Thursday, May 17, 2012

Questions, questions

A brace of question oriented fallacies today, both very common if you know what you're looking for.The first one is the staple of Biblical and Koranic literalists everywhere, as in, Q) "how do you know the Bible is true" A) "because its the word of God", Q) "how do you know it's the word of God" A) "because it says so in the Bible. The second one is the staple of sales people everywhere, the dreaded cold calling closed question, "would you be interested in saving money?". The thought of it sends a shiver down my spine.

BEGGING THE QUESTION - A circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise.

This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good. The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo’s Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.

LOADED QUESTION - Asking a question that has an assumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty.

Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature - the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot. Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was having any problems with a drug habit.


Chairman Bill said...

Have you stopped beating your wife?

Chairman Bill said...

PS - I see you're mentioned in despatches:

Steve Borthwick said...

CB - re. beating my wife, presumably you mean at scrabble?

Yes I spotted that link, hopefully the Archdruid can put in a good word for me with the big man upstairs, I'll probably need it.. ;)