Thursday, June 30, 2011

inFact: Logical Fallacies 1

"Ever hear someone argue a point that was effective, even though it didn't quite ring true? Chances are they used a logical fallacy." Watch Video

Transcript from video:

In this first of three videos, we're going to look at some common fallacious arguments; ways that people make their points sounds convincing even when they're not true. A common one is:

The Ad Hominem

Arguing against the person rather than against the argument. Let's say some guy is trying to convince you that Einstein's theory of relativity is wrong:
Einstein? That guy married his cousin. How can you trust his calculations?
Flip it around and you have:

The Bandwagon Fallacy

Which tries to claim that something must be true because so many people believe it:
50 million people have read The Secret. That many people can't be wrong.
Oh yes they can. How about the people whose religious or political beliefs are different from yours? That's a lot more than 50 million right there.
You can also use:

The Argument from Antiquity

To prove that something must be true because people have believed it for a long time.
Chinese medicine's been around for 5,000 years. It wouldn't have lasted that long if it didn't work.
Being ancient only proves that an idea comes from prescientific times. Maybe it works, like the wheel; maybe it doesn't, like burning witches (some more great ancient wisdom).
A related tactic is to pull out

The All-Natural Fallacy

This is a way to sell a product by raising the specter of concern about competing products that might be... "tarnished" by modern knowledge.
You should sprinkle some of this Haitian zombie powder in your wound. Ground human bones, hemlock, stinging nettle, pufferfish neurotoxin... it's all natural.

The Argument from Authority

Ignores the need to have good information and instead relies on an authority figure.
It doesn't matter what your research shows; my information came from a scientist. So it can't be wrong!
But if all else fails, fall back on:

The Appeal to Quantum Physics

This is why people think Deepak Chopra knows anything; he throws around terms like this to make whatever he says sound scientific and advanced.
Quantum physics links our metaphysical beings through quantum entanglement.
Hey it sounded over my head; he must know what he's talking about.
Next time we'll look at some ways that language itself can be misused to accomplish the same thing.
Brian Dunning
Brian Dunning

Friday, June 24, 2011

Preaching to the Unconverted | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

"And now for something somewhat different. After I posted my article on “Does the Universe Need God?“, there were a few responses at the Intelligent Design blog Uncommon Descent, including a list of questions by Vincent Torley. Vincent then went the extra mile by inviting me to write a guest post for UD. Not my usual stomping grounds, but I ultimately agreed, precisely for that reason." Read More

Does the Universe Need God? | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

"I’ve had God on my mind lately, as I’ve been finishing an invited essay for the upcoming Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity. The title is “Does the Universe Need God?“, and you can read the whole thing on my website by clicking." Read More

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Physics and the Immortality of the Soul | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

The topic of “Life after death” raises disreputable connotations of past-life regression and haunted houses, but there are a large number of people in the world who believe in some form of persistence of the individual soul after life ends. Clearly this is an important question, one of the most important ones we can possibly think of in terms of relevance to human life. If science has something to say about, we should all be interested in hearing. Read More

Physics and the Immortality of the Soul | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine