Preventing Logical Fallacies
Dive into this topic by watching the video, followed by key explanations and exercises below:
Fallacies are when you say something that doesn’t make sense, as if it makes sense.
The following slideshow will walk you through the most common fallacies and examples of each:
The next time someone uses a fallacy when making an argument, try the following framework for addressing it:
Get the person on board with discussing the logic behind their statement. E.g. “Can we back up and dig into what you just said?”
Express a genuine desire to understand and get to the heart of things. E.g. “I want to understand your point of view and this topic in general.”
Point out where the logic doesn’t make sense. E.g. “You used a Gandhi quote to back up your argument. But just because a respected authority figure said something, doesn’t necessarily make it true.”
Give them a chance to use a different way to logically back up the assertion they were trying to make. E.g. “Can you help me understand by sharing something else that logically backs up the point you’re making that isn’t an appeal to authority?”
If they use another fallacy when they try to back up their argument, go back to Step 2. E.g. “That’s interesting. But that was a circular argument. In the spirit of trying to truly understand this, what other logic might back up this idea?”
It can be pretty easy to come off as obnoxious when you do this, so the key is to genuinely seek to understand, and to use questions as much as you can to get the person to arrive at logic that make sense.
Sometimes this simply won’t work, because it takes the other person to be willing to have a conversation in the spirit of inquiry. In cases where someone simply can’t or won’t do this, sometimes you may just have to investigate the real logic of the topic with other people.