As much as anything else this blog series was first intended to help me to clarify my own thinking about the various ways in which we fool ourselves (and others) as we try to make sense of the world around us. That’s been an interest of mine for many years but it came to the fore of my thinking when I first wrote this series in 2012 because of a number of exchanges and experiences online.
In one such experience I found myself at the sharp end of what has come to be known as a ‘Twitter spat’ in which some very good people, people whom I respect greatly, allowed themselves to be convinced by someone who from my perspective seems to be a particularly obvious charlatan. This surprised me and prompted me to ask myself how so many intelligent people could be fooled so completely.
As the series progresses we’ll look at various fallacies and types of argument that people use (consciously or otherwise) to misrepresent themselves, their arguments, the world around us and other people. We’ll cover some fairly obscure areas but also look at a number of ‘current affairs’ stories to try to get a sense of what is happening in the real world as well.
As ever I’ll try to use illustrations alongside any more abstract discussion to try to maintain some sort of balance and keep the blog accessible. Some of these illustrations will be more familiar than others. Some of the logical fallacies and tactics that we will cover are used commonly in ‘everyday’ discussions whilst others are seen more rarely or apply only to particular situations. All of them have the potential to lead us astray, often to our cost, both financially and in terms of our quality of life.
We will cover the following fallacies, thinking errors and manipulative techniques.
I hope you enjoy this series and as always I’d welcome feedback. You can leave your comments on the blog or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
List of contents
Agency fallacy 1
Agency fallacy 2
Fallacy from personal incredulity
Albert Ellis’ three major thinking errors
Single cause fallacy
Straw man argument
Taking offence (the argument from outrage)
False dichotomy (if not this then it must be that)
Ad hominem argument
Shifting the burden argument
Correlation = causation fallacy
Star-trek fallacy (Argument from internal circularity) Appeal to popularity
Appeal to authority
About the ‘Fallacies’ series
The ‘Fallacies’ project was built up from a series of instalments that first appeared online during the summer of 2012. It is republished as part of a larger set of changes intended to rationalise the contents of several different blogs into just 2. The other remaining blog focuses mainly upon social care and mental health related issues. It can be found at http://www.TheCareGuy.com