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Fallacies And Persuaders Discussion

Fallacies And Persuaders Discussion

Persuasive speakers must consider what strengthens and weakens an argument. We previously discussed the process of developing an argument using claims and evidence and how warrants serve as the underlying justifications that link the two. We also discussed how important it is to assess the strength of a warrant because strong warrants are usually more persuasive. Knowing different types of reasoning can assist you in putting claims and evidence together compellingly and evaluating the quality of arguments you encounter. Furthermore, recognizing common logical fallacies can help you be a more critical consumer of persuasive messages.

The reasoning is the process of making sense of the world around us. We must use reasoning to understand our experiences, draw conclusions from information, and present new ideas. We frequently reason without being aware of it, but becoming more aware of how we think can empower us to be better communicative message producers and consumers. We will look at three types of reasoning: inductive, deductive, and causal.

Inductive Thinking
Inductive reasoning, the most common type of logical reasoning, reaches conclusions through examples (Walter, 1966). While introductory speakers are initially drawn to inductive reasoning because it appears simple, it can be challenging to master. Unlike deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning does not yield accurate or false conclusions. Instead, conclusions are either “more likely” or “less likely ” because conclusions are generalized from observations or examples.” Even if this type of reasoning is inconclusive, it can still be valid and persuasive.

Some inductive reasoning-based arguments will be more cogent, convincing, and relevant than others. Inductive reasoning, for example, can be weakened when claims are made too broadly. An argument that fraternities should be banned on campus because they promote underage drinking and do not uphold high academic standards could be countered by citing examples of fraternities that sponsor alcohol education programming on campus and have members who have excelled academically (Walter, 1966). In this case, one overly broad claim is met with another broad claim, both of which have some merit. It would be more effective to present a series of facts and reasons before sharing your conclusion or generalization based on them.

Inductive reasoning can be seen in the following speech excerpt from President George W. Bush’s address to the nation on September 11, 2001. Please take note of how he lists a series of events from the day that led to his conclusion that the terrorist attacks failed in their attempt to shake America’s foundation.

Fallacies And Persuaders Discussion
Today, a series of deliberate and lethal terrorist acts targeted our fellow citizens, our way of life, and our very freedom. Secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbours were killed on planes or in their offices. Thousands of lives were abruptly taken by evil, despicable terrorist acts. The images of planes flying into buildings fires raging, and massive structures collapsing filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These mass murders were designed to frighten our country into chaos and retreat. They have, however, failed. Our country is powerful.
Great people have been inspired to defend a great country. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our most important structures, but they cannot shake the foundation of America.

Speakers use inductive reasoning to reach conclusions by citing examples.

Claire Sambrook’s UM… is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0 license.

When a speaker can provide concrete, proxemic, and relevant examples, as Bush did in this example, audience members are prompted to think of additional examples that relate to their own lives. When an audience disagrees with your proposition, inductive reasoning can be helpful. As you present logically connected examples as evidence that leads to a conclusion, the audience may be persuaded by your evidence before realizing that the conclusion contradicts what they previously believed. This also creates cognitive dissonance, a persuasive strategy we will discuss later.

Inductive reasoning by analogy asserts that what is true in one set of circumstances will be confirmed in another (Walter, 1966). Logicians have criticized and questioned analogy reasoning because two sets of circumstances are never identical. While this is correct, our goal when using reasoning by analogy in persuasive speaking is to cite cases and supporting evidence that can influence an audience rather than reach absolute conclusions. Assume you are attempting to persuade a university to implement an alcohol education program by citing the program’s success at other institutions. Because no two universities are identical, the argument cannot be conclusive. To better support this argument, you could first demonstrate that the program was successful by utilizing various types of supporting material, such as statistics from campus offices and student and staff testimony. Second, you could demonstrate the connections between the cases by emphasizing similarities in the campus setting, culture, demographics, and previous mission. Because you cannot claim that the schools are identical in every way, choose to highlight significant similarities. Furthermore, acknowledging the significant limitations of the analogy and providing additional supporting material to address them is preferable to ignoring or hiding such limitations.

