Have you ever walked away from an argument wondering, “What just happened?” Have you ever tried to reason with someone and felt like you went around and around in circles? In light of last night’s debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, I can’t help but address this topic. It was filled with logical fallacies. So the purpose of this post is to offer wisdom in recognizing logical fallacies and avoiding bad arguments.
Proverbs 26: 4, 5 says, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you yourself also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own estimation.”
At first glance, there appears to be a contradiction, but there isn’t. What those two verses are basically saying is not to answer a question or topic from a presupposition or logic that is flawed, and not to ignore the question, but rather to answer it from the valid position, using solid evidence and logic.
So what is a red herring? If you have watched crime shows or old B&W mystery movies, you may have heard the term. A red herring is a technique used by throwing in a subject that is not related to the original. It’s like planting false evidence in an attempt to throw someone off the trail to solving a crime.
“Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.” —Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
One year as part of our homeschooling curriculum, I purchased a book called The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning. My second son loved it! It was as if a light bulb went off in his head, and he was better equipped to perform critical thinking skills and think logically.
Rhetorical Fallacies is an excellent quick, online guide to recognizing logical fallacies.