Logical Fallacies- Hypothetical examples

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Logical Fallacies- Hypothetical examples
2013-05-09 10:16:12
Logical Fallacies

Hypothetical examples are based primarily on the types of common errors in reasoning committed in agruments for evolution or in other religious conversations.
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  1. "Evolution has designed some amazing creatures."
    Reification: Evolution is a concept and as such it cannot design anything.
  2. "It's a scientific fact that bacteria have evolved resistance to various antibiotics, so creationists are wrong to say that evolution has not been observed."
    Equivocation: The arguer has shifted the meaning of the word "evolution."
  3. "Why are you creationists against scientific progress?"
    Complex Question: The question assumes something untrue. It should be divided: "Are you against scientific progress? And if so, why?"
  4. "Evolution is a scientific fact; virtually all the top scientists believe in it."
    Appeal to Authority: The fact that some scientists believe something doesn't necessarily make it so.
  5. "If evolution is true, then we'd expect that organisms that look similar would have similar DNA. And this is exactly what wefind, so evolution must be true."
    Affirming the Consequent: There are other reasons to expect that organisms would have similar DNA. They have a common Creator, and their DNA has instructions for traits.
  6. "Either you live by faith, or you have rational reasons for what you believe."
    Bifurcations: We can have faith and have rational reasons for what we believe.
  7. "God does not exist. After all, He kills innocent children; clearly that's not right."
    Irrelevant Thesis: The fact that God does things that some people do not understand or find displeasing does not disprove God's existence.
  8. "If fossils of humans and dinosaurs were found together, then we'd know they coexisted. But no such fossils have been found. So dearly they didn't live at the same time."
    Denying the Antecedent: There could be a number of reasons why dinosaur fossils are not typically found with humans; the answer need not be a separation in time.
  9. "Creation is so stupid it's not even worth debating it."
    Question-begging Epithet: Emotional/biased language is used in place ofan argument.
  10. "Creationists are dishonest, so I wouldn't rely on any of their arguments."
    Abusive Ad Hominem: The attack is directed against the person's character, not his argument.
  11. "Today, we will be debating science vs. creationism."
    Question-begging Epithet: By contrasting creation with science, the person is implying that creation is somehow contrary to science, or that evolution is the scientific view, without making a logical argument for this. The "-ism" attached to "creation" further reinfurces the claim that creation is merely a "belief."
  12. "99.99% of scientists in relevant fields believe in evolution."
    Faulty Appeal to Authority/Majority: Even ifthe number were correct (which it is not), it would be irrelevant to the correctness ofthe claim.
  13. "You want an example of evolution? You're speaking with one."
    Begging the Question: That people are an example of evolution is the very claim at issue. This person merely asserts evolution as his defense of evolution.
  14. "Science tells us that the universe is billions of years old."
    Reification: Science is personified, which conceals the biases of the scientists who are actually making such a claim.
  15. "If Genesis is true, then why is there so much evidence for an old earth?"
    Complex Question: This should be divided: "Is there much evidence for an old earth? If so, how can Genesis be true?" But the biblical creationist would answer no to the first question, so the second question is not meaningful.
  16. "Creationists try to find answers in the Bible, but real scientists do research to find out what happened in the past."
    "No True Scotsman" Fallacy: The arguer is trying to protect his claim from counterargument by defining a "realscientist" as one who does not look to the Bible.
  17. "My latest book is about the evolution vs. creationism controversy."
    Question-begging Epithet: The "-ism" on "creation" is the giveaway. This person is suggesting that creation is merely a belief, whereas evolution is factual, without making an argument for this.
  18. "Creationists take the Bible literally. They must believe the earth has corners and pillars. How absurd!"
    Strawman Argument or Equivocation: Creationists do not take the Bible in a wooden-literal sense. We do allow for figures of speech and poetic language in those parts of the Bible that are written that way. This could also be considered equivocation on the word literally, which can simply mean "naturally" (in the sense the author intended), but is shifted to mean strictly concretely.
