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Author Topic:   A proper understanding of logical fallacies will improve the quality of debate
PaulK
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(3)
Message 106 of 344 (641148)
11-17-2011 2:49 AM


Equivocation
Since the argument from information, and specifically Werner Gitt's version of it has been brought up, it's time for this fallacy to be introduced.

In a strictly logical argument all the important words and phrases must have a single meaning throughout the argument. Using different meanings invalidates the argument,

Here are some obvious examples

Now, on the face of it, it seems reasonable to say that DNA contains information, in a general sense of the word.

Gitt, however, introduces his own more specific idea of information. And his argument for an intelligent source of information is based on the idea that the upper levels of information in his definition are only accessible to an intelligence.

For Gitt's argument to apply, then, it must be shown that DNA contains information in the full sense of his argument - including levels of information that cannot be extracted by the mindless processes of reproduction and development and so on. But that has not been done.

Gitt's version of the argument from information then depends on using two different meanings of information. One is used when he wishes to say that DNA has information. The other is used when he wishes to say that information must have an intelligent source. This is equivocation.


Replies to this message:
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Taq
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Posts: 5230
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 107 of 344 (641169)
11-17-2011 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 105 by ICANT
11-17-2011 1:03 AM


Re: Affirming the Consequent
What would be the definition of information you are using in this example?

I was making a general comment on a properly formed argument that would be work for an IDer. If an IDer does take up this argument then I will leave it up to them to define information.


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 Message 105 by ICANT, posted 11-17-2011 1:03 AM ICANT has acknowledged this reply

  
Dr Adequate
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Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 108 of 344 (641170)
11-17-2011 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 106 by PaulK
11-17-2011 2:49 AM


Re: Equivocation
Gitt's version of the argument from information then depends on using two different meanings of information. One is used when he wishes to say that DNA has information. The other is used when he wishes to say that information must have an intelligent source. This is equivocation.

Yes. It's like defining lightning as "the effect produced when Thor wields his magic hammer Mjölnir". Then you point out that everyone agrees that lightning exists, so you've proved the existence of Thor.

This isn't the only problem Werner Gitt has, but I think it's the most glaringly stupid.


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Dr Adequate
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Message 109 of 344 (641171)
11-17-2011 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 94 by mike the wiz
11-16-2011 4:29 PM


Re: Final Comment
I am not dogmatic, but nobody has shown me any strictly logical reasons to give up the belief in information showing a designer.

* coughs *

Yes I have, namely that we often see it being produced without one. When it comes to living things, we invariably see it being produced without one. Who designed your genome? We know that it was produced by reproduction, recombination, and mutation, don't we?

OFF TOPIC - Please Do Not Respond to this message by continuing in this vein.
AdminPD

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.

Edited by AdminPD, : Warning


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designtheorist
Member (Idle past 275 days)
Posts: 390
From: Irvine, CA, United States
Joined: 09-15-2011


Message 110 of 344 (641440)
11-19-2011 12:31 PM


I'm sorry for my absence from this threadI
I was traveling when I started this thread and was not able to keep up with it. When I got home, I came down with a minor illness and did not feel up to working on the thread. I will try to spend a little time answering some of the comments today.
  
designtheorist
Member (Idle past 275 days)
Posts: 390
From: Irvine, CA, United States
Joined: 09-15-2011


Message 111 of 344 (641448)
11-19-2011 1:05 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by PaulK
11-13-2011 6:06 PM


Re: Another source
PaulK cites this quote:
Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.

PaulK cites a valid authority (the website logicalfallacies.info) speaking in the area of the claimed expertise. PaulK is making an appeal to authority. Is this a logical fallacy on Paul's part?

According to Paul's source, it is. Does this mean it is wrong of Paul to cite this authority? Or that the authority is wrong? Not at all.

It is important to read the quote closely. It says an appeal to authority is "deductively fallacious." not that the argument is necessarily wrong.

The problem, of course, is during the course of debate PaulK, Larni, DWIII and others will accuse someone of being wrong because they have committed an appeal to authority. This is bogus. There are several reasons why.

First, it is possible someone quote an authority to give some background about the science, to explain what was going on, etc. in order to build toward the point one is trying to make. Many people here seem to think if a scientist is quoted that the person quoting them is saying the scientist agrees and supports their position. This is simply poor reading comprehension. The quote may not directly support the point being made at all.

Second, people here assume if they can identify and name a logical fallacy, then the argument is disproven. Not true. A logical fallacy can be present, as PaulK's deductive fallacy is present here yet his argument has merit.

What does it mean when a logical fallacy is found? Let's say I quote a Nobel Prize winning physicist on what the early moments of the big bang was like and someone says "Ah ha! Appeal to authority! Your wrong!" Does that mean the Nobel Prize winning physicist is wrong? Of course not. What does it mean exactly?

For one thing, it opens the door to contrary evidence, including direct evidence or evidence from experts who have a competing view. What happens if such evidence cannot be found? Does that mean the expert who was quoted was correct? Not necessarily. It probably means the quoted scientist properly represents the views of the majority of scientists on the question but science is never settled.

As Albert Einstein once said "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"


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Larni
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Posts: 3752
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 112 of 344 (641450)
11-19-2011 1:12 PM
Reply to: Message 111 by designtheorist
11-19-2011 1:05 PM


Re: Another source
I cite PaulK as making a whole lot of sense.

Do I win an ironic £5?


The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

Moreover that view is a blatantly anti-relativistic one. I'm rather inclined to think that space being relative to time and time relative to location should make such a naive hankering to pin-point an ultimate origin of anything, an aspiration that is not even wrong.

Well, Larni, let's say I much better know what I don't want to say than how exactly say what I do.


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designtheorist
Member (Idle past 275 days)
Posts: 390
From: Irvine, CA, United States
Joined: 09-15-2011


Message 113 of 344 (641451)
11-19-2011 1:25 PM


Fallacy of misplaced concreteness
From Wikipedia:
Reification (also known as concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity.

One example of this is scientific world is the use of computer models to represent earth's climate. Some of the modelers have fallen into talking about their computer runs as "experiments."

I also see examples of this fallacy on this thread. There are people here who hold to a belief that everyone who can detect design or the supernatural in the universe have unscientific minds. This belief is so "concrete" and "real" to them that they when they are presented with evidence of fine scientists who were shocked by and had their worldview changed because of the big bang - well, it makes their heads explode.

When confronted with evidence of scientists and self-described atheists talking about the supernatural beginning of the universe, is the proper response to attack the person with charges of quote-mining and appeal to authority?

Where is the spirit of honest intellectual inquiry? Where is the desire to learn the facts?

When the desire to learn is absent, it is usually because a mental abstraction (such as "no religious person can be a scientist") is held to be true in a concrete and physical sense.


Replies to this message:
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 Message 123 by Larni, posted 11-19-2011 4:08 PM designtheorist has responded
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ICANT
Member (Idle past 42 days)
Posts: 5182
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 114 of 344 (641453)
11-19-2011 1:43 PM
Reply to: Message 113 by designtheorist
11-19-2011 1:25 PM


Re: Fallacy of misplaced concreteness
Hi designtheorist,

designtheorist writes:

When the desire to learn is absent, it is usually because a mental abstraction (such as "no religious person can be a scientist") is held to be true in a concrete and physical sense.

The desire to learn becomes absent when beliefs become fact and is then presented as fact with a religious vigor.

The world is a stage and there are many pulpits that a message can be preached from and this is just one of them.

There are a lot of preachers here but I have yet to meet a debator here.

No one wants to debate as all have come to the conclusion that he who screams the loudest is right and nothing else matters.

God Bless,


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

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Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 8 days)
Posts: 2284
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


(1)
Message 115 of 344 (641455)
11-19-2011 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 113 by designtheorist
11-19-2011 1:25 PM


Re: Fallacy of misplaced concreteness
Hi designtheorist,

There are people here who hold to a belief that everyone who can detect design or the supernatural in the universe have unscientific minds.

I would not say that. I would rather say that creationists and supernaturalists are using their minds in unscientific ways. The idea of a "scientific mind" or an "unscientific mind" is unscientific. You mention of this notion is also a good example of the fallacy commonly known as a strawman, since I'm don't think that anyone here has argued that minds fall into these categories.

...when they are presented with evidence of fine scientists who were shocked by and had their worldview changed because of the big bang...

Except that - for the Nth time - you haven't presented any such examples. The examples you claimed were bullshit. This is the well known fallacy of "talking bullshit, ignoring it when your bullshit gets called out and continuing to talk bullshit".

is the proper response to attack the person with charges of quote-mining

It is when you make false claims about what people believe, yeah. Especially when we point out that you are getting it wrong and you just keep repeating the claim as though nothing had happened.

Where is the spirit of honest intellectual inquiry? Where is the desire to learn the facts?

I don't know, when did you last have it?

It's always in the last place you look isn't it?

When the desire to learn is absent, it is usually because a mental abstraction (such as "no religious person can be a scientist") is held to be true in a concrete and physical sense.

Oh please! I challenge you to cite one person on these boards saying anything so foolish. In actual fact, I recall many examples of evolutionists patiently explaining to loopy creationists that there is such a thing as a religious scientist.

Mutate and Survive

Edited by Granny Magda, : No reason given.


On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

This message is a reply to:
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jar
Member
Posts: 24674
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 116 of 344 (641458)
11-19-2011 2:31 PM
Reply to: Message 115 by Granny Magda
11-19-2011 1:55 PM


A question of honesty.
I would even go so far as to say that it might be possible for there to be an honest Creation Scientist as long as that scientist pointed out that (s)he believed in Special Creation despite the overwhelming evidence that all causes are natural, the Evolution is a fact, that the Theory of Evolution is the only model that explains the diversity of life we see around us and that the Earth and Universe are billions of years old; and that there is zero evidence for any Creator or Designer.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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designtheorist
Member (Idle past 275 days)
Posts: 390
From: Irvine, CA, United States
Joined: 09-15-2011


Message 117 of 344 (641460)
11-19-2011 2:40 PM


An overview of logic and fallacies
Logic divides fallacies into formal and informal categories. A formal fallacy means the argument is always wrong. An informal fallacy may have a flaw that weakens the argument but the conclusion of the argument may still be correct.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_fallacy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informal_fallacy

An appeal to authority is an example of an informal fallacy. It is considered a fallacy because experts are not always correct. However, it is not a formal fallacy because experts are not always incorrect either.

Some set of mutually agreed-upon standards of reasoning is fundamental to a meaningful exchange of ideas. Philosophical inquiry has developed a set of standards for such reasoning to be considered "logical," although many are unaware of them. Although sound logic will not always win you a fair hearing in a world ruled by force and unequal power, understanding how it works and learning how to structure your arguments around it will help you develop a more accurate understanding of the world and at least allow your arguments to contribute to an ongoing debate.

This quote is from "An Informal Fallacy Primer" at http://www.acontrario.org/node/350

The segment on Argument by Authority is very good, especially this bit:

No one person can legitimately claim authoritative expertise in all fields of human inquiry. Consequently, we all rely on so-called 'experts' to provide input on topics about which their knowledge is authoritative. To the extent that these experts, or more appropriately 'specialists', are providing input on a topic that they possess knowledge of, this reliance on specialized expertise is reasonable. While such expertise may not guarantee infallibility, the opinion of a specialist may be considered superior to that of a layperson when the rendered opinion falls within the topic of the specialist's expertise.

If you were eager to learn about the first moments after the big bang, would you want to read a book by a physicist or listen to the ideas your gardener has on the topic? Obviously, authorities have their place.

Another well-written section is on ad hominem attacks:

All too often, an opponent will resort to attacking a person's character or reputation if he cannot find a suitable counter to a position held by that person. Copi and Cohen classify ad hominem attacks as either abusive or circumstantial, based on the nature of the attack. Personal attacks on an individual's intelligence, morality, integrity, or character all fall into the abusive category, while insinuations that a person's employment, race, gender or some other vested interest has influenced her conclusions fall into the circumstantial category. While the abusive form of ad hominem is usually more damaging to the opponent receiving the attack, it also tends to be more obvious, and therefore easier to confront. While distracting, the damage inflicted to the opponent's character can still be separated from his stance in an argument, thereby allowing the debate to continue. The circumstantial form, on the other hand, can effectively eliminate any possibility of continuing a reasonable discourse by contending that the opponent's arguments are guided by something other than the pursuit of the truth.

Let me be clear on this. Unsupported claims of multiple logical fallacies is nothing but an ad hominem attack. It is an attack against a person's intelligent or morality or both. Likewise, calling someone a liar is an ad hominem attack.

