« Philosophize This!

Episode #075 ... How To Win An Argument Pt. 2

2015-12-21 | 🔗

Today we answer listener questions clarifying How To Win An Argument Pt. 1 and discuss several other common logical fallacies, how to spot them and how to deal with them. 

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Thank you for wanting to know more today than you did yesterday and most of all, I hope you love the show today. So I've been getting a lot of back on the first, how to win an argument episode in, to be honest, getting a lot of the same questions over and over from you guys. So before we talk about a few more of these common logical fallacies, how to spot them how to respond to them. I want to interview those questions because I think honestly, I am impressed the these questions this week are incredibly insightful. I I think that they add to the discussion a lot. They need to be discussed if these episodes are gonna be useful to you. Guys are mean something, and I think that by discussing them we're all going to be just a little bit better at knowing how to win an argument, or at least why were arguing in the first place. Now one of the emails. I got in response to that. Episode was from a lawyer from Washington DC and I think his question is a fantastic starting point for this episode. Here's the email.
Hi Steve love the podcast and was listen to. I just listen. Your latest episode about logical fallacies. I was both intrigued and frustrated by it. Full disclosure. I am a lawyer. I work in politics in the DC area and I am a Democrat so naturally I love to argue. I was interested in this episode I love the logical or illogical foundations between each of the fallacies, but at the same time I was frustrated because I had the same reaction to each one. So what so? What I'm biased? Because I work in politics but logical fallacies. Often we in an argument in politics, define win as electoral success or policy achievements. That's reasonable! Ad hominem attacks, slippery slope arguments false equivalency. These often work and presidential debates are often dominated by candidates who make the biggest lodge the fallacy's TED Cruz, Carly, Fiorina Donald Trump of all thrive partially because of the reliance on logical fallacy. So I was wondering if you have any
thoughts about logical fallacies in politics. What are the limits? Tions of winning an argument or pointing out your opponents, logical fallacies in politics? seems like much of what resonates with people in politics is based on emotion and not intellect, thank you and keep up the excellent work. Well, thank you and keep up your excellent work. Good, sir anyway. There's no two ways to put this: this is a fantastic question. Really, it is c He did, as he looked at the title of the episode right, how to win an argument not how to be the most logically sound within an argument, and he rightly points out. I think that the fact is in today's world, just statistically speaking, most of the time you're going to be having an argument with someone about something, probably not arguing with somebody that sat down and and taught them is formal logic. Most of the time what wins an argument in today's world, whether it's in politics, family, dinner, table around the water cool,
put work most of the time. It is just a knee, jerk emotional fallacy written argument the people relate to. So, Of course, a lawyer would ask this question right. This is where he lives and dies. This is his home and it's a great point. If you're a lawyer if the reason you need to win an argument is so that maybe you can sway a jury of your peers to think that you are right about something and let's say we exist in a world where those peers are statistically speaking, swayed by things like Stroman ad hominem attacks on sectors. As a lawyer, fallacy's are an incredible tool to have in your tool belt. And yes in that way to your point, there are incredible well to have if you're, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and you're trying to sway public opinion. Just like the surface of ancient Athens right in a world where the Athenians loved a good court case, they were crazy about it and, and they prided themselves on their justice system
in a world where you can be taken to trial for basically anything, and if you don't have the belletti to argue your way out of a court case, you could potentially horrible things could happen, you could lose everything you've ever worked for you be banished in that world people paid the sofas to teach them. How to argue they paid these experts in Red two at all costs, even if they were guilty to teach them to argue their way. Out of anything, even if had to resort to fallacy's the main point who is winning the argument at all costs, and when Socrates came along and famously criticize the surface for spreading around these cheap argument tactics, they answered back come with the fact that look, all we're really doing is teaching useful information. The thing is, there are absolutely right if you, in a climate where fallacy is when people over in an argument, then they're incredibly useful, just not logically sound. Right- and I guess this may be the difference between a lower
we're finding use in the information and trying to make a philosophy- podcast that might change a few people's minds, but you have to at least acknowledge Mister lawyer that the argument you use to persuade people change based on the setting that you're in right, like as a lawyer, In a certain situation where those policies would not be as useful, you might opt not to use them right. Let's do a thought experiment, let's imagine an alternative universe, one where I Steven W and suppose team dictator of the world, fear arrest in hyphen let's say around it up everybody. I put him in a room. I brain washed them. I just played the how to win an argument. Episode and, I said, look you're, not who is table. You can recite these episodes word for word and you can instantly spot the most common fallacy is that people use in arguments well in that world In the same way, you adjust your arguments in certain settings in this world. In the same,
politicians change. There is given the current company, these policies that so useful in today's world they wouldn't affect people the same way. Here's a thing at one point in my life ad hominem attacks used to seem like knockdown, argue, That's for me. You know if I was that age in today's culture, I might see Donald Trump say to TED Cruz. He thinks he's fit to manage the future of the US economy coming from a guy that can't even manage his own finances. Oh yeah, I've heard about that failed business. You had the one that went down the toilet. Is that going to be the US economy now and I'll be like yeah you're right Donald? Who are you to run the US economy cruise, but by learning about logical fallacies and practicing a bit. At a certain point. I just got to the point like now. If I saw that in today's world I would just say ad hominem discrediting the source. What are machine now.