  19. "The fossil record shows that some organisms are systematically found higher in the strata than others. This is dear evidence for evolution."
    Affirming the Consequent: (Other answers are possible too.) When put in standard form, the arguer is implying: Evolution predicts X. We observe X, therefore, evolution is true.
  20. "Of course Dr. Lisle believes in creation. He works at Answers in Genesis!"
    Circumstantial Ad Hominem: The fact that a person is motivated to make an argument has no bearing on the soundness of that argument.
  21. "If students are not taught evolution, they will not understand how science really works, and will be deprived of a proper understanding of nature."
    Appeal to Pity: The word deprived may give away the emotional appeal implied in this argument. But the idea "teach evolution or the children will suffer" has no bearing on whether evolution is true.
  22. "Evolution is an inescapable fact. Everything in the universe, from stars and galaxies to finch beaks and bacteria, is in a constant state of evolution."
    Equivocation: (On the word evolution)
  23. "In the future, we expect that nature will be uniform because it has been that way in the past."
    Begging the Question: The arguer is assuming induction to prove induction. (See chapter 3.)
  24. "To deny that evolution takes place would be like denying the existence of gravity."
    Fallacy of False Analogy: Gravity is observable, testable, and repeatable in the present, unlike particles-to-people evolution.
  25. "Either you use your brain to determine what's true, or you simply accept whatever the Bible says."
    Bifurcation: Why not use our brain to reason from the Bible as our starting point?
  26. "Evolution is science. And science is why we have such incredible technology today, and can put men on the moon."
    Equivocation: The arguer conflates a particular model of origins science with operational science.
  27. "Evolution is not an unguided process. Rather, evolution is guided by natural selection. Nature selects individuals that are most fit, thus driving the process forward."
    Fallacy of Reification: Natural selection/Nature is conceptual and does not actually guide anything.
  28. "You are really stupid if you believe in creation."
    Abusive Ad Hominem: The argument is directed at the person, not the claim.
  29. "You shouldn't believe in or teach creation here; you might get sued."
    Appeal to Force/Fear: That legal action might result is irrelevant to the truth of creation.
  30. "Why do you deny science?"
    Complex Question: It should be divided: "Do you deny science? If so, why?" Since the first answer is no, the second question isn't needed.
  31. "If we found fossil rabbits in the Precambrian, that would certainly disprove evolution. But such a thing has never been found. So we can have confidence that evolution is true."
    Denying the Antecedent: (If p then q, not p therefore not q.) Creationists would not expect to find rabbits in the Precambrian either, since it is thought to be essentially the pre-Flood ocean floor.
  32. "You should not trust anything that is posted on the Answers in Genesis website."
    Genetic Fallacy: An argument should be evaluated on its merit, not its source. Furthermore, a source must be established as faulty by good reasons if we are to argue that its claims should not be trusted.
  33. "Well, of course Dr. Dave is going to argue for a young earth. He believes in creation. So you shouldn't accept his argument."
    Circumstantial Ad Hominem: The fact that Dr. Dave is motivated to make an argument does not mean that his argument is unsound.
  34. "The synapses of the brain must have at least some degree of consciousness, since the brain is made up of these synapses and is conscious"
    Fallacy of Division: What is true of the whole is not necessarily true of the parts.
  35. "People just don't come back to life. Go check out a cemetery. So it just isn't possible for Jesus to have been raised from the dead."
    Sweeping Generalization: Most people don't come back to life (not yet anyway). So the generalization is true. But that doesn't mean that there are no exceptions. God can indeed raise the dead, and has done so.
  36. "You don't need God to account for laws of logic. I don't even believe in God, and I use logic all the time."
    Fallacy of Irrelevant Thesis: The creationist claim is that laws of logic require the existence of the biblical God (not a profession of belief in God). So the atheist's point may be true, but is totally irrelevant. It does not refute the creationist claim.
  37. "Clearly, it is not wrong to abort babies. People have been doing it for thousands of years."
    Naturalistic Fallacy: Just because something is a particular way does not mean that it should be that way. The fact that many people abort babies does not make it right.
