Posts Tagged ‘reasoning’

https://i2.wp.com/i126.photobucket.com/albums/p109/Arthur_Vandelay99/fallacy2.gifLogical fallacies are errors in reasoned thinking and they happen to appear a lot, these are simply the result of a method of argument that appears to work on the surface but which does not stand up when questioned. I tend to view fallacies not as bits of knowledge that have been created rather they are concepts direct from intelligence, so the more you learn about them the better you will be able to think. It also links with critical thinking which is something that I tried to do although don’t always succeed in and something that I hope will remove the ideas of religion and superstition. There are both informal and formal fallacies, the former describes mistakes in reasoning based on interferences and the latter arguments to which will always be wrong from the way they have been constructed, both are forms of deductive reasoning. See my earlier post on how science uses induction; it explains the difference between the two forms of reasoning. An example of an informal fallacy would include differing definitions and concepts, such as freedom must be preserved at all times, freedom is relative when dealing with freedom of religion since it also includes freedom to live without religion. This is why I don’t really like using the word freedom. Formal on the other hand might be; all men are born free therefore, all women are born free. Since the original statement only refers to men, it is illogical to conclude that women are born free based on the original statement. Both of these are present in the ideas of religion and these are some of the ones that I have come across during my travel of blogs and websites.

Ad Hominem – attack the person making the argument rather than the argument, this includes saying the person is a racists therefore, anything that person produces is the result of that. Atheists get accused of this; there unwillingness to believe in a God is more important than their arguments to why they should not believe. Even within this blog I have been accused of being an “atheist” so the things I say are implied to be less relevant still if I was a believer and made the same comments it is sort of suggested that they would be worth more. The arguments are the arguments deal with them rather than who I am. Of course people tend to seek justifications so they can place a comment or article within a larger perspective, this is normal still they should self ban involvement rather than encourage it, after all if you cannot deal with others that don’t think like you do then you are simply unable to understand the points that are being raised. There are two fallacies in this area; the first is that of abusive which Pat Condell if he was a weaker man would react to! The death threats or personal attacks force someone into defending themselves rather than discussing the arguments. The second is Circumstantial which is the attack of a position, as I said being an atheist of course I would not understand metaphysical feelings of God; this is often an assumption and allows the argument to be dropped. Overall it is a distraction of the topic!

Circularity – as the name suggests it is just an argument that goes around and around, if you believe something then you already know the reasons to why you believe it, if you don’t believe then nothing will be able to convince you that the argument is true. This is what a lot of arguments about the metaphysical are based upon, you have to believe that there is something if you don’t then you cannot just understand it so the implication is that you have to assume that it is true before it can be justifiable. This could include believing in something and then seeing the arrangement of life in accordance within that belief, in other words using evidence to support your conclusion rather than the correct way in looking at the evidence and then coming to a decision. The original argument is the purpose of any further argument for example; the bible is God’s word therefore God is real, the notion of God’s Word is required in order to show the God is real. God is required to be real in order for the bible to then be God’s word; this does not say or add anything. Likewise saying we do something since it makes us lucky is often based on this type of logic, a lucky rabbits foot is a useful thing since it brings me luck, is all based on the first assumption in the first part of the sentence of ‘lucky rabbits foot’. I have also heard that Reiki will only work if you give it a chance, this is a notion that should always be rejected, it only assumes that it will work if you have belief in it. We should always reject this if Reiki works then it will work regardless of the level of belief that is invested into it

Correlation not causation – my favourite saying is that religion is not born from poverty, it simply benefits from it. They are found together still it cannot be said that either one causes the other. Let’s go one further and argue that religion causes good things to happen; they might be found together in some cases still this does not promote the goodness of religion. If it is a causational relationship then religious people should only be the ones that commit good actions, this is not the case plus religion can cause really negative acts as well. People sometimes commit good acts while others sometimes commit bad acts, this is a far more honest statement. There might be many reasons behind good acts and to simply assume religion is the cause is to ignore a great deal of other factors. It is like saying the more music I listen to the more cavities I get in my teeth, since the older I get the more my teeth get damaged although it is also true the older I get the more music I have listened to, the two have nothing to do with each other. Likewise when people say they have had a metaphysical experience when they walk into a cathedral it does not necessarily have anything to do with the cathedral being a religious place. The authoritative aspect, the size, the colour, the music, the smell and many other factors could set off a reaction inside your head which you think has to do with God but to assume that it is, even if you strongly believe it so, does not add weight to those feelings.

