While(st) doing a google search for a different article we were considering about emotional foundations for logical reasoning, we found the following article on the first page of results. It was so compelling we decided to use it for our lesson on exactly how not to argue anything ever.
This lesson is to show you how to spot errors in reasoning and apply your knowledge of logical fallacies in real life scenarios. The author of this article touts himself to be quite the authority on use of logic. We intend to see just how logical he is.
The basic outline of a properly formed argument must follow these steps:
- Major Premise – All men are mortal.
- Minor Premise – John is a man.
- Conclusion – Therefore, John is a mortal. All together it looks like this:
All men are mortal; John is a man, therefore John is a mortal.
Even though an argument can be logical, it doesn’t necessarily make the conclusion true. This is usually described as a false premise. It’s typically a result of having incorrect definitions or getting your facts wrong.
All men are *not* mortal; John is a man, therefore John is not mortal. The logic within the statement is sound, but the major premise, that all men are not mortal, is false.
It’s important to recognize this, because shortly you will see an incredible absence of this sort of layout. This is a basic format, and is commonly featured in aptitude tests meant to assess logical reasoning abilities.
In case you were wondering whether or not his claims were true, the American Psychological Association has already cracked this argument wide open.
So let’s get started! We’ll begin with the first paragraph of the argument in question:
“The claim that woman’s capacity for reason matches man’s is humorous, and yet be it espoused by radical feminists or well-intentioned humanists, the “equality of reason” myth persists.”
^The point of his article is to outline why women have a demonstrably lower capacity for reason. His perceived greatest opposition will include “radical” feminists and “well meaning” humanists, which is likely true considering the argument. This also contains a slight instance of a “poisoning the well” fallacy, which is to commit a pre-emptive ad hominem attack against an opponent. He is doing so by priming his audience with an attack on the character of feminists and humanists and setting up any defense they might present as humorous.
“It was only the other week I observed two men debating woman’s logical capacity, one man insisted women were less reasonable, whilst the other disagreed whilst conceding “all women are like that.“ Yet in spite of this concession, said man went to the lengthy effort of recalling instances where he had observed women exercising reason. It was as if this particular man wasn’t quite willing to accept women are the less reasonable sex, which ironically is an unreasonable position in and of itself.”
^ this is an example of anecdotal fallacy. He is using a personal tale to support his argument. Furthermore, he has not yet used a single syllogism, rendering this meaningless anecdote all the more meaningless*.
* (adj) having no purpose or reason.
“There is of course a discrepancy here, a gentle person can get angry and a frugal man can make a large purchase in the same way that an unreasonable person can demonstrate logic; a capacity for something does not equate to a propensity for it.”
^While(st) it’s true that capacity does not equate to propensity, and we see a clear understanding of those definitions; his argument is weak. His conclusion is that women are less reasonable, but he has offered 3 analogies pointing out when that isn’t the case. Even though the person arguing against his position opinion is ‘wrong,’ the author hasn’t offered any premises or facts that show how this is the case. He is presently offering conflicting ideas while(st) insisting that his position opinion is still the truth.
“The man who could not believe women are less reasonable is naive, the claim was not that women never make logical decisions, even a broken clock is right twice per day, the claim was that women are governed so strongly by emotion that their capacity and proclivity for reason is greatly vitiated, ergo, their reason is inferior to man’s.
Even in the comments section of this very publication, the notion women are just as logical as men is oft dispelled, for women are quick to offend and be offended by nature of their volatile reactivity. Now of course the same principle applies to man, an angry man cannot reason too well either, but here is my contention: the average woman becomes emotional far more easily than the average man, and thus whatever reason she does possess is quickly lost when even a modicum of pressure is applied.”
^Nice and wordy. The author’s rhetoric muddies his already illogical arguments; his conclusions are difficult to make out because most everything doesn’t follow, and his analogies are poor.
So allow us to rephrase this paragraph line by line using only the terms of what he is proposing and why:
“The man who could not believe women are less reasonable is naive…”
“Men who think women who are as reasonable as themselves are naive.”
^Pre-emptive Ad Hominem attack against opposition by calling them names.
“…the claim was not that women never make logical decisions, even a broken clock is right twice per day…”
“I didn’t say that women never make logical decisions, just that, if they do, because of the fact that they are constantly overcome with emotions, it’s purely by accident, like a broken clock being correct.”
^Retorting with the platitude that this is just the “exception that proves the rule” is an easy way of hand-waving away this inconsistency.
“Even in the comments section of this very publication, the notion women are just as logical as men is oft dispelled, for women are quick to offend and be offended by nature of their volatile reactivity.”
“Any woman who comments on this article will do so angrily, proving they are quick to offend and react without thinking.”
^Another example of poisoning the well: he is pre-emptively negating their arguments by claiming it proves his point if they are upset about being insulted. But who wouldn’t be? This continues a rather all-encompassing poisoned well in the form of his entire position against female rationality.
“Now of course the same principle applies to man, an angry man cannot reason too well either, but here is my contention: the average woman becomes emotional far more easily than the average man, and thus whatever reason she does possess is quickly lost when even a modicum of pressure is applied.”
