9 Modern Logical Fallacies

1. If there are two sides to every argument —or, more to the point, if there are people willing to take up two sides— then both sides must, in some way, be right, or, at least, be equally valid. In other words, since there are two sides then, neither is wrong.

2. If something feels right, it must be treated with the same respect than something that’s actually right.

3. If we assess what all our friends and family know, we can come to an informed, educated stance or position. The fallacy here is that everyone you assess may be wrong.

4. A “fact” is now defined as something that so many people believe that television notices it. If someone has sold tons of books or has a lot of ratings then their theory is right. In other words, the more people buy, the more it’s correct. Or the louder it is, the truer it is. 

In satirical terms, marketing dictates the truth. However, no matter how amplified people are it doesn’t mean they’re contributing to the truth. Meaning, one’s expertise on a topic isn’t measured by his book ratings on Amazon.

5. The truth is now measured by how fervently someone believes something. The more people who believe it and the more fervently they believe it, the more likely it’s a fact. In other words, if enough people believe it with vigor and confidence, the more it’s a fact.

For example, if a TV host argues passionately enough, then what he’s saying is judged to be true simply because of how many people are listening to him and how passionately he’s saying it. In other words, if something is felt deeply, it must carry the same weight as something that is true. However, don’t confuse sincerity with the truth because people can be sincerely wrong.

6. No is an argument.

7. Everyone’s an expert if they can move units or the Nielsen Ratings. Everyone is a historian, a scientist or a political scholar. Why pay a scientist to talk about stem-cell research when we can ask the guy who fixes our car for his opinion? Or the guy next to you on the bar stool? Just because you’re a success and expert in one field, it doesn’t mean you’re an expert in politics, or morality, or religion.

8. George W. Bush, in 2006, claimed —in response to polls indicating that 70% of Americans disapproved of the Iraq War— that he would be vindicated by “the long march of history.” He’s saying: however wrong I seem, I am actually more right than those who currently look it. I am a visionary, able to see the lay of the land from a more distant and loftier (i.e., Godlike) perspective. This is a logical fallacy.

9. A similarly logical fallacy is the near-miss defense: “I was wrong, but only by a little.” The claim here is that I was on track to be absolutely right when, bang!, some bizarre and unforeseeable event derailed and rendered me unexpectedly wrong. The problem with this is that any event can be defined as unforeseeable if you yourself failed to foresee it.

In Conclusion

By these “logic”, any scientific theory is a mere opinion, and everyone’s entitled them. Or that scientific fact is just as mutable as a polling sample. As Kit Hodges said, “In the developing world, where I spend a lot of time doing my work, if you tell them you’re from MIT and you tell them that you do science, it’s a big deal. If I go to India, and I tell them I’m from MIT, it’s a big deal. If I go to Thailand, it’s a big deal. In Iowa, they could give a rat’s ass.”

To your success,
Nikhil Mahadea