Brian Smith

On-Topic and Off-Topic Issues

418 posts in this topic

Usually, pointing out the facts that conflict with someone's incorrect conclusion ought to be sufficient to show that he is wrong and citing relevant facts is certainly on-topic. You don't need to focus on the process that led to his conclusion at all and focusing on the process tend to derail discussions and get them off-topic.

Avoiding making an issue of the reasoning process also discourages people who make a big hairy deal about "logic" in order to avoid dealing with the facts.

I see your point, but how one deals with the facts is relevant--i.e., it tells you something about the premise(s) that underlie the logic.

The facts are -- or ought to be -- the premises of the argument. That's why the first thing we should to do is name our premises. When we don't, nobody really knows, for sure, what we are talking about. As a result, we have to guess and infer what the premises are from someone's logic or from god-knows-what.

How is one to address an instance of someone acknowledging the facts, but in effect says, "yeah, but?" It is a person's thought processes that lead to how that person thinks about the facts of reality. If the process is wrong, the conclusions will be wrong.

Sure, but the process is also something we shouldn't have to guess, infer, or argue about. I would just flat out ask, "If you agree that Fact #1 is true, why don't you agree with my conclusion?" I might get all kind of responses from "There's no such things as a fact" to "Your conclusion contradicts Facts #2, #3, and #4" and that will guide me to how I respond next.

It is very easy to make a flat statement about something. It is much more difficult to tease out what is essential to the statement and then to explain the reasons why it is false.

In order to do that, you have to know (1) that it is false and (2) why it is false. Both (1) and (2) come from looking at reality, not from trying to "tease out" anything from statements.

Personally, I prefer being told what errors someone thinks I've made in my thinking.

I don't because I would rather they point out what evidence they have that my conclusion is false.

If they can show me evidence, I will be grateful for the correction. In the unlikely event the error is due to my thinking method, I can identify what the method actually is since I can introspect and read my own mind and they can't. If they can't present facts showing that I am wrong and, instead, criticize my thinking and "logic," that is improper and presumptuous.

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What need is there to study logic at all?

Well, for one thing, you wouldn't find yourself having this discussion--having to defend yourself against someone's accusation of illogic by saying that logic is unnecessary, and more, unwanted, in a debate.

If a man is decently rational does he actually need to be able to identify specific kinds of logical fallacies and know their definitions, or wouldn't he be able to identify and explain why something is illogical just fine?

1. What do you mean by "decently rational?"

2. How, using what means, is person able to identify and explain that something is illogical "just fine?" Forget discussing a particular topic with someone else for a moment. How do you validate your own thinking on any subject? Do you "just know?" Have a gut feeling? Does it just seem right to you? Based on what?

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1. What do you mean by "decently rational?"
I think I'll rephrase that and say "an intellectually honest person".
2. How, using what means, is person able to identify and explain that something is illogical "just fine?" Forget discussing a particular topic with someone else for a moment. How do you validate your own thinking on any subject? Do you "just know?" Have a gut feeling? Does it just seem right to you? Based on what?
Well, whatever it is it isn't based on a study of logic! If I'm honest with myself and with reality I think that's about all that's necessary.

Thousands of people every day are able to tell what is logical and what isn't without ever studying logic, so I really don't see why it should be necessary. As long as a person looks at the world around them and is honest in their thinking, what need would there ever be to study logic? (barring someone who wants to be a professional philosopher).

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What need is there to study logic at all?

Well, for one thing, you wouldn't find yourself having this discussion--having to defend yourself against someone's accusation of illogic by saying that logic is unnecessary, and more, unwanted, in a debate.

Well, this alone isn't that much motivation!

But seriously, where did I ever say that logic is unwanted in a debate? The only thing I said I found personally unwanted was pages of endless complicated analysis that didn't seem to be making any progression, of a topic that really should be simple.

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I find that having an explicit understanding of concepts helps your cognition.

But that would be studying Epistemology wouldn't it? Not formally studying logic in the sense of learning logical fallacies, learning about "sound arguments", "valid arguments", diagramming logical sentences, etc?

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Good question.
Thank you :(
It depends on the context: is this person Rearden or Ragnar? For a Rearden, having a rudimentary familiarity with the common types of logical fallacies (post hoc, for instance) can improve his thinking. He can recognize a particular instance of this type of logical error and correct his thinking. If he wasn't familiar with them, he may spend more time than necessary sorting out the correct answer and being uncertain of his conclusion. He may feel there is something wrong with his thinking, but not be sure where or if he erred.

