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Andrew Nichols

Mind if I write up a post that identifies all the major fallacies and explains why they are wrong? Could be a great project if you get people involved in it.


Andrew, that would be a great idea! I actually meant to search for and link to that kind of information online last night, but somehow failed to remember it when I posted. If you send me a link to your post, I will link to it here.

Also, if we can get participation on this I wouldn't mind critiquing an essay that asserts a Christian position but does so with poor reasoning. In other words, tries to prove a point I agree with, but fails to do so. Perhaps it would be better/kinder to write one of my own based on arguments one typically hears? We'll see how this goes first.

I did archive this essay, by the way, so if it is removed (It is a newspaper column, so it may be posted only for a short time.), I can send the file via email to anyone who requests it.


My list can be found at:


The second paragraph reminds me of the "bandwagon" persuasion technique: "Countless studies have been done, and all of us scientists believe this."


The writer says:
Picture yourself in a religious service. A sticker on your Bible's cover reads ''This book contains material on creation. Creationism is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.''

Sounds ridiculous? Luckily, scientists don't meddle in religious institutions freely teaching their faith. Unfortunately, some fundamentalists aren't as generous."
There are lots of problems with this reasoning. First he assumes that there is a valid comparison between people of faith, whom he insists on calling, "fundamentalists" having a say in the public schools that they fund through compulsary taxes; and scientists having an influence in churches--private institutions that they, the writer presumes, neither belong to nor fund.

Second, he seems to assume that scientists are never "fundamentalists," (that is, people who think evolution theory can be questioned) and fundamentalists are never scientists.

Third, he assumes all those who think evolution theory should be studied critically think this way because of religious bias.

Fourth, he seems to imply that suggesting that considering theories of origin critically, carefully, and with an open mind is somehow anti-science "meddling." Is he suggesting it would be more scientific if these theories should be accepted blindly, without question, and without critical consideration? Wouldn't that be accepting them, dare I say it, religiously?

Fifth, he seems to equivocate between public schools and "science," but in either case, any involvement in either of these by Christians is "meddling," as if they had no right to speak anywhere but in church.


Well, Dory, I'm pretty rusty when it comes to spotting fallacies, but here's my try:

The writer is guilty of petitio principii or begging the question (the premises are at least as questionable as the conclusion reached) when he makes some of these statements:

“Countless research studies have tested has withstood every serious scientific challenge,” Evolutionary processes are transparent...” and, “Intelligent Design has not revealed anything new or testable about life’s origins... etc.”

I can’t say these things are true or false, but they do ask me to accept some pretty strong premises which I would question...

The writer is uses argumentum ad hominem in his choice of words as they describe intelligent design and the actions and motivations of its supporters. Instead of refuting the ideas of Intelligent Design, he attempts to help discredit it by - effectively - name-calling, labeling it untrustworthy, and accusing those who support it of operating out of ulterior motives. He does this with words and phrases like: (Intelligent Design) “...suggests....speculates,” those supporting it are guilty of “misrepresentations,” and “their motivations are driven by religious fervor...” to name some examples.

(I used this as my source for information about logic.) Thanks a lot for hijacking my morning by getting me off on this rabbit trail!

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