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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

Logical fallacies

05 12 11 - 06:49

When I look back over the kids who went into higher education, the ones who went to top schools never bothered memorizing logical fallacies.

The ones who went to second-tier state schools seemed to spend a lot of their time doing it.

In general, the smarter the organism, the fewer rules you have to teach it -- you teach it goals and a vocabulary of argument.

If it's dummyland, you teach lots of rules -- it's a compensatory behavior.


Suppose Fred glances out the window and says: “The ground’s wet outside. It must have rained.” He’s given an argument. What should we think of it? We could say:

Oh dear, what a mediocrity poor Fred is. He is evidently arguing as follows: If it rains, the ground gets wet; the ground is wet; therefore it has rained. If he’d ever taken a logic class he’d know that he’s just committed the fallacy of affirming the consequent!

Yes, we could say that, but (to paraphrase Haldeman paraphrasing Nixon) it would be wrong. It is simply unreasonable and, indeed, unjust to accuse Fred of committing so blatant a fallacy when an alternative construal of his argument is easily available. For while Fred could have been reasoning deductively and committing the fallacy in question, it is more likely that he was reasoning inductively, along something like the following lines:

When the ground is wet outside, rain is the usual reason, though occasionally there are other reasons, such as flooding. The ground is wet outside right now and there is no reason to think these other causes are operative, and good reason to think they are not. So it is very likely that it has rained.

Obviously this is a perfectly respectable piece of probabilistic reasoning, and what logicians call the “principle of charity” requires that we assume that Fred had something like this in mind rather than the fallacious alternative interpretation, unless we have strong evidence to the contrary. If we fail to do so, we are guilty of the sort of illogicality of which we would accuse Fred. - Edward Feser


Logic does not exist outside of context, nor does anything in this universe. It's all connected. Deconstruction is the hobgoblin of little minds.

23 comments

singled-celled organism
Cute. singled-celled organism - 05-12-’11 07:01
Scrotates
Hey, is this a logical fallacy: You listen to death metal. You must be a broken mess of a human being. Scrotates - 05-12-’11 11:36
Improbable
For people who like gobbledygook:

http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/prob/book.pdf Improbable - 05-12-’11 12:46
Exterminate All the Liberals
Liberals are people in the middle of the intelligence curve, not the top. They also tend to be young and have no particular role other than showing up to perform a rote function. If we lose all the liberals, we will lose nothing except a lot of criticism. It will be paradise without them. Exterminate All the Liberals (Email ) - 05-12-’11 13:34
Nicolás Gómez Dávila
An "ideal society" would be the graveyard of human greatness. Nicolás Gómez Dávila - 05-12-’11 15:05
scientific evidence to the contrary
>Liberals are people in the middle of the intelligence curve, not the top.

Wrong.

http://spq.sagepub.com/content/73/1/33.short scientific evidence to the contrary - 06-12-’11 00:57
paradox
>repeatedly visit anus.com on family computer
>attempt to convince parents you aren't gay paradox - 06-12-’11 00:59
@scientific laziness to help my point
Actually, the abstract for that article says that evolutionarily novel values (such as liberalism) increase (percentage wise) with intelligence. It does not say that more liberals (percentage wise) are intelligent. @scientific laziness to help my point - 06-12-’11 02:14
Brian
Edward Fesser's blog is good. He has all sorts of interesting posts about a wide range of philosophical topics. Brian - 06-12-’11 07:04
Who are these kids anyway?
Well I don't know what kids you've been talking to, but most people I've talked to who know about logic and rhetoric would put it this way:

Memorizing the fallacies is, of course, not a substitute for understanding sensible logic and argumentation, including of course both deductive and inductive arguments, the differences between them, when you'd use one and when the other, etc.

But the names of fallacies, and their definitions, are still useful tools for characterizing common ways for arguments to go wrong. I don't know of a logician or rhetorician who would shun their use entirely.

This is part of a more general fact, that every intellectual enterprise, not matter how lofty and principles, has to resort to technical terminology at some point to frame their studies more precisely and comprehensibly, and to some extent, everyone in the field has to memorize that terminology.

