Monday, May 7, 2012

I Didn't Know the Question was Loaded

Picking up on our discussion of strawmen and their ilk, and as a way of reinforcing our commitment to explicitly stating that which we mean and wish to convey, please read (and perhaps carry with you) this wonderful list of logical fallacies.  For Friday morning (and then again for Monday morning) please notice, record, and categorize a logical fallacy in action.  Your comment should include the quoted text of the fallacy, the type, and an explanation of what makes it that type.  In the interest of kindness and good will, please only identify the speaker if she or he is a public figure; this is an exercise in critical thinking, not public shame.  The two fallacies you identify must come from two different sources and be of two different sorts.  Also before next time please revise your Design and Research comment to reflect our class discussion.


  1. Yesterday night after study hall, I was speaking with a friend from home on the phone. I was amazed when immediately after class, I heard him say a "Strawman" fallacy: When I said I would call him back later because I wanted to talk to my other friend about something quickly, his response was (if I remember correctly), "Oh wow okay so I see how it is, your other friends are more important than me. Go talk to your friends. Whatever Sara, you don't love _(name)__ no more." So, although his response was quite sarcastic, I considered it to be a logical fallacy because it went along the lines of Strawman, which is "misrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack". Clearly, my friend knew that other people weren't any more important than him and that I would call back later, but he purposefully pretended to take it in a different, more offensive way as a means to make me look like "the bad guy" by hanging up the phone.

  2. After our class discussion on logical fallacies, I felt as if I was on the hunt for something that I was not going to find. Little did I know that directly after study hall the night of the TOK conversation I would burst out in excitement when hanging out with my friends and experiencing the logical fallacy known as "tu quoque." This is described as "avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser- answering the criticism with criticism." The friend in question- let us call her Jessica- was texting another friend (Bob) back and forth. Bob was upset about a comment that Jessica made and therefore sent a text message stating "You suck." After about five minutes of debating what to reply, Jessica decided to reply "So do you." This is clearly a logical fallacy that falls under the category of "tu quoque."Instead of coming up with a way to defend herself, Jessica turned the insult back on the accuser, taking the heat off of her and giving it back to Bob.

  3. Without endorsing or decrying the point of view displayed here, I report this made-up dialogue seen circulating on a popular social medium:
    Obama: "I like Coke"
    Fox News: "Obama Declares War on Pepsi"
    From what I can glean from the website, this sounds to me like a good ol' strawman fallacy. The example on is exactly the type of statement after which this joke is modeled (the example is "After Will said that we should put more money into health and education, Warren responded by saying that he was surprised that Will hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenceless by cutting military spending."). Both statements are drawing a conclusion from a statement which does not necessarily give rise to it.

  4. When watching a movie called "17 Again", I scoped out a moment where one of the logical fallacies was used. Ned Gold, while trying to impress the principal of his child's high school felt that a fallacy was necessary to get the woman to go on a date with him. When she answered "no", he quickly suggested buying laptops for the high school children in exchange of a date. When the respond was still no he quotes, and if I remember correctly, “you would deny the students laptop.” This falls into the “Appeal to Emotion” fallacy which is defined as attempting “to manipulate an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument.” Ned Gold uses value of the education of children as an argument to him going on a date with the principal. This instills an emotion in her that leads her to agree on the date.

  5. I was watching a Verizon commercial and a mom and her daughter was walking through the store. The mom was crying because her daughter was going away to college, but the daughter didn't really care. Then, the daughter saw this cell phone that she wanted and started crying as well, saying that she was going to miss her mom also. Then she said to her mom that if she bought her that particular phone, keeping in touch would be much easier. For this particular example, the daughter used her mother's emotions (she played with her feelings) to get what she wanted, which is why I thought this would be "Appeal to Emotion".

  6. "The recipe to life: In a beaker, put wheat, and a dirty cloth. Wait for two weeks, and mice will appear". During Biology class, I heard this when I was watching an educational movie called Origins, which talks about the Earth and how life was created. Clearly, the medieval scientist that created this recipe for life was basing it off of their own household trials and tribulations. The scientist "presumed that a real relationship between two things means that one is the cause of the other". Hence, the scientist committed the logical fallacy called false cause. While the old wheat and soiled conditions did attract the mice, it does not mean that they necessarily created the mice. the Presence of life is different from the creation of life, and the scientist did not think of that. Rather, the scientist just linked the soiled conditions, and the presence of mice.

