I discovered something important the day a Vietcong sniper came within a skin’s thickness of hitting and possibly killing me. I realized that I should never stop learning. Later, I learned that it doesn’t matter how many years we spend in school or how many degrees we earn—we will never know everything, and that it is okay to be ignorant and learn from our mistakes.
My latest lesson in life started in November 2011 when I agreed to debate another author on this Blog. He wrote a scathing book condemning Chinese culture, and I disagreed with his biased opinions. In this series of posts, I am sharing the lesson I learned from that debate and the mistakes I made.
Instead of using my opponent’s name, I’m going to call him Sid. If you are interested in reading the actual debate, there will be embedded links in this series of posts that will lead you to it [as there is in this sentence]. When Sid and I started arguing about China, I didn’t know there was a philosophical school of thought that has studied logical fallacies for decades. I didn’t know there were books on the subject and university courses.
Since the debate, I’ve learned about the different types of logical fallacies, and Professor Keven deLaplante says there are more than 100.
One Good Move.org says, “The idea of logic is truth preservation. What that means is that if you start with true beliefs, your reasoning will not lead you to false conclusions… most people have non-logical reasons for believing the things they do… So use reason with caution, and if you really want to persuade someone of something, remember that compassion, honesty and tact are as important as logic.”
Introduction to Fallacies – Hosted by Kevin deLaplante, the Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Iowa State University. Source: The Critical Thinking Academy
Before this series concludes, you will discover that Sid knew about logical fallacies and took advantage of my ignorance. I will also cover some of the most common logical fallacies that lead to intellectual dishonesty, and I will be using examples from the debate I had with Sid and comments he left or attempted to leave on this site since the debate.
I have never taken a debate class. I have never read a book on logical fallacies, and this is nothing to be ashamed of.
However, when I was earning a BA in journalism (1973), I learned how to write an honest and proper Op-Ed piece. Due to that, I was aware of a few logical fallacies to avoid such as cheery picking, ad hominem, and red herring — but not in depth. No one formally taught me how to recognize these logical fallacies [or what to do when I did], but I knew it was intellectually dishonest to use them in an Op-Ed piece to influence people, and I recognized their use by sales persons, politicians or political talk-radio hosts.
Then in December 2011, Sid and I launched a twelve-part debate on this Blog about China, which was the beginning of my education about intellectual dishonesty and the use of logical fallacies—an alleged con artist was my teacher, and I was his victim. As you will see, Sid eventually came to hold me in contempt.
Continued on January 27, 2012 in Discovering Intellectual Dishonesty – Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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