You fall into this trap when you observe a pattern from one message or one event, or even a few events or messages, but you failed to hold up that pattern to a larger base of information. When you focus on an isolated incident and imply it 'could' represent all incidents, you fall into the "all or nothing' trap, which is detrimental to logical reasoning.
When we discuss the propositional truths it logically follows that the final proposition given is valid based on its premises. In other words, the argument logically followed from A to Z without an error in between. However, where deductive reasoning differs from inductive reasoning is the possibility of (2) bad inferences.
- All dogs are mammals. All mammals have hair. All dogs have hair, or
- Having just arrived in Ohio, I saw a white squirrel, therefore, all Ohio squirrels are white
In both cases, we have bad inferences. Of course, assumptions are ok and have had positive effects on areas of science, not to mention the power of 'what if' scenarios. But, where assumptions turn ugly is when they are false and those who state them refuse to see them as false. They begin to solidify a false belief into a valid belief; one they refuse to change.
For a humorous look into fallacies, visit https://existentialcomics.com/comic/9
I challenge you to watch the media carefully, as well as listen carefully to arguments around you. The more you practice, the easier it will be to combat them. To understand logical reasoning better, we must work our way through a series of steps. These steps will help you sharpen your skills of deduction and induction, and you will be on the path to a strategic logical thinker!
What Is A Logical Fallacy?
First, what is a Logical Fallacy? A logical fallacy is an argument, often plausible, that uses erroneous inferences to derive a conclusion that does not follow validly from the argument's premises. Recognizing a logical fallacy on a news site will help you see an invalid argument in mainstream media. Searching search through three major news sites, CNN.com, FoxNews.com, and BBC News, I was able to locate many Logical Fallacies.
For one example, by Stephen Moore, published June 25, 2014 at FoxNews.com, featured an article about the decline of jobs in the US, "Nearly everyone knows the real unemployment rate is far above the "official" 6.3 percent rate because of the disappearance of Americans over the age of 16 from the workforce."
This could be a Circumstantial ad Hominem. A CAH is a fallacy of self-interest where the circumstances do not fit the truth of the matter; purely stated for self-interest with no studies, facts, or evidence to back it up.
Guilt by Association was present on another article on the Al Jazeera News site when Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah claimed he would reject a tally-vote based solely on the overseeing committee, "From now onwards, since [the election authorities] have not responded to our legitimate demands ... everything they do and the result of their activities will not be accepted by us," Abdullah said on June 20, 2014 (https://alj.am/VFVkSo ).
Aristotle was first to categorize our 'errors in reasoning' into a list of thirteen logical fallacies. He designed a trio of propositions where the third one logically followed the previous two, called a Syllogism. This is a form of inductive reasoning. I always thought of him as the father of Logic and Reason.
"Men will frequently fall into fallacies through not setting out the terms of the premises well, e.g. suppose A to be health, B to be disease, and C to be a man. It is true to say that A cannot belong to any B (for health belongs to no disease) and again that B belongs to every C (for every man is capable of disease). It would seem to follow that health cannot belong to any man. The reason for this is that the terms are not set out well in the statement, since if the things which are in the conditions are substituted, no syllogism can be made, e.g. if 'healthy' is substituted for 'health' and 'diseased' for 'disease'. For it is not true to say that being healthy cannot belong to one who is diseased. But unless this is assumed no conclusion results, save in respect of possibility: but such a conclusion is not impossible: for it is possible that health should belong to no man." (Organon, Aristotle)
Looking at Aristotle's break down, we see A and B together could never equal each other. You could never have a healthy person and a diseased person at the same time. That would be like having the temperature both hot and cold. He further states no matter how you arrange the premises, you will never have a sound conclusion.
The Mind of A Robot
The mind works like a robot, receiving and releasing information via electrical impulses. But, buried deep within the recesses of the mind is a 'thing', an 'it', or 'something' that helps the mind comprehend raw sense data, let's call it 'reason'. If I lay an object on the ground, for example, a metal object with a sharp point, perhaps it has a wooden handle and a shiny exterior. Further, I lay down a child next to it and walk away. After the mind finishes categorizing the experience, reason begins to assess the situation. Reason sees the metal object with the sharp point and wooden handle and concludes, that it is a knife. Further, reason concludes that a knife by itself is not a dangerous object but, by placing a child next to it the danger rises exponentially. MOVE THE CHILD!! That would be a logical conclusion.
