Logical fallacies have been documented since the Greeks and the Romans studied rhetoric. Bad reasoning isn’t specific to any one ideology. Still, leftists must use it quite frequently, since they’ve had hardly any good ideas in decades. These are easily absorbed by their fuzzy heads, lacking proper Red Pilled bullshit detectors.
With practice, you’ll notice their word games repeated like guitar riffs.
1. Straw man
Suppose you’re in a forum and dare question the wisdom of shouting from the rooftops about “anything goes” bedroom arrangements. The triggering begins. Some SJW accuses you of being a prude who only approves of the missionary position. You argue your point, but the dogpiling worsens. Some stranger emails you, diagnosing you as feeling guilty about sex. Those two post a nauseating duet about “tolerance”. You never actually argued against immorality; merely for keeping private things private. Disgusted, you unsubscribe; they can have their damn echo chamber to themselves.
That’s exactly what happened to me once. By overstating an opponent’s position—putting words into someone’s mouth—they “win” the debate.
Example: The “right-wing extremism” narrative
Ridiculing and stereotyping illiberal viewpoints goes far back. Archie Bunker is a prime example, though there are much earlier ones. So is the tactic of associating anything they don’t like with some figure they’ve put much effort into discrediting. For example, concern about Communist subversion is “McCarthyism“. If you argue against multiculturalism, you might get compared to a former German chancellor with bad press.
Timothy McVeigh lashed out savagely following the Branch Davidian bungle. Quite cynically, the media spun his gruesome retaliation into a propaganda victory. This was used to discredit the militia movement, even though McVeigh was never part of it. Bill Clinton blamed talk radio rhetoric, although Rush Limbaugh never told anyone to blow up buildings. Those concerned about government overreach became objects of suspicion. Even if they only espoused peaceful change, they all got tarred by the same brush.
Countermeasures: It’s tempting to react in kind. (Leftists have plenty of dirty laundry themselves.) However, it’s better to be on guard for this tactic and call out anyone for overstating your position. If someone resorts to name-calling, or comparing you to a meanie from history, that’s evidence your opponent can’t argue against your ideas on their merits.
2. Begging the question
This means beginning an argument with the conclusion as a premise. Basically it involves treating the matter of debate as a settled fact, rather than arguing why it’s true. Presuppositions like “Where are we going out to supper?” are fairly innocent. Other unstated assumptions are preposterous, like “The Patriarchy“.
In a formal debate, both parties must agree on basic premises. Otherwise it’s a sermon, not a discussion.
Example: Gay marriage
Asserting that something is a right, even when it’s not recognized by law or even tradition, is a common tactic. Many examples could be cited, but the gay marriage debate became the noisiest one in decades. Honest proponents argued that Adam and Steve should be granted the right to get married. Lazy debaters claimed that Adam and Steve already had this right, and its infringement is the worst atrocity since Tamerlane massacred Central Asia.
Interestingly, liberalism denies the existence of natural rights. However, they’ll fudge on this principle when it suits their purpose. Ultimately, it was settled by the Supreme Court, once again legislating from the bench. Gay marriage is hidden somewhere in the 14th Amendment, but legal scholars somehow missed that part for over a century. Who knew?
Countermeasures: Watch for unstated assumptions. (Note that if you challenge fundamental leftist principles, the usual result is screaming.) If someone groundlessly asserts a right to something, ask “Why do you believe this is your right?” If someone says “The Patriarchy is doing X“, ask who The Patriarchy’s Chairman is and where its Board of Directors meets. They need to do the work to prove their point.
3. Appeal to pity
Western civilization has strong traditions of charitability, hospitality to wayfarers, fairness, etc. Lately these virtues have been weaponized against us, leading to pathological altruism and other absurdities.
Manipulating the public to feel sorry for some group (often following a well-publicized example) is used to stifle opposition.
Example: The European refugee crisis
Alan Kurdi, drowned on the beach, became emblematic of Syrian refugees. The Lügenpresse spun the photo into a powerful propaganda piece. Per the narrative, anyone disagreeing with open borders is a monster who wants children to die.
There are some inconvenient facts. Kurdi’s family had settled in Turkey, where he was safe with them. (In fact, Turkey remains one of the region’s better-off nations following their national revival.) Later, they wanted to go to Greece and eventually arrive in Canada’s greener pastures. However, the rubber dinghy was overcrowded to twice its rated capacity, and Alan wasn’t in a lifejacket. The human traffickers they hired were responsible, not immigration policies.
Further, the recent migrants are overwhelmingly men who could defend their towns, not women, children, or the elderly. Actually, most aren’t even Syrians or war refugees. These economic migrants want a free ride, know exactly where to apply for welfare, and meddlesome globalist types assist them. Despite European governments catering to them ludicrously, they don’t want to assimilate or even work, and are an endless source of trouble. Portraying them as kids desperately fleeing for their lives is disingenuous. But let’s not allow facts to get in the way, shall we?
Countermeasures: Recognize attempts to instill guilt trips or generate pity. Further, the propagandists usually only tell half-truths, or distort the facts. A little research fixes that.
Several sloppy debating tactics avoid addressing the topic’s substance:
- Presenting an irrelevant conclusion;
- Skipping steps in logic;
- Talking in circles;
- Repeating oneself endlessly to wear down the opposition (this is how small children debate);
- Distracting the discussion down endless tangents;
- Focusing on a very narrow facet of an issue, addressing only strong points;
…And so forth.
Example: “My body, my choice”
This type of bumper sticker logic is actually pretty catchy. That’s an example of micro-focusing. The slogan actually makes sense, so long as one vital fact is completely overlooked.
Namely, the abortion debate is about whether it’s okay to kill babies, not about abstract “choices”. It’s not even about “controlling our bodies”, unless one stubbornly refuses to acknowledge how mammalian biology works. (For one matter, there’s another body involved too.) This also got spun by feminists into misleading “rights” rhetoric, and the Supreme Court exceeded its authority as usual. Anyone who disagrees is a monster who doesn’t want children to die.
The object is getting the audience to disregard the real topic, like a stage magician creating a momentary distraction. Abortion fans aren’t too concerned about the babies not having a choice in their own survival. Neither do they care that a small body is destroyed that only needed a few more months and then could’ve been adopted. Quite ironically, the very same liberals champion the sanctity of life when murderers face the death penalty.
Countermeasures: Be on guard for opponents skipping steps in an argument, trying to bog down the discussion, or boxing you in with framing tactics.