“Angry men are also prone to diminished reasoning, though not as substantially nor as completely as the far more easily angered woman.”
^Double standard: Angry men and angry women should be judged equally for his argument to be sound if the notion of angry is to be evenly distributed as a non-quantifiable quality. How can you measure levels of angry? How angry is very angry, and how does it compare to regular angry? It can’t. Facts must contain numbers. There are no numbers.
“I believe less intelligent women are simply incapable of reasoning to any elaborate degree, whilst smarter women can only do so whilst their emotions are in check, eg: they have managed to encounter something unsettling without taking offence to it. Nevertheless, I do not believe smarter women are any less emotional than their lower IQ counterparts, but only that they have better impulse control. This is why although smart women can exercise reason, they often do so with less frequency than even the average man.”
^Once again, here are a list of claims as facts without a shred of empirical evidence for support. Also, you may notice this is a lot of words all circularly saying the same thing.
“I believe less intelligent women are simply incapable of reasoning to any elaborate degree, whilst smarter women can only do so whilst their emotions are in check”
“Dumb women are incapable of hardly any reasoning, and smart women can only reason when they aren’t being too emotional.” (Therefore they are less rational than men.)
Circle begins –>
“Nevertheless, I do not believe smarter women are any less emotional than their lower IQ counterparts, but only that they have better impulse control.”
“Smart women are better at controlling their emotions than dumb ones, but they experience the same emotions.” (Therefore they are less rational than men.)
“This is why although smart women can exercise reason, they often do so with less frequency than even the average man.”
“Dumb women are incapable of hardly any reasoning, and smart women can only reason when they aren’t being too emotional. (Therefore they are less rational than men.)
We’ve arrived at the beginning of the circle!
^Above is an example of circular reasoning. (Hint: most of his arguments actually are)
“In my analysis of women’s behaviour I try to minimise my sexism as much as possible, for I do not wish my weaker expectations of women to sustain an untrue personal delusion, but rather, I wish for my view of man as the primary sex to be grounded in sound observation and empirical evidence.”
“For example, I observe men making sounder judgements more often than women, debating better, skewing more to the right on the IQ bell curve, as well as making the majority of discoveries and inventions that elevated us out of the stone age.”
^The best thing about the chart linked here is the fact that, in his one and only attempt at showing evidence, we are subject to a nameless chart living uncited on his own page signifying nothing of consequence. ‘Elevated us out of the stone age’ is a perfect example of the glittering generality fallacy. Defined, ironically, as an emotionally appealing phrase so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that it carries conviction without supporting information or reason.
“In my inquiry into male and female differences I have discovered women’s sole biological reason for existing is to reproduce and nurture the young, whilst man’s is to reproduce, protect his mate (oft dying in wars in an attempt to do so) and contributing to the grand project known as civilization.”
“I have decided women are primarily for having and raising babies. Men are to go to war and contribute to cultural progress.”
^A ‘discovery’ made with no evidence in support, an appeal to traditional values, and two inconsistent points in the form of ambiguous relationships between war, civilization, and biology. Also ‘contributing to the grand project known as civilization’ is another glittering generality. All emotionally driven nonsense.
“In case any wish to contest the point on civilization, do so bearing in mind you contend the point with a machine invented by a man, using a power source discovered and refined by a man, in a house designed and built by a man. As women are and have historically been preoccupied with child rearing and maintaining social ties, the elevation of the human condition can thus be credited almost solely to man.”
“If you want to argue my point on civilization, remember you are doing it on a computer that uses power inside a house, and all of those things were invented by men while women were busy preferring to have babies and talk about feelings.”
^Oh, we have that in mind. Now, with this statement in mind, we were wondering exactly what point he is trying to make. Is it that people who argue with him using any device created by a man should not be used against him? Why would that ever make an ounce of sense? Shitty arguments aside, let’s talk about the logical fallacies in this statement.
-Circular reasoning. Again. “Your argument is inferior to mine because I am a man and your machine was made by men and you use things made by men because men, men, men leading to the conclusion that your argument is inferior.”
–Appeal to Accomplishment. Boy, howdy have we ever been waiting to use this’n here! The author is using this fallacy by stating that men are superior because they have more accomplishments in a few samples of human advances. He is using that appeal to accomplishment to assert that he, as a man, is still right; even though he played exactly zero part in any of the successes of men to which he is referring. Their accomplishments still have no weight in this argument, whatsoever.
-Blatant Irrelevance. Okay, you caught us, that’s not a real fallacy. But it is still true, since his point here is completely unrelated to his main argument. It would actually be considered more of a red herring fallacy.
By now we imagine you have grown tired of this guy and his rampant fallacies; we sure have. So we will take this opportunity to stop and let you finish reading his post(s) to exercise your own skills to spot the many forms of nonsense if you want. Hopefully this has helped you improve your ability to do so in the real world, though this author’s existence in said world is questionable.
- False Premise
- Anecdotal Fallacy
- Circular Reasoning
- Appeal to Tradition
- Red Herring
- Glittering Generality
- Ad Hominem
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