Point, is that emotional response that was a vote back then isn't in me anymore, because I in simply identify. It is what it is. So in response to your question of who cares about any of this stuff? This is the reason why I would make that episode. This is the reason somebody would potentially disseminate that information, because, hypothetically, if that episode exists in its for free out there, if, if you guys, share, these episodes with your friends and they share with their friends. Eventually, who knows, I find ourselves living in a very different world. Come the next political debate season by the way I I love the bring up politics, my friend, because these are the key issues right. These are the ideas that are potentially based on fallacies that might change the world. As we know it you, we talked about last episode, any war, any hatred any
subjugation that we can study throughout history. Really edit score was brought about because of a belief. I believe that someone had about what the right thing to do was in a given situation. I believe that was based on a night, da, an idea that was validated because of some sort of argument that was had either in currently or with someone else take a second and just look around you right. If you have a problem with the way that people are treating each other at any level if you have a problem with anyone marginal fighting or killing each other understand that What is at the root of that behavior that you have a problem with is a belief and you can punch that person in the face send a destroyer there and she cruise missiles at them from one thousand miles away, you can water. Them till your hearts content, but understand that if you have a problem with what you see, as you know, sort of intellectual cockroach infestation, all you
doing, there is taken a Louisville, slugger and smashing individual cockroaches you're doing nothing to affect. What's at the root of the problem, the nest, if you will, which is a belief. And throughout recorded history, there's only been one reliable way of changing beliefs, and that is by winning a war of ideas. Now, in this war of ideas, winning an argument is like winning a small battle. It's like a local militia holding off an invading force, doesn't decide the war but eventually enough of these little battles start piling up. Eventually, they made turn the tides of the war. So again an answer to your question of who cares about this stuff. If winning an argument is like winning a battle in this war of ideas. The knowing logical fallacies is like the artillery in the battle it's like calling in an air strike. It's it's intel, it's knowing the the weaknesses in your enemies to for
Sis by the way it works. The other way too, if you find yourself in argument with somebody that sees ad hominem attacks, is a totally reasonable and persuasive argument. Talk about just adding five here power to your arsenal on that battlefield. But in reality I'm telling you this. In my experience, most people are cool. Most most people are reasonable about this stuff. Most people, when confronted with the fact that some belief that they hold is based on a fallacy most of the time, if you're not militant about it, if you frame it in a positive way in the interest of us, both being passionate people that care about the world that are trying to understand it better, most people aren't so stubborn that they wouldn't ever revise their beliefs about something usually what happens if they feel like they're, backed into a corner, is they say? Ok? Well, maybe that might not be logically sound, but how about this other fallacy? That justifies what I believe, but eventually with enough reasonable, respectful conversation with another. These battles fought, most people are willing to,
change their beliefs, if, in fact, they believe they're only based on fallacies, see because at the root of every argument that somebody makes about something as a sort of mathematical equation. This is something you're startle realize all the way back and three hundred BC. You know it seems that an argument when you break it down has a certain formula to it now, the most general sense. An argument is when you have certain premises that you lay out- and these are cited as reasons or evidence, to justify a conclusion that you have premises conclusion. Some arguments are premise conclusion. Some arguments are premise, therefore, premise conclusion, etc. Blair Istanbul sat down and tried to identify these arguments using mathematical variables. First, one to use the mathematical variable by the way- and it went well ended up finding a lot of these. He wrote down what he thought was: every quote
Equation they could be considered a viable argument if the argument in fit that syntax than it had to be in some way, logically, unsound, Aristotle. It is weird to think about these things in such mathematical terms. You know it's weird to think about something like arguing, which is typically seen as such an emotional thing, and so it's logical turns pushing other email that I got this week a lot. You know what I argue are you from the good. I feel it in my gut there's no x y and Z in my gut. But what is that good? There's, no magic gut that you're pulling arguments from that that gut is an emotional response. It's based on the feeling that you initially get, which is based on all your previous experiences and all the analysis, you've done up until that point in your life, so in a metaphorical sense we
We do argue by throwing equations at each other. You may say one plus one equals two. They say: yeah yeah, one plus one equals two, but two plus three equals six. So therefore, one plus one plus two plus three must equal, eight being able to spot logical fallacies is being able to see instantly. The mistake that they made in their thinking was that two plus three equals six in the home in a real quick and what a great skill to have if you're, trying to quickly cut through all the stuff that typically clowns an argument. You know rhetoric condescension where you're having a conversation when you're having a conversation, the people standing around cultural prejudices by the way. Here's another answer that question of who cares about this stuff? I do define. These fantasies is not just useful when it comes to winning an argument against your grandma Christmas dinner, when you're able to instantly spot is logical, fallacies, it's funny