This forum deserves better than that. If you can spot a logical fallacy in someone's argument, by all means point it out and support your claim. Think through the issue of whether it is a formal fallacy or informal fallacy. But, in any case, discuss it an a way that treats the other person with respect. Don't overstate your case or you lose credibility.


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designtheorist
Member (Idle past 275 days)
Posts: 390
From: Irvine, CA, United States
Joined: 09-15-2011


Message 118 of 344 (641461)
11-19-2011 2:59 PM
Reply to: Message 115 by Granny Magda
11-19-2011 1:55 PM


Re: Fallacy of misplaced concreteness
Granny Magda quotes me:

quote:
...when they are presented with evidence of fine scientists who were shocked by and had their worldview changed because of the big bang...

and then Granny Magda says:

Except that - for the Nth time - you haven't presented any such examples. The examples you claimed were bullshit. This is the well known fallacy of "talking bullshit, ignoring it when your bullshit gets called out and continuing to talk bullshit".

Not true. The examples and quotes I provided are accurate and well-substantiated. You have not provided any evidence to the contrary. You have only made baseless assertions which I did not feel even deserving of a response. But I will respond this time.

Arthur Eddington was a well known atheist and expert in general relativity.
“Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of Nature is repugnant to me … I should like to find a genuine loophole.”
Arthur Eddington “The End of the World: From the Standpoint of Mathematical Physics” Nature, vol. 127 (1931) p. 450

Why did Eddington want to find a loophole? Because he knew it meant the universe had a beginning and that leads unavoidably to discussion of the cause.

Arthur Eddington states: “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.” (Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe, p. 178)

How often do you read of an atheist talking about the supernatural? Not often. Only when the science makes it unavoidable.

Robert Jastrow has been variously described as an atheist and agnostic. In either case, he was not a religious man. Yet:

Speaking of the big bang, Robert Jastrow says: “That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” (A scientist caught between two faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow, Christianity Today, August 6, 1982).

“Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced sharply and suddenly at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, p. 14).

Jastrow's book is about how the big bang shocked the world of astronomy and astrophysics and changed their world view. It is a short and fascinating book on an important period in the history of science. I strongly recommend you read it.

Allan Sandage was an atheist who became a Christian late in life and said, "If God did not exist, science would have to invent Him to explain what it is discovering at its core."

“I find it improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something rather than nothing.” - Allan Sandage, Winner of the Crawford Prize in Astronomy, spoken before he became a Christian

Now, if you can find any problems with these quotes, please let me know. I am certain you cannot.

Now we return to the actual subject of this thread.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 115 by Granny Magda, posted 11-19-2011 1:55 PM Granny Magda has responded

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designtheorist
Member (Idle past 275 days)
Posts: 390
From: Irvine, CA, United States
Joined: 09-15-2011


Message 119 of 344 (641462)
11-19-2011 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 116 by jar
11-19-2011 2:31 PM


Re: A question of honesty.
Jar,
You seem to be saying that you would believe a Christian could be a scientist and honest as long as he admitted he was self-deluded, is that right? How can an admittedly self-deluded person be considered honest?

Under the standard cosmology of the big bang, the universe cannot have had a natural cause because the universe did not exist to cause itself. The theory of evolution is not the only model to explain the diversity of life we see. In fact, neo-Darwinism is crumbling due to genetics (but I am giving away a future thread).

Back to the subject at hand, logic and logical fallacies.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 116 by jar, posted 11-19-2011 2:31 PM jar has responded

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jar
Member
Posts: 24674
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 120 of 344 (641463)
11-19-2011 3:10 PM
Reply to: Message 119 by designtheorist
11-19-2011 3:06 PM


Re: A question of honesty.
You seem to be saying that you would believe a Christian could be a scientist and honest as long as he admitted he was self-deluded, is that right? How can an admittedly self-deluded person be considered honest?

Not at all. He can be honest as long as he admits that he is ignoring all of the evidence and believing in Special Creation in spite of the evidence.

But of course it has nothing to do with Christianity since most of the recognized chapters of Club Christian oppose Creationism or Intelligent Design.

Edited by jar, : appalin spallin


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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 Message 119 by designtheorist, posted 11-19-2011 3:06 PM designtheorist has not yet responded

  
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