  7. The logical fallacy that I noticed today during Spearth Day (and on many other occasions as well) was "tu quoque". My moment looking back was one student sarcastically criticized to another student during the lip dub, and the other student looked confused, and then responded with a "come back" or another sarcastic critical comment to their "friend". The conversation was playful, but like the Rachel Simmons talk, sometimes boundaries are crossed (NJZ). The conversation between the students went similar to this (can't fully remember): "weirdo why do you know that" ... "you're he weirdo" . Although it may not be serious criticism, I feel like since the second student responded to some type of criticism with the same criticism, that makes it the logical fallacy, "tu quoque".

  8. For a project in a class, we had to make worksheets to better establish our knowledge of the material. One of the sheets had a spelling mistake that led the entire class to come to a dead end even when the question was searched on the internet. When the issue was brought up to the specific student, she responded along the lines of, "You know what I meant," or "It made sense to me!" This is an example of the Special Pleading Fallacy. She was clearly trying to excuse her mis-claim.

  9. The logical fallacy I chose could be classified under "middle ground". This was when I had just arrived to the United States last year and I was given the flu shot, but unfortunately just a couple of days later, I got the flu. Now, was new to this country, and my understanding of the shot was that it would work as a vaccine to prevent me for getting the flu. But quite ironically, the shot itself is what gave me the flu, not knowing what to do and thinking that I had been given the wrong shot and that I was soon going to die, I decided to call my father. He then explained to me that sometimes one's body needs to get sick inorder to create the proper antibodies to be able to fight the flu. So, now it made sense, the same shot went from potentially killing me to providing my body of the proteins it needs. So, it went from one extreme to the other, the fact that the shot made me sick is true but also the fact that the same flu shot cured me is also true. But somewhere in between the two truth is a lie, because both extremes cannot be true.

  10. I found out that logical fallacies could be found everywhere if I see close enough daily, but sometimes, they are just so obvious and no one could hide them. Often times, people will say that yawning as a action of being board and not interested, and therefore, should do more exercises and work harder, and while yawning because of board, became lack of hard working and became not having a good performance on an area,I found out this is an extreme use of slippery slope and the fact that it is so obvious that shows up in my life, I found out myself talking and using logical fallacies. As teachers and friends who are good and interesting in the world of science, yawning is an fact that your brain needs oxygen, then, I tell everybody else that we just need oxygen in our brain sometimes when we are yawning. The fact that I never have proof on this makes what I said "appeal to authority".

  11. One logical fallacy that I have experienced is an ad hominum fallacy. In debate Paul Bassett teaches us the ways of Parliamentary style debating. He has taught us that during a debate, it is possible that our opponent will attack us directly instead of focusing on the argument at hand. So at one of my debates, my opponent was referring to me personally rather than sticking with the subject. I immediately noticed this fallacy and rose up. I said to the judge, "Mr. Speaker I would like to rise on a point of order. My opponent has just exhibited an ad hominum attack." He accepted the objection, and my opponent sat down with an annoyed on his face.

    Here is another logical fallacy that has been used in the political world:
    Mitt Romney recently stated that "I am tired of a President who wakes up every day, looks out across America and is proud to announce, 'It could be worse.'"
    He said this in response to what Obama had recently stated. This is what was actually said:
    "I wake up every day focused on how … we restore America’s promise for all our people."

    This is an example of the fallacy of Straw man. Romney had taken something that Obama had said, and twisted it to make an argument against him and to make him look bad.

  12. I was with two friends - let's call them Katelyn and Sasha. Katelyn received a phone call and inadvertently answered with an unusually low and admittedly creepy "Hellooo?" After she finished her phone call, Sasha said "Welcome to Stoneleigh-Burnham School for Girls. Where we don't have any guys around, so we answer the phone like creepers." All three of us were struck with the fallacious nature of her statement. (Hilarity ensued.)
    I believe this to be a "false cause" fallacy, because Sasha assumed that the absence of boys at Stoneleigh-Burnham caused Kate to answer her phone a certain way.

