I just found this page listing 20 logical fallacies examples at http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx and thought I should share. It basically lists off all the different specific ways, that human beings–myself included–are morons. Reading through this list I can see numerous examples of flawed logic in just about any argument I’ve been in, and more frighteningly in a large number of arguments used by legislators. This kind of human fallacy is one of the main reasons I’m an anarchist; because these psychological processes can distort our large-scale social perspectives as easily as they can on the small scale, but when we have these fallacies, the damage that can be done by a large organized group with laws and police is far greater than the damage that can be done by a few individuals.
I wanted to point out a few examples of the fallacies on this list and how they have been used against me and some of my political positions. (I’m not going to list any religious arguments because that would be too easy.) (I’m also going to conveniently neglect to point out the times where I can’t help but revert to these fallacies.)
The most common one for me as an anarchist is the Straw Man, or “Arguing against a position which you create specifically to be easy to argue against, rather than the position actually held by those who oppose your point of view.” This one happens to me whenever I say that I don’t support police, criminal justice or putting people in jail. Most people will immediately start arguing about how horrible some folks are and how much suffering certain kinds of crime can cause. Their ultimate goal seems to be to convince me that crime is bad, as though I just announced that we should all start killing and raping each other because it’s fun. I think deep down they know what I really mean: police, prisons and criminal justice are counter-productive to our commonly held goal of crime prevention. However, they have no facts, figures or examples that support the idea that police are preventing crime (this isn’t their fault of course, because this is such a commonly held belief that no one bothers to collect facts and figures), so they have no choice but to go to logical fallacies to make their arguments.
Another interesting one is the Slippery Slope, or believing that to hold a position, you must hold the extreme of that position. Now, I have another very unpopular opinion that’s very important to me that I might not have blogged about yet, and that is my belief that it is morally wrong to create children until we have solved the world hunger issue, the overpopulation issue, and when there are no more orphans on the streets. In the past, people have argued that my opinion would cause the destruction of humanity because everyone would forever believe that making babies is wrong, regardless of the situation.
My personal favorite, Tu quoque, “an attempt to justify wrong action because someone else also does it.” This is the core psychological motivation for police and military. Whenever I argue that these things destroy people’s lives and cause misery to everyone, including innocent bystanders, one of the most common arguments I get is “Well, yeah, but those other people did horrible things too.”