I was listening to CBC this week and, it being election time, and the negativity and accusations and discord that tend to fly about in today’s election propoganda, the show discussed logical fallacies of argument and debate. This Link will take you to the page of the Show on CBC
The professors argue that growing political polarization, hyper-politicized social media, and the echo chambers we inhabit online and off create a perfect storm of imperfect argument. Here is their Youtube Channel
I’m a fan of language. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and hypnosis being two sides of the same coin – that can be spent for good or evil.
Years ago my husband took an online course in Philosophy. Logic. The structure of a valid argument. And the fallacies that get in the way. I worked through that course with him and I swear my brain turned into a pretzel.
The straw man fallacy was one I could see in many places. Rather than attempt to show an argument to be flawed, convince the audience that the person stating the argument is flawed.
On this CBC program however, they discussed a Bad Argument that I did not recall from that course: the Weak Man Fallacy. In this argument one looks at the numerous statements of the opponent then selects one and only one to attack… the weakest, least defensible of them.
The individual then proceeds to shred this weak argument and totally absolutely disprove it. After which he claims “See, I am right and he is wrong.” The assumption being of course that if he can blow away that argument, he could as easily have blown away all of them.
As I listened, I could easily notice the many many candidates that choose to use this style of debate. I have to say my esteem for Jill Dunlop and Bruce Stanton grew as I reflected on the fact that they make every effort to share respectful comments and ideas about their opponents during discourse and debate.
Some years ago when I was working to teach my children about critical thinking and reading for bias, I came across this delightful book:
On visiting their website I see they have a new book out just last year (the Point of Pointless Work)… I will go peek as soon as I am done typing! I can highly recommend their style and content – easy to read and understand with concrete examples that shine a light on how to recognize these cheats of debate.
You can read this book for free online, or buy thousands of copies and distribute them like water!