Monday, January 14, 2013

What fallacies are most common in real life?

When we talk about logical fallacies, there's a "canonical" set of fallacies we spend most of our time on.  But are these the same fallacies that occur most often in real life?  Are there any kinds of fallacies that you see in your day to day life that doesn't get talked about much?

I believe that by far the most common is the argument from vehement assertion.  Seriously, most people don't properly argue at all, they just state their opinions at each other.  Then they state them again more loudly.  Then they struggle to find another way to state their opinion so that other people can correctly understand it (because if they disagree, surely they've misunderstood).

Then there's the hasty generalization.

I also think the sunk-cost fallacy gets short shrift.  I believe in completely finishing the food I pay for, even if I don't want any more, but this is almost certainly irrational.

What do you think?


Jeffrey Ellis said...

I think the lack of imagination form of the argument from ignorance fallacy is a pretty common one.

("I can't imagine any other explanation than X, therefore X must be the correct explanation.")

Larry Hamelin said...

I see a lot of the equivocation fallacy, especially in Libertarians. Property ownership should be protected because it is necessary for life. Absentee ownership is ownership of property. Therefore, absentee ownership should be protected.

Another fallacy takes the form: X is wrong because it is Z, but Y is not Z because it is right. For example, taxation is unjustifiable because it is coercive, but rent is not coercive because it is justifiable. I'm not sure precisely how to classify this fallacy.

sz said...

I actually have more sympathy for the argument from vehement assertion then the next step: pure utilitarian rhetorics, which only applies logic to convince (or confuse) an opponent and never to actually come at ones position. Even if this is a very human thing to do, the backtracking could be done sincerely and prior to thinking other people should agree with ones position. But it's not, and usually the result is some logical fallacy.

We can call this "politics" or "lawyering".

Unknown said...

The "Ad Hominem" and "Appeal to Authority" are common in everyday arguments.

Ad Hominem - Pro says: I think X is correct because of this. Con says: I think X is wrong because of this. Pro says: Well you're an idiot!

"Appeal to Authority" - Pro says: I think X is correct because of this. Con says: I think X is wrong because of this. Pro says: I'm an expert in X, therefore you are wrong.