How to: Win a Debate
It’s fair to say that the quality of debate witnessed in this country, from our federal politicians down to your last cocktail party, is lacking. Where’s the wit? Where’s the logic? Men should be able to logically, intelligently debate those with whom they disagree. Here is a primer on logical fallacies to help men become themaster debaters they are meant to be.
Argumentum Ad Hominem:
When a man attacks the person making an argument, instead of finding flaw with the argument itself. It is especially tempting to commit this logical fallacy when arguing with an idiot.
Appeal to Celebrity:
Wherein a man assumes an argument is reasonable because it was first espoused by a famous person. A common mistake among advertising executives and undergrads who have read a bit of Chomsky, but who can’t remember specifics.
Argumentum Ad Superbiam:
Wherein one appeals to the emotions—most often fear, pity, or sympathy—of a listener, instead of laying out a sound argument. If you believe this a logical fallacy, the terrorists have won.
Post Hoc; Ergo Propter Hoc:
Latin for “After it; therefore, because of it,” and implies that because one thing follows another, it is caused by it. This line of reasoning is the naïve basis for a lot of superstitious beliefs. That being said, you do seem more handsome while you’re reading this, so we’re not about to write this fallacy off.
Petitio Principii (Begging the Question):
When your brother-inlaw bases his argument for tougher crime legislation on the unproven assumption that the crime rate is up, he’s falling victim to this fallacy. He’s also probably drunk, because since when are you talking about crime?
When a conclusion doesn’t follow a premise. Therefore, men should eat more butternut squash. – GH