[Originally published as The Prove It Fallacy]
It is not only very helpful to learn about informal logical fallacies, but can be fun. At least, they are for me.
Not only does this help you in discussions so you can see if some owl-hoot is building an argument with faulty reasoning, but helps you check your own arguments so you can present present them as accurately as possible.
“Back up your assertions!”
The more I learn about fallacies, the more I see that not only can many of them get combined and overlap. For example, a comment can a contain complex question, an ad hominem and a genetic fallacy all at the same time.
Are you afraid to back up your claims, or just too stupid to cite something from a real source and not from creatard sites?
More than that, I keep seeing additional “fallacies” that appear to be simply made up. Someone accused me of committing a fallacy because I pointed out his own fallacies, therefore, I was “negated” and he was free to continue building his faulty arguments! Now, I can see a valid complaint when someone inaccurately accuses someone of being fallacious.
“Since you’re not proving anything, I guess you’re not able to understand logic”
So, I’m going to make up a fallacy of my own: The “Prove It Fallacy.” Although it can happen in the real world, it occurs much more frequently on the web. Some discussions are ruined when people constantly demand that you prove everything you comment, and your can’t even get to the point you want to make.
There have been times when I have made comments that people enthusiastically attacked and demanded proof of. I could say, “I remember reading that John Wayne left the comfort of his film crew’s camp and brought food to the Mexican extras at their camp, and he also ate with them.” Someone might reply, “Citation, or it never happened.”
Yes, there are people who demand proof for what seems like almost everything you say.
I really think that the Atheist Handbook™ forbids allowing Christians (especially creationists) to be right, so if they can’t get every challenge answered, they use the argument from silence and consider their opponent to be refuted. This is similar to “typo pouncing”, where a simple mispeling is used to negate an entire discussion, or even the reject the personhood of the commenter. Such tactics make it very difficult to have a decent exchange on teh interweb.
The more I cognate on this, I’m seeing that it may be just a sub-fallacy of an established fallacy:
The Red Herring
It’s just a means of distracting from the topic at hand, and avoiding whether or not someone has a decent argument or response.
- When you think about it, you’ll see that many fallacies have a measure of red herring in them: Ridicule
- Poisoning the well
- Appeal to motive
- Libeling someone by calling him or her a liar without evidence (making the accuser the liar)
- Straw man,
- and more (you can see a corral-load of fallacies in my “Logic Lessons” series).
Now, sometimes distractions and rabbit trails can be fun, but also frustrating for people who want a discussion to stay on track.
Of course, there are times when someone makes a claim that is relevant to the discussion and needs support, especially when someone makes a claim as an attempted rebuttal to someone’s comment, such as, “You creationists are all liars!”—okay, back that up, Skippy. That’s not my point here.
I’m talking about those sidewinders who challenge so many statements that they ruin the discussion. On a side note, there have been times where I was asked to support my claims, so I gave them a link to one of my articles. They used the genetic fallacy and rejected it out of hand because it was my work, and didn’t bother to see that I documented what I had to say.
Ofttimes, they won’t even bother with the support that you wasted time in tracking down and posting because they’re just interested in being obstreperous.
The issuing of constant challenges indicates to me that someone isn’t interested in having a rational discussion. I believe that anti-creationists and atheists are unwilling, and maybe even afraid, to consider reasoned arguments from Christians, especially biblical creationists.
Are these people challenging you for the sake of challenging? That’s up to you to decide, and to choose whether or not you’re simply wasting your time.