71. Magical Thinking (also, the Sin of Presumption; Expect a Miracle!): An ancient but deluded fallacy of logos, arguing that when it comes to "crunch time," provided one has enough faith, prays hard enough, says the right words, does the right rituals, "names it and claims it," or "claims the Promise," God will always suspend the laws of the universe and work a miracle at the request of or for the benefit of the True Believer. In practice this nihilist fallacy denies the existence of a rational or predictable universe and thus the possibility of any valid argument from logic. See also, Positive Thinking, the Appeal to Heaven, and the Job's Comforter fallacy. 72. Mala Fides (Arguing in Bad Faith; also Sophism): Using an argument that the arguer himself or herself knows is not valid. E.g., An unbeliever attacking believers by throwing verses from their own Holy Scriptures at them, or a lawyer arguing for the innocence of someone whom s/he knows full well to be guilty. This latter is a common practice in American jurisprudence, and is sometimes portrayed as the worst face of "Sophism." [Special thanks to Bradley Steffens for pointing out this fallacy!] Included under this fallacy is the fallacy of Motivational Truth (also, Demagogy, or Campaign Promises), deliberately lying to "the people" to gain their support or motivate them toward some action the rhetor perceives to be desirable (using evil discursive means toward a "good" material end). A particularly bizarre and corrupt form of this latter fallacy is Self Deception (also, Whistling by the Graveyard). in which one deliberately and knowingly deludes oneself in order to achieve a goal, or perhaps simply to suppress anxiety and maintain one's energy level, enthusiasm, morale, peace of mind or sanity in moments of adversity.
73. Measurability: A corrupt argument from logos and ethos (that of science and mathematics), the modern Fallacy of Measurability proposes that if something cannot be measured, quantified and replicated it does not exist, or is "nothing but anecdotal, touchy- feely stuff" unworthy of serious consideration, i.e., mere gossip or subjective opinion. Often, achieving "Measurability" necessarily demands preselecting, "fiddling" or "massaging" the available data simply in order to make it statistically tractable, or in order to support a desired conclusion. Scholar Thomas Persing thus describes "The modernist fallacy of falsely and inappropriately applying norms, standardizations, and data point requirements to quantify productivity or success. This is similar to complex question, measurability, and oversimplification fallacies where the user attempts to categorize complicated / diverse topics into terms that when measured, suit their position. For example, the calculation of inflation in the United States doesn't include the changes in the price to gasoline, because the price of gasoline is too volatile, despite the fact gasoline is necessary for most people to live their lives in the United States." See also, "A Priori Argument," "Lying with Statistics," and the "Procrustean Fallacy." 74.
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- Spring '18
- Carl Mahaffer