  38. "Interracial marriage is wrong. You don't see sparrows mating with cardinals."
    Fallacy of False Analogy: People are not (biblically) in the same category as animals. How animals behave is not necessarily how people are supposed to behave. Some animals kill and eat their own kind.
  39. "If students are taught to simply 'trust in the Bible: they won't be able to think for themselves, and will not be able to function in society when they grow up."
    Slippery Slope Fallacy: Since trusting in the Bible does involve proper reasoning skills (e.g., Isa. 1:18), it will not lead to the undesirable chain of events suggested by the critic.
  40. "What is the probability that life could arise by chance? It must be 100 percent because we are here, after all."
    Begging the Question: Since the way we got here is the very claim at issue, the arguer has merely assumed what he is attempting to prove.
  41. "No, evolutionists are not lying about all the evidence for evolution. After all, that would be wrong."
    Moralistic Fallacy: Just because something would be wrong does not mean that it will not happen.
  42. "If evolution is not true, then why do so many scientists accept it?"
    Faulty Appeal to Authority/Majority: People have a sin nature and, as such, do not always draw the most reasonable conclusion given the data.
  43. "Darwin documented evolution in action by noting how the beaks of finches responded to changes in the environment."
    Equivocation: The "evolution in action" noted by the arguer is simply change within a kind. It is not "evolution" in the particles-to-people sense, which is what he is presumably trying to assert.
  44. "Essentially, all mammals have seven vertebrae in their neck. This is just one of many evidences of the fact that they share a common ancestor. "
    Affirming the Consequent or False Cause: The form of the argument is "If evolution is true, then X. X is true, therefore evolution is true." This affirms the consequent. Though evolutionists do expect similarities in major groups of organisms, so do creationists. It is the cause of that similarity that is the point at issue.
  45. "If you are going to make an argument for creation, you have to use real, mainstream journals, not creationist ones."
    No True Scotsman Fallacy or Special Pleading: The term "real" implies that creationist journals do not count, thereby defining "journal" in a biased way -the no true Scotsman fallacy. Moreover, if he is going to insist that the creationist use only journals opposite to the creationist's position, then why will he not abide by that standard, too? To be fair, we could ask the evolutionist to use only creationist journals to make his argument, not evolutionist ones.
  46. "The only reason you believe in creation is because you are a Christian."
    Circumstantial Ad Hominem: Being a Christian does motivate (and cause) the person to believe in creation. However, this is irrelevant to whether the Christian has a good argument for creation.
  47. "The Oort cloud clearly must exist. No one has any proof that it doesn't."
    The Appeal to Ignorance: Such a fallacy is always reversible. We could respond, "Well, then there must not be an Oort cloud; no one has any proof that it does exist."
  48. All the classic arguments for God have been refuted. This certainly suggests that God does not exist."
    The "Fallacy Fallacy": The fact that an argument for a claim is faulty does not mean that the claim is necessarily false.
  49. "Science is all about what is observable and testable. That's why creation cannot be taken seriously. There is simply no way to observe it or test it."
    Special Pleading: Evolution is also not observable or testable in the present. Yet, the arguer considers it to be scientific. He is exempting his own position from the criteria used to dismiss the creation position. He is using a double standard.
  50. "You can't use circular reasoning in your arguments -that's fallacious. So you cannot assume the Bible is true while you are attempting to prove it."
    Special Pleading and Begging the Question: The Bible teaches that all knowledge is in Christ (Col. 2:3), thus we must stand on the Bible even when defending it. The arguer is saying that this is wrong. He is therefore assuming that the Bible is wrong in his argument that the Bible is wrong. He is reasoning in a circle (begging the question), and then telling the creationist not to reason in a circle. This is special pleading.
  51. "Do you believe in creation, or do you believe in science?"
    Bifurcation: Why not both?
  52. "Of course creation cannot be true. Science is limited to the study of the natural world. But creation involves the supernatural."
    Fallacy of Irrelevant Thesis: Whether or not creation is classified as "science" is totally irrelevant to whether or not it is true.