The example you mention is, as you say, a result of someone failing to recognize the difference between an inductive and a deductive argument. It doesn't mean that there's something wrong with knowing what "affirming the consequent" means, and I challenge you to find a logician who doesn't. But you have to also know, as you said, that it only applies to deductive arguments. Who are these kids anyway? - 06-12-’11 11:21
@
Holy fuck, dude. Are you seriously that much of an aspie? I must be getting trolled here, or that reply of yours is extremely ironic.

The bottom line is, liberalism is positively correlated with intelligence. Deal with it, nerd. @ "scientific laziness" - 06-12-’11 12:31
correction
extremely ironic given this blogpost's subject* correction - 06-12-’11 12:31
nerd
The point I was making was that the findings in that article don't change the fact that most (90%+) of the liberals in existence are "in the middle of the intelligence curve, not the top." This appeared to be the point you were refuting by posting that link. I'm afraid I don't see the extreme irony. nerd - 06-12-’11 21:36
James
Liberals are thought of as more intelligent because the popular image of conservatives, especially on the internet, is that of Bible-thumping hillbillies. Sites like this, Amerika.org, etc. show the other end of the conservative bell curve. James - 07-12-’11 11:07
I'm right.
Thinking it matters which side of the political spectrum has more intelligent people is, itself, a fallacy.

There are plenty of conservative idiots and plenty of liberal idiots; counting each won't give you any insight on who's right.

That's like saying "You're wrong, because a lot of idiots agree with you." That's even more absurd than saying the also fallacious "I'm right, because a lot of geniuses agree with me."

The only thing you can do is examine the *best* arguments for each, and see which is more persuasive. I'm right. - 07-12-’11 11:29
healthy dose of reality
There are more genius level IQ liberals than genius level IQ conservatives.

Communities of the intelligent are almost exclusively liberal. Think about that. All of the groups comprised of the certifiably smartest people in the world, and only that caliber of person, are all liberal.

Even extremely intelligent people who have a vested interest to be in the "conservative" camp, like Bill Gates, are still liberal. healthy dose of reality - 07-12-’11 11:35
you lose
>The only thing you can do is examine the best arguments for each, and see which is more persuasive.

Intelligent people are more likely to do this correctly than non-intelligent people. The trend is for them to come up with better solutions to problems than the non-intelligent. Intelligent people are demonstrably more likely to be liberal, IE have liberal solutions to social problems. Therefore, through its nearly unanimous validation and approval by qualified sources (something called "peer review" in the scientific world, for you non-literates) liberalism is better than its alternatives. you lose - 07-12-’11 11:46
shot yourself in the foot, right there
>Actually, the abstract for that article says that evolutionarily novel values (such as liberalism) increase (percentage wise) with intelligence. It does not say that more liberals (percentage wise) are intelligent.

Actually, given this site's vision of a world only for the meritocratic elite, saying that intelligent people are more likely to be liberal is even more of a significant, crushing blow than saying liberals are more on the whole more intelligent (also true, by the way). shot yourself in the foot, right there - 07-12-’11 11:56
Let's see.
That's one of the most sophisticated applications of appeal to authority I've ever seen.

You are applying inductive reasoning to say that since liberals tend to be intelligent, and intelligent people tend to be right, liberals are therefore probably right.

If you're smart enough to come up with this kind of clever argument, why not bypass the appeal to authority and examine the actual political positions yourself? Let's see. - 07-12-’11 12:00
aamir
suppose i have to go to africa. i decide not to walk there but to buy a plane ticket. i do this because in my memory, flying is faster than walking. but what reason is there for me to trust the same will happen again?

intelligence is itself a bias. aamir - 07-12-’11 15:18
Nick
>Communities of the intelligent are almost
>exclusively liberal. Think about that.

Actually intelligent societies can allow themselves being liberal to a degree. It's sheep that need herding. Thus caste, inequality, self-discipline.

Linear IQ, by the way, is a bottleneck measure. Nick - 08-12-’11 20:04
Sean
"Thinking it matters which side of the political spectrum has more intelligent people is, itself, a fallacy." Sean (Email ) (URL) - 17-12-’11 23:32
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