GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

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A tool for baring logical flaws

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Handy icons in “Your Logical Fallacies” click into fuller descriptions of each error.

He’s wrong. You know it. But how? Your Logical Fallacies can help you diagnose brain slips — and, in this handy toolbox, point ’em out to your opponent.

This delightfully crisp site shows 24 errors in thinking — common and not so common — laid out in a simple table with easy-to-remember icons.

Roll over each icon, and you’ll see its name and a one-line description. Included are some familiar flaws, like Ad Hominem, appeals to emotion, appeals to authority, loaded questions, begging the question and black-and-white thinking.

You’ll also see devices that are a little subtler, like the false cause, the Bandwagon Argument, shifting the burden of proof and saying that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes is the truth.

Another interesting one is “Tu Quoque,” or “You too.” An example: “How can you complain about my arguing when you’re arguing with me?”

Inevitably, there’s the Fallacy Fallacy: “Presuming that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, that it is necessarily wrong.”

There’s more: Click on the icon, and you’ll get a paragraph describing the flaw more fully, and why it’s a flaw. You’ll also see an example of each flaw in action.

Some arguments seem to overlap, though. The so-called “Genetic Argument” judges something as good or bad on the basis of where or from whom it came. This sounds like another version of the “Ad Hominem” argument.

And for all its thoroughness, the list misses a few types of errors, like glittering generalities and guilt by association. Wikipedia has a decent list in an article on propaganda, although it’s not as fun as this one.

Your Logical Fallacies does have an advantage in making a separate page for each error: being able to email it to your opponent. Ba-zing! You’ve tagged and pinned up his error on display, like a butterfly on a card!

Just use the site gently when pointing out your opponent’s flaws. After all, he can use the site to judge your flaws, too.

The site also has two nice frills. One is a line of the icons across the bottom of a page, very clickable. The other is a downloadable poster of the chart in .pdf form and in three sizes. Might have been easier to provide .jpg versions, though.

James D. Davis

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Written by Jim Davis

July 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

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