  13. On spearth day I engaged in conversation with a a fellow Stoneleigh Burnham Student. Let us call her Hilary. Hilary and I were walking about the striped shirts that we were asked to wear for out part in the talent show and how we planned on changing into them, when Melinda joined the conversation. Melinda claimed that she was not going to wear a stripped shirt because she was too lazy to return to her room to get it in the first place. When asked why she didn't jut bring it along with her she stated that she had talked to two other people that had said that they were not going to be wearing striped shirts either. She then said that since they weren't wearing striped shirts she shouldn't either. This statement falls under the logical fallacy category know as the "bandwagon." Melinda attempted to validate her choice by claiming that she was not the only one to make the decision not to wear a striped shirt. Although two others had decided to not wear striped shirts, Melinda's argument was not made valid solely through this claim. In essence her point was moot. If her friends jumped off a bridge would she do it too?

    To revise the post due last monday i would add: The decision to make the design and research permanently distinct would be one of convenience rather than necessity. In my opinion, the two are overlapping and therefore they co-exist. By making them separate one is only trying to prove their own personal point rather than making a necessary distinction. THe role of the knower in this case is to understand that although they are two different terms, both research and design help each other. The lines between the two are blurred, making it difficult to make a necessary distinction between the two.

  14. Burden of prove:
    In English class, we were talking about how humans force animal to be exactly how we think they are; for example:"The kitten was not sleeping, but deep in thought. What was he thinking about? He knew absolutely nothing about real life and possessed no store of accumulated impressions: therefore he could only think instinctively and picture life according to concepts inherited, like his ancestors, the tigers (vide Darwin)" (Who Is to Blame? by Anton Chekhov). For what reason can we say that the cat is thinking about what we think they are thinking? And is it WRONG though?
    *Another thing that I found when I was re-reading it, I several logical fallacies within the sentence, it contains burden of prove, false cause, and slippery slope.

  15. While discussing with a friend, let's call her Anne, about Logical Fallacies and how I would be unable to find one she said: "Talk to (Insert male name). He is full of crap." Ann and I both know that (Insert male name) is not actually full of anything but knowledge and I just choose to think he is full of crap because I do not understand what he saying to me. This is an example of personal incredulity because I find (Insert male name) confusing, and I have decided what he tells me is false and he is full of crap.

    1. To fix my comment from last week's post:
      The distinction between research and design is necessary because they are both clearly different but at the same time have very prominent similarities. As the knower, I was very interested in seeing how packed two words can be and how strong the argument can be for them to be different depending on the field one has entered.

  16. I was watching Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids. A Bride came to the shop with her bridesmaids, and she already had they colors she wanted them to wear: blue, yellow, and silver. Her bridesmaids are completely confused as to how the bride thinks that she can have all the colors going on during the wedding. Typically, bridesmaids wear the same dress, and the same color. So, when the bridesmaids come out of the dressing room, each wearing different dresses in different colors, they find this time to be the perfect time to tell the bride that her plan is disgusting. The colors simply don't mesh, and there is no way that these bridesmaids are going out looking like a mess. In response, the bride attacks her bridesmaids for being rude, and she reminds them that she doesn't care what they think. This is an example of ad hominem, because instead of the bride addressing the real issue, which is the nasty coordination of dresses, she attacks her bridesmaids for their rude attitudes.

    Last week, when we spent class discussing our posts on design and research, I found that I was missing the answer to the question: Is the distinction necessary or convenient? So, here is the answer:
    The distinction between design and research is necessary, as they are two separate words, If that wasn't the case, then it would be research and research, or design and design. When researching, someone is trying to find out more about a given topic. But when designing, someone is seemingly creating something completely new which is based off of other information found, or research.

  17. well, I'm not going to use fake names here...the story is I was heading to Martha's Vineyard and I told my sister to pack her bag and get up. She was sitting there being lazy and using her iPod and NOT listening, then I said to her, "Natalie, you never listen to me when I talk to you or tell you to do something. Stop being lazy, and get up and pack your bag." So she responded, "You're ten times lazier than I am and you never listen either." (we all know I'm not lazy!) Instead of arguing that she did hear me or is going to pack her back, she decided to attack my character instead; she does this a lot! Therefore, this logical fallacy is ad hominem: attacking your opponent's character or personal traits instead of engaging with their argument.