It's the usual advantage that comes from explicitly conceptualizing (including naming) the particulars within some area, and understanding the principles involved.

But would the studying of logic really add anything significant in this case that couldn't be done better by studying some Epistemology, Psychology, and doing honest introspection?

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Personally, I prefer being told what errors someone thinks I've made in my thinking.
I don't because I would rather they point out what evidence they have that my conclusion is false.
In other words, if a person claims a conclusion is false, they need to provide the support for WHY they claim that conclusion is false. This is a fundamental requirement of logic. Yet following this methodology is precisely what people are railing against here.

If I claim Ms. Speicher's argument is an ad hom (or whatever logical fallacy), I am claiming her conclusion is false.

When I then explain WHY I claim her argument is an ad hom, I am 'pointing out the evidence why I conclude her argument is false'. This is exactly what Ms. Speicher claims she "would rather" people do. Yet somehow it is also claimed these actions are inappropriate on The Forum.

This apparent contradiction is what needs to be resolved here.

If they can't present facts showing that I am wrong and, instead, criticize my thinking and "logic," that is improper and presumptuous.
Is the claim here that 'presenting' an error in logic is not the presentation of a fact? That identifying the relationship claimed between premises and conclusion is invalid is "improper and presumptuous"? I cannot express the strength of my disagreement of such claims.

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In a post or a thread, the topic is never just about the subject of the statement which is made.

If it isn't about the subject of the thread, to a significant degree, then it is off-topic.

It is also about whether the claims made about the subject are valid or invalid - whether they are true or false - whether they accurately identify reality or not. When speaking of the "topic" of someone's writing, these two things are inseparable.

Absolutely! That's the bottom line. Are the claims about reality or aren't they?

Thus, if the "subject" of a statement is "Bob" and the conclusion is "Bob is an altruist", then the premises which lead to this conclusion and the methodology used to reach the conclusion from those premises must be identified and their correctness confirmed.

What needs to be confirmed first is whether, in fact, in reality, Bob actually is an altruist. If he isn't, all the reasoning that leads to the conclusion that he is, is irrelevant. If he is, analysis of methodology is not necessary.

In other words, both the facts and the process of linking them must be validated. If either is not valid, then the conclusion is no longer supported.

Would it be right to dismiss Ayn Rand's conclusions because some newbie student of Objectivism makes invalid arguments for them?

If I can show that my statement is true in reality, perhaps by direct observation, why is further validation necessary?

If I say I'm a female, then what? Do I have to have a sworn statement from my gynecologist? Do I have to present evidence that my gynecologist is not a liar? Do I have to prove she arrived at the conclusion that I am a girl by the proper logical process? If more validation is required, where do I stop?

And unless additional support is provided (support subject to the same process of logical scrutiny), then the conclusion must be dismissed.

I disagree. All that needs to be shown is that something is true by reference to observable facts. If you have that, providing additional support is a waste of time.

Therefore, even if the facts of one's premises are completely valid, if the methodology used to reach a conclusion is in question then, until that procedural question is resolved, there is no other 'topic'. There is only an arbitrary assertion.

All of this is irrelevant if the premises and conclusion can be shown to be factually true. If poster Joe discovered a great truth by accident and despite sloppy thinking, the important thing is that the premises and the conclusion are true. Joe's thinking, or lack of it doesn't count.

If Joe's conclusion is false, it is sufficient to show that it is false. What's wrong with Joe and his thinking is off topic.

This is why Ms. Speicher's principle pertaining to what is and is not "on topic" is wrong and why her software programming example does not address the issue in question. She presents a case where both individuals agree that 16 + 18 = 32 is in error. In other words, in this example, there is no dispute that the conclusion fails to follow from the premises.

In fact there was a dispute and that was my whole point. The programmer was claiming his program didn't have any bugs because his logic was perfect. He was quibbling about "logic" in order to avoid admitting he was wrong.

That is a tactic I have seen in other contexts as well. The way to stop a debater like the programmer dead in his tracks is to focus on the facts rather than on someone's alleged erroneous methodology.

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But should it be necessary to study logic at all? I know you're arguing for the case of not investing large amounts of time into studying logic [...]

No, I'm not arguing for the latter. More knowledge is not a bad thing. How much studying somebody does on a subject is part of their personal value hierarchy. But it should be *knowledge*. What I am objecting to is the idea that somebody making contorted rationalistic claims is actually properly using logic. The net result of using logic is mental clarity, ideas that make sense, further integration of knowledge, etc. The net result of rationalism is an irritating mess that is disconnected from existence, which won't stop the rationalist from screaming that people aren't grasping and agreeing with his deductions about why 16+18=32 (to use Betsy's example).

[...] but I'm asking this for one step further. What need is there to study logic at all? If a man is decently rational does he actually need to be able to identify specific kinds of logical fallacies and know their definitions, or wouldn't he be able to identify and explain why something is illogical just fine?

Because there *is* added value in explicitly grasping the processes of logical deduction and logical fallacies. But, there is more to correct cognition than syllogisms. Memorizing the axioms of Objectivism and knowing the deductive laws of logic will not result in a clear understanding of Objectivism (for example).

To give an example that shows the good - and at the same time, a potentially misleading - example of grasping a logical fallacy, is the classic question given by lawyers to test a jurors' logical thinking: "Would you say that where there's smoke, there's fire?" On the face of it, answering "yes" is to commit the logical fallacy of inversion, which can be formally diagrammed as:

A -> B

or "A implies B", i.e., if an A exists, then a B will also exist. Assuming the invariable truth of the statement where A=Fire and B=Smoke, it does NOT logically follow that:

B -> A

This is a very common logical fallacy, and it shows why it is illogical to go from "All fire implies smoke" to "All smoke implies fire". Why this is so in reality is that there may well be *alternate* causes of B, e.g.: C -> B. C might be "dry ice", and sublimating dry ice creates a kind of smoke, but it is certainly not fire.

Another common fallacy is "Post hoc" or "Post hoc ergo propter hoc", which is assuming causation simply because B follows A. "White bread must be somewhat responsible for car accidents, because studies show that 90% of car accidents occur in the morning within 1/2 hour of eating a breakfast which includes white bread" would be an example. Unless one can show a causal connection, the claim of one is fallacious.

All of these boil down to the essence of logic, which is non-contradictory identification, but that is very broad, and there's certainly nothing wrong with knowing more about the structure of logical (and illogical) thought. But in Objectivism, "the art of non-contradictory identification" is broader and deeper than formal deductive logic, because it demands that one understands the source and definition of one's concepts and complete integration with all known facts and prior reasoning.

One problem with over-reliance on simple deductive logic is that one must understand the scope of applicability of the premises used, which can only be determined by a focus on actual facts of existence. For example, an extremely rationalistic person might look at smoke emanating from a house and shrug, saying: "Well, it's a logical fallacy that all instances of smoke are caused by fire, I am not concerned." (Fortunately, I don't think anybody on the Forum is quite that far gone :D) While not all smoke is caused by fire, *some* smoke is caused by fire. It is *possible* - even *probable* - that the smoke is caused by a fire. And, taking into account context and personal value hierarchy (i.e. it's a house that you value), it is absolutely necessary for you to immediately determine the cause of the smoke, to call the fire department, etc. But note that such context and quantification of probability would be considered as irrelevant by an extreme rationalist.

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I was following this until the part quoted above. I take it you are saying that one can begin with factual premises but then reason incorrectly from them to reach a wrong conclusion. Is that correct? If so, could you give an example of this?
Sure. Here is an example (taken from history) which is identified as a "Post Hoc" fallacy:

True Premise: We saw a comet last night

True Premise: Right afterwards, the volcano erupted

False conclusion: Therefore the comet caused the eruption

In other words, while both premises are true, the conclusion derived from these premises is not true.

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My post was chopped up losing the continuity of my thoughts and taking many of my statements out of context, so I urge readers to refer to the original post when in doubt.

Personally, I prefer being told what errors someone thinks I've made in my thinking.
I don't because I would rather they point out what evidence they have that my conclusion is false.
In other words, if a person claims a conclusion is false, they need to provide the support for WHY they claim that conclusion is false. This is a fundamental requirement of logic. Yet following this methodology is precisely what people are railing against here.

I am advocating providing observable evidence in support of one's position instead of analyzing or criticizing another person's thinking methods.

If I claim Ms. Speicher's argument is an ad hom (or whatever logical fallacy), I am claiming her conclusion is false.

That doesn't follow. A person can present a fallacious argument and his conclusion can still be true (and independently verifiable by observation).

When I then explain WHY I claim her argument is an ad hom, I am 'pointing out the evidence why I conclude her argument is false'.

Pointing out someone's fallacious reasoning has absolutely no bearing on whether his statements are true or false. The truth of his statements has to be validated by reference to observable facts, not by reference to his methodology.

If they can't present facts showing that I am wrong and, instead, criticize my thinking and "logic," that is improper and presumptuous.
Is the claim here that 'presenting' an error in logic is not the presentation of a fact? That identifying the relationship claimed between premises and conclusion is invalid is "improper and presumptuous"? I cannot express the strength of my disagreement of such claims.

No, I am saying that when a person is unable to present observable, factual evidence in support of his position and instead makes claims about his opponent's alleged errors in logic -- claims he cannot possibly justify or prove without mind-reading -- he is doing something improper and presumptuous.

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Thus, if the "subject" of a statement is "Bob" and the conclusion is "Bob is an altruist", then the premises which lead to this conclusion and the methodology used to reach the conclusion from those premises must be identified and their correctness confirmed.
What needs to be confirmed first is whether, in fact, in reality, Bob actually is an altruist.
No ma'am. This is utterly false.

I know nothing about Bob

Mary claims Bob is an altruist

I ask Mary why she has come to this conclusion

She says she hates altruists and that she hates Bob, so therefore Bob must be an altruist.

According to your assertion, I cannot simply identify the fact that Mary has come to a false conclusion by way of a logical fallacy. According to you, I must "first" launch an investigation into "whether, in fact, in reality, Bob actually is an altruist."

I need do no such thing.

Mary has come to a conclusion which is not supported by her premises. As such, unless she provides some other support for her conclusion, that conclusion becomes an arbitrary assertion. In other words, the assertion has no cognitive content and must be dismissed.

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"I disagree. All that needs to be shown is that something is true by reference to observable facts. If you have that, providing additional support is a waste of time." (I apologize, my quote button is no working.)

Betsy,

So, when a person states that they have been on an Atkins Diet and have been losing weight since they went on the diet and it is also the cutting out of those "nasty" carbohydrates that has allowed them to lose all their weight, I should not waste my time asking for additional support on their premise, although I know it is fallacious. Again, I must disagree. I know that it is their illogical thinking that has lead them to their incorrect premise.

Observable fact number one is that they are lighter than they were before they began their diet. Observable fact number two is that they have not eaten those "nasty" carbohydrates since starting their diet. Unobservable or unrecognized fact, they reduced the totallity of their calories when they discarded those "nasty" carbohydrates which is the real cause of their weight loss and not the Atkins Diet. But, this would all be "off-topic" if I understand your statement correctly as I have observed that they are lighter and have not eaten any "nasty" carbohydrates since starting their miracle Atkins Diet.

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If I claim Ms. Speicher's argument is an ad hom (or whatever logical fallacy), I am claiming her conclusion is false.

That doesn't follow. A person can present a fallacious argument and his conclusion can still be true (and independently verifiable by observation).

Here is the beginning of the Wikipedia article on the Ad Hominem fallacy:

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the man", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.

Observe that Brian's "If I claim Ms. Speicher's argument is an ad hom (or whatever logical fallacy), I am claiming her conclusion is false," is a classic example of an ad hominem fallacy itself.

It consists of replying to my argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to my characteristic (allegedly making an ad hom argument or other logical fallacy) or belief, rather than by addressing the substance of my argument or producing evidence against my claim.

The Wikipedia article continues:

The process of proving or disproving the claims is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.

This is what I have been saying all along. Making another poster's alleged logical fallacies the subject of a posting subverts the process of actually proving or disproving claims -- which would be on-topic -- and changes the subject to another poster's thinking methods -- which is off-topic.

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I know nothing about Bob

Mary claims Bob is an altruist

I ask Mary why she has come to this conclusion

She says she hates altruists and that she hates Bob, so therefore Bob must be an altruist.

According to your assertion, I cannot simply identify the fact that Mary has come to a false conclusion by way of a logical fallacy. According to you, I must "first" launch an investigation into "whether, in fact, in reality, Bob actually is an altruist."

That's correct. You cannot determine whether Mary's conclusion is true or false without checking the conclusion against the facts of reality.

I need do no such thing.

Mary has come to a conclusion which is not supported by her premises. As such, unless she provides some other support for her conclusion, that conclusion becomes an arbitrary assertion. In other words, the assertion has no cognitive content and must be dismissed.

