38 dishonest tricks commonly used in arguments pt2

By Benga · Feb 13, 2010 · ·
  1. Benga
    (18) The use of a dilemma which ignores a continuous series of possibilities between the two extremes presented (pp 103-105)
    Dealt with by refusing to accept either alternative, but pointing to the fact of the continuity which the person using the argument has ignored. Since this is likely to appear over-subtle to an opponent using the argument, it may be strengthened by pointing out that the argument is the same as saying, "Is this paper black or white?" when it is, in fact, a shade of grey.
    (19) The use of the fact of continuity between them to throw doubt on a real difference between two things (the "argument of the beard") (pp 105-108)
    Dealt with by pointing out that the difference is nevertheless real. This again may be made stronger by pointing out that application of the same method of argument would deny the difference between "black" and "white" or between "hot" and "cold".
    (20) Illegitimate use of or demand for definition (p 109)
    If an opponent uses definitions to produce clear-cut conceptions for facts which are not clear-cut, it is necessary to point out to him how much more complicated facts are in reality than in his thought. If he tries to drive you to define for the same purpose, the remedy is to refuse formal definition but to adopt some other method for making your meaning clear.
    (21) Suggestion by repeated affirmation (pp 111-114)
    (22) Suggestion by use of a confident manner (pp 114-115)
    (23) Suggestion by prestige (pp 115-118)
    The best safeguard against all three of these tricks of suggestion is a theoretical knowledge of suggestion, so that their use may be detected. All three devices lose much of their effect if the audience see how the effect is being obtained, so merely pointing out the fact that the speaker is trying to create conviction by repeated assertion in a confident manner may be enough to make this device ineffective. Ridicule is often used to undermine the confident manner, or any kind of criticism which makes the speaker begin to grow angry or plaintive.
    (24) Prestige by false credentials (pp 115-118)
    The obvious remedy for this is, when practical, to expose the falsity of the titles, degrees, etc, that are used. The prestige then collapses.
    (25) Prestige by the use of pseudo-technical jargon (pp 116-118)
    Best dealt with by asking in a modest manner that the speaker should explain himself more simply.
    (26) Affectation of failure to understand backed by prestige (pp 118-119)
    Dealt with by more than ample explanation.
    (27) The use of questions drawing out damaging admissions (pp 199-120)
    Dealt with by refusal to make the admissions. The difficulty of this refusal must be overcome by any device reducing one's suggestibility to the questioner.
    (28) The appeal to mere authority (pp 122-125)
    Dealt with by considering whether the person supposed to have authority had a sound reason for making the assertion which is attributed to him.
    (29) Overcoming resistance to a doubtful proposition by a preliminary statement of a few easily accepted ones (pp 128-130)
    Knowledge of this trick and preparedness for it are the best safeguard against its effects.
    (30) Statement of a doubtful proposition in such a way that it fits in with the thought- habits or the prejudices of the hearer (pp 133-135 and p 157)
    A habit of questioning what appears obvious is the best safeguard against this trick. A particular device of value against it is to restate a questionable proposition in a new context in which one's thought-habits do not lead to its acceptance.
    (31) The use of generally accepted formulae of predigested though as premisses in argument (pp 161-166)
    The best way of dealing with predigested thinking in argument is to point out good- humouredly and with a backing of real evidence that matters are more complicated than your opponent supposes.
    (32) "There is much to be said on both sides, so no decision can be made either way", or any other formula leading to the attitude of academic detachment (pp 166-167)
    Dealt with by pointing out that taking no action has practical consequences no less real than those which result from acting on either of the propositions in dispute, and that this is no more likely than any other to be the right solution of the difficulty.
    (33) Argument by mere analogy (pp 169-178)
    Dealt with by examining the alleged analogy in detail and pointing out where it breaks down.
    (34) Argument by forced analogy (pp 178-179)
    The absurdity of a forced analogy can best be exposed by showing how many other analogies supporting different conclusions might have been used.
    (35) Angering an opponent in order that he may argue badly (pp 146-147)
    Dealt with by refusing to get angry however annoying our opponent may be.
    (36) Special pleading (pp 154-156)
    Dealt with by applying one's opponent's special arguments to other propositions which he is unwilling to admit.
    (37) Commending or condemning a proposition because of its practical consequences to the bearer (pp 157-158)
    We can only become immune to the effect of this kind of appeal if we have formed a habit of recognizing our own tendencies to be guided by our prejudices and by our own self-interest, and of distrusting our judgement on questions in which we are practically concerned.
    (38) Argument by attributing prejudices or motives to one's opponent (p 159)
    Best dealt with by pointing out that other prejudices may equally well determine the opposite view, and that, in any case, the question of why a person holds an opinion is an entirely different question from that of whether the opinion is or is not true.
    A similar list of graphical failures and how to correct them can be found in Howard Wainer: Visual Revelations

    Rule 1: Show as little data as possible (minimize the data density)
    Rule 2: Hide the data you do show (minimize the data/ink ratio)
    Rule 3: Ignore the visual metaphor altogether
    Rule 4: Only order matters
    Rule 5: Graph data out of context
    Rule 6: Change scales in mid-axis
    Rule 7: Emphasize the trivial (ignore the important)
    Rule 8: Jiggle the baseline
    Rule 9: Alabama first!
    Rule 10: Label: (a) illegibly, (b) incompletely, (c) incorrectly, and (d) ambiguously
    Rule 11: More is murkier: (a) more decimal places and (b) more dimensions
    Rule 12: If it has been done well in the past, think of a new way to do it

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  1. Alfa
    Please merge the other part with this. This is now possible.
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