Using these 10 Commandments of the Logic and rational debate will help you win every argument, without unnecessarily attacking or humiliating the other person. Keep in mind these rules, and knock every debate out of the park. 10 Commandments of Logic might be useful to some who like to “debate” online.
The Ten Commandments of Logic: A guide for avoiding pointless arguments.
These are 10 of the more popular logical fallacies, but there are many others you need to learn in order to master the art of debate. Learn how to spot and make valid arguments. We hope you enjoy this critical thinking guide.
1. Ad hominem: Thou shall not attack the person’s character, but the argument itself.
The second lowest form of disagreement according to Paul Graham’s Hierarchy
Example: Dave listens to Marilyn Manson, therefore his arguments against certain parts of religion are worthless. After all, would you trust someone who listens to that devil worshiper?
2. Straw Man Fallacy: Thou shall not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack.
Giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.
Example: After Jimmy said that we should put more money into health and education, Steve responded by saying that he was surprised that Jimmy hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending.
3. Hasty Generalization: Thou shall not use small numbers to represent the whole.
Make sure you have studied enough before you make conclusions.
Example: Climate Change Deniers take a small sample set of data to demonstrate that the Earth is cooling, not warming. They do this by zooming in on 10 years of data, ignoring the trend that is present in the entire data set which spans a century.
4. Begging the Question: Thou shall not argue thy position by assuming one of its premises is true.
You must prove your point before using it to support your argument.
Sheldon: “God must exist.”
Wilbert: “How do you know?”
Sheldon: “Because the Bible says so.”
Wilbert: “Why should I believe the Bible?”
Sheldon: “Because the Bible was written by God.”
Here, Sheldon is making the assumption that the Bible is true, therefore his premise – that God exists – is also true.
5. Post Hoc/False Cause: Thou shall not claim that because something occurred before, but must be the cause.
Don’t assume that because something happened before that it was the cause. This can also be read as “correlation does not imply causation”.
Example: There were 3 murders in Dallas this week and on each day, it was raining. Therefore, murders occur on rainy days.
6. False Dichotomy: Thou shall not reduce the argument down to only two possibilities when there is a clear middle ground.
Arguments can be resolved by more than two possibilities.
Example: You’re either with me, or against me. Being neutral is not an option.
7. Ad Ignorantiam: Thou shall not argue that because of our ignorance, the claim must be true or false.
Don’t use a person’s ignorance of a claim to suggest that something is true or false.
Example: 95% of unidentified flying objects have been explained. 5% have not. Therefore, the 5% that are unexplained prove that aliens exist.
8. Burden of Proof Reversal: Thou shall not lay the burn of proof onto him that is questioning the claim.
Don’t lay the burden of proof onto those who are questioning you.
Example: Marcy claims she sees the ghosts of dead people, then challenges you to prove her wrong. The burden of proof is on Marcy, not you since Marcy made the extraordinary claim.
9. Non-Sequitur: Thou shall not assume that “this” follows “that”, when “it” has no logical connection.
Don’t assume or make connections that don’t exist.
Similar, but the difference between the post hoc and non sequitur fallacies is that, whereas the post hoc fallacy is due to lack of a causal connection, in the non sequitur fallacy, the error is due to lack of a logical connection.
Example: If you do not buy these Vitamin X supplements for your infant, you are neglecting her.
10. Bandwagon Fallacy: Thou shall not claim that because a premise is popular, therefore, it must be true.
Don’t assume something is true because it’s popular.
Example: Just because a celebrity like Dr. Oz endorses a product, it doesn’t make it any more legitimate.
Fallacies are common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Fallacies can be either illegitimate arguments or irrelevant points, and are often identified because they lack evidence that supports their claim. Avoid these common fallacies in your own arguments and watch for them in the arguments of others.