64. What Is A Logical Fallacy?

Logical Fallacies, or flawed reasoning, occur all the time in our world. Politicians use them, the media uses them, and unfortunately, many people routinely fall for these fallacies. Today, Connor and Brittany discuss what a logical fallacy is and how you can avoid using them and falling for them in everyday life.



Here’s a transcript of our conversation:


Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: So, I want to talk about a big, weird word that is a problem that nearly everyone struggles with. And I didn’t learn this word until wow, I mean after I graduated college. But I’m excited because some of what we’re doing with the TuttleTwins, we’re actually gonna start teaching a lot more kids about this idea. and that is the topic of logical fallacies. And, it’s kind of a, like a, yeah, it’s like a weird word. Like what does it mean? Logical? What does it mean by fallacy? But like, in a nutshell, a logical fallacy is a bad way of thinking. It’s when someone makes an incorrect argument and they’re doing it in a way that’s problematic. And so I think for people like you and me and a lot of our listeners, we want to get at what is the truth. We, want to understand, you know, the way the world works as we’re talking about on this podcast. And, we want to communicate that with people. Like, I know Brittany, when you learn something, you wanna share it, right? You wanna write an article, you wanna tell your friends, you wanna post on social media. We love sharing the things that we know. We love trying to persuade other people to believe what we do. And so

Brittany: It’s exhausting, but it’s fun.

Connor: It’s exhausting It’s, not for everyone, but it’s for people like us. And so I think it’s important for us to make sure that when we communicate with someone, we communicate very clearly. And we also communicate accurately. We don’t want to be, you know, deceptive. We don’t want to mislead people. We don’t want to have bad thinking in our own mind that prevents us from making good arguments. And so, Brittany, help me understand from your perspective, what is the problem with using logical fallacies? Why should our listeners care about this topic?

Brittany: Yeah, well, it’s not, we talked about like searching for truth, right? The logical fallacy is not going to help you get to the truth. And I think that’s the scariest part and it’s probably going to make you even more confused than you were before. So it’s kind of like a twisting of words, right? You can make things seem like they’re one thing. But in our quest for truth, especially since we can’t really trust the media anymore, we certainly can’t trust politicians. It’s really important for us to learn how to see through these, maybe detect them so that we don’t fall for them ourselves. But I think it’s equally as important to make sure that we’re not doing them ourselves. Cuz I know that, like you said, when I get really excited about an idea, I wanna share it with somebody. And sometimes I want them to agree with me no matter what. And I, don’t use the right tools to persuade ’em. So I think we’re all guilty of using logical fallacy sometimes. So it’s important for us to also not use them and to watch out for when they’re being used.

Connor: I think that’s exactly right. And, like with most things, I think this especially is a topic where specific examples are gonna help. And so it’s one thing for you and I to talk about logical fallacies. I think some actual examples are gonna help our listeners, especially the kids, understand what we mean. when we’re talking about logical fallacies. Now, there are a whole lot of different logical fallacies. There’s actually a fun website. We’ll post on the show notes, which you can find on Tuttletwins.com/podcast. And, where they, list, you know, the more popular ones and they break them down and they give some examples. And so we’re gonna share a few examples today just so that everyone can be on the same page and understanding what we’re talking about. One of the ones that I, like to talk about, and you know, that’s always hard to do cuz there’s so many, fun different ones that we can talk about is the Straw Man And so I’ve, you know, been around the block a little while where, on social media, we’ll be in a discussion with, different people and, that discussion is maybe turning into a debate and

Brittany: That happens. Yep.

Connor: Yeah. It happens from time to time and the different signs are trying to make their arguments. And so, if you think about a literal straw man, kind of like burning someone in effigy, right? Like a little straw statue, and so, huh, this straw man now looks like Conor and I’m gonna burn it. that’s kind of the concept here where let’s, say that I’m debating someone about, oh, I don’t know. What’s an example? Let’s say I think Apple computers are awesome and, Brittany, you think that they’re awful and you think, Bill Gates, you know, is our, Lord and Savior and Microsoft Windows is the most amazing thing ever.

