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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Douglas Arndell

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#logicalfallacy
#namethisfallacy
Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - 12:13 PM

Fallacy of association or conspiracy fallacy?

This is based on recent events, but was quickly dogpiled with conspiracy theories as I saw this chat unfold in front of me:

Person A: So, this relatively well know person, with charges of running a trafficking ring, died in prison by suicide in this high security prison. Must be the prison system being so harsh he committed suicide.

Person Y: You can't blame the prison system for killing this person! Because he is famous and has connections to a trafficking ring with tons of powerful people, he must have been ordered to be killed to look like a suicide! I just wont believe the narrative that a high risk prisoner on suicide watch at a high security prison could just commit suicide!

Person A: But do you have any evidence for these assertions?

Person Y: I already know the rich and powerful could get away with everything, but this murder just confirms it!

How many fallacies are in this?



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5 Answers

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - 12:22 PM
As of now, there is no (public) evidence whatsoever of a conspiracy, so no conspiracy is warranted until evidence (for THIS potential conspiracy, not conspiracies in general) is presented.

Person A: So, this relatively well know person, with charges of running a trafficking ring, died in prison by suicide in this high security prison. Must be the prison system being so harsh he committed suicide.

False cause. It is fairly clear why he committed suicide, and it is unlikely related to the "harshness" of the prison system.

Person Y: You can't blame the prison system for killing this person! Because he is famous and has connections to a trafficking ring with tons of powerful people, he must have been ordered to be killed to look like a suicide!

Conspiratorial thinking and False cause.

I just wont believe the narrative that a high risk prisoner on suicide watch at a high security prison could just commit suicide!

Appeal to incredulity. We don't care what this person will or will not believe. It does not affect the facts.

Person Y: I already know the rich and powerful could get away with everything, but this murder just confirms it!

Appeal to possibility. Just because rich people CAN get away with something, does not mean that they tried.
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Larry Allen Brown

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Larry Allen Brown


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Print Sun, Aug 11, 2019 - 03:30 PM
There seems to be a lot of questions regarding Epstein's alleged suicide. I think there must be an investigation as to whether it's a homicide or a suicide. There seems to be a lot of motive for a homicide to have taken place. Very powerful people would have a reason to make certain that Epstien is silenced. Epstein would have a lot of reasons to commit suicide as well, but how could he manage to do that when he was under suicide watch? And then why was he taken off suicide watch? What did he hang himself from in a cell that had nothing attached to the ceiling? What did he use for a rope? I just want some plausible explanations. A mob boss can get to a witness who's in jail. How much more powerful is the POTUS and heads of major corporations and members of royal families? How hard would it be to get somebody inside to kill Epstein? When he was taken off of suicide watch, he was checked every 4 hours. When they checked on him did they not find him hanging from the ceiling? During that time was it possible for anybody else to get to Epstein? I'm not suggesting that he was murdered, but I'm not inclined to rule it out knowing the motive that some very powerful people would have to shut him up,.


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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Master Contributor

About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - 12:52 PM
It's remarkable how fast the conspiracy theorists have pounced on this before any significant facts or evidence other than his death have been provided. It's rather telling because Conspiracy Theorists and Trumpsters don't like facts, they'd much rather exploit the GAP between their own pernicious wish-fulfillment and reality. They're already claiming that Hillary and Bill Clinton had him murdered.

Coincidentally, Psychology Today just release an articled on the Trump Supporter and the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

The Dunning-Kruger Effect May Help Explain Trump's Support
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201808/the-dunning-kruger-effect-may-help-explain-trumps-support?eml

Dunning-Kruger is not a logical fallacy, but a Cognitive Bias. I've been saying this for some time, but I do think we are now well beyond the point of a cognitive bias and full on into a mass hysteria or a viral ideological brain virus. As Robert Oxton Bolt once wrote:

A belief is not an idea the mind possesses. It is an idea that possesses the mind.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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Print Sat, Aug 10, 2019 - 10:34 PM
Exactly agree w/ the other comments. People who say there is a conspiracy have the burden of proof. Suspicion or mistrust does not prove a conspiracy.

Yes, powerful people CAN order assassinations. That doesn't prove that they DID.

