Blog Post: How Fallacies Pervade Politics, the News and Yes Even Your Thinking

Linda Elder
Mar 25, 2020 • 62d ago
How Fallacies Pervade Politics, the News and Yes Even Your Thinking

{"ops":[{"insert":"March 25, 2020\n\nIn editing our textbook: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life, 3"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"script":"super"},"insert":"rd"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" ed"},{"insert":", (2012, Paul and Elder), for an upcoming fourth edition, I pulled for you the brief conclusion from our chapter on fallacies. I think you will see immediate application between these thoughts and what we see in the words of politicians and news outlets. \n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":" \"In a world of fairminded critical thinkers, the list of those who reasoned best and the list of those with the most influence in the world would be one and the same. But we don’t exist in an ideal world of intellectually disciplined,"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"empathic thinkers. We live in fundamentally uncritical societies, societies in which skilled manipulators, masters of intellectual tricks and stratagems, are the ones who tend to achieve position, status, and advantage."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\t   "},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"A continual struggle for power and control exists in the everyday world, and in that struggle, truth and insight have little chance of competing with big money driving big media. Big money routinely uses the resources of media logic, polished rhetoric, and mass propaganda techniques to gain its ends. Most people, being intellectually unsophisticated, respond to and, even unknowingly, use fallacious thinking. As we hope you realize by now, most of what are traditionally called fallacies are actually highly effective strategies for shaping the opinions and beliefs of others. Fallacies are best understood as “counterfeits” of good reasoning, devices often successful in manipulating the intellectual “sheep” of the world. It is important to realize that those who manipulate others typically deceive themselves in the process. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to live with themselves. People want to view themselves as decent and fairminded, not as manipulators of unsophisticated others. The result is that when people use bad reasoning to manipulate others, they must at the same time “deceive” themselves into believing their thinking to be justified."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\t"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"    In an ideal world, children would be taught to recognize fallacies at an early age. They would learn how common fallacies are in everyday discourse. They"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"would practice identifying fallacies in every dimension of their lives. They would come to understand the frailties and weaknesses of the human mind. They would learn to recognize their own frailties and weaknesses—their own egocentrism and sociocentrism. They would become familiar with the differences between uncritical thinking, sophistic thinking, and fairminded thinking."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\t"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"And they would become adept at identifying and distinguishing their uncritical, sophistic, and fairminded thinking. They would continually catch themselves about to slip, slipping, or having slipped into egocentric or sociocentric thought. They would have no trouble admitting mistakes. They would be eminently moveable by sound reasoning."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\t"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"But we do not live in an ideal world. Fallacies are indeed “foul ways” to win arguments, yet they are winning arguments and manipulating people every day. The news media’s representations of reality are filled with fallacies. Their stories and spins are the bread and butter of mass political discourse, public relations, and advertising. We all fall prey to them at times, and many people live and breathe fallacies as if they were the vehicles of sacred truth."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\t"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"Your goal should be to recognize fallacies for what they are—the dirty tricks of those who want to gain advantage. They are stratagems for gaining influence and power. You will withstand their impact more effectively when you know these fallacies inside and out. When you come to see how counterfeits of good reasoning pervade everyday life (and are the lifeblood of the news media), you are better able to resist their influence."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\t"},{"attributes":{"color":"#231f20"},"insert":"When you are inoculated against fallacies, your response to them is transformed. You ask key questions. You probe behind the masks, the fronts, the doctored images, the impressive pomp and ceremony. You take charge of your own mind and emotions. You become (increasingly) your own person. And perhaps most important, as you pursue your own goals, you diligently work to avoid using fallacies yourself (p. 343-344).\""},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n"},{"insert":"To learn more about fallacies, see our "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Thinkers Guide to Fallacies"},{"insert":" excerpts in the Library for Everyone. \n\nYou can find the textbook here: https://www.criticalthinking.org/store/products/critical-thinking-tools-for-taking-charge-of-your-learning-amp-your-life-3rd-edition/143 - or email us at cct@criticalthinking.org\n"},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n\n\n\n"},{"insert":"\n\n\n"}]}


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Posted by: Joseph Halter

{"ops":[{"insert":"Linda, thank you for the great review of logical fallacies.\nMy favorite section is:\n\"In an ideal world, children would be taught to recognize fallacies at an early age. They would learn how common fallacies are in everyday discourse. They would practice identifying fallacies in every dimension of their lives. They would come to understand the frailties and weaknesses of the human mind. They would learn to recognize their own frailties and weaknesses—their own egocentrism and sociocentrism. They would become familiar with the differences between uncritical thinking, sophistic thinking, and fairminded thinking.\"\nThis purpose should be one of the most significant contributions we could make as part of this Community.\nI would encourage each of us to review the materials in "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Thinkers Guide to Fallacies. "},{"insert":"It is well written.\nWhen I think of logical fallacies, I think of the"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" \"spin\""},{"insert":" that we get from others to distort the truth and facts. One of my favorite movies is called "},{"attributes":{"link":"https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=thank+you+for+not+smoking+movie+summary&&view=detail&mid=A3CB1401893BCCD2229AA3CB1401893BCCD2229A&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dthank%2Byou%2Bfor%2Bnot%2Bsmoking%2Bmovie%2Bsummary%26FORM%3DHDRSC3Thinkers Guide to Fallacies "},"insert":"Thank You for Smoking"},{"insert":" (review by Evert and Roeper) and it provides great scenes on logical fallacies. The movie is well done and an excellent example of fallacies.\n"}]}



Posted by: DR. PHILLIP CRENSHAW

{"ops":[{"insert":"It is very frustrating that the majority of contemporary school leaders have no desire for their respective institution's matriculates to learn how to think; unfortunately, high-stakes testing rules. I am an optimist, but I am going to \"call a spade a spade\": The public school system is \"useless\", unless vocational training takes place.\n"}]}