Whether Mary's assertion has cognitive content depends on how her argument relates to reality. Why does Mary hate Bob? Was it because he did something altruistic that harmed her interests or values? Does she hate altruists -- and only altruists? Can she recognize altruists easily and asses them accurately? Mary could be right or wrong about any or all of the above, but her argument does have cognitive content.

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I disagree. All that needs to be shown is that something is true by reference to observable facts. If you have that, providing additional support is a waste of time.

So, when a person states that they have been on an Atkins Diet and have been losing weight since they went on the diet and it is also the cutting out of those "nasty" carbohydrates that has allowed them to lose all their weight, I should not waste my time asking for additional support on their premise, although I know it is fallacious.

That's not what I'm saying.

It is a waste of time to argue that they have been on the Adkins Diet and lost weight if there are sufficient facts to support it. It is a waste of time to ask them to give you additional facts to support their position. Instead, you should simply argue that the Adkins Diet didn't cause the weight loss and present another possible cause (consuming fewer calories) and the facts which support it. That would be showing that your position is true by reference to observable facts and that should suffice.

It would be a waste of time to make an issue of their methodology, i.e., their initial failure to include alternate explanations and / or their faulty application of causal reasoning.

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If I claim Ms. Speicher's argument is an ad hom (or whatever logical fallacy), I am claiming her conclusion is false.
That doesn't follow. A person can present a fallacious argument and his conclusion can still be true (and independently verifiable by observation).
Not in the context of what he has said - ie his argument. Of course, you could take the conclusion outside that context, but then dropping context is also a logical fallacy, so that would simply be adding one error on top of another.
Pointing out someone's fallacious reasoning has absolutely no bearing on whether his statements are true or false. The truth of his statements has to be validated by reference to observable facts, not by reference to his methodology.
This is false.

Mary: I hate altruists. And I hate Bob. Therefore Bob must be an altruist.

The premises may be factually true. The conclusion is not supported by them. Therefore, based on the premises Mary has provided, her conclusion is properly identified as false. Put simply, Mary cannot claim her conclusion as knowledge. She cannot - as she has tried to do - claim it as a fact of reality.

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Mary has come to a conclusion which is not supported by her premises. As such, unless she provides some other support for her conclusion, that conclusion becomes an arbitrary assertion. In other words, the assertion has no cognitive content and must be dismissed.

Whether Mary's assertion has cognitive content depends on how her argument relates to reality.

I am very happy to see we agree that IF Mary "provides some other support for her conclusion" (as I explicitly put it) THEN one must consider that conclusion again because her new support may validate her conclusion. Of course my above statement says that UNLESS she could do provide such additional support (meaning if she failed to provide it) THEN her conclusion would be arbitrary.

In other words, your response does not address let alone contradict the point I actually posted.

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At this point I must ask Ms. Speicher if her objection in the above posts hinges on the identification of a person's argument or conclusion as 'false' instead of something like 'invalid'. If that is indeed the objection here, I will happily switch to terms such as 'invalid' and 'not true' etc., since - for my argument - the result is the same. In other words, instead of "Mary's conclusion is false" etc, the statement would read "Mary's conclusion is invalid" or "Mary's argument is not true" etc. Whatever the term, though, the assertions they identify would still properly be dismissed.

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In other words, both the facts and the process of linking them must be validated. If either is not valid, then the conclusion is no longer supported.
Would it be right to dismiss Ayn Rand's conclusions because some newbie student of Objectivism makes invalid arguments for them?
If I have no other evidence to support those conclusions, of course. On what basis do you claim I entertain her conclusion absent a valid argument? Faith?

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Paul,

So, are saying that it is incorrect to state "how did you come to that conclusion?" Whether one agrees or disagrees with the conclusion, I still think it perfectly proper to ask how someone came to their conclusion.

No, it is incorrect, accordig Brian's statement, to hold a statement as a conclusion until "the premises which lead to this conclusion and the methodology used to reach the conclusion from those premises must be identified and their correctness confirmed." Else, the statement is "arbitrary." (According to Brian.)

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If I claim Ms. Speicher's argument is an ad hom (or whatever logical fallacy), I am claiming her conclusion is false.
That doesn't follow. A person can present a fallacious argument and his conclusion can still be true (and independently verifiable by observation).
Not in the context of what he has said - ie his argument. Of course, you could take the conclusion outside that context, but then dropping context is also a logical fallacy, so that would simply be adding one error on top of another.
Pointing out someone's fallacious reasoning has absolutely no bearing on whether his statements are true or false. The truth of his statements has to be validated by reference to observable facts, not by reference to his methodology.
This is false.

