Confronting Logical Fallacies

Not as much “debate” room but I do want to discuss ideas about this.

I regularly get into small or big debates about islam with my muslim flat-mate. And pretty much 80% of his responses are strawmen, begging the question, moving the goalposts and unjustly putting the burden of proof on me to “seal tight my arguments” from his strawmen and moving the goal posts rather than actually giving me counter arguments.

I keep telling him he is commiting those fallacies and he says he understands but he just keeps on commiting them with the same “arguments” he had given me 5 minutes ago.

How can I combat this?

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You can’t complete with that kind of dishonesty with civil discourse. The discourse already isn’t civil.


Process comments:

Communication occurs on several levels at the same time. The overt message, and covert intent (Focus on relationship defining for a start, it’s the easiest to understand.) Check out transactual analysis, and it will give you a hint at what I am getting at. All communication is relationship defining.

Instead of paying attention to the message, pay attention to how the message is delivered. Why was the message delivered that way? What assertion is being made about your relationship with the speaker? “Why are you talking to me like I am a child without an understanding of science or logic?” Comment on the behavior, the intent, and not the overt message. ‘Are you trying to convince me or convince yourself.’ Why would you use such an obviously fallacious argument? (Get an answer to why he used it. Not a justification of the argument. Keep going back to why he used it.)

'Why do you insist on treating me like I am stupid? We discussed the fallacies and still you keep trying them out on me. (Define the use of using fallacies as being stupid but deny you called him stupid.)

You admit that you know these comments are fallacious and still you keep using them. Is that due to a lack of creativity on your part or just an inability to argue effectively?

A process comment is a comment about what is happening right now. It makes what is actually happening ‘OVERT.’ But you are also redefining the relationship. (You are treating me like an idiot.) “You are using a bullshit argument, and you know it is bullshit. Why did you do that?” Are you willing to have an honest discussion or not?

Process comments are always serious. They are meant to ‘pin down’ the behavior and frame it in a specific way. “Why do you insist on speaking to me like I am stupid?” "Are you actually ignorant enough to think l believe what you have just said? Do you even actually believe it? Why would you believe such an obviously fallacious comment? Stay in the here and now.

THE ART OF ‘DISQUALIFICATION’ (Person, Place, Time, Message)

Learn to say horrible things without saying them. This is known as disqualifying your communication. I am saying it without saying it. It wasn’t me…

Disqualify self - I am not the one saying this to you.
I know you are intelligent but, If anyone else used that argument I would call them an ignorant ass. (I’m not calling you an ignorant ass but other people who use arguments like this.)

Disqualify the other person - I am not talking about you.
I heard that same argument used by William Lane Craig, and he just looked like an ass. (I did not say you look like an ass but WLC did.) Then address your comments to WLC’s argument. and not the person you’re talking to. WLC said… That was easily countered with…Ask, ‘Have you ever seen him debate?’ You are discussing the same argument but depersonalizing it by attacking WLC. (Or whoever. Just make up a name. It does not matter.)

Disqualify the time - We are not discussing now but something in the past.
The last time you said that, I shared it with a friend, he laughed his ass off, but I know you are serious. (I’m not the one laughing at you, it was someone else at another time.)

Disqualifying the message - Are you aware that your argument has been debunked for over 50 years? Don’t you have anything real?

And people wonder why I am so good at being an ass.


You can combat this by telling him straight up that he’s lying.

He’ll probably look for someone else to pester with his drivel afterwards … :slight_smile:

LOL… If anyone else said that to my face, I would call him a liar, but I know you actually mean it. Why do you think you said that? (Don’t let him justify. Go back to 'but why did you use that argument?)

Recognize that it’s not about reason or logic.

You can’t argue with someone who’s major point is that reason doesn’t count.

We can maybe look at this in another way: I think one of the most beautiful women in the world is Sara Sampiao (see below):


While you might think that the most beautiful woman in the world is Alica Schmidt (see below):


Two very different beautiful women . . . yet how do I defend my judgment of Sampiao as being the most beautiful woman in the world? What objective criteria do I use?

Ultimately, Sampiao is the most beautiful woman in the world to me because of how I feel. You could show me stats, figures (no pun intended), and surveys which may demonstrate that Schmidt is much more beautiful . . . but this won’t mean anything to me.

When you’re trying to convince your room mate on the fallacy of God’s existence, it’s like trying to get me to agree that Schmidt is more beautiful than Sampiao despite how I feel.

You’re fighting a losing battle.

Stop trying to debate with him, he’s not interested in honest debate clearly. You could tell him this as well, but I suspect it will avail you nothing.

That’s most of the people I’ve debated with where I live. The arguments are frustrating and they go in circles and we both walk away annoyed with each other. No one’s mind is changed. It’s a complete waste of my time.