Generalisations – we take the small cases and apply them to the whole situation, this is something that I am at times guilty of. It differs in some situations, still normally when the particular cases are somehow very different to the normal process. Someone pointed out to me that I was using a small number of occasions where Islam mistreated women causing me the formation of opinion and I have to reject their arguments on this one. What I always am referring to is the scope of things that is allowed for under a set of believes still I use statistics to show the general trend of things. Of course it is always wrong of anyone to say Islam is bad because something happened, that was not my point rather it was to show that the core belief is different from my own and perhaps under the banner of human rights certain things are wrong. It does bring us to the question though of how to deal with religious people since they are meant to believe the same things but often don’t. Still generalisations are conclusions only based on a small number of cases so if you can include a larger base then you will never be guilty of this although it is sometimes justifiable to look at small numbers.

Straw Man – is a misrepresentation of a position in order to reject it, although it leaves the position alone and does not address the necessary issues. The misrepresentation does that, it shows the real situation in a different light and thus ignores the original factors or effects the caused the situation in the first place. This differs from Ad Hominem since rather than attacking the person making a statement, the statement is taken out of context or further along than it was meant to. Conclusions are made from the first statement to which nothing ever referred to them and then these conclusions are rejected on perhaps better grounds than could be achieved on the first statement. The line of reasoning would first start off with a particular statement about Jesus being able to forgive your sins then making further reasoning on the matter by saying it does not matter what you do since Jesus will forgive your sins anyway. It is a lot easier to see why we should reject Christianity based on the further reasoning even though the original statement never said this.

These are just a few of the ones that I liked still there are many more, watch out for them since we are all guilty of making logical errors.

A little more on this matter…

The amazing atheist did a video about this and he goes through a lot of other logical fallacies in his usual manner. It is interesting to watch…

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*Picture take from CartoonStock.com

Fundamental scientists or to change the meaning to the thing I was trying to say – the fundamental rules that knowledge collection must follow in order to be considered to be science. Plus for contrast I thought I would put in the Fundamental rules that religion seems to follow, of course this is a culturally biased perspective because I am writing it and I am biased. I have colour coded science and religion to make it easier to read, there are no hidden messages in the colours!

1. Validation – in other words its reliable, you could go out and test science for yourself – yes you could. Ok, you might not have all the stuff required to see if an atom bomb would really work but you could become an American citizen, join the army and plot the complete death of everything on the planet through such a bomb. It’s completely up to you! Religion well if you are told something enough maybe you could start to believe it. Of course, there is no burning bush that never seems to burn but that’s just a metaphor anyway. And yes, babies who died and where not baptised never used to go to heaven oh, until they decided to change that. And yes, treating black people as slaves justified by the bible that is just something we should not talk about because it might upset some Christians.

2. Wrongness – Science can always be wrong, even when it seems to be right it could be wrong. All that you need to go “Oi MATE THATS WRONG” is evidence and everyone will admit it. Not only will they admit you are right, they will also thank you for it because after all everyone is just looking for the truth anyway. Religion is always right and if you dare to suggest its wrong you will go to hell when you die, you bastard how DARE YOU. I HOPE YOU DIE! They tend to get a little irritable when you point out they are wrong, even if they are and we all know it!

3. Explaining the world – Science does at every attempt to explain the world, to show the smallest details to explaining the formation of the universe. It does not always get it right and there are areas where it does not explain a lot really, still the attempt to build knowledge is a noble one even if it’s often wrong, it tries to get it right. Religion tries to explain the world, its’ noble in its ability to show us the knowledge it holds is right and unchangeable. Of course all books of religion could only just about hold enough pages to write the DNA code of a fly, we should respect its concise nature. And if we ever need to know about something that’s not in those religious books, there is always some nutter that can pretty much guess what God would think about something even if they have to kind of make it up.

4. When it leaves you alone – You know the great thing about science is that it is everywhere and working all the time, still you know if you just want to go and watch a movie that’s GREAT! It won’t bother you too much and you can enjoy the movie without much thought other than that of your opinions about why High School Musical is so shit! Religion on the other hand, will never leave you alone, there is one benefit you never have to think for yourself – YAY. You won’t watch High School Musical without thinking, “Those girls better be waiting until they are married before having sex!”, or “Those girls are showing too much of their bodies, DEATH TO AMERICA”. You see you never get to the part in your thoughts where the shitness of the movie hits you. Even when you are dead you can’t get away which makes your whole existence EASY!

5. The question of Paradigms – What? It means when we move from one general understanding to a new understanding. Science moves from one set of knowledge to the next, the next one comes about when there is a sudden shift. This is caused by such great thinkers like Einstein who was not only a scientist, he was also a philosopher his ideas moved science because they were fundamentally new and effective. Religion kind of has that – No? Well yes, you see I will use the example of Mormons. Joseph Smith claimed he saw God, Jesus and angels and they told him Christians got it wrong and everyone went yay, let’s believe him even if there is no evidence that he is not just a crazy twat. So Einstein a person who allowed for a new types of science that enable things we use every day or Joseph Smith a racist who made up stuff. YOU DECIDE

I think that I presented both sides of the argument for both science and religion in a fair and frank way. What? I did.

