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No Nonsense

Anti-pseudoscience, anti-woo, pro science, pro critical thinking, no conspiracy theories, no spin. Count the logical fallacies. No Nonsense!

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"Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out" -unknown

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." -- Carl Sagan

"What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." -- Christopher Hitchens

What is a logical fallacy? All arguments have the same basic structure: A therefore B. They begin with one or more premises (A), which is a fact or assumption upon which the argument is based. They then apply a logical principle (therefore) to arrive at a conclusion (B). An example of a logical principle is that of equivalence. For example, if you begin with the premises that A=B and B=C, you can apply the logical principle of equivalence to conclude that A=C. A logical fallacy is a false or incorrect logical principle. An argument that is based upon a logical fallacy is therefore not valid. It is important to note that if the logic of an argument is valid then the conclusion must also be valid, which means that if the premises are all true then the conclusion must also be true. Valid logic applied to one or more false premises, however, leads to an invalid argument. Also, if an argument is not valid the conclusion may, by chance, still be true. For a more thorough discussion of logical fallacies and how to structure a logical argument, see the New England Skeptical Society's article, How To Argue.

Top 20 Logical Fallacies (in alphabetical order) taken from -

The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe

The New England Skeptical Society The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe Science-Based Medicine
The James Randi Educational Foundation
Propaganda
snopes.com
Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
Simon Singh and his fight to mend British libel laws
Professor Richard Wiseman
PZ Myers' Pharyngula
Dr. Phil Plait and Bad Astronomy
Skeptic Blog
Michael Shermer's Baloney Detection Kit
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
The Skeptics' Dictionary
List of cognitive biases
Don Watson - Weasel Words
QuackWatch
A List of Fallacious Arguments

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"No skeptic, to my knowledge, ever made a major scientific discovery or advanced the welfare of others."

-- Deepak Chopra (yes, he actually said that)

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but That's funny..." -Isaac Asimov



The scientific world view is full of awe and wonder. Understanding how truly awesome the universe is – in its elegant complexity, its staggering beauty, and the many intricate systems of which it is comprised – gives a profound feeling of connectedness and sparks the imagination. And it has the advantage of being real. -Steven Novella



The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again.
— Mark Twain

Discussion Forum

What counts as proof for existential threats

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Tom Sarbeck Jun 14. 1 Reply

Cheating with Science

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Michael Penn May 22. 6 Replies

Apocalypse anxiety

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Luara May 9. 7 Replies

Young adults belief in demon posession

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner May 8. 12 Replies

Challenging lies doesn't work

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Michael Penn May 7. 2 Replies

Psychic Power-NOT

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Michael Penn May 7. 6 Replies

Mere question elicits false memories

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Michael Penn May 7. 1 Reply

Political discourse in US - fundamentally fallacious

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Tom Sarbeck May 5. 13 Replies

F*ck You= Australia's Coal Policy

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Loren Miller Apr 17. 4 Replies

Gish Gallop

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Idaho Spud Apr 4. 2 Replies

Name truthiness

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Joan Denoo Mar 1. 1 Reply

Frustration at RealClimate

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Grinning Cat Dec 1, 2013. 2 Replies

Religion correlates with Climate Denial

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Nov 27, 2013. 0 Replies

Liberal Washing

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Joan Denoo Nov 2, 2013. 1 Reply

Information Technology amplifies irrational group behavior

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Joan Denoo Apr 13, 2013. 3 Replies

6 criteria of conspiratorial thinking

Started by Ruth Anthony-Gardner. Last reply by Humble Pie Mar 24, 2013. 3 Replies

WHEN IS THE NEXT DOOMSDAY (NOT) GOING TO HAPPEN?

Started by Idaho Spud. Last reply by Idaho Spud Jan 10, 2013. 2 Replies

A Visual Study Guide To Cognitive Biases

Started by Little Name Atheist. Last reply by Ruth Anthony-Gardner Sep 19, 2012. 5 Replies

Comment Wall

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Comment by Jason Spicer on May 22, 2014 at 12:59am

It's probably never too early to start teaching people the rules of reason, though some of the fallacies and biases are kind of tricky to wrap your head around at any age. Still, putting one's conclusions into one's premises should be obvious nonsense even to children, but it is rampant because it can be hard to spot (and is pushed so universally by religious people). I'd also like to see a much greater emphasis on teaching statistics at earlier ages. College is too late to do the electorate much good.

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 22, 2014 at 12:34am

Jason, it seems my comment did not get recorded about fallacies being taught at all levels, and I think even the elementary grades, is a good idea. I like cognitive biases and Sagan's book as well. Yes, necessary reading. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 22, 2014 at 12:31am

"If by whiskey" is new to me and a grand example of double speak.

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 22, 2014 at 12:27am

Oh yes, Jason, I agree that students of all ages should be exposed to fallacies, cognitive biases, and Sagan's book "Baloney Detection Book".  False dichotomies are a good one to start with; it is so obvious that either/or should include or/or/or. 

Non sequiters and question begging catch me too often. We should have a place where we can play with these ideas in order to become more familiar with them and the other fallacies. 

Thanks for the clarification, Jason, I needed it. 

Comment by Jason Spicer on May 22, 2014 at 12:01am

Check out the if-by-whiskey fallacy. State legislators don't make speeches like this anymore. Brilliant. I like to imagine it read by Patrick Stewart.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If-by-whiskey

Comment by Jason Spicer on May 21, 2014 at 11:34pm

High school and college students should be required to study these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

I suppose the fallacies might once upon a time have been part of the curriculum of "rhetoric". Cognitive biases are relatively newly understood. The interwebz are rife with these. Unfortunately, so is a lot of professional journalism. Journalism is largely composed of false dichotomies (there are two, and only two, sides to every issue, approximately equal in heft). Religious apologetics is shot thru with non sequiters and question begging. Once you know what to look for, finding these failures of rationality is like shooting fish in a barrel. If you don't know what to look for, practically anything sounds reasonable. These lists are basically Sagan's "baloney detection kit": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baloney_detection_kit

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 21, 2014 at 11:17pm

OK fellas, let's stop talking in generalities and give some concrete examples of what you mean. Maybe you don't want to name names, but you could give us illustrations that fall into the hole of fallacies. 

Comment by Jason Spicer on May 21, 2014 at 11:00pm

Scott, it bugs me when people fail to recognize and correct for cognitive biases and logical fallacies anywhere. But I also don't like feigning respect for ideas or people who aren't worthy of it. An ad hominem attack is not necessarily an ad hominem fallacy. But yes, unsound arguments for positions I favor make me cringe.

Comment by Scott Reaney on May 21, 2014 at 10:21pm

Anyone else hate it when atheists use misrepresentation / ad hominem / other logical fallacies in discussions/arguments with christians (creationists namely)? It reeeaally irks me that atheists are meant to represent people who come to conclusions through rational thought, yet there are some who seem to think that's not important enough to carry out in their discussions. It's especially embarassing when they're more in the public eye (I hesitate to say "famous") such as certain well-known YouTubers (not going to name names). 

Comment by Loren Miller on May 8, 2014 at 5:49am

Joan, at the risk of sounding as though I'm indulging in woo, what Transcendental Meditation did was allow me to find my Silence ... and the fact that it delivers a rest state twice as deep as the deepest portion of a night's sleep (measured by metabolic level) didn't hurt, either.

 

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