Thursday, July 19, 2012

Logic Lessons pt 5: Fallacies of Oversimplification

Fallacies of Oversimplification

While brevity is the soul of wit, sometimes things are cannot be reduced to simple sound bites. True that we can overcomplicate things, but one of there are 7 material fallacies that OVERsimplify.

      1. Dicto Simpliciter = applying general principles to a specific case while ignoring the special circumstances.
        This applies all general principles while not taking into account how a thing can be used in a specific way. For example, what would you die without first: water or diamonds? The answer is obviously water. You can go your entire life without ever even seeing a diamond. But if you make this statement: “Water is more important for life than diamonds, so I’ll swap you diamonds for my water,” would be foolish in our society because in the case modern society, we can use diamonds for buying many life needs. Or take Homer:

      2. Special Case = applying what is true in a special case to a general principle.
        This is the exact opposite of the first fallacy. For example, the Church does allow for artificial contraception for rape victims. Some then take this exception and uses it to try to disprove the rule. But this is refuted by the “exception that proves (pre-supposes) the rule.” By noting that it is an exception, it presuposes the specialness of the case. It would also be like saying that “since everyone who argues on the internet is an idiot, man is irrational.”

      1. Composition = over generalizing from the part to the whole
        This is why television shows put so much energy into the pilot episode to suck you in. The assumption being that the 1st episode was good, so the rest must be good. I made this mistake with Glee

      1. Division = apply what is true of the whole to the truth of the parts
        To take the television analogy again, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a great show. But I know someone who hated it because they happened to see only one episode, and it was one of the worst that they ever made (the one with the giant mantis... ugh). But a sample of one part does not tell you the overall quality of the whole.

      1. Black and White Fallacy = Not allowing for gradations between extreme.
        This allows for no gray area when there is gray area to be had. For example, how would you answer the question: are you good or bad? I think most of us would be reluctant to call ourselves good, because we know that we are sinners. But we also have a reluctance to call ourselves bad because we sometimes do good things and desire to be decent people. The Black and White fallacy does not allow for this complexity. Another example would be: are you fat or skinny? You can not be skinny but also not fat but somewhere on the continuum without being either extreme.

      1. Quoting Out of Context – contexts that can be ignored are:
        a. Literary – ignore what is stated before and after a quote. For example the Bible says “there is no God.” (Ps 14:1) Of course that quote leaves out the six words that precede this statement: “The fool says in his heart...”
        b. Real – lived situation surrounding the statement. Have you ever listened to two guy friends talk to each other. While playing Halo, my friends and I will hurl the most vulgar insults we can imagine at each other as hammer in each other's skulls. But that's how guys talk. If we ignore the context in which these words are said, we might think that these guys are filled with hate for each other.

      2. Stereotyping = prejudiced generalization that is in error. By definition, all stereotypes are are wrong.

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