Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Divide and criticise

Two very common fallacies today, I hear the first one quite a lot in business particularly when emotions are high and evidence and reason are short, A says, "you missed the deadline!", and B responds with "so what, you missed a deadline last month!" a particularly fruitless form of debate. The second one is also quite common, particularly in the software business, it's related to the "mythical man month" fallacy and is usually perpetrated by people who don't actually understand the "detail" of what is being done and yet have some kind of vested interest in it, i.e. marketing people, sales people or managers etc. the misunderstanding  is perfectly illustrated with the example that such a person might superficially believe if it takes one woman 9 months to have a baby it should take 9 women one month to do the same.

TU QUOQUE - Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser - answering criticism with criticism.

Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is commonly employed as an e ective red herring because it takes the heat o the accused having to defend themselves and shifts the focus back onto the accuser themselves. The blue candidate accused the red candidate of committing the tu quoque fallacy. The red candidate responded by accusing the blue candidate of the same, after which ensued an hour of back and forth criticism with not much progress.

COMPOSITION/DIVISION - Assuming that what’s true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it.

Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, but because this isn’t always the case it can’t be presumed to be true. We must show evidence for why a consistency will exist. Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.

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