This is excellent. I love it! PLEASE keep reblogging this. Get this in front of everybody. If someone uses one of these tactics, call them out on it. Let’s have some sensible, productive, logical, reasonable, fact-based conversations and solve some real problems.
I want to add four more fallacies of my own:
(1) “It’s ‘NORMAL’ and ‘NATURAL,’ so it must be the only right choice and the only acceptable policy.”
WHY IT’S MISLEADING: “Normal” is totally subjective based on where you live, what language you speak, what cultural group you belong to etc. What was normal for a wealthy, elderly tradesman in ancient Rome is not normal for a woman attending graduate school in 21st century Mexico. And “natural” does not equate to “good.” If we lived strictly as if we were in the wilderness, our family members would be eaten by bears and wolves, our teeth would rot out of our heads and we would all be dead before we reached the age of 40. When people say something is “normal and natural,” they really just mean, “this is what I’m comfortable with.”
(2) “Everybody knows that …”
WHY IT’S MISLEADING: First of all, common knowledge is frequently incomplete and frequently wrong. If ten million people believe something that’s incorrect, it’s STILL incorrect. Also, when people say, “everybody knows,” what they usually really mean is “the people I surround myself with.”
(3) The irresponsible and deceptive use of statistics.
This is not a single fallacy; it is a family of fallacies. It is very easy to distort charts, graphs and figures to “prove” your point — IF your audience is not good at basic math. This is one of the many reasons that it’s a good idea to teach probability and statistics to everybody, starting as early as possible. When the general public is well educated, it’s much harder to fool them this way.
Correlation, for example, does not imply causality. Sexual assault and ice cream sales go up in summer in Chicago. They both go down in winter. This does not “prove” that ice cream causes sexual assault.
You must take all the variables into account. Brazil has twice as many cases of a certain disease as England in a year. But that does not mean that Brazil has an infection rate twice as high as England. Brazil has a population six times greater than England. So if England has 50 cases (out of a population of 50 million) and Brazil has 100 cases (out of a population of 300 million), that gives Brazil an infection rate of 1 in 3 million and England an infection rate of 1 in 1 million. England’s rate is actually three times Brazil’s rate when adjusted for population.
(4) Decisions and persuasion based on irrational fear.
A man might have an 80% chance of dying of a heart attack or a stroke in the next ten years and a .00000001% chance of being killed by a shark attack. So he sits on the shore, afraid to go in the water, and eats his bacon double cheeseburger.