Illogical Captain


I'm a fan of Rocketboom. In part because it is amusing. The presenter is engaging and it has a sense of playfulness and irony that I enjoy. It is also short and easy to digest. The show curates stuff from the web and presents it in the fashion of a news show, but with attitude. And whaddaya know it is informative too.

I enjoyed Thursday's episode (I save them for the weekend) with its theme of logic, or more precisely logical fallacies.

The clips demonstrate the ideas with surgical precision. Ok, some of them are loosely shoehorned in to a make the point, but none are entirely irrelevant.

Here are the Cliff's Notes on the points made (with some bonuses) on the show - based on a book called: Reasoning with Symbolic Logic by David Kelley.
Ad Hominem: Using a negative trait of a speaker as evidence that his statement is false, or his argument weak.

Appeal to Majority: Using the fact that large numbers of people believe a proposition to be true, as evidence of its truth.

Post Hoc:
Using the fact that one event preceded another, as sufficient evidence for the conclusion that the first caused the second.

Appeal to Force:
Trying to get someone to accept a proposition on the basis of a threat.

Appeal to Authority: Using testimonial evidence for a proposition when the conditions for credibility are not satisfied, or the use of such evidence is inappropriate.

Appeal to Emotion: Trying to get someone to accept a proposition on the basis of an emotion one induces.

Begging the Question:
Trying to support a proposition with an argument in which that proposition is a premise.

Diversion: Trying to support one proposition by arguing for another proposition.

Non Sequitur: Trying to support a proposition on the basis of irrelevant premises.

Subjectivism: Using the fact that one believes or wants a proposition to be true, as evidence of its truth.

Straw Man:
Trying to refute one proposition by arguing against another proposition.

False Alternative:
Excluding relevant possibilities without justification.

Ad Hominem: Using a negative trait of a speaker as evidence that his statement is false, or his argument weak.

Tu Quoque: Trying to refute an accusation by showing that the speaker is guilty of it.

Poisoning the Well: Trying to refute a statement or argument by showing that the speaker has a non-rational motive for adopting it.

Appeal to Ignorance:
Using the absence of proof for a proposition as evidence for the truth of the opposing proposition.

Complex Question:
Trying to get someone to accept a proposition by opposing a question that presupposes it.

I don't know whether you'll win any debates by deploying any of these techniques (or any points), but I am certain if you don't then you'll be the only person in the room who isn't.

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