Brittany: For the record, I don’t think this, but yes,

Connor: For purposes, for example, so we’re talking about apple versus windows, and we’re having a heated discussion. Well, you might say, oh, well Connor, I know that you know, you actually don’t really like Apple. You just wanted to impress someone else. And, so you make these arguments, but that’s not really true. What you’re doing with a silly example like that is you are attacking an argument that I haven’t actually made. I haven’t ever said that. I don’t believe it, but you are pretending as if that is my argument. And because you were able to go attack that argument and show how silly it is that suddenly I’m wrong, that suddenly Apple computers must be horrible. Now, this is kind of a dumb example, but the point is, you know, in this case you are attacking, a position that I don’t hold. We see this so often, especially when you’re talking about, you know, heated issues. I mean, I could be talking about immigration and I think that,you know, there should be open borders. Anyone should be able to come and go where they want. And then I’m debating someone who believes the opposite and they will, you know, talk about how, oh, the crime rate increases, you know, when you don’t have borders, and because the crime rate increases, more people are gonna get killed. Therefore, that position is wrong. And I’m like, well, whoa, hang on. You’re, attacking an argument that I haven’t actually made, or that’s an incomplete argument. you need to listen to what I’m actually saying and what my arguments are if we’re gonna have a reasonable, logical discussion. And, so you need to take someone head-on. You need to listen to what they are actually saying rather than coming up with your own arguments and then torching it like a straw man and burning it to the ground and feeling good about yourself. Haha, I’m the winner in this, you know, debate. you may feel good, but you haven’t actually vanquished your debate opponent. You’ve just burned a straw man kind of fictional representation of them, but you haven’t actually addressed the issue. So the takeaway for me when I think about the straw men is it’s very important to listen to what the person is actually saying. So often I think we try and project ourselves, right? We, hear what we want to hear, and we hear what we think someone else is saying, rather than actually fairly listening to what they are saying. And then dealing, head on with that. It’s like, you know when people are talking, we’re just kind of, you know, waiting in our minds for them to stop talking so we can get out our rebuttal without even actually listening to what they’re saying. We’re just kinda like zoning out, waiting for them to stop blabbing before we talk. So I think that’s a good takeaway for all communications, especially parents and adults, is that we’re listening to both sides. We’re trying to make sure we understand the other person’s point and then we’re responding to it,

Brittany: Which is not easy. I mean, sometimes when we get heated or we get really passionate about something, I know that I have probably made a fool out of myself in debates before because I, can’t really control that. I’m like, no, I wanna, I wanna get my point across. But like you said, it’s not the right argument. It doesn’t help anybody. So for sure, it’s good points. One of my, I don’t wanna say favorites, but the ad ho fallacy or I’ve heard ana ho of attacks, I think sometimes too is when instead of touching on somebody’s personal beliefs, you actually touch on a or you, instead of touching on something they believe you touch on a personal attribute. So let’s go back to the Apple versus Microsoft. Let’s say you’re running for office, which I don’t think you’ll ever do, but let’s say you’re running for president and my only argument against you is that you don’t like Microsoft, so you’re unfit to be president. Now that’s something silly that you can probably recognize that but people do that all the time. Like how many times do you hear people use something personal, you know, like, oh, this person does this, or this person likes this, or even this person, you know, with Elizabeth Warren who I don’t like, but you even heard like, oh, she thinks she’s Native American, she shouldn’t be commenting on this, this or that. And even though that is pretty silly, silly things like that are commenting on people’s personal appearance, something like that, that’s not going to help you make your argument. So that’s always one that I try to watch out for because I have been guilty of doing that myself.

Connor: And that’s especially hard when you get really heated and like passionate, right? You’re like wanting to debate the other person. And, that’s the problem with these logical fallacies is that you get kind of sloppy, right? Like you, look, that’s

