Tag Archives: Fallacy

Debunked: Questions No Atheist Can Answer

Debunked: The Ouija Board

Organic Farming is Bad for the Environment

By vie NeuroLogica Blog

Marketing sometimes involves the science of making you believe something that is not true, with the specific goal of selling you something (a product, service, or even ideology). The organic lobby, for example, has done a great job of creating a health halo and environmentally friendly halo for organic produce, while simultaneously demonizing their competition (recently focusing on GMOs).

These claims are all demonstrably wrong, however. Organic food is no more healthful or nutritious than conventional food. Further, GMO technology is safe and there are no health concerns with the GMO products currently on the market.

There is an even more stark difference, however, between beliefs about the effects of organic farming on the environment and reality.  In fact organic farming is worse for the environment than conventional farming in terms of the impact vs the amount of food produced.

First, organic farming may use pesticides. They just have to be “natural” pesticides, which means the ones they use are not chosen based upon their properties. Ideally choice of pesticide and the strategy in using them would be evidence-based and optimized for best effect, minimal impact on health and the environment, cost effectiveness, and convenience.   Organic farming, however, does not make evidence-based outcome choices. Their primary criterion is that the pesticides must be “natural”, even if they are worse in every material aspect. This represents ideology trumping evidence. It is based on the “appeal to nature” fallacy, an unwarranted assumption that something “natural” will be magically better than anything manufactured.

In fact my main complaint against the organic label is that it represents an ideological false dichotomy. Each farming practice should be judged on its own merits, rather than having a bunch of practices ideologically lumped under one brand. I don’t care if a practice is considered organic or not, all that matters is the outcome.

Continue Reading @ NeuroLogica Blog – – –

The 10 Commandments of Rational Debate (…Know Thy Logical Fallacies)

via Relatively Interesting

argue_250pxLooking for an edge so you can win your next big argument?

Learn the 10 Commandments of Rational Debate and use them against your enemy as you obliterate their argument point by point (rationally, of course).  Knowing your logical fallacies and how the brain can deceive even the brightest of minds is the first step towards winning an argument.

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…

ten 10 commandments_600px

1. Though shall not attack the person’s character, but the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)

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. Though shall not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (“Straw Man Fallacy”)

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 defenceless by cutting military spending.

3. Though shall not use small numbers to represent the whole. (“Hasty Generalization”)

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. Though shall not argue thy position by assuming one of its premises is true. (“Begging the Question”)


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.”
Wilbert: “WTF?”

Here, Sheldon is making the assumption that the Bible is true, therefore his premise – that God exists – is also true.

5. Though shall not claim that because something occurred before, but must be the cause. (“Post Hoc/False 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.

MORE . . .

How to improve your odds at the casino by understanding the Gambler’s Fallacy

Via RelativelyInteresting.com

Imagine you are at a Las Vegas casino and you’re approaching the roulette table.  You notice that the last eight numbers were black… so you think to yourself, “Holy smokes, what are the odds of that!” and you bet on red, thinking that the odds of another black number coming up are really small.  In fact, you might think that the odds of another black coming up are:

0.5*0.5*0.5*0.5*0.5*0.5*0.5*0.5*0.5 = 0.00195 (a very tiny number)

Or are they?

casino_rouletteThe problem is that a roulette table – if fairly constructed – has no “memory”.  That is, one outcome does not depend on the previous outcome’s result, and so the odds for a red number or black number are just about equal (actually, just shy of 50% each, since there is one or two green spaces on a roulette table depending on American or European versions).

Keeping with our example, if you bet on either red or black for each spin, this type of outside bet pays 1 to 1 and covers 18 of the 38 possible combinations (or 0.474).  A far cry from the 0.00195 number above (a miscalculation that is roughly 243 times too small).  Now your odds of a red coming up aren’t so good anymore…

This fallacy is called the Gambler’s Fallacy, and it’s what the city of Las Vegas is built on.

Random events produce clusters like “8 black numbers in a row”, but in the long term, the probability of red or black will even out to its natural average.

The key to your success at the casino?  Understand that every individual spin (or “event”) has its own probability which never changes.  In this case, 18 in 38.

So the next time you’re at a casino and you see a string of the same color coming up, remember that the odds of that color coming up again are exactly the same as the other color… it might save you a few bucks so you can play a bit longer.

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambler’s_fallacy

[END] RelativelyInteresting.com


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