SAGAN'S BALONEY DETECTION KIT|
The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:
* Wherever possible there must be independent
confirmation of the facts
* Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by
knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.
* Arguments from authority carry little weight (in
science there are no "authorities").
* Spin more than one hypothesis - don't simply run
the first idea that caught your fancy.
* Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis
because it's yours.
* Quantify, wherever possible.
* If there is a chain of argument every link in the
chain must work.
* "Occam's razor" - if there are two hypothesis
explain the data equally well choose the simpler.
* Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?
Additional issues are:
* Conduct control experiments - especially "double
blind" experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of
the test and control subjects.
* Check for confounding factors - separate the variables.
Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric
* Ad hominem - attacking the arguer and not the
* Argument from "authority".
* Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure
on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an
* Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not
evidence of absence).
* Special pleading (typically referring to god's
* Begging the question (assuming an answer in the
the question is phrased).
* Observational selection (counting the hits and
forgetting the misses).
* Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing
conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).
* Misunderstanding the nature of statistics
Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully
half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)
* Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based
worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental
dangers thriftily ignored because they are not "proved").
* Non sequitur - "it does not follow" - the logic
* Post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "it happened after
was caused by" - confusion of cause and effect.
* Meaningless question ("what happens when an
irresistible force meets an immovable object?).
* Excluded middle - considering only the two
in a range of possibilities (making the "other side" look worse than it
* Short-term v. long-term - a subset of excluded
("why pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget
* Slippery slope - a subset of excluded middle -
unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will
take a mile).
* Confusion of correlation and causation.
* Straw man - caricaturing (or stereotyping) a
to make it easier to attack..
* Suppressed evidence or half-truths.
* Weasel words - for example, use of euphemisms for war such as "police action" to get around limitations on Presidential powers. "An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public"
Und in jedem Falle: Das Buch lesen!
|Sitemap Hauptmenü Hauptseite|