What if reason didn't reach that conclusion. What if reason decided it's best to let the child learn the dangers of sharp objects for themselves? Is that reasonable thinking? I believe most of us would argue that is not sound logic. Why would someone believe such a thing? There are several reasons why someone's beliefs or ideas are illogical.
One last mention of Aristotle's Illogical Thinking and Logical Thinking
Beliefs that consist of nothing but empty formulas, arbitrary rules, and artificial proceedings, which are neither consistent with themselves nor with the things to which they are applied, false habits and distorted facts are all considered illogical beliefs. The path to illogical thinking tends to be ideas influenced by the past, old habits, self-serving interests, old traditions, ignorance, indifference, impatience, disappointment, and an overall difficulty of embracing the real meaning of a theory (Vera).
Logic is thus a universal science extending and comprehending all areas of thought,
form, content, and categories of knowledge ending with a sound proposition.
Philosophy uses the language of logical propositions accumulating from sound premises. For example, if I were to say Socrates was a mortal man. I am offering an educated assertion in the form of a proposition, based on sound premises. First, premise one, which was 'all men are mortal'. Then, I thought about Socrates. Premise two could be "if Socrates is a man' then, I could conclude that Socrates was mortal because he was a man. So, my assertion, or conclusion, holds up against the scrutiny of deductive reasoning. All men are mortal, Socrates was a man, thus Socrates was mortal.
Logical reasoning demands we show logical and sound premises, and when we do that, we will arrive at a logical and natural conclusion.
Aristotle had such a curious mind and inquisitive nature but, only in the form of total natural objectivity. He even went as far as defining the word 'define', "the specification of an object or idea by naming the genus or class to which it belongs" (Will Durant). Among his vast array of treatises that he wrote, it was his six-volume treatise on logic called, Organon, more specifically, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics. and Sophistical Refutations. These books have an interesting story behind them, and well worth the read if you get the chance. The works were lost to time, survived wars, translated into many different languages, and then finally revived during the Enlightenment.5
At any rate, Aristotle divided the fallacies into two sections: Verbal and Material fallacies. The Verbal Fallacies constituted an error on behalf of how the argument was presented while Material fallacies are the topic at hand. The material itself is quite a laborious read but I have pulled excerpts out that pertain to our Logical Fallacies discussion.
The traditional Philosophy 'formula' for an argument is as follows:
Premise 1: "Premises are assertions that, when joined together, will lead the reader to the conclusion."
Conclusion: "A conclusion can be any assertion that your readers will not readily accept. A conclusion must have at least one premise supporting it."
Here's a popular example to illustrate a correct argument:
P1: All mammals feed their young with milk.P2: All human are mammals.
C: Therefore, all humans feed their young with milk
Here's a popular example to illustrate an invalid argument:
P1: The President of the United States must be 35 years of age or older.
P2: Baby Elizabeth, born 30 days ago, will be 35 years of age or older one day.
C: Therefore, Baby Elizabeth, born 30 days ago, is President of the United States.
Dr. Michael C. Labossiere, the author of a Macintosh tutorial, Fallacy Tutorial Pro 3.0, beautifully defined key terms relating to logical fallacies,
"In order to understand what a fallacy is, one must understand what an argument is. Very briefly, an argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement (a sentence that is either true or false) that is offered in support of the claim being made, which is the conclusion (which is also a sentence that is either true or false). There are two main types of arguments: deductive and inductive. A deductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) complete support for the conclusion. An inductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) some degree of support (but less than complete support) for the conclusion. If the premises provide the required degree of support for the conclusion, then the argument is a good one. A good deductive argument is known as a valid argument and is such that if all its premises are true, then its conclusion must be true. If all the argument is valid and has all true premises, then it is known as a sound argument. If it is invalid or has one or more false premises, it will be unsound. A good inductive argument is known as a strong (or "cogent") inductive argument. It is such that if the premises are true, the conclusion is likely to be true. A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an "argument" in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply "arguments" which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provide enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true." ~Labossiere
As you move through the fallacies, try to pull out the most commonly used fallacies and commit them to memory; you never know when someone will pull the wool over your eyes.