Not Every Disagreement Is a Logical Fallacy

Alex B. Berezow, Beyond School, Feb 23, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Nice article debunking some supposed 'logical fallacies' that have started to appear in the media and on discussion boards. For example:

  • False equivalence - i.e., "you're comparing apples and oranges". There's nothingw rong with comparing apples and oranges; I do it every time I open my fridge. The critic is searhcing for 'false analogy', but this charge requires some methodological rigour in order to make it stick.
  • Sunk cost - supposedly "we are biased against actions that could lead to regret." Suppose we are. It is good not to feel regret. It's just one factor to be weighed against other factors (like economic return), not one that is to be ruled out a priori.

As the author says, not every disagreement is a logical fallacy. "Blaming our disagreements, particularly political ones, on logical fallcies does nothing other than delude us into thinking that our opponents are illogical and that we are intellectually superior." Or as I say in my own Guide, the logical fallacies are intended to help us correct our own thinking, not to belittle that of others. Via Big Think. (p.s. the illustration is Bayes Theorem, aka conditional probability, a useful rule, but not the only number that matters).



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