The only way to guard your mind from false and deceptive arguments is to evade them. There are 10 common logical fallacies that are used 95% of the time. Spotting these tactics will help you to avoid the slippery slope in ethics.
Most people become complacent with the things they encounter regularly. This makes us highly susceptible to inaccurate information, especially when repeated. There are ten common strategies used to deceive and mislead people. Knowing how to spot these tactics keeps you from being taken advantage of.
How To Understand Your Culture
Cultures often segregate based on criteria such as socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity. This isn’t a value judgment, just an observation of the data. Each faction or group often has a unique cultural narrative. This kind of thinking often conflicts with progressive thinking.
To understand your culture, you must learn to dissect the arguments used. Arguments are selling tools. They are to promote the various ideological views contained in the cultural narrative. Most harmful ideologies come from the logical fallacies of religious fanaticism.
It means we must understand where we fit in the cultural identity. It’s not about the number of people we fit in with; it has to do with the amount of power and control of the group we fit in with. A select few hold the power behind the cultural identity. Today, they are the extremists, fanatics, and fundamentalists of religion.
The Fallacies in Popular Culture
The dominant cultural narrative does not have to be accurate or healthy. It is simply what those in power want to promote. Every unhealthy narrative is constructed on illogical and irrational arguments. So if we can learn to spot the inconsistencies in the logic, we unveil their attempted deception.
A fallacy is an illogical argument that contains errors. So, all illogical arguments are fallacies of logic. Fallacies lack facts, evidence, and sound reasoning. Identify problems with the logic of the argument and fact-check; we avoid being misled.
An argument is a language tool used to persuade and convince people to buy or accept an idea. A logical argument uses sound common sense reasoning and valid premises. A fallacy is a mistaken assumption often based on false or unsound reasoning.
Before the truth can set you free, you need to recognize the lies that make up your prison.” ― Guru Tua
Our modern world is a composite of many ideologies competing for control. This means there is a lot of room for fallacies in popular culture.
Illogical Thinking Is a Slippery Slope In Ethics
Ethics is the moral compass, and the principles justify our thinking and values. Ethics runs on a continuum from healthy to unhealthy. Ethics can be used to justify any harmful or unethical behavior.
Something is irrational if it is not coherent and consistent. It is irrational if the contradicts science and reality as we understand it.
Something is illogical if the argument contradicts facts or itself. It’s possible to present an argument that sounds logical but is actually irrational. It is also possible to argue using thinking which is illogical.
Spotting these 10 common logical fallacies in popular culture is important. Spotting them is a necessary skill in the modern world. We are bombarded with all types of propaganda every day. So, learning how to identify false claims and statements is critical.
If you don’t spot them, they can lead to extreme worldviews and beliefs which have little or no basis, in fact. The problem is these unfounded views distort your thinking. They kill the mind’s ability to think rationally.
These tools, which are a part of our modern culture, aren’t new, but they have found new ways to use them. Self-hypnosis and group hypnosis date back to the beginning of civilization in Assyria and Babylon. This programming is prevalent in our modern culture. This propaganda shows up in many kinds of media.
To be sure, these analytical sciences do not have all the answers. Yet, these sciences provide tools to identify fact from fiction. This list isn’t exhaustive. It contains the ones you’ll encounter the most. To understand your culture, you need to know how to identify fallacies of logic and reason.
10 Common Logical Fallacies of Religious Fanaticism
Extremism, fundamentalism, and fanaticism are the home of right-wing religious ideologies. These tactics can most certainly be used by people of other ideological persuasions. But their breeding ground comes from religious extremism.
These false arguments only work when you do not challenge them. So, by all means, when you encounter these tactics, challenge them. When you point out their errors, it takes away their false power. Otherwise, they continue to use them. This kind of illogical thinking is a slippery slope in ethics. It always leads to further deceptions.
We’ve seen this happen in the US presidential debates in 2016. When a bully uses a false argument and gets away with it, they use it repeatedly. Not because the proposition was convincing but because people accepted the fallacy. The same bully tried the technique in 2020, but it didn’t work. Confronting the behavior directly exposes the tactic. It makes all the difference.
The strawman argument is framing an issue in a way that makes it easy to defeat. This tactic exaggerates and misrepresents the facts. It can also be used to undermine the credibility or integrity of the opponent.
For this technique to work, the distortion needs to be repeated. Then they contrast it with their position. This kind of tactic undermines rational debate. It is one of the most common fallacies in popular culture used in politics.
The strawman fallacy is a favorite of all unscrupulous religious and political pundits. Of the 10 common logical fallacies, it is the one you will find the most often. It is often combined with other misconceptions to disguise it.
One political party uses this almost exclusively. Need a hint? Their mascot symbol is the world’s largest mammal from Africa, with distinctive long ears, a large body, and a trunk.
For example, “A” says we should put more money into health and education. “B” responds by saying “A” hates our country. He wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending. In the above example, “B” misrepresents what “A” said. Then fabricates assumptions. Sound familiar? It follows a similar pattern to the next tactic.
2) A Slippery Slope Argument
All fallacies are illogical arguments. This one is called the “slippery slope.”
We use the same example above, “A” says we should put more money into health and education. “B” responds by saying “A” hates our country. He wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending.
This fallacy asserts that if “A” happens, “Z” is the result. Therefore, we should not allow “A” to happen. This tactic avoids the factual basis of the assertion. It is a slippery slope that shifts the focus to the baseless extreme hypothetical result. The unsupported and often outlandish conjecture distracts the audience from the real issue.
For example, Rod tells Emily that if you believe in climate change, it will require new policies. These policies will destroy our way of life. This will destroy our entire country, and we will die destitute and homeless. In this example, we see how Rod attaches unsubstantiated conclusions to climate change. It is the beginning of the slippery slope in ethics and common sense. It provides justification to believe in a false exaggeration.
3) The Deficient Argument
Here, the claim is the argument is invalid because of poor presentation. Few things are more frustrating than watching someone argue a valid point with flawed logic and presentation. Sometimes, someone wins a debate not because they are right but because they are better at debating. They are better at presenting a compelling argument, even if it is entirely wrong. No example is necessary.
“The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.” ― Carl Sagan
4) Substituting the Burden of Proof
They say that the burden of proof lies not with the person making a claim but with someone else to disprove their hypothesis or claim. But, the burden of proof lies with the person making the argument or claim, not upon someone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove an assertion does not make a claim valid.
Example: Bertrand claims that God exists and sits on a throne in another dimension. Since we cannot disprove it, it must be true. Similarly, Bertrand claims God wrote a book, and because we cannot disprove that God didn’t write it, it must be true. It’s an Argument from Ignorance, which asserts that their conclusion is correct because there is no evidence to prove it is false. Don’t fall for this. The burden of proof is always on the person claiming the existence of something. It is one of the main fallacies in popular culture used by religion.
5) Ad Hominem Attack
Ad Hominem is Latin for “to the person.” Here, the tactic is to attack the character of your opponent. The goal is to undermine the credibility of your opponent. This way, you don’t need to deal with the substance of their arguments. You see this tactic in politics. It’s a slippery slope in ethics, but the narcissist and con man always finds a way to justify using them.
Logical Fallacy Ad Hominem is becoming a common tactic in politics. Discrediting the person is always a distraction from the substance of the actual argument. It’s a favorite tactic of the bully. So, spotting logical fallacies is only part of the equation; you need to call them out on the tactic after identifying them.
For example, calling someone a demeaning name when addressing them, “She’s bad.” Using repetition works. Even if this slander has no basis, the ordinary person will associate “she’s bad” with her, whoever she is, regardless if she’s done anything wrong. You would think this simple tactic would be too transparent to work, but sadly, it still does. Re-watch the Presidential debates of 2016 in the United States. They often combine it with the strawman proposition above.
6) Personal Incredulity
Essentially, they say they don’t understand the argument or the facts. So, because it’s too complicated, it can’t be valid. Some scientific subjects can be complicated. Subjects like biological evolution, for example, require an understanding of genetics and statics.