Mary: I hate altruists. And I hate Bob. Therefore Bob must be an altruist.

The premises may be factually true. The conclusion is not supported by them. Therefore, based on the premises Mary has provided, her conclusion is properly identified as false. Put simply, Mary cannot claim her conclusion as knowledge. She cannot - as she has tried to do - claim it as a fact of reality.

Your argument is not accurate. The conclusion may be identified as invalid, not false. She may be able to claim her conclusion as knowledge if she knows that Bob is an altruist based upon his observed actions, which may be the reasons she hates Bob. It is possible that Mary just hasn't studied logic and doesn't know how to assemble a valid syllogism.

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At this point I must ask Ms. Speicher if her objection in the above posts hinges on the identification of a person's argument or conclusion as 'false' instead of something like 'invalid'. If that is indeed the objection here, I will happily switch to terms such as 'invalid' and 'not true' etc., since - for my argument - the result is the same. In other words, instead of "Mary's conclusion is false" etc, the statement would read "Mary's conclusion is invalid" or "Mary's argument is not true" etc. Whatever the term, though, the assertions they identify would still properly be dismissed.

I'm glad to see you've change your terminology. But I still wouldn't hold that "not true" is the correct usage. That is just another way of saying "false".

Suppose I banged on your front door and stated, "Your house is on fire. A comet just passed over your house. The last time I saw a comet pass over someone's house, the house caught on fire, too." Would you dismiss my claim or would you go outside and look to see if your house was on fire?

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I disagree. All that needs to be shown is that something is true by reference to observable facts. If you have that, providing additional support is a waste of time.

So, when a person states that they have been on an Atkins Diet and have been losing weight since they went on the diet and it is also the cutting out of those "nasty" carbohydrates that has allowed them to lose all their weight, I should not waste my time asking for additional support on their premise, although I know it is fallacious.

That's not what I'm saying.

It is a waste of time to argue that they have been on the Adkins Diet and lost weight if there are sufficient facts to support it. It is a waste of time to ask them to give you additional facts to support their position. Instead, you should simply argue that the Adkins Diet didn't cause the weight loss and present another possible cause (consuming fewer calories) and the facts which support it. That would be showing that your position is true by reference to observable facts and that should suffice.

It would be a waste of time to make an issue of their methodology, i.e., their initial failure to include alternate explanations and / or their faulty application of causal reasoning.

It might be a waste of time for your if your discussing this with someone off the street or someone in the company lounge/lunch room. But, when I am teaching my clients of a proper dieting program I must show their illogcal thinking. If I do not point out their illogical thinking they will bring up the next illogical diet the next week and then the next and so on. But, If I can demonstrate their illogical thinking to it's root contradiction, then they no longer need me nor will they be bamboozled into the next illogical, panacea diet. This requires that we discuss their methodology, or as some might call it, "going off topic."

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At this point I must ask Ms. Speicher if her objection in the above posts hinges on the identification of a person's argument or conclusion as 'false' instead of something like 'invalid'. If that is indeed the objection here, I will happily switch to terms such as 'invalid' and 'not true' etc., since - for my argument - the result is the same. In other words, instead of "Mary's conclusion is false" etc, the statement would read "Mary's conclusion is invalid" or "Mary's argument is not true" etc. Whatever the term, though, the assertions they identify would still properly be dismissed.

I'm glad to see you've change your terminology. But I still wouldn't hold that "not true" is the correct usage. That is just another way of saying "false".

Suppose I banged on your front door and stated, "Your house is on fire. A comet just passed over your house. The last time I saw a comet pass over someone's house, the house caught on fire, too." Would you dismiss my claim or would you go outside and look to see if your house was on fire?

With no further evidence on your part, I would slam the door. But, I think your example takes this whole discussion out of context. I think that most of this discussion stems from certain peoples misunderstanding of rights and government (which has been going on for the last three months). So, without "going off topic" and showing their illogical thinking, how is one supposed to convince them that thier thoughts are illogical? Obviously just pointing out that freedom cannot exist with the initiation of force was not enough as those statments were continually discarded as not being practical. So, if you could please demonstrate to me how one is supposed to do what I just said without "going off topic", it would be appreciated. Although, from my own objective perspective I do not think it can be done.

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