    Now, design and fix my comment, I didn't really discuss the role of the knower. And I believe the role of the knower is to decide which needs to come first for them, and what tools they need in order to do research or design. I think that not always design and research have to overlap because if the knower has enough knowledge to create a design then they do not need to do the research. Also, if the knower already has the design but needs to do more research, they must figure out which steps they need to take next.

  18. I accidentally posted two fallacy examples Friday, but here is another example:
    Over the weeks I have been stressing out over my grades. But to top it off, I have been constantly worried about my SAT score. The scores are coming in the 24th of May, and the tension is rising. I often say to myself, "If I don't get a good score on the SAT then I won't get into college. If I don't get into college I'm going to be miserable." Everyday this idea enters into my head. But for all this time I never realized that I have been committing a logical fallacy. I have been using the Slippery Slope fallacy. This fallacy is the act of assuming that if A happens, B will inevitably happen, therefore A should not happen. So I have to relax and keep in mind that this is a fallacy, and not a fact.

    In last week's post, I did not express the role of the knower in terms of design and research.
    It is truly up to the knower to be able to realize that design and research are both connected. As mentioned previously, when people think of research, they often think of a research paper. You just find a few sources on the internet, write a few pages, and your done. That is not real research. By focusing on every minute detail of the research, you are also creating a design. Design is something that has been created. Is that not a creation? So the knower has to truly grasp this concept.

  19. Slippery Slope example:

    During the beginning of each month, right around this time, I try not to have my phone around my parents, or talk on my phone too much with them. This is because my phone bill recently came home in the mail. Today on mother’s day which is when my phone bill should be at my house by now, I called my mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, but I desperately wanted to hurry off the phone. I figured if she was on the phone with me too long that she would realize I was on the phone for too long. Then she would ask why my phone bill was so high, why do I have so many minutes, who is the person I’m on the phone with for so long, whose number is (xxx) xxx-xxxx, and what could I possibly be saying to them for X amount of hours at night at X time. To avoid all of that I simply just don’t call her, but I had to today because it was mother’s day, luckily she was on her way to church.

  20. The fallacy that I have found to be quite apparent in my household is Tu Quoque. As I was home this weekend, it hit me that sometimes we may be a bit hypocritical. This is because we all talk loud, its just the way we are. But sometimes, I get annoyed with it because it sounds like everyone is yelling, so when a member starts talking loud, i start yelling and saying WHY ARE YOU YELLING, and the other person will say IM NOT YELLING, YOU ARE YELLING.
    Interesting family.
    On last weeks post I didn't really hit on the role of the knower so I'd just like to add that the role of the knower between design and research is that they get to define the words for his or herself, therefore each person may have a different idea on how the two words connect.

  21. At the mall on Sunday afternoon, I found myself using a logical fallacy. A friend, let’s call her Brianna and I were having a fake argument to annoy our other friends. Brianna starts off the argument by calling me stupid. I respond back by saying “Well what does that make you if you are my friend?" By saying so, I used the logical fallacy "Tu quoque". By refuting in such manner, I did not accept being called stupid and turned Brianna's statement against her. I was implying that she is just as stupid as what she claims that I'm, using her argument against herself.

    Also on last week’s post I did not hit on the role of the knower. The disagreement between Researchers and Designers does not really affect me since I don’t hold a role in any of these professions. However I would say that depending on how one’s defining one role to the other, it affects how they value each. For example, a designer might give a Design a deeper meaning to Researching because the value Design more.

  22. My logical fallacy would be categorized under the "Black or White" dilemma. So, either one is for us or against us. Today, I was talking to my friend back home when she asked me if I was still friends with her "enemy", the enemy being a guy that I happen to get along very well with. So, naturally I said yes, and that her enemy and I were still very good friends. So, she warned me that when I go back home to Rwanda this summer, I better not hangout with him or else she will not talk to me for the rest of the summer, this came out to me more as a threat than as a logical fallacy. So being intellectually curious, I asked her how does my friendship with him affect my friendship with her, and she simply responded by saying that since everyone know he hates her, me hanging out with him would be as stabbing her in the back. So, there it was, she had just unknowingly created a logical fallacy. By her response she had managed to create a false dilemma and tactic forming a logical argument to try to bring me to her side and basically created a black and white viewpoint, erasing the grey as a solution.


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