“If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail,” is an adage my mother imparted to me.  When I became a psychologist I saw behavior as a mental abnormality. When I became a neuropsychologist those same behaviors became physical in origin.  My tool box held more tools.

“Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one,” is another adage from my mother.  This proved problematic for me because I had a desire to be accepted and liked by others.  When they said things that I believed untrue, I had to either accept their logic or argue and possibly lose a friend.

Over time I realized that there are certain types of people that have no logic.  They may have education but no logic.  So I used logic to apply to arguments thinking this would save friendships.

Finding my logic sound and their logic faulty I came upon another adage my mother said,” it’s like pissing up a rope.”  She often left these sayings unexplained but years later I realized that arguing logically with an illogical thinker is like pissing up a rope.

So I opted to collect these illogical processes , keep quiet, accept my friends as they were and be content in the knowledge that I had used logic upon which to base my thinking.  When I met other logical thinkers I enjoyed their thinking.  If I were a dog my tail would have wagged.  I had good success in keeping friends but poor success in finding logical partners.  I actually moved to a country where the North Americans reveal the resultant damage of years of illogic.

The most common form of illogic is what Aristotle referred to as asserting the consequent.  Another fallacy is denying the antecedent.  I would practice and plot out the syllogism for example,

If it is a fish

Then it lives under water

Denying the consequent is reversing this to read

If it lives under water,

Then it is a fish. (of course this is false)

I learned several things in my logic studies.  First people do not have facts.  They tend to fill in the blanks with what they believe or hear through media.  Surprisingly, they do not change their thinking when given the facts.

Secondly, they misuse the facts they have by adhering to a fallacious form or reasoning.

Thirdly, nearly every discussion has the underlying understanding that I am ignorant.  For example, in a recent discussion on abortion I was informed of the overwhelming number of incest cases that needed abortions.  Since incest was not the question and I did not know the number of estimated pregnancies due to incest, I differed.

Looked up the U.S. statistics, which are tabulated state by state by the Guttmacher Institute, I learned the estimate  of unwanted pregnancies due to incest to be around one per cent.

The point being, you must not accept the initial premise until you have the facts.  The initial premise, the point of agreement in any argument, must be clearly spelled out.

Lastly, I learned that once a person’s mind is made on any subject, they seek reasons to substantiate their belief, regardless of the facts.  In order to bring this about, they will resort to a myriad of logical fallacies.

2 thoughts on “LOGICAL FALLACIES

  1. Excellent post. I like how you applied “pissing up a rope” to using logic to argue with illogical thinkers. Guilty!

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