So, how should we assess inductive reasoning? When using inductive reasoning to test scientific arguments, rigorous testing and high standards must be met for a conclusion to be valid. Inductive reasoning is used differently in persuasive speaking. Because a speaker cannot cite every example to conclude, evaluating inductive reasoning requires looking at examples cited in ways other than quantity. First, the examples should be sufficient, which means that there are enough cited to support the conclusion. Otherwise, you risk falling victim to the hasty generalization fallacy. A speaker can expect the audience to think of some examples, so more than a set number of examples is required. Fewer examples are likely to suffice if the audience is familiar with the topic, whereas more examples may be required for unfamiliar topics. A speaker can strengthen his or her use of reasoning by example by demonstrating that the examples correspond to the average case, which may necessitate the use of additional supporting evidence in the form of statistics. Arguing for higher teacher salaries by citing an example of a teacher who works side jobs and pays for his or her school supplies could be effectively supported by demonstrating that this teacher’s salary corresponds to the national average (Walter, 1966).

Second, the examples should be representative, not cherry-picked, to support the argument. A speaker who argues that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) should be defunded because it supports “pornographic and offensive” art may cite five examples of grants for projects that have sparked such controversy. Failure to mention that these examples were drawn from the NEA’s more than 128,000 grants would be an inappropriate use of inductive reasoning because the examples are insufficient or typical to warrant the argument. Another way to support inductive arguments is to demonstrate that the examples represent the larger whole. Several examples could support the argument that college athletes should not receive scholarships because they lack the scholastic merit of other students and have lower academic achievement. However, the reasoning would only be flawed if those examples were representative. A speaker would need to demonstrate that the athletes in the example are representative of the university’s athlete population in terms of race, gender, sport, and background.

Reasoning by Induction
Deductive reasoning derives specifics from prior knowledge. It was the preferred mode of reasoning among ancient rhetoricians such as Aristotle when making logical arguments (Cooper & Nothstine, 1996). A syllogism is a type of deductive reasoning commonly used in logic classes. A syllogism is a deductive reasoning example in which primary and minor premises support a conclusion. A valid argument’s conclusion can be deduced from the major and minor premises. “All humans are mortal” is a well-known syllogism. Socrates is a human being. Socrates is a human being.” The conclusion, “Socrates is mortal,” is derived in this case from the central premise, “All humans are mortal,” and the minor premise, “Socrates is a human.”
In some cases, a syllogism’s major and minor premises are assumed to be true. In the preceding example, the central premise is assumed to be true because we lack knowledge of an immortal person to refute the statement. The minor premise is assumed accurate because Socrates resembles other people we know to be human. Such logic would lead detectives or scientists to want to test their conclusion. We could put our theory to the test by stabbing Socrates and seeing if he dies, but since the logic of the syllogism is sound, it may be better to give Socrates a break and accept the argument. Because most arguments are more sophisticated than the previous example, speakers must support their premises with research and evidence before deducing their conclusion.

If one of the premises is false, a syllogism can lead to incorrect conclusions, as in the following example:

The White House has been home to every president. (Main premise) George Washington was the first president. (Minor premise) George Washington was a resident of the White House. (Conclusion) In the previous example, the central premise was false because John Adams, our second president, was the first to live in the White House. As a result, the conclusion needs to be corrected. Even if both premises are true but unrelated, a syllogism can exhibit faulty logic, as in the following example:

Penguins come in both black and white. (Principle) Some old television shows are in black and white. (Minor premise) Some penguins are characters from old television shows. (Conclusion)
Real-life detectives, like Clue players, use deductive reasoning to determine who committed a crime based on the available evidence.

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Sleepmyf – Lego detective.

Causal Inference
Causal reasoning argues for a connection between a cause and an effect. Speakers use causal reasoning when arguing for a particular course of action based on potential positive or negative consequences. The following example demonstrates such reasoning: Eating more locally grown foods benefits the local economy and your health. The “if/then” relationship established in causal reasoning can be persuasive, but it is not always sound reasoning. Rather than establishing a genuine cause-and-effect relationship, speakers more frequently establish a correlation, which means there is a relationship between two things, but other contextual influences are at work.

Speakers should avoid claiming a direct relationship between a cause and an effect when such a connection cannot be proven to use causal reasoning effectively and ethically. Instead of claiming that “x caused y,” a speaker should state that “x influenced y.” Causal thinking is frequently used when attempting to blame something or someone, as demonstrated by the following example: The president is to blame for the economy’s slow recovery. While such a statement may gain a speaker some political capital, it is founded on something other than sound logic. Economic and political processes are too complex to be reduced to a simple cause-and-effect relationship. To support the existence of a correlation and the likelihood of a causal relationship, a speaker would need to use more solid reasoning, perhaps inductive reasoning through examples. Present evidence that demonstrates the following: (1) the cause occurred before the effect, (2) the cause caused the effect, and (3) it is unlikely that other causes caused the effect.