I posted about this issue on my blog (it's free and no ads).

https://harpine.blogspot.com/2019/08/nutty-epstein-conspiracy-theories-did.html

http://harpine.blogspot.com/2016/10/speeches-about-conspiracies-how-can-we.html


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David Blomstrom
Political Activist & Student of Mind Control

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David Blomstrom

Political Activist & Student of Mind Control

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About David Blomstrom

I'm Seattle's only political activist - and, no, that isn't an arrogant statement; it's just the sad truth.
Print Sun, Aug 11, 2019 - 11:15 AM
Wow, this is a can of worms. You're obviously referring to Jeffrey Epstein, which is a pretty sensational case.

Let's put this case in perspective. First, is it fair to call Jeffrey Epstein a pedophile?

Every politically astute person knows that money buys justice. When a billionaire (or a multi-millionaire at the least) winds up in prison on these kinds of charges - which Epstein fended off with the help of one of America's most famous lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, previously - you have to be a little suspicious. The corporate media are openly calling him a pedophile. I don't think any sane person doubts that he was a pedophile.

Another established fact: He had extraordinary political connections. Powerful people from Donald Trump and Bill Clinton to British royalty may deny any improprieties, but they don't deny visiting Epstein's Pedophile Island.

The suggestion that Epstein was driven to suicide by harsh prison conditions is absurd. With his money and connections, it's hard to imagine that Epstein was treated worse than other prisoners - most of whom do NOT commit suicide.

We also have to ask how he wound up in solitary confinement when he allegedly tried to commit suicide on another occasion. How does that even begin to make sense? And how did he obtain something to hang himself with? What did he hang himself from? Looking around my apartment, I can't find any solid structure that I could hang myself from. Was there a metal rod conveniently suspended in his cell in solitary confinement?

And how convenient that the incident wasn't captured on a surveillance camera! Kind of reminds me of the commercial airliner that crashed into the Pentagon without being photographed. Come to think of it, this entire incident is reminiscent of 9/11 - an entire series of wildly improbable events that are casually dismissed as irrelevant.

I don't know if the first passage qualifies as a fallacy. It could be a statement made out of simple ignorance. If it was written by a propagandist, then he appears to be manufacturing a bogus explanation. Would this qualify as a straw man?

The next passage consists of three sentences...

You can't blame the prison system for killing this person!

This sentence is a little confusing. Technically, it's possible that Epstein was murdered by someone employed by the prison system. It's hard to imagine how whatever happened could have happened without the assistance of someone within the prison system.

Because he is famous and has connections to a trafficking ring with tons of powerful people, he must have been ordered to be killed to look like a suicide!

Yes, it would be utterly stupid to ignore Epstein's fame, money and connections. However, we don't know if he was murdered. Some have suggested that he was allowed to kill himself as an alternative to spending the rest of his life in prison. I find this highly improbable, though the media claim he did try to commit suicide just a week or two ago.

Another possibility is that his murder was staged, and he was literally rescued from prison. Sounds wild and crazy, but it would not be as hard to accomplish as some would think. We know his body was removed from the prison, though we have know way of knowing if he was actually dead. It would not be hard to make up a story about the body being taken to a hospital. There was an absolutely sensational story about a retired general (the late St. John Stanford) with leukemia who escaped from a hospital here in Seattle so he could walk home to see his family - wearing nothing but a hospital gown and towing an IV tray. The media claimed he was lucid - and that the police at first thought he was stealing the IV tray!

That was an obvious conspiracy involving the hospital, the media, the police department and the Seattle School District. The icing on the cake: The media published an entirely different account the preceding day!

I just wont believe the narrative that a high risk prisoner on suicide watch at a high security prison could just commit suicide!

That's a very sensible statement.

The last statement:

I already know the rich and powerful could get away with everything, but this murder just confirms it!

I don't know if this qualifies as a fallacy, but the rich and powerful can't literally get away with everything. Nevertheless, it's common knowledge that there are effectively two justice systems - one for THEM and the other for US. If a black man gets caught selling cocaine, he may have two options: getting murdered by the police or spending a helluva long time in prison.

