What type of argument ... ?

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
Hi all,

I was having a discussion with a conspiracy nut and he was using the logic of, "You can't answer my question so i'm right."

His logic is obviously flawed and i told him so, but i was wondering, what is this faulty kind of logic called?

:)

Paul
 

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
I think it depends on what the questions was, and what he thinks he's right about.

Mick, he'll just throw out some conspiracy-trivia question that no normal person would have the answer. Then when you don't know, he does the old trick of trying to say, because you don't know the answer, he must be right. He tries to line you up with a number of "i don't know" responses in an attempt to make himself appear right. I was wondering what this technique is called.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Perhaps the "Ignoratio Elenchi/Irrelevant Thesis/Red Herring" argument? Probably a non sequitur

The inability to answer a question only demonstrates that you don't know the answer. You'd have to be pretty twisted to suggest that that means that any other answer someone gives is the right answer.

Is it something like this:

A: That cat is a robot
B: I don't think so
A: Well why have you never seen it eat anything then?
B: Huh?
A: That proves it!


Really though it sounds more like the Chewbacca Defense, in that it's a series of unrelated statements that simply sounds like an argument.
 

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
Perhaps the "Ignoratio Elenchi/Irrelevant Thesis/Red Herring" argument? Probably a non sequitur

The inability to answer a question only demonstrates that you don't know the answer. You'd have to be pretty twisted to suggest that that means that any other answer someone gives is the right answer.

Is it something like this:

A: That cat is a robot
B: I don't think so
A: Well why have you never seen it eat anything then?
B: Huh?
A: That proves it!


Really though it sounds more like the Chewbacca Defense, in that it's a series of unrelated statements that simply sounds like an argument.

Here you go Mick, slightly modified:

A: That cat eats metal and wood.
B: I don't think so
A: Then tell me what that cat does eat.
B: Huh?
A: That proves it! That cat eats metal and wood.

I'd like to know what kind of argument this is just so i can short circuit this line of questioning with a simple, succinct response.

:)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not sure there is a precise name for the full construction. But that is a non sequitur. Non Sequitur is anywhere when it "does not follow". So you could just respond with "that's a non-sequitur".

It also reminds me of the god-of-gaps fallacy, where whenever there's something science cannon explain, then that's where a god is, in the gaps of science. That's an "argument from ignorance"

And closer to your example, the argument from silence.

But I think the non sequitur is best. Unless he actually explains why it follows that your inability to offer an alternative explanation proves his explanation to be true, then it does not follow.

You can also nullify it somewhat by noting there are several possibilities, some of which seem more likely than others, but you can't be sure what the answer is. That leave open the possibility that his answer might be correct, but then he has to explain why it's more probably than other answers. I don't know 100% what that white line is, but why are chemtrails more probably than contrails? I don't know why you are hearing voices, but why are government microwaves more likely than auditory hallucinations?
 

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
I'm not sure there is a precise name for the full construction. But that is a non sequitur. Non Sequitur is anywhere when it "does not follow". So you could just respond with "that's a non-sequitur".

It also reminds me of the god-of-gaps fallacy, where whenever there's something science cannon explain, then that's where a god is, in the gaps of science. That's an "argument from ignorance"

And closer to your example, the argument from silence.

But I think the non sequitur is best. Unless he actually explains why it follows that your inability to offer an alternative explanation proves his explanation to be true, then it does not follow.

You can also nullify it somewhat by noting there are several possibilities, some of which seem more likely than others, but you can't be sure what the answer is. That leave open the possibility that his answer might be correct, but then he has to explain why it's more probably than other answers. I don't know 100% what that white line is, but why are chemtrails more probably than contrails? I don't know why you are hearing voices, but why are government microwaves more likely than auditory hallucinations?

The "argument from silence" is the technique i used on HIM! LOL! He mentioned the illuminati. I asked him if he knew the names of any illuminati. He said "yes". I asked for just one name of a person in the illuminati. When he couldn't produce a single name i accused him of not knowing a name and, without a name, he can't assert the existence of the illuminati. That was two days ago. He still hasn't produced a name.

I think his style of argument is the "argument from ignorance" technique.

I'm reading the links right now.

:)
 

MikeC

Closed Account
watch out for playing "their sort of games" - they have a habit of biting you as much as them! Eg what are you going to do if he comes back with "John Smith" as a member of the illuminati"?? He can invent a name, and then it's up to you to prove that person isn't in the Illuminati .....but maybe he's not quite clever enough to realise that. ;)
 

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
watch out for playing "their sort of games" - they have a habit of biting you as much as them! Eg what are you going to do if he comes back with "John Smith" as a member of the illuminati"?? He can invent a name, and then it's up to you to prove that person isn't in the Illuminati .....but maybe he's not quite clever enough to realise that. ;)

No, he's not clever enough. If he did mention a name i would ask for a reference, then research and return to the debate. He knows my research abilities, i'm tenacious, it keeps him honest (As honest as a conspiracist can be). :)
 

MikeC

Closed Account
He can just say that he has personal knowledge or some such - saw him give joe blogs the secret handshake before they both beamed out :D

Seriously though - argument by example is not the best weapon you can use.
 

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
He can just say that he has personal knowledge or some such - saw him give joe blogs the secret handshake before they both beamed out :D

Seriously though - argument by example is not the best weapon you can use.

How else can i get these crazies to either prove the illuminati exist or admit they don't? When they talk they throw out their phrases like it's a given they're true. I like to stop them, back them up and ask for proof. So far it's been working. They get pissed at me and start calling me names. They don't like it when they can't gloss over their "facts".

:)
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
So far it's been working. They get pissed at me and start calling me names.

I'm not sure I'd class that as "working" :) When they get angry at you they can just become more irrational.

I like to try and clarify their argument. Get it as logically solid as possible, and the holes should become apparent to them. Politely explain why regular folk, and even scientists, are unconvinced by their argument, and exactly what is needed in terms of evidence to change this.

I also greatly prefer the word "evidence" to "proof". While proof does have something of a common mean of "strong and convincing evidence", asking for proof can lead in to epistemological nonsense - like "what is proof?" "this might all me a simulation", "you can't prove a bumblebee can fly!" etc.
 

PCWilliams

Senior Member.
All excellent advice. I'll have try a different approach next time, or just avoid him. You seem to have more patience with conspiracists then i. I tend to hit my own wall and the little voice in my head says "stop wasting your time" and i want to move on. But this particular person i've been talking about is a family member, so he always uses family gatherings as his moment to spew the craziest things.

I really like the "evidence" versus "proof". Proof implies conclusive. We have discussed this on this forum.

:)
 
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