Logical Fallacy, and Code Monkey.

If you follow any discussion topic or newsgroup thread where a debate of sorts ensues, you are just as likely to see examples of logical fallacy.

Wikipedia has a pretty good write-up on it here.

The most common examples, and a few short illustrations:

  • Ad baculum

  • Ad hominem

  • Affirming the consequent

  • Appeal to authority

  • Appeal to fear

  • Appeal to pity

  • Appeal to tradition

  • Appeal to probability

  • Appeal to the majority

  • Argument from ignorance

  • Begging the question

  • Biased sample

  • Correlation implies causation

  • Equivocation

  • Hasty generalization

  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc

  • Straw man

Ad baculum:
If x does not accept that P, then Q.
Q is a threat or attack on x.
Therefore, P is true.
In other words, "This is right because if you do not believe it, you will be beaten up."

Ad hominem:

A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form:
A makes claim X.
There is something objectionable about A.
Therefore claim X is false.

"Only right-wing nutjobs believe that homosexuals account for one to two percent of the population."

Affirming the consequent:
This fallacy has the following argument form:
If P, then Q.
Therefore, P.

If someone is human (P), then she is mortal (Q).
Anna is mortal (Q).
Therefore Anna is human (P).
But in fact Anna can be a cat; very much a mortal, but not a human one.

Appeal to authority:

A (fallacious) appeal to authority argument has the basic form:
A makes claim B;
there is something positive about A,
therefore claim B is true.

"The Bible says 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. -- Leviticus 18:22' , therefore homosexuality should be condemned."

They go on, you can read up on this at Wikipedia. The more familiar you are with these forms, the better off you will be, as there are a lot of very uninformed souls who like to prognosticate and have their utterances accepted as truth in life.

Confucius said, "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance."

Now, if none of the above interests you, and you are still a programmer -type, then you might like listening to Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey. Not a bad tune, for being 100% self-produced from his apartment in Brooklyn (though I prefer Bach, and just finished listening to Rimsky-Korsakoff's Scheherazade today).