Compare that to the Sacklers, who have made billions of dollars off the sale of opioids, which have killed people across the country.

In summary, I can't tell you how many fallacies this conversation embraces. Person Y is the only one making sense, though some of his statements are a little awkward. Person A sounds like an individual who is either 1) ignorant, or 2) an armchair propagandist who is conveniently overlooking the obvious in his attempt to sweep the incident under the rug.

Before Epstein committed suicide, I was wondering how it was even possible for a person with his power and connections to wind up in prison and for his victims to implicate so many famous, powerful people. I couldn't imagine how Epstein could spend the rest of his life in prison and speculated that he would simply be pardoned by Donald Trump. For whatever it's worth, I read somewhere that he was likely facing a sentence of something like 45 years. Considering his age, that would amount to a life sentence, but still - isn't that kind of sentence normally given to a person caught selling cocaine?
Working on a series of books focusing on mind control and conspiracy at www.kpowbooks.com


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Larry Allen Brown
Monday, August 12, 2019 - 12:18:49 PM
@David Blomstrom: I think I'm going to go with Occams' Razor and look for the simplest answer that doesn't require unnecessary contingencies to find the truth. I don't believe that Epstein's suicide was faked and he has been removed from prison and is hiding among us someplace. I think too many people would have to be in on it and there's no way to be certain that somebody isn't going to tell their wife who would tell their best friend who of course would neve dream of telling anybody else, except her other best friend and so on. And if the truth came out that it was faked to protect him, it would bring down way too many people including the POTUS, which brings me to the idea that Trump would pardon him. I don't buy that. It would be political suicide for Trump to pardon a guy that could implicate him in something as vile as child rape.

I also don't buy that he committed suicide. If he had tried once before and was put on suicide watch, when did they become convinced that he wasn't going to try doing it again. Once he tried, the officials would know that he was a danger to himself and would likely try it again if he wasn't placed on suicide watch. Did he convince these pro's who held El Chappo and Manifort that he was going to behave himself and not try to kill himself again?? At what point was he convincing that he was no longer a threat to commit suicide. And how did he do it? There was nothing in his cell to tie anything to. They said he was found unresponsive in his cell. They didn't say that they found him hanging. Unresponsive could mean he had a heart attack, or overdosed on drugs. If he was found hanging they would say they found him hanging in his cell. Wouldn't that be the first thing a person would say? Yeah, he's unresponsive. He was hanging from the ceiling. But from what? He didn't have a rope or a belt. And the sheets are paper thin and wouldn't hold him anyway.

My guess is that it was a "hit" and he had to be silenced. Too many people could be implicated including POTUS. It was probably somebody inside. Either another prisoner with the guards not looking. Or guards themselves. Epstein had to be silenced because of what he know. I think it makes the most sense that he was murdered. Is there an autopsy? Pictures of the body? Suddenly a guy with a ton of implicating knowledge of the most powerful people in the world is found dead in his cell, and we're told it's suicide with nothing to prove that is the case. BTW....we're going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.

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David Blomstrom
Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 05:32:08 PM
I just caught one mistake in my response to the question - the word "pedophile." Technically, that term describes a person who has sex with a pre-pubescent child. Epstein and his friends are accused of trafficking in teenaged girls.

Ironically, I'm not aware of a good substitute term. We could call them "sex predators," but that term could also describe a man who pats a woman he works with on the butt. There's simply no comparison.

For the time being, I'm stumped on the terminology. These creeps are regularly labeled pedophiles by the media and online bloggers, and the term somehow seems to fit. But people could call it a technical foul.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 05:38:53 PM
Actually, “pedophile” is a term that describes adults who are sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children. Having sex with this demographic is what is illegal and makes them “predators”.

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David Blomstrom
Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 11:28:24 AM
P.S. Check out this article -- https://nypost.com/2019/08/10/former-mcc-inmate-theres-no-way-jeffrey-epstein-killed-himself/

I can't verify its veracity, but it sounds logical. Like I said, it doesn't make sense to put a guy on suicide watch in a prison cell that has a sturdy metal bar and a rope. Common sense tells us this is a case where nothing makes sense - unless there's a conspiracy involved.

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