Review of Reasoning Types

Inductive. Argumentation based on examples to support a conclusion; includes analogy reasoning. A strong argument should be supported by sufficient, typical, and representative examples.
Deductive. Specifics are derived from what is already known; this includes syllogisms. For the argument to be valid, the premises that lead to the conclusion must be accurate, relevant, and related.
Causal. Attempts to establish a link between a cause and an effect. It is more likely to be a correlation than a genuine causal relationship.
Reasoning Fallacies
Fallacies need to be improved in an argument’s logic or reasoning. Although we will only cover ten common fallacies, over 125, have been identified and named. It is important to note that just because an argument contains a fallacy does not mean it cannot be persuasive. Fallacious arguments persuade many people because they do not recognize the fallacy. Fallacies are frequently the last resort of uninformed or ill-prepared speakers with little to say. Knowing the different types of reasoning and fallacies allows us to be more critical consumers of persuasive messages. This is a significant benefit of studying persuasive speaking, which affects personal, political, and professional aspects of our lives.

Excessive Generalization
The hasty generalization fallacy is related to inductive reasoning and is caused by citing too few examples to justify the generalization. It is tempting to jump to conclusions, especially when you are short on time, but making well-researched and supported arguments is essential for being a practical and ethical speaker when compared to the number of train passengers who travel safely every day, claiming that train travel is unsafe and citing two recent derailments that resulted in injury does not provide a strong warrant.

Analogy Error
The false analogy fallacy is also related to inductive reasoning and occurs when the situations or circumstances being compared are not sufficiently similar. A common fallacy is comparing something to putting a man on the moon: “If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we figure out a way to make the tax code easier to understand?” This question ignores the differences in skill sets and motivations between the two examples being compared.

False Origin
The false cause fallacy is related to causal reasoning and occurs when a speaker argues that one thing caused or caused another with insufficient evidence. Teachers used to tell us in high school that wearing baseball caps would cause us to go bald as we grew older. In an attempt to persuade us not to wear hats in class, they made the fallacious claim that wearing baseball caps causes baldness. When a false cause argument is made after the “effect,” it is called post hoc ergo propter hoc in Latin, which means “after this, therefore because of this.” Blaming lousy luck on superstitions is an example of faulty reasoning that attempts to establish a link between a previously occurring “effect” and its preceding “cause.” My bad luck is more likely due to poor decisions or random interference than to the mirror I broke two years ago while moving.

Superstitious beliefs are frequent examples of the false cause fallacy. Is the broken mirror indeed the source of your misfortune?

Seven Years Bad Luck by Tim Sheerman-Chase – CC BY 2.0.

False Credibility
The false authority fallacy occurs when the person making the argument lacks the qualifications to be credible but is perceived to be credible because they are respected or admired. Even though this type of argument is flawed, it is effective. Advertisers spend millions of dollars to persuade celebrities and athletes to sell their products because of the persuasive potential these stars have in their personas, not because of their ability to argue a point. Voters may be persuaded to support a candidate because of a famous musician’s endorsement without questioning either the musician’s or the politician’s political beliefs to see if they align with their own.

Parents and other adults have tried to keep us from falling victim to the bandwagon fallacy. When your mother asks, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?” in response to your argument that you should get to go to the party because everyone else is, she is correctly pointing out the fallacy in your argument. In one public-speaking example, I had students try to persuade their audience to buy and eat more organic foods because they are becoming more popular. In short, popular appeal and frequency of use are not sufficient grounds to support a claim. Simply because something is popular does not imply that it is good.

The False Dilemma
When a speaker rhetorically backs his or her audience into a corner, presenting them with only two options and arguing that they must choose one or the other, the false dilemma fallacy occurs. This is also referred to as the “either/or” fallacy. Critical thinkers understand that the world cannot be reduced to black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. However, when making arguments, many people rely on such oversimplifications. A speaker who argues that immigrants to the United States should learn English or return to their home country fails to recognize that many successful immigrants live successful lives and contribute to society despite not being fluent in English. The speaker also needs to pay attention to the fact that many immigrants do not have access to or the time to attend English language classes because they are preoccupied with their jobs and families. Granted, such a rhetorical strategy makes it easier to discuss complex issues and try to force people to make decisions. However, it also removes grey areas in the form of context, which can be critical when making a decision. Be sceptical of speakers and messages claiming only two options to consider.

