion and adore in God really generate moral behavior? Not necessary. Additionally, some people say that they know God exists because Bible said so, and Bible will not lie because it was written by God. Is requires the reader to accept the conclusion directly without giving any true evidence; the argument is either based on the same argument as the conclusion, or by omitting some important assumption on which the argument was based on.
In the reading “Help those who help, not hurt, themselves”, the author states that homeless people “are satisfied to beg and survive on other’s generosity… squirrels patiently waiting for a return feeding… the best correlation to the homeless I have witnessed are the gray squirrels on Capitol Hill”. Here, the author is basically saying that a homeless people beg and survive on the other’s generosity same as squirrels. Thus, homeless are squirrels; which, is not true. This is an example of the equivocation fallacy. Where A equals to B, B equals to C; therefore, A equals to C.
In general, fallacy, as a whole, is literally illogical and unrealistic way of thinking. It is about questioning the logical reasoning. People say it unconsciously all the time because we want others to believe in our perspectives by hook or by crook. Even though it is sometimes hard to identify different fallacies instantly; but, it is helpful to better understand fallacies by misunderstanding what is often being seen in others’ minds. That being said, if one cannot get out of his own way and rounded himself in, do not bother to try to understand fallacy.
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