Logical Fallacies 101

Logical Fallacies 101

“Logical Fallacies 101” (LF 101) is a new additional to the Skeptical Samurai blog.  As the title suggests, LF 101 will be a regular segment of the blog that will deal specifically with logical fallacies.  It is my hope that LF 101 will help, you the reader, to cultivate your logic and reasoning skills and become a better critical thinker. 

So with that in mind…Let us begin!

For the purpose of context, we need to establish what a logical fallacy is.  So in case you have not yet figured it out…the 1st LF 101 will deal with… “What is a logical fallacy?”

Let us begin by breaking down the term.   A “fallacy” is a mistake or error.  “Logic” is a type/means of reasoning.  Thus a logical fallacy is an error/mistake in reasoning. 

So far so good right?  But at this point you may be asking yourself, how does this information apply to me? 

Logical fallacies apply to situations that require the use of logic, reasoning, critical thinking, and/or problem solving.  In simpler terms, we could describe the process of logic/reasoning/critical thinking/problem solving as an “argument”. 

So, what is an “argument”?                                                                       

In simplest terms, an argument consists of one or more premises/ideas and a conclusion (it should be noted at this point that both the premise/idea as well as the conclusion can be true or false).  Moving on, there are 2 main types of arguments: deductive and inductive (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/) .  The premise of a deductive argument provides (or at the very least, appears to provide) support for the conclusion.  The premise of an inductive argument provides (or at the very least, appears to provide) some degree of support (that is less then complete) for the conclusion.  The logical fallacy is any interaction/occurrence/thought process that “negatively” alters the above process, or as stated above, a logical fallacy is an error in reasoning. 

The history of the logical fallacy can be traced back all the way to ancient Greece (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/introtof.html ).  More specifically, Plato and Aristotle are often considered to be the 1st individuals to study and annotate information pertaining to reasoning, logic, and fallacies.  Plato began with “Euthydemus” which is a collection of fallacious arguments in dialogue form.  Aristotle (Plato’s student), went on to catalogue types of reasoning, incorrect reasoning, and provide names for specific logical fallacies (and many of these names are still used today!).  The above information is outlined in his book “On Sophistical Refutations”.

Free samples from Aristotle’s work “On Sophistical Refutations” can be found at the following link:

http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/sophist_refut.html

So…why should you, the reader, study and learn about logical fallacies?

Well that is an excellent question

Human beings are not perfect.  In actuality we are far from perfect and it is this lack of perfection that leads to the  breakdown of logica and reasoning.  Thus the study of logical fallacies will assist in the identificaiton of mistakes in logic/reasoning, thus facilitating the advancement of critical thinking.

Each and everyone of us is face with a variety of different situations on a daily basis.  These situations may range from what type of apple to select at the super-markey to whether or not to follow the advice of a particular individual making specific health/wellness claims.  Many of these situations that we will encounter will require the use of logic, reasoning, and critical thinking.  Logic/reasoning/critical thinking contribute to your ability to problem solve and thus contribute to your ability to make informed decisions about your life/health/well being.  Ergo, the study of logical fallacies will enhance your ability to make informed decisions about your life/health/well being.

As stated above, future LF 101 posts will deal with the discussion of specific logical fallacies.

While conducting research for this blog post I found the following websites extremely useful:

The Fallacy Files (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/index.html)

The Nizkor Project (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/)

Both are excellent resources!  If you are interested in doing some research on your own, pertaining to logical fallacies, i suggest you check these websites out!

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6 Responses to “Logical Fallacies 101”

  1. Sulgoth Says:

    This is very good, well written and very well explained, and here i was looking for a site i could use to get a decent grade on a discussion. SS not just a fall back, but a very good site.

    • theskepticalsamurai Says:

      Sulgoth,

      thank you for your kind words.
      Glad that you liked the 1st “logical fallacies 101” post. Please stay tuned for future “logical fallacies 101” enteries.
      It is my hope that you will find them just as engaging as this 1st entry

  2. […] deals specifically with logical fallacies (an introduction to logical fallacies can be found here: https://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/logical-fallacies-101/ ).  It is my hope that Logical Fallacies 101 will help, you the reader, to both cultivate and […]

  3. argumentics Says:

    I think you might like my texts on fallacies.

    • theskepticalsamurai Says:

      Took at quick look at your blog…
      Looks like some good info, i will have to look at it in more detail over the next few days.
      Thanks for the heads up!

  4. […] deals specifically with logical fallacies (an introduction to logical fallacies can be found here: https://theskepticalsamurai.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/logical-fallacies-101/ ).  It is my hope that Logical Fallacies 101 will help, you the reader, to both cultivate and […]

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