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How to Think About Weird Things 3: Arguments Good, Bad, and Weird


A brief survey of logic. There’s deductive, inductive, even abductive arguments. There’s a nice catagorization of inductive arguments into  enumerative (20 swans have been white so far- the next one will be), analogical (Jerry is a criminal, male, and poor. He’s also Christian. Mike is a criminal, male, and poor. He’s probably a Christian too.), abduction, or hypothetical induction (P happened. H explains p better than any other hypothesis, so p is probably true.)

Next comes the fallacy lists. Good review for anyone at any time. The more concrete examples, the better.

There are statistical fallacies as well, which seem to happen all the time. This procedure increases the risk of cancer 70%. Does that mean that it goes from say 2% to 72% chance of cancer, or does it mean that it goes up 2% to 3.4%? Relative and absolute risk.

They mentioned how many people confuse restating their conclusion as being an argument. This is funny, since I’ve come into contact with this so often. How the heck do people clothe themselves if they don’t know the difference between conclusions, and the reasons to believe these things? I’m thinking that guy on facebook I argued about morality with, who just restated his premises over and over. Then there’s the Atheist Experience caller who, when asked how he knows that God created the universe, simply said “Because in the beginning, God created. . . ” He didn’t say that it was true because it was in the Bible. Even that would count as a reason. Instead, he just restated his belief. How does humanity survive?

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