the percentage chance of you being swindled by someone or joining a cult goes down quite substantially. No logical fallacies, is like an iron, dome around your bank account. There's never been. Single person in the history of the world that has no logical fallacies that is drunk poisonous Kool aid. It's it's never happened. The reason is that these people that pedal this nonsense. Rely on you glossing over there terrible arguments, it's the way they make their money. What I'm saying is this is not just an offensive skill set. It's a defensive one as well. That said, thanks for sending the emails this week, fantastic questions mean to be I was with you. If I had questions like this every week, I could do two episodes of this podcast and we could do one. That's just nuke on and the other one that's responding in clarifying the questions to that content. This is easy for me, this is like talking into a microphone, but before we run out
time, let's talk about some more of these logical fallacy's. What do you say? The first one I want to talk about is an extremely common one. It's called the Red Herring, fallacy and boys at one of my favourites. It like so many different forms. Typically, a red herring fallacy is when somebody in the model of an argument changes the subject to something else. It's only tangentially related to avoid having the original argument and change it to something that they might stand a better chance at arguing now real quick as you can imagine. You should look out for this one, particularly when you're winning an argument. You, usually somebody will launch all their arguments at up preview and then, when you point out the problems in their way of thinking, instead of conceding defeat. You know, surrender their sword to the opposing general they'll, just change the Subject entirely so now it's a new battlefield are fighting on for exam Let's say you're talking to somebody who believes a teapot is orbiting between mercury and Venus right, and you say you know, it seems that you believe that there's a teapot orbiting around the sun between the plan,
of mercury and Venus, but it seems like all the arguments have given me for why that's the case don't hold any water, they might say back yeah yeah, it's kind of like when I was at the store, the other day buying t and this guy came, but you could clearly see that I was looking at the last box of black tea and he took it anyway. Why are people so inconsiderate in this world? Don't you agree, wait a second, that's not what we were talking about, but be careful This is an example. Red herrings. Aren't always this obvious. In a conversation you know you might, for example you, yeah somebody. Why haven't you? even a single raise where a single day off, your employees and over a decade spokesperson of the company, might say: well, you know but at this company we try to focus one hundred percent of our efforts in providing a good product and customer experience. We believe in a world where the customer comes first, ok, but you haven't answered the question. Another tactic, people commonly uses they. They use another fallacy altogether.
It's a red herring, oh that's, a master class in and fallacies. But after that you know, let's say they're using an ad hominem. You may say so. In conclusion, it seems like this new tax proposed by the mayor to reduce crime in the area is going to really help. Somebody might respond, right, the mayor being the guy arrested for a DUI five years ago. He knows a ton about how to stop crime right, he's, probably drunk when he wrote that tax proposal. How can we know he wasn't anyway? Another common fallacy that we see everywhere in our society is called the argument from authority. Fallacy. We like to think of this one is that it's kind of the opposite of an ad hominem. Instead of saying that an argument is invalid because of the parable uncredible source that it's coming out of this one uses a source props it up and says that this thing has to be true, because it's coming out of this source. The problem with this way of thinking is
one constant in the universe. Is human error right people make mistakes, no matter how great a source, maybe most of the time? It's not going to be perfect, and it's downright the logical to assume that solely because something came from a source, that's usually good that it has to be true. We see examples of this argument from authority absolutely everywhere and advertising to turn on your tv. You know the idea that this celebrity loves this product, so it must be great or add legitimacy to that product, because this football player likes it? You know, Ashton, Kutcher uses this camera. It must be a great camp, When did Ashton Kutcher become the authoritative source on what's good in the camera world? Is I come from a camera family? Is he an expert on manufacturing cameras, when did Mila, look become the the resident expert on bourbon. Did she live in a distillery as a child? she make moonshine in her basement. The point is these
companies know that there's a lot of people out that exalt these people up onto a pedestal and that regardless how much of an expert they actually are on a given product, they know there's going to be a certain percentage of the population. That say: oh I love them. I would be like them if, if my who does drinks at bourbon, it's got to be good people. Do this with the news to write. They pick a particular new station that they know they can trust to deliver a fair and balanced approach to let's go. On in the world that day going to waste their time with other stations are going to look at news outlets that might have a close minded bias at the root of what they're reporting. If this report came out of x, news outlet, it's gotta be true. Pretty good way to spot this fallacy and practices just to look very closely at the premise of the argument right, not much at the conclusion. Remember the premise is the evidence cited for why a conclusion is justified. This fallacy, edits route is really just using fault.