The ad hominem
In Latin, ad hominem means “to the person,” and it refers to a common fallacy in which one attacks a person rather than an argument. Ad hominem attacks are common on elementary school playgrounds and middle school hallways. When one person runs out of good reasons to support their argument and says to the other, “Well, you’re ugly!” they have used a fallacious ad hominem argument. You are probably not surprised to learn that politicians frequently use personal attacks, primarily when funded by political action committees (PACs). Because of the proliferation of these organizations, there was an increase in “attack ads” during the 2012 presidential election. While all fallacious arguments degrade the quality of public communication, ad hominem arguments undermine our society’s civility.

Sliding Slope
When a person claims that one action will inevitably lead to a series of other actions, they are committing the slippery slope fallacy. If we take one step down an icy hill, it becomes difficult to get back up, and we slide down even though we only want to take one step. In a speech about US foreign policy, a slippery slope fallacy might take the form of the following argument: If the US goes to help this country in need, we will be expected to intervene whenever there is a conflict in the world.

The Red Herring
My favourite fallacy is the red herring fallacy because it has an interesting origin story—and it was used in Scooby-Doo! The name of this fallacy derives from old foxhunting practices in England. When hunters were training their dogs to follow a fox scent, they would mark a trail with a fox scent so the dog could practice following it. As a follow-up test, they would use the smell of fish (similar to a red herring) to create a second trail leading in a different direction. If a dog ignored the fox scent trail to follow the stronger and more noticeable scent trail left by the red herring, the dog failed the test. The most intelligent and well-trained dogs were not distracted by the fishy trail and remained on the path. Almost every Scooby Doo episode contains a red herring trick, such as when the ghost at the amusement park turns out to be a distraction created by the owner to conceal his financial problems and shady business practices. A speaker who employs the red herring fallacy makes an argument that deviates from the topic at hand. A red herring fallacy is bringing up socialism during a debate about nationalized health care.

Utilize Tradition
The appeal to tradition fallacy asserts that something should be continued because “that’s how things have always been done.” This type of argument may be used by someone who feels threatened by a potential change. Opponents of gay and lesbian marriage rights frequently argue that marriage should not change because it is traditionally defined as a “union between one man and one woman.” Such appeals frequently exaggerate the “tradition’s” history and prevalence. Many departures from traditional views of marriage in the United States have resulted in changes that we now accept as usual. Over the last century, laws have changed to remove men’s rights to beat their wives and make decisions for them. It was not until 1993 that every state made marital rape a crime, breaking a millennium-old “tradition” that women were obligated to have sex with their husbands (Coontz, 2006). Many people are resistant to or anxious about change, which is understandable, but it does not make for a compelling argument.

Fallacies Analysis

Excessive generalization. The fallacy of inductive reasoning occurs when there are bad examples to support a conclusion.
That is an incorrect analogy. The inductive reasoning fallacy occurs when comparable situations or circumstances are not sufficiently similar.
False motive. The fallacy of causal reasoning occurs when a speaker argues with insufficient evidence that one thing caused/causes another.
Untrue authority. This is a fallacy when a person making an argument lacks the knowledge or qualifications to be credible but is perceived as credible because they are respected or admired.
Bandwagon. The fallacy of arguing for a course of action or belief simply because it is commonly done or held.
True dilemma. A fallacy occurs when a speaker presents only two options to an audience and claims they must choose one or the other.
Ad hominem attack. This is a fallacy when a speaker attacks another person rather than his or her argument.
The slope is slick. When someone claims that one action will inevitably lead to a series of other actions, they engage in a fallacy.
This is a red herring. A fallacy occurs when a speaker presents an argument intended to distract from the main argument.
Appeal to tradition. A fallacy occurs when a speaker argues that something should continue because “that’s how things have always been done.”
initial post with a minimum of 250 words must contain at least (2) professional references, properly cited in the current APA format.

In the first half of your 250-word post, argue that women are more nurturing and caring than men are. Try your best to avoid fallacies. In the second half of your post, write a critique of the first argument, paying special attention to any fallacies you may uncover.

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