For those who follow this blog regularly or know my style of teaching Krav Maga self-defence, you will be familiar with the fact I do not approach self-defence as just a matter of punching, kicking, and scenario-based training. But rather I take a much more holistic approach to giving you the skills to better defend yourself. More specifically, I believe that self-defence is not just physical but also mental and even spiritual.
This means addressing topics or ideas that many may be uncomfortable with or unwilling to address and discuss. This is very unfortunate, as not being open to pushing your comfort zone will ultimately hinder an individual’s personal development; which will only ever block you from Krav Maga’s primary goal of learning to walk in peace.
Recently, though, as happens often in the human experience, there is a breakdown of communication, freedom of thought, ideas, and speech, which leads to a breakdown of the most important principle in self-defence, Critical Thinking. Without critical thinking it can be easy for an individual, small group, or society to be swayed into believing bad ideas or concepts that will only lead to catastrophic results.
This current breakdown is partially due to malicious individuals or groups, incompetency of leadership, or (and this one is a big one) the failure to understand what a “good” and “bad” argument is. If you don’t understand this distinction it can be easy for you to be convinced by Groupthink, charisma, or fear, causing you to believe in wholeheartedly that which Prof. Gad Saad calls “parasitic ideas” which he lays out in his book The Parasitic Mind. Though delving into that topic is a whole other post.
The focus of this series will be going over some of the most common logical fallacies that individuals or groups might use to sway you one way or the other, as it is possible many of you may not be familiar with the idea of a logical fallacy. It is probably not your fault, while these concepts used to be a regular part of education they were eventually only discussed in the debate club, where I assume most of you never spent any time (including myself), and that is assuming your place of education even still has such a club.
So what is a logical fallacy? According to Wordnik it is as follows:
- A fallacy; a clearly defined error in reasoning used to support or refute an argument, excluding simple unintended mistakes.
- a fallacy in logical argumentation
Or in laymen terms, an appealing logic error, which, while it may sound good, doesn’t actually work from a purely logical perspective. Arguments driven by emotions or trends actually rely on emotional appeal rather than intellectual or factual validity, which may lead you to believe ideas that are not as good as initially you thought they were. As the arguments used to convince you were constructed using one of the many logical fallacies that should (had you known) caused you to pause and consider if what is being said actually makes enough sense for you to get behind it; does it make sense or is believing it simply making you feel good, scared, righteous, etc.?
To properly construct a well-thought-out argument, which can take time and a lot of contemplation, it means constructing one not just with solid, supporting evidence, but it also must be free of logic fallacies. This is almost an art, one that is clearly fading into the darkness of the fathomless Internet. An easy solution is to re-educated the masses on what a poor argument looks like, by teaching and learning about the most common logical fallacies. This will allow you to avoid “parasitic ideas” which can further lead to destructive behaviors, both on a personal level and a societal level.
The idea of logical fallacies are not new, as there origins can be traced back to the great philosophers of ancient Greece some 3,000 years ago, and I am not doing anything original but rather reminding you that these important concepts exist so that you can better defend yourself mentally as well as ideologically.
Before delving into 10 of the most common logical fallacies, with examples related to physical and mental self-defence, we need to break them down into two general categories. According to this article, they are defined as follows:
Errors in reasoning are Informal Fallacies. The conclusion doesn’t follow logically from the premises. Either there is a problem with the premises, such as insufficient, biased, or irrelevant evidence, or a problem with the conclusion, such as there being no logical connection (or a false one) from the premise to the conclusion. In some cases it may be that the conclusion goes too far, not far enough, or is irrelevant to the argument. Informal Fallacies may have the proper logical construction, but are fallacious by making an argument where the conclusion is wrong in some manner and doesn’t follow from the original premise(s).
When the argument itself is constructed with logical errors, that is a Formal Fallacy. Formal Fallacies break the rules of logic in the way that they’re initially developed rather than with their conclusions. With an argument that’s erroneously constructed this is a matter not so much of recognizing a fault in the reasoning, but a problem in the way the argument is structured from the outset.
If at this point you are reading this and have thought, “I have probably used a logical fallacy at some point in my life,” you are probably right. Due to the emotional nature of humans we almost default to shortcut our disagreements by using many of the fallacious argument strategies about to be listed. Our brains are essentially wired for storytelling and good storytelling is about good narrative and character development. This often means using the various fallacies to build a better story, as being truly logical can be a bit bland for many, thus leading us to the trap of our often emotional and illogical human decision making. Though as you develop from animal to human with knowledge, self-awareness and a bit of training you can begun to unwind the animal within and start to construct better arguments so that you can develop yourself into the human you know you want to be.
If you still are not following that is totally fine, over this series I will be breaking down the following common Logical fallacies:
- Straw Man Fallacy
- Begging the Question Fallacy
- Ad Hominem Fallacy
- Post Hoc Fallacy
- Loaded Question Fallacy
- False Dichotomy Fallacy
- Fallacy of Equivocation
- Appeal to Authority Fallacy
- Hast Generalization Fallacy
- Appeal to Popular Opinion Fallacy
As I work through these various fallacies I will give many examples to help you better understand what they are. Fear not, as much as I would love it, I won’t be turning you into a “logic only” Vulcan, simply refining your ability to spot bad arguments so that you know not to waste your time, literally or emotionally.
Because remember self-defence is not just physical and if you cannot defend your mind, ideas, and mental health then the world will be much harder to learn to walk in peace.
Written by Jonathan Fader.