On a Saturday, I had two Christian women ringing my door bell waking me up at 8 in the morning wanting to discuss the bible. I didn’t bother arguing with them, I did not tell them I was an Atheist, nor was I in the mood to argue Christian Apologetics at 8 in the morning.

I was awoken by my kids telling me that there was someone ringing the door bell. I was tired and groggy. It was my day off. My girlfriend was not getting out from her shift from the nursing home until noon. I had stayed up late last night and was still pretty tired, which is something I do on my Friday nights.

When I opened the door, it was two women nicely dressed. There was an overweight woman with dark brown hair and there was a middle aged slender blond woman. They were very nicely dressed. I thought my ex wife or former in-laws might have reported me to CPS again as usual to be snide. So I asked “Can I help you?”.

I listened for a moment as the blond woman talked. As soon as I heard the words “discussing the bible”, I sighed heavily interrupting her. She grew very quiet as I gave her and her friend a dirty look. Shook my head at them and slammed the door. The look of defeat in the woman’s eyes while I slammed the door in her face was enough satisfaction for me. I believe It said a lot to them.


The problem is having expectations from the debate, best not to have those and debate just for its own sake.

So do it for fun? :thinking:

Not necessarily for fun, what you get from it is up to each individual, figure it out and debate only for those reasons. If you expect people who hold beliefs to relinquish them in the face of sound logical arguments, you’re inviting disappointment. It’s rare to get someone to even acknowledge they violated a principle of logic, let alone stop doing it.

You can link peer reviewed scientific papers, @Calilasseia has been generous to share many of these, and people will wave them away as if your offering your favourite colour, if they care more about their beliefs than about whether those beliefs are true.

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@nogodinthisnghbrhd, if you find the back-and-forth with your flat-mate entertaining or provides you with the ability to ponder or solidify your own thoughts, have at it! It can be great brain exercise and a fun way to pass some time.
You may get disappointed, however, if your only goal is to “win”. People dig their heels in because when asked to change a habit (and religion can be thought of as a habit) by thinking differently, the brain throws up error messages, the frontal cortex starts to go off line, and the amygdala tries to run the show. Being able to hear/understand reason then doesn’t work very well, if at all. So, there are likely physiological reasons the resistance you encounter during these debates.
And, perhaps understanding that the brain is reacting (sans volition), will help you be less frustrated during conversations with him/her.

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This is true. You have a very good point. I have been victim of this idea first hand for a long time and since I came on to this board. In the past tense on this forum, I have had to walk away from discussions due to being frustrated and becoming more and more volatile towards the theists that I’ve debated with due to being unable to talk any sense into them. I have been debating for all of the wrong reasons.

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I have deleted far more responses than I have posted on this forum. Some of them quite expansive and long posts. It often gets overlooked (by me anyway) but it’s good practise to ask yourself what you hope to achieve each time. If it’s unrealistic find a new reason or don’t post it.


That’s the moment you should have asked. “Are you the strippers applying to work the party tonight?” I love the dresses. Come on in and show me what you’ve got.

The more they insist they are not strippers, the more you tell them you like their presentation and insist they show you their moves. LOL


It worked on me :smiley:

Then he slammed the door :cry: :door:

This :point_up_2:is why I still post here.

Sometimes I just say, look, you’re unlikely to change my mind unless you present some real evidence. I’m unlikely to change your mind because it’s your belief without evidence. There’s nothing wrong with believing something that’s illogical if it makes you happy and doesn’t do you any harm :woman_shrugging:t2:

If he wants to argue about logic, well - you got him. He can still walk away knowing he has his illogical faith.


I am not sure how well one can determine whether or not believing something illogical may be harmful. Once one adopts a belief as strongly as many do Christianity, I cannot help but wonder if they may be creating a heuristic whereby it becomes not only possible, but perhaps even somewhat likely, that they may come to believe some other illogical thing without any evidence.


But it probably does do you harm. Believing in magical thinking in one area can lead to magical thinking in other areas. One of my all-time favorite videos was one of a cop who had been shot. The cop had crawled to a safe position under a tree. A man had run up to help the cop. Did he put him in a shock position? No. Did he apply direct pressure to the wound? No. Did he say self assuring things and tell the cop that the ambulance was on the way? No. Did he try to calm the cop down, have him take deep breaths, try to relax? No. You want to know what the fucking asshole did while the cop laid on the grass and bled out from a stomach wound? The fuckhead put his hand on the cop’s shoulder, looked up at the sky and pleaded for God to save his life. Now tell me that a belief in god hurts no one.

When you put on your god glasses, you see a black and white world full of dark forces doing battle against good. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a God belief without harm.

EDIT: for very nice people that do happen to believe in magic, and are unaware of the harm it causes.


I would argue logically that yes, it does more harm. Over time and to their individual personhood. Also their judgement is impaired. BUT given this OP situation or living with family - sometimes you have to find a way to let it come to an end.

Holding irrational beliefs at one time in my life was certainly harmful.

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