One tool of “pigs” in manipulative persuasion is the rhetorical fallacy. A fallacy is a deliberate mis-use of logical argument. You’ll find them regularly in political, social and family “discussions”. Don’t get drawn in to a debate centered on a fallacy. Ignore the fallacy and re-connect with the argument.
- Slippery slope – “If we let Europe regulate our banks, next we will all be speaking German“. This fallacy connotates a small (reasonable) step with a much larger (unreasonable) outcome.
- Sweeping Generalization – “Smoking kills; therefore all smokers are suicidal“. This generalizes one element of a decision to smoke in absence of the broader set of reasons for smoking.
- Hasty generalization – “Everyone I know likes chocolate; therefore everyone likes chocolate“. My sample is not representative of the larger population.
- Straw man – “If we just open up our borders, every beggar, lazy and crazy will be here tomorrow.” This is a false argument that avoids the real issue.
- False choice – “You’re either with us, or against us.” This statement presents 2 options when in reality 3 or more choices exist. Another common example: “If you really loved me, you would…“
- Argument from authority – “Because I’m your father“. There is no logic involved. This is not an argument.
- Argument from force – “Give me the toy or my big brother will beat you up.” No argument, just the threat of force. It can be subtle.
- Ad hominem attacks – “Vote for me because the other guy is a liar.” A personal attack, ignoring the actual argument.
Beware the Pigs Inside
These are used by other people, but I sometimes find that some of my own inner reasoning falls into the fallacy structure. As I reflect on my own thinking processes, I watch carefully for use of these fallacies. My ego loves to come up with self-serving but false logic to prove my “rightness”.
Have you spotted any fallacies today?