The evidence you know this lab came out with the study, so it must be true. This celebrity said to use this credit card company, it's gotta, be good, be sure to keep a close eye on the premises. When I'm saying the next fallacy we're going to be talking about, is the begging The question or these circular reasoning fallacy. This was an interesting one, What people are doing here. Is there basically ignore bring the entire premise section of an argument. Basically only have a conclusion, a conclusion that they're spouting off as though it's self evident and as though it doesn't need
justification or evidence to back it up? Someone might say I don't see how anyone could ever drive a Ford, the horrible. Why look at a man? They just aren't that they're horrible? Why look at them by the way when trying to spot this one look for those sort of key phrases that we just heard it just is, or they just are or a. I just do believe this. You know these are the for and fares of someone trying to pretend, as though something is self evident without need of justification see, this is a particularly dangerous fallacy, because when someone- Has this as their criteria for believing in something they can find themselves sort of trapped in their own little insular world yeah? If the fact that forwards are horrible is a self evident fact them in their life, then what happens often times they don't even feel the need to question it, and for somebody to come
long and question why they believe that thing it might even feel like somebody was being nitpicky for pedantic for example, let's say you believe that scientific inquiry can arrive at truth right. Somebody may ask you: why do you believe that we can conduct scientific experiments and arrive at truth? Well, look at how repeatable everything is look at how far we've come it's the truth. I just believe that we can arrive at truth, whatever actually question that or you know, why do you believe in a personal god? I just do. He just does exist in with an ex spouse agreeing to talk about his deep black and white fallacy. The fallacy of the excluded middle. This is the fallacy that I'm probably guilty of the most in the fallacy that I've found, at least personally, it's really easy to fall into.
What it is is when someone pretends, as though a situation is much less new wants than it actually is. No that don't give you one option or another. You do you believe this. We believe that and the that is usually something that's so extreme and ridiculous that nobody's ever going to agree with it. So they have I agree with you keep an eye out for that by the way, if somebody's ever giving you a dichotomy, but if somebody ever saying you have two options here or there's two kinds of people in this world, these are hallmarks of somebody committing this black quite fallacy they're trying to make the world a lot more simple than it actually is, so that you think there's no option but to agree with them. Example you either agree that we should give a million dollars to every minority in this country or you're racist against minorities. You either agree that the Starbucks CUP should be STAR spangled,
red white and blue or you're on the side of Isas now, obviously, in both examples, there's tons of positions in the middle between those two extremes. What you gotta do, if you're trying to shut down the fallacy of the excluded middle. What you have to do is point out the exception. To this hard and fast rule but they're making and trying to shut down your throat. Now the last file, so we're going to be talking about today, is called the hasty generalization or the non representative sample fallacy. We've all seen this one before what someone is doing here is basically conducting the world's worst experiment and then deriving tons of conclusions from the very flawed data that they have is like when somebody sits down in a casino they put their money in the machine. They pull the lever and their first poll. They went one thousand dollars and they think wow. I fell but this is the slot machine. That's paying out. This is the magic slot machine. Let's keep putting my money in two hours later there broke. They used a very small sample size to make a very big.
Conclusion, but this one gets used in other areas too, you know, oh, I was mugged by an armenian dude when I was fourteen years old. He punched me in the face and took my lunch money since then. I've just stayed away from them because they're all scumbags and thieves, Or maybe I'm yeah, I used to live with somebody that was on an employment and they were very dishonest about it, the biggest game, the system the whole time they never went to a job interview that would lie on the piece of paper. They basically just sat home for three years, collecting it dishonestly. That's why I think we shouldn't even have unemployment they're, all just robbing our tax dollars anyway. The key to spotting this one is keeping in mind that, an anecdote, is not a sufficient premise to an argument. Necessarily, Look for somebody citing, oh this one time or well. I used to know this guy, or I saw this one documentary things like that right, anything anecdotal
needs to be held under scrutiny of his friend of validate any claim. That is not itself anecdotal but anyway, I hope you guys love to show. If you have any questions or requests for stuff, you want to talk about on the show. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me, Steve at Stephen West show dot com. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2019-10-15.