  53. "God may exist. But we must do science as if He does not. Otherwise, we would never know if we are studying the natural world, or a miracle. Science would come to a standstill."
    Slippery Slope Fallacy: Since miracles (whether they involve a temporary suspension of the laws of nature or not) are rare by definition, we could easily distinguish a miracle from the normal flow of nature. Thus, science would not come to a halt.
  54. "We allowed the students to discuss alternatives to evolution this year and the science test scores were below normal. Do you see what allowing creationist ideas into the classroom does?"
    Fallacy of False Cause -post hoc ergo propter hoc: That the lower test scores happened after the event does not mean that they were caused by the event.
  55. "Human beings cannot have any genuine free will. After all, we are made up entirely of atoms, which have no free will."
    Fallacy of Composition: The properties of the parts are not necessarily the same as the properties of the whole. (An airplane is composed of non-flying parts.)
  56. "Throughout history, we have consistently found natural explanations for various cosmic and terrestrial phenomena. So, it is reasonable to conclude that the origin of the universe and earth also has a natural cause."
    Sweeping Generalization and Fallacy of Composition: Most but not all events in the universe do have a natural cause. But the creation of the universe is an exception (sweeping generalization). Moreover, just because (most of) the objects within the universe have a natural cause does not mean the universe as a whole has a natural cause (fallacy of composition).
  57. "Life is abundant on earth; almost every possible environment is filled with living organisms. So it is reasonable to conclude that life in space is also quite common."
    Hasty Generalization: The earth is the exceptional case. So extrapolating the exception to form a rule is a hasty generalization.
  58. "Creationists do not believe in the scientific method. They simply look to the Bible for all the answers."
    Strawman Fallacy: Creationists do believe in the scientific method. In fact, only the Bible can account for science since science is based on induction. (See chapter 3.)
  59. "The evidence for evolution is simply overwhelming. Evidence from genetics, from paleontology, from anatomy, all support the fact that all organisms share a common ancestor."
    Question-begging Epithet: No argument is presented. The person simply uses biased language to assert his case.
  60. "Isn't evolution wonderful? The majesty of the eagle, the incredible speed of the cheetah, the ingenious color-changing ability of the chameleon, and the splendor of a peacock feather are all glorious outcomes of one of nature's most amazing and intricate processes."
    Appeal to Emotion and Question-begging Epithet: The arguer uses emotive language to persuade the reader, not logic.
  61. "We don't know if birds evolved from the ground up or from the trees down."
    Bifurcation: The third unstated option is that birds were created.
  62. "I think, therefore I am."
    Begging the Question: When Descartes said, "I think," he had already presupposed his own existence, which he then used to conclude his existence: "therefore I am."
  63. "God changed my life. So of course He exists."
    Begging the Question: The statement "God changed my life" presupposes that God exists, which is the conclusion of the argument.
  64. "I know God still heals people today because 1 prayed to God when 1 was sick, and 1 got better."
    False Cause -post hoc ergo propter hoc and Affirming the Consequent: That God was the cause of the improvement has not been argued, just assumed since one came after the other. So this is a post hoc ergo proper hoc fallacy. When put into formal structure, the argument affirms the consequent: "If God still heals people then I will get better. I did get better, therefore God still heals people."
  65. "You want proof that the Bible is true and inspired by God? Okay, 2 Timothy 3:16."
    Begging the Question: This argument merely assumes the truth of the Bible in order to argue for it. It is an arbitrary form of circular reasoning, and is thus fallacious.
  66. "Everything within the universe has a cause. So dearly the universe must be caused."
    Fallacy of Composition: The properties of the parts are not necessarily the properties of the whole. (A house made of tiny atoms is not tiny.)
  67. "I have a very good argument for creation; 1 know it is sound because every evolutionist I've used the argument on has converted to believing in creation."
    Fallacy of Irrelevant Thesis: The fact that an argument may persuade people does not in any way prove that the argument is sound.
  68. "You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart."
    Begging the Question: The premise presupposes the conclusion.