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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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Derek Kane

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Derek Kane


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Mon, Jun 01, 2015 - 03:02 PM

How to stop and infinite regression

I know A.
How do you know A?
Because of B.
How do you know B?
Because of C.
How do you know C?
Because of D...etc.

At some point, you either know everything (infinite regression) or the logic will become circular. How do you stop an infinite regression?



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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 Mon, Jun 01, 2015 - 03:39 PM
The regression you mention can be very useful in questioning one's assumptions, but it can also be fallacious. Each "how do you know" question is essentially questioning the truthfulness of the previous statement. At some point, the burden of proof shifts to the person asking "how do you know" to demonstrate that what you have claimed is false. For example:

Person A: People who regularly eat donuts for breakfast are almost all obese.
Person B: How do you know? (reasonable - burden is on person A to provide evidence for the claim)
Person A: I research this area, and conducted a meta-analysis comprising 12 studies that have been done in the last decade. The results were clear.
Person B: How do you know you didn't make a serious mistake? (reasonable, but less so - burden of proof can be argued either way)
Person A: I have been doing this for years and I am good at it. Besides, my work was peer reviewed and no serious mistakes were found.
Person B: How do you know that this time you didn't make a mistake, and that those who reviewed your work didn't all make errors as well? (unreasonable - we leave rational skepticism and enter denialism)
Person A: What makes you think that I might have and that all those who reviewed my work made errors as well?
Person B: Err... because, I..., just seems that way...
Person A: How do you know?

A deeper philosophical issue here is epistemology and foundational knowledge. There are many schools of thought here, and not worth getting into in casual argumentation. The technique above should prove very useful.
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Print Fri, Jun 05, 2015 - 09:26 PM
When you are pulling the string to get to the truth, the path of "how do you know?" won't get you there.
What you will be looking for is an outpoint of data, frequently an omission, or altered importance, or misassociation to determine the area
of the problem. From there you can find the who, and make things go right via that corrected person, or his senior, or his replacement. ...


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