Brittany: Good way to say,

Connor: Yeah, you look for these shortcuts to try and like just beat the other person, but then it becomes more about like a competition to see who wins. And not actually this like, lasting, meeting of the minds, right? This lasting persuasion, to help another person actually come to your point of view and, believe it over the long term. It’s just, aha. Now I look good in that Facebook debate or on Instagram, whatever. And that’s a very egocentric thing. Your, ego is kind of what you think about yourself and how you perceive yourself. And so if you’re in these debates just to look better than the other person, you’re not actually changing the world, you’re not changing their mind and you kind of look like a jerk. Right? I think it’s important for us to speak very clearly. Another one that comes to my mind before I throw it back to you for another, is the slippery slope. and I remember, having the people do this to me all the time, use this logical fallacy against me. Especially when we were working in our state on legalizing, medical cannabis or as it’s otherwise known marijuana. And there’s a lot of people who have strong feelings about this, but we felt like, you know, this, here’s this god-given plant that can actually help people’s lives. How silly it is that the government, you know, threatens people or finds them or throws them in jail. If this plant can help them in a way that no other medication can, why shouldn’t they have the freedom to responsibly use this? And so we did a whole campaign, set about to change the law was a multi-year endeavor. And I can’t tell you the number of instances in which people would use the slippery slope argument as a way to oppose what we were doing. We had scientific examples, we had personal stories, we had, you know, all this information that we would provide to the public. And yet what we would often get from our opponents was the slippery slope. Specifically, the way that would look is they would say, well, if we legalize medical cannabis, then pretty soon recreational cannabis is gonna be legalized, or pretty soon kids are gonna get even more access to it and they’re gonna be stoned all the time and they’re not going to get jobs and it’ll be bad for our economy. And so this slippery slope is, you know if X happens, then why surely is going to happen? It’s not even focusing on the actual thing, it’s predicting or attempting to even prophesy what would happen if we allow this, therefore we can’t allow this. I’m not gonna debate you, Connor, on the merits of medical cannabis. All I know is that if we do this, then all these other bad things are gonna happen. It’s a way to totally avoid the discussion about the actual issue by pointing to things that no one even knows if they’re gonna be true or not. It’s just a way to make people scared. It’s a way to make them worried about what would happen if, in this case, if magical cannabis were legalized. And so people end up,  making their decisions about something based on something they don’t know based on a fictional future that may or may not come to pass. But it’s very, powerful when people use the slippery slope because it speaks to people’s fears, right? Like, oh, well I don’t want, you know, I don’t want that to happen because then what if the next thing happens, right? Like I, I know a lot of people feel very passionately about, same-sex marriage and some of the arguments against same-sex marriage used the slippery slope. It was, oh, but if we do that, then there’s gonna be polygamy and then cats and dogs, whatever your position is on medical cannabis or same-sex marriage or anything else. Again, the point here is that you don’t want to use a slippery slope argument because it’s not effective, it’s not clear thinking, and it’s not clear communication. You have to address the actual issue rather than try and, you know, be a prophet and forte what is going to happen. You know, if that happens. Because look, there’s all these false profits out there who always make these doom and gloom predictions that never come true. So it ends up being an ineffective way to persuade someone else or to make your point if you shift your attention from the actual issue to these, you know, secondary issues that might or might not, follow afterwards.

Brittany: Yeah, that reminds me of another one that’s, I hate saying my favorite, but one that I think is important because we see it everywhere today. So false dilemma, and that makes you think or make the arguer tries to make you think that you only have two options that ignores the fact that there are almost infinite options. So for example, the mask thing is a big debate in the era of COVID. And so we hear all, a lot of times like, you know, either you wear a mask or you must want people to die. And that sounds outrageous, but that is how people make you think. And they make you think that there is no other option that maybe you don’t wear a mask cause you have a medical condition. Maybe you don’t wanna wear a mask because you have looked at the science and you don’t necessarily believe that it’s going to protect you as much as some people believe. So there are a plethora of reasons. There are a lot of reasons why you might not wanna wear a mask, but the false dilemma is like black-and-white thinking, right? It makes you think that there’s only two options, there’s nothing else. And so that limits everybody’s like views and you’re not able to see that there are so many different things that it could be. And that one I think is important again, because we see that so much now where we’re very polarized. So you either, you know, you’re with us or you’re against us. And that’s happening especially with a lot of this coronavirus stuff. You know, if you want the economy to open, you must not want, you know, care about people’s health. So that’s one to watch out for, again, that we also are guilty of using ourselves. So both, you know, be alert for it and be alert when you’re using it.

Connor: That’s exactly right. That there are so many others that we could review, but for lack of time, we will instead point you to the show notes, page TuttleTwins.com/podcast. Go check out the list, the website we’ve linked. There’s actually kind of handy to give some examples. and as I said, we’re working on some fun TuttleTwins content, that’s gonna help as well. and so be sure to be checking out our social media for updates on that. and as always, make sure you’re subscribed to the show. We are very grateful, to you and your family for listening and hoping to get even more families to as well. So make sure you’re sharing online that you are a listener of the show and point to other people to where they and, their kids or parents can be listening as well. Until next time, Brittany, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.

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