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Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Discuss PseudoSkeptics and their Fallacies. Share strategies for debating them.

Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby Arouet » 25 Mar 2013, 02:55

It's NOT a logical fallacy. Saying I won't read anything by X is not a logical argument - rather, it's a statement about what sources one wants to look at. If he had said: that argument must be wrong because it was made by X - THAT would be a logical fallacy (ad hom).
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby really? » 25 Mar 2013, 06:38

Arouet wrote:It's NOT a logical fallacy. Saying I won't read anything by X is not a logical argument - rather, it's a statement about what sources one wants to look at. If he had said: that argument must be wrong because it was made by X - THAT would be a logical fallacy (ad hom).


Correct. If it's made by someone or some persons that have no credibility on the subject of their comment then it would not be a logical fallacy. For example, the Westboro Baptist Church or a person of extreme racial prejudiced stating some other race of people are inferior to their own. Then it would be appropriate to use the Ad Hom dismissively.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby Arouet » 25 Mar 2013, 20:32

Actually - that's not quite what I was saying.

PW was saying that he wouldn't even read the arguments of certain people. That's not the same as saying that the particular argument he didn't read was wrong - just that he didn't think it was worth reading.

In your example, it would be an ad hom to say that they WBC argument was wrong just because they were the WBC. It WOULD be appropriate to say that I'm not even going to bother responding to their argument because they are the WBC.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby really? » 25 Mar 2013, 23:12

Arouet wrote:Actually - that's not quite what I was saying.

PW was saying that he wouldn't even read the arguments of certain people. That's not the same as saying that the particular argument he didn't read was wrong - just that he didn't think it was worth reading.

That was my understanding of his position too because of a perceived lack of credibility.

Arouet wrote:In your example, it would be an ad hom to say that they WBC argument was wrong just because they were the WBC. It WOULD be appropriate to say that I'm not even going to bother responding to their argument because they are the WBC.

There are cases where I will outright not bother to read what someone or group says based upon their past track record. The WBC example is one such group since their position is parochial. In every case the WBC is wrong. There I feel the Ad Hom is appropriately not in that circumstance a logical fallacy. Were they to comment on something like climate science then I would listen to see what they say.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby Arouet » 26 Mar 2013, 00:37

Ok, I see what you are saying I agree with that I just don't call that an ad hom - in the se of ad hom logical fallacy. So I wouldn't say its a justified ad hom - it's not an ad hom because ad hom only applies to logical arguments.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby NinjaPuppy » 26 Mar 2013, 01:25

Holy crapf - You guys can argue something like a tree, down to butt lint. :lol:
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby really? » 26 Mar 2013, 04:43

NinjaPuppy wrote:Holy crapf - You guys can argue something like a tree, down to butt lint. :lol:


Butt lint? Never heard of that before.
On a serious note. The Ad hom Fallacy is the most misunderstood and misused fallacy of them all.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby SydneyPSIder » 26 Mar 2013, 16:58

I think what PW is saying is that if Person X was demonstrably 'wrong' about something once on the commonly accepted facts, then everything Person X says from now on must also be wrong. i.e. the only source of argument he will accept is from someone who is always 'right' (on the commonly accepted facts), although that is almost an impossibility as beliefs, knowledge and findings change over time. Or that if website X has one kooky thing on it, therefore the whole site must be kooky and cannot have one right thing on it. That surely is a logical fallacy or illogical heuristic. It's also a very easy out to avoid reading anything that might challenge a stubborn, fixed world view. Although I agree with him when it comes to anything with David Icke's name on it.

We could possibly call this the 'Stopped Watch Fallacy' -- the accusation that Person X is wrong so often we can't trust anything they say and can never tell when they are actually right -- like a stopped watch, they are right twice a day, but we don't exactly when that is, so it is all useless. However, in PW's case it's only an assumed stopped watch, based on his judgement of the writer.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby Arouet » 27 Mar 2013, 00:45

SydneyPSIder wrote:I think what PW is saying is that if Person X was demonstrably 'wrong' about something once on the commonly accepted facts, then everything Person X says from now on must also be wrong. i.e. the only source of argument he will accept is from someone who is always 'right' (on the commonly accepted facts)


I don't think that's what PW is saying at all. I think he's saying that based on previous things the guy has said he doesn't trust his opinion and he doesn't think it's worth his time going through the trouble analyzing anything else the guy has to say.

, although that is almost an impossibility as beliefs, knowledge and findings change over time. Or that if website X has one kooky thing on it, therefore the whole site must be kooky and cannot have one right thing on it. That surely is a logical fallacy or illogical heuristic.


That would indeed be a logical fallacy - but again, that's not what PW said.

It's also a very easy out to avoid reading anything that might challenge a stubborn, fixed world view. Although I agree with him when it comes to anything with David Icke's name on it.


This is the point - you might crituqe PW for refusing to read the particular source - but you're not critiquing him on the basis that he made a logical fallacy but rather than you think he has an unfair judgment of the person and should consider the person to have material that is worth looking at.

We could possibly call this the 'Stopped Watch Fallacy' -- the accusation that Person X is wrong so often we can't trust anything they say and can never tell when they are actually right -- like a stopped watch, they are right twice a day, but we don't exactly when that is, so it is all useless. However, in PW's case it's only an assumed stopped watch, based on his judgement of the writer.



That's not a logical fallacy - that's a probabilistic argument. You might argue that the person wasn't wrong enough to attribute such an error bar to them, but then you are arguing about statistics - not logic. PW is saying that he doesn't trust the source and so doesn't want to allocate time towards reading the source. You might try and convince him the guy is worth his time. But given that time is a scarce resource, people have to discriminate- one can't read everything after all.
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby Arouet » 20 Apr 2013, 06:05

heh- that's actually funny. Welcome back justintime! You still trolling JREF?
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Re: Why do skeptics cite the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy?

Postby CanadianBroad » 02 May 2013, 05:34

The "no true Scotsman" fallacy is very often used by christians to separate themselves from hateful people.

Anytime a christian does something they don't like, they claim "They're not a TRUE christian".

If this is true, there can be NO thematic groups in people, ever, because there are no common examples, guidelines, or deciding factors that can associate any group - It all becomes a personal decision, not a factual assertion.

For example, if I choose to assert that any woman who does not believe in freedom of choice regarding abortion is not a TRUE woman, then I am using the "no true Scotsman" fallacy and presenting my personal preferences and choices as some kind of deciding factor in determining someone else's gender.

You see? There must be some kind of "norm" or category outside ourselves to refer to when assigning anything to a specific group. Some kind of guidelines for asserting commonality.

As to ProfWag - I would suggest that what he said was, in essence, a shorthand version of the following: "When I see this term (whatever term he is referring to) used, I know from experience and/or research that what follows is something I am familiar with, and I do not agree with the judgement of that person. I am not interested in rehashing something I've already decided. I am satisfied that I have explored this topic enough to make a decision on". That is not a logical fallacy, that is a decision based on experience and not formal logic. (Whether he is right or wrong is irrelevant to the statement)
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