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Learning About The Way People Argue

As you get older you realize how little you know. Myself, after 25 years as a d.j. I’ve had to learn how to write. I would consider myself fair at best, but it’s going to to take a long, long time to knock all of this rust off.  Part of this is also answering the criticism of what I write, and to do that, I’ve studied “logical fallacies” a little bit. This may seem like a tough or even boring topic to take on, but it’s a bit easier to digest than you think.  Once you know HOW people argue, it’s easier to either deal with them or dismiss them outright.

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So let’s look at a recent story I published.  A waitress, who had a small tattoo behind her ear received her receipt back and on it a couple had written something to the effect of:

“I’m a Christian and I can’t tip you because you have a tattoo and it’s against my religion”.

Now there is really only one response needed to this story and that is “that is shameful”, but there are people who want to tear everything apart.  The most common one we get is called the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.  In this blog the example I got was “no true Christian would do that”.  This is a continuous moving of the bar.  If I could have proved they were “true Christians” then they would have probably have come back with “well they weren’t like any true Christians that I know” then maybe “no true Christians from the Southern Baptist convention area 65 that I know” and on and on.
The next one is that is most frequently used is the “straw man fallacy”. That’s where a person tweaks the argument in order to make it easier to attack. In this case it would be someone saying something like “well the tattoo girl probably did something else to make them mad”.
Then there’s the “ad hominem fallacy”.  This is when someone attacks your character in order to undermine your argument.  In this case it would be something like “well Wes always picks on Christians so it’s probably not true”.  What they’ve done is try to make me the focus, instead of the shameful act.  This one also contains elements of the “straw man fallacy” listed above.
Another one I usually get is the “fallacy fallacy” which is like saying since I didn’t explain the situation correctly,  then it probably didn’t happen.  I saw it in this case where someone questioned “how” the couple had written its note.  This one happens to me a lot because as d.j. for many, many years I was taught “word economy” so I occasionally leave out minor details to make a point.
The last one I wanted to bring up is the “slippery slope”.  I had to avoid using this one myself in the original blog.  This one is simple, it’s saying if we allow “a” to happen then “b” is inevitable.  I almost put a line in the blog about “how if we allow people to pick and choose who they tip based on their religion, then owners will start to make everybody tip on their bills and no longer give us a choice”
I don’t claim to be the expert on any of this. I’m learning it.  For a definitive guide, go here. Remember, it really isn’t about making you superior in any way, it’s about understanding the validity of someones argument and keeping the topic on point.

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