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Ryan

Can there be a reverse of the No True Scotsman fallacy?

Hello, 

I've learned about the No True Scotsman fallacy from atheists, who, when pointing out an harmful action done by Christians receive responses from Christians who will say "Well, real Christians don't do that." After reading from this website more about the No True Fallacy, it does make sense how this can be a fallacy. Absent of any objective standard for why the people who do those harmful actions cant be real Christians, the statement absolves the category of any meaning and therefore makes it unfalsifiable.

But does the fallacy work in reverse? If I said something like "All Christians hate" and someone responded with "These Christians over here don't hate," then I responded with, "They aren't real Christians" would that be a No True Scotsman? Or is that something different? Would the best bet be to avoid making generalizations of groups? Or would the best bet to be prepared to provide the objective standard for why "All" of something do "Y?" 

asked on Sunday, Jan 03, 2021 06:13:08 AM by Ryan

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Bo Bennett, PhD
3

Hi Ryan,

If I said something like "All Christians hate" and someone responded with "These Christians over here don't hate," then I responded with, "They aren't real Christians" would that be a No True Scotsman?

Yes, that is a prime example of the no true scotsman fallacy.

Would the best bet be to avoid making generalizations of groups?

Not necessarily. Making generalizations is often helpful; it is the hasty generalization that is problematic. Similarly, stereotyping is both a useful and necessary heuristic; but stereotyping (the fallacy) can also be problematic under several conditions (see fallacy link for details).

Or would the best bet to be prepared to provide the objective standard for why "All" of something do "Y?"

Of course, if one has that option. It is also helpful to agree on criteria that qualifies or excludes one from being a "Christian." Note that this isn't objective—in lieu of objective criteria, a shared understanding will do. If those involved in the discussion agree that in order to be a Christian, one must believe that Jesus was divine, then "those are true Christians" can be non-fallaciously used within that context assuming the subset referred to do not believe that Jesus was divine.

On a related note, precision in language is far more truthful, honest, accurate, and productive. Here are some examples:

Virtually all Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus.
Most Christians believe in the trinity.
Some Christians believe the earth is around 6000 years old.
According to a 2018 Pew poll, a slim majority of Americans (56%) say they believe in God “as described in the Bible.”

The last example is the most precise and most useful in debate or argumentation. Words such as "most," "some," "many," etc. can be used to deceive while technically not being wrong. "Many" is a good example that is virtually meaningless. "Many people are saying... " comes to mind.

Hope that helps.

answered on Sunday, Jan 03, 2021 07:57:35 AM by Bo Bennett, PhD

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Ryan writes:

This absolutely does help! Thank you for responding.

posted on Sunday, Jan 03, 2021 11:05:18 AM