Many scientific theories require in-depth knowledge of several fields of science. So, claiming something is false because you don’t understand it is a fall-back strategy. When one does not understand the complexity of the subject, they assume it must be false.
Example: Kirk draws a picture of a fish and a human. He asks Richard if he is stupid enough to believe a fish can become a human. He says this can’t happen by chance. Note this example also incorporates an Ad Hominem attack. It implies Richard is stupid to give credence to the theory of biological evolution. Nice going, Kirk!
“You can’t use reason to convenience, anyone, out of an argument that they didn’t use reason to get into.”― Neil deGrasse Tyson
7) Loaded Question
A loaded question is asking something which has a built-in assumption. In this way, you cannot answer the question without appearing guilty of something. The loaded question fallacy effectively derails rational debate because of its inflammatory nature. The recipient of the loaded question feels compelled to defend themselves.
Example: In a verbal sidewalk debate, Phillip asks Ron, Have you had sex with our teacher all you want? No matter how Ron responds, he appears guilty. If Ron replies no, it sounds like an admission he has had sex with the teacher. It’s just not as much as Ron wanted. If he doesn’t respond, he “appears” guilty. The correct answer would be that it is an absurd and loaded question.
8) The Gambler’s Fallacy
This fallacy believes that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena. This applies to things like roulette wheel spins. This fallacy is the substance of the economy in cities like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The odds of a big run are low and improbable because each wheel’s spin is entirely independent of the last turn. This fallacy creates an entire city in the State of Nevada, USA. The odds of a big run are low and improbable because each wheel’s spin is entirely independent of the last turn.
Example: Red had come up six times on the roulette wheel. So, Greg presumes that Black would be next. Greg has a 50/50 chance of losing again.
9) Black or White Fallacy is a Slippery Slope of The False Dilemma
Presenting two alternatives as the only choices is the premise for many inaccurate comparisons. In this “setup,” the answer must either be A or B, black or white. They offer this tactic in the correct form of a deductive argument. However, under closer scrutiny, there are more possibilities than presented.
This tactic is one of the 10 common logical fallacies used by propaganda outlets posing as informational or newscasts. A case in point is the far-right TV station Fox News. It’s a common ploy used on the Christian Broadcasting Network. In one hour of programming, you will spot its use at least 2 or 3 times. They use the slippery slope of ethics to make claims to boost ratings; the claims are always sensational.
You can spot this because the two possibilities are cloaks for bias and prejudice. The black or white fallacy is a popular choice of those in front of an audience. They design this ploy to elicit an emotional response from the crowd. It keeps the respondent from offering rational alternatives. So some call this tactic the False Dilemma.
This tactic sets the logical fallacy slippery slope in fast motion. People use it in rapid succession with other strategies for misdirection. The false dilemma is a tactic used by dictators. It helps them deflect any arguments. Remember, fallacies are illogical arguments, so look for other possibilities and options to see past this smoke screen.
Examples: Either believe in the same God I do, or you are a Devil. If we feed people experiencing poverty, we’ll run out of money to protect the nation.
10) Begging the Question Fallacy
Begging the question is a circular argument. Here, the conclusion contains one or more invalid premises. They assume the truth of the proposition without being able to prove the facts in the premise. You find this argument used to support ingrained false assumptions. This is one of the fallacies in popular culture that is hard to spot unless you test the factual basis of their argument.
For example, the underlying assumption is the word of the god Apollo is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in the great and infallible “Book of Apollo.” So Apollo exists. Because we give Apollo offerings and prayers, he blesses us with miracles. So, they assert this is evidence of the greatness of Apollo. Around and around it goes.
Final Thoughts on the 10 Common Logical Fallacies
To understand your culture, you need to be familiar with the common tactics of deception. By understanding and recognizing these tactics, you can avoid using them in your own reasoning. Additionally, you can critique other arguments.
Beware. Religious fundamentalism is a slippery slope leading to more extreme ideological views. We must learn to dissect the emotional rhetoric for the underlying premises to spot them. Then we need to fact-check. A sharp mind and logical approach are keys to developing accurate arguments. We hope you can see the importance of knowing how to spot logical fallacies of religious fanaticism.