Fallacies are one small part of logic. We as students (most certainly, we are all students) need to study logic to the praise of good logic and the rectification of bad logic. Studying fallacies (despite some of their irksome labels) is a fun and easy way to be able to sort through the arguments of our times. As I post the fallacies from time to time, my meaning will become more clear as you are introduced to the terms, see how they are used, and can begin applying them to life.
I will start by naming some fallacies of distraction. These occur when someone misses the point or draws his hearers away from the point he is trying to make. Later, if you prefer, we will address fallacies of ambiguity and form. Further, the fastest way to fry your modem is to point out my own faulty logic.
Lessons in Logic
Fallacies of Distraction
Fallacy #1 – Ipse Dixit
Ipse dixit is the “because I said so” fallacy. It occurs when when a non-authority is cited as the reason for something. The fallacy takes this form, “[Respected person] says [fill in the blank], therefore it must be true.” Such as…
“Of course Mountain Dew causes cancer, my teacher told me so.”
Now, unfortunately, the statement above may true, but not because a teacher said so. Generally, teachers are not trained in oncology or interplanetary life or end times. This is not to promote a distrust in teachers or dads who talk big with their kids (i.e. Calvin’s dad–of Calvin and Hobbes) or spouting preachers getting waaaay off topic. It’s simply a statement that just because it’s said by an authority does not make it truth.
From real life…
When I was in high school, a visiting evangelist came to my school’s chapel and declared the date which Christ would return. I remember how unsettling that was to me because it was, like totally, just a short time before I was supposed to graduate.
I don’t doubt that the evangelist was an authority in certain areas, but I am skeptical that he has sat with the Trinity at a calendar meeting.
Beware the ipse dixit.
Also, I would welcome you to comment with any ipse dixits of your own.