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The WTF Fallacy, and others

Some (I think) new fallacies of argumentation I have encountered. They may not all be new, but I believe most are. They are fallacies that are too stupid to have made it onto usual lists of fallacies. Some of these fallacies come from discussions with posters here. I hope those posters don't mind - this is all in a spirit of open debate and free enquiry. Enjoy.

1. The WTF Fallacy
X is false because Y is false, where Y is vaguely associated with X. Example: "There might be more to the brain than physics, we don't fully understand how the brain works biologically". Called "WTF" because a first scan of the fallacy seems to make sense, but it then the incongruity hits.

2. The Earth is Flat Fallacy
X is true because of Y, where Y is some vastly out-of-date belief about the universe. Example: William Lane Craig's Kalam argument.

3. The Assertion is Evidence Fallacy
X is false because I have repeatedly asserted X is false. Example: "Your claim that evolution is true is wrong because I have posted that evolution is false again and again but you haven't responded". Someone hasn't done their homework about the meaning of 'evidence'.

4. The Quantum Fallacy
X is true because Quantum Mechanics is mysterious. Example: "My mind is more than just material because quantum mechanics is hard to understand". Surprisingly common.

5. The Therefore Baby Jesus Fallacy
X is true therefore Baby Jesus. Example: "There must be a first cause [therefore it's the Christian God, and so Baby Jesus]" This sums up most Christian theology.

6. The Selfish Gene Fallacy
This is highly specific: "Dawkins said genes are selfish, so he can't explain why we are kind to each other". So dumb, it needs no explanation.

7. The OMG, Not gay sex! Fallacy
X is wrong because of Y, but actually men together make me feel icky. The underlying reason for all objections to gay marriage.

8. The Many Cats Fallacy
This is an interesting one. It's a quantum fallacy, but the construction of the argument reveals deep confusion about quantum mechanics. In one part of the argument parallel words will be mentioned, while in another part wave-function collapse will appear. This argument is so wrong it can be hard work to mentally cope with. This is a rare fallacy, but so intricate each occurrence should be treasured.

9. The Running Round in Circles Fallacy
Best shown by example: "Science can't deal with consciousness because we can only experience the world through consciousness, and there can be no unconscious observation, so because we do science while conscious and then we look at the results while conscious, therefore we can't explain consciousness". This is an attempt at a self-supporting argument through a form of recursion but without any justification of what the actual problem is.

10. The Wobbling Word Fallacy
X is sort of truthy because Y is true. Y is X using words with different meanings. I'm going to be a little bit controversial here. I think this is Sam Harris' fallacy in the subtitle of his book 'The Moral Landscape. How science can determine moral values'. In discussions this is effectively changed to 'how science can inform moral values', which is an utterly uncontroversial claim.

11. The Engineer Fallacy
X is true because I am an engineer. This is commonly found when dealing with intelligent design and creationism. Engineers claim to know about complexity and design, which they say then qualifies them to insist that complex biological systems must have been intelligently designed. They need to get an understanding of evolution.

12. The Einstein Fallacy
X is true because it's rejected by scientists, but then so was Einstein.
The problem with this common argument is that Einstein was not rejected by scientists, and the chances of the person using the fallacy being another Einstein are exceedingly small.

13. The Ignorance is Evidence Fallacy
X is true because we are ignorant about Y. This is very, very common, even amongst respected thinkers. An example is use of the Hard Problem of consciousness (explaining consciousness in terms of physics seems to be impossibly hard) to justify claims of irreducibility (consciousness can never be reduced to physics) or dualism (we are conscious because of an extra aspect of reality). Lack of understanding isn't a justification for any claim about reality.

14. The Don't Worry I'm Right Fallacy.
You say X is wrong because of Y, but we can just ignore Y because I say so. Example: "You say that physics rejects the existence of spirits, but I fully accept physics and I believe in spirits". Hard to deal with, because the wrongness is so explicit and yet unseen.

15. The Divine Grounding Fallacy
X requires God. This is a common statement (see William Lane Craig again), and yet the actual reason why X requires God isn't ever fully described. Example: "The existence of objective morality needs God". This can't be justified by God having moral views and imposing them (Divine Command Theory), because such views aren't objective, they are "super subjective". But if that isn't the reason we are left with some mysterious reason why the existence of God creates objective values. How? It makes as much sense as to say that the existence of God necessitates cheese.

16. The Fanged Chameleon Fallacy
I'm justified in believing that God is like X because of theology. The problem with this is that theology doesn't get anywhere near the actual and rather nasty nature of the Christian (or other) gods. (The "Therefore Baby Jesus" fallacy). So the believer's God is like a rather nasty Chameleon that spends much of its time camouflaged in the gentle words of theology, only to sneak out, reveal its fangs say that condoms mustn't be used, genitals must be sliced, and gays are bad.

17. The Humpty Dumpty Fallacy
If Y then X is false. X is true because I get to say what I like about Y. Example: "You would be right if God was complex, but because God is supernatural, your rules about complexity don't apply". This is another very common position. It's a kind of version of the "Ignorance is Evidence" fallacy, with supernaturalism being used to create ignorance.

18. The Please Put Science Away, It's So Rude Fallacy
I don't need to justify X with evidence because science is vulgar and naive. No need to give examples, as this is extremely common. It's a post-modern position. The problem with this position is no other way of justifying X is given that can be taken seriously.

19. The It's Not Funny Fallacy.
A recent one. An indirect defence of religious beliefs and believers based on the assertion that jokes about religion are rarely amusing or original. This is slightly related to the "Please Put Science Away, It's So Rude" fallacy.

Any more?

TAGGED: REASON, RELIGION


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