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Rives highlights the one thing that really gets to me, there is a method that human brains normally use; they create patterns when there is just randomness. If you are thinking of someone and then the phone rings to only find that it is actually them, it’s nothing metaphysical or spooky it’s just random chance. Richard Dawkins give us this example; if you were to get 100 people together there will always be one really lucky person. If you decide who is the lucky person by creating two groups and then tossing a coin, with heads always winning you will narrow it down to until you get to that one individual. This is just random chance, it is perhaps nice to think that somehow a dead grandmother or Jesus (or who you like) is guiding the coin so it picks you although random chance does not care about you and the coin is not debating about which side it should land. The world is much bigger than your friends, who happen to call you often or the winning of a series of coin tosses. So the pot of randomness is much bigger and it intersects your life with greater uncertainty.

Ok I will be honest; Rives did not really mention any of that stuff I thought that I would just bring it up, it seemed somewhat important. Rives, I guess is taking the piss out the of the Da Vinci code, that bestseller I have never actually read all the way through, at least I am guessing that is what he is doing. I will lump in all conspiracy theories into this argument – to seek patterns within a random set of facts only shows what you want it to. These patterns are developed not because there is evidence to suggest such a pattern; rather you are looking because you want to confirm something you already believe in. To look for these patterns and make claims from them, Rives does this with 4am, just because you can see those patterns does not make what you are saying anymore true or valid. Actually, to ignore the value based opinion of such pattern seeking behaviour even putting it together without agenda still does not make it true or valid. If you want intelligent people to believe in something, conspiracy theorists need to stop moaning about stuff and do the one thing that the rest of us have to do when we want to prove something – make a specific prediction and hold all the evidence up for us to look at.

Rives presentation is a funny and different perspective on 4am, enjoy..

Graham Hancock is a prime example of this pattern seeking behaviour, it not only shows that some individuals can present evidence which only fits if you ignore a lot of other things but also that agenda can be used to amend evidence by taking massive leaps towards a conclusion. Hancock is a bestselling author and is outside of science or logic. He used the slowly changing position of the stars to show that the pyramids of Giza where built to represent Orion’s belt, based on there position in 10,500BC and in effect the plan of the pyramids where there to represent a very early civilization unknown to any historian. In other words the pyramids where built to commemorate the civilization of Atlantis that existed in 10,500BC, as the pyramids were not built based on the position of Orion’s belt when there where constructed in 2,500BC. The way the case for the existence of Atlantis is built up by Hancock is wishy washy, considering that the Egyptians were master builders and astronomers there are a few things missing from Hancock’s theory.

Dr Ed Krupp suggests that the pyramids of Giza only match up with Orion’s belt if you turn them upside down; Hancock’s response to this is that they built them upside down because they could only view them by looking south rather building them how they appear in the sky, they mirrored them. Dr Krupp disagrees with this because they had a good understand of north and south, building them on those lines and building in shafts that could view stars in those directions. So why would they all of a sudden change their perspective. Not only this, it is highlighted that the other 75 or so pyramids in the region don’t match up with any other stars. Hancock’s makes up more shit adding more assumptions about the Egyptians in order to explain away this counter evidence plus lots more that also goes against him. There is a lot more evidence to dismiss Hancock’s theory but the point here is not about the theory just the method he used to get there.

Graham Hancock*Picture taken from http://www.grahamhancock.com

This is taken from Hancock’s own website, check how many assumptions he puts in his’ response to the criticisms that the pyramids where built on a 45 degree angle where the belt stars are at a degree of 54 degrees:

“GRAHAM HANCOCK: No they’re not absolutely correct and I don’t care. I, I have to stress that in my view the Ancient Egyptian priesthood was not staffed by anal-retentive bureaucrats. The Ancient Egyptian priesthood was, was a group of, of creative and imaginative thinkers who were exploring the mystery of life and death and who believed that there was a connection between ground and sky. They wanted to make a resemblance on the ground of a particular moment in time.”

Assumption 1 – that he should not care. Assumption 2 – Egyptian priesthood was not staffed by anal-retentive bureaucrats. Assumption 3 – was a group of creative and imaginative thinkers. Assumption 4 – exploring the mystery of life and death. Assumption 5 – believed that there was a connection between ground and sky. Assumption 6 – wanted to make a resemblance on the ground of a particular moment in time. In essence some of these assumptions are based on truth, while others are based on personal opinion. A true investigation based on all the evidence to which a theory can be taken from this evidence, unlike this which is a theory not based on truth. Truth is something we are looking for and what Science & logic is trying to get too, so please ignore such theories that are just pattern seeking and don’t stand up to the evidence. Agenda based theories, including this one and others are just that, agenda based theories. A person looking for truth will always be open to evidence that disproves something, those looking for evidence to complete than agenda will always ignore evidence that could disprove it.

*source for some of this is Horizon – Atlantis Reborn Again

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