Argument,...Vaild and Not : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The other day I printed out a 20 page document on debate logic and fallacies. There is an alarming number of posts on this forum and others that fail to meet even minimum standards for sound argument. I thought I would post two of the most flagrant abuses.

Argumentum ad hominem : means literally "argument directed at the man"; there are two varieties.

The first is the abusive form. If you refuse to accept a statement, and justify your refusal by criticizing the person who made the statement, then you are guilty of abusive argumentum ad hominem.

The second form of argumentm ad hominem is to try and persuade someone to acdept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular cirumstances. For example,

"Therefore it is perfectly acceptable to kill animals for food. I hope you won't argue otherwise, given that you're quite happy to wear leather shoes."

This is known as circumstantial argumentum ad hominem. The fallacy can also be used as an excuse to reject a particular conclusion. For example:

"Of course you'd argue that positive discrimination is a bad thing. You're white."'

This particular form of Argumentum ad Hominem, when you allege that someone is rationalizing a conclusion for selfish reasons, is also known as "poisoning the well".

It is not always invalid to refer to ther circumstances of an individual who is making a claim, as long as you have first-hand information. If a person is a known liar, that fact will reduce their credibility as a witness. It won't, however, prove that their testimony is false in this case. It also won't alter the soundness of any logical arguments they may make.

For full site about debate logic and fallacies click on link or go to:, February 22, 1999


Here's the second form of fallacious argument.

Tu quoque

This is the famous "you too" fallacy. It occurs if you argue that an action is acceptable because your opponent has performed it. For instance:

"You're just being randomly abusive."

"So? You've been abusive too."

This is a personal attack, and is therfore a special case of Argumentum ad Hominem

Sound familiar?

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

I don't think ANYONE HERE is abusive of Argumentum ad Hominem, you putz!

Uh oh. But donna, but, but, I was just, aw yez.....

-- Lon Frank (, February 22, 1999.

Cute, Lon. Guilty conscience????

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

I blew the link. (Hi, my name is Donna and I'm an Internet Blunderer)

Here is it for all those wishing to spiff up their argument skills:

Logic and Fallacies

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.


This could be a promising thread.

And then there is that other fallacy called the link is missing. (With apologies; I couldn't resist phrasing it that way.) :-)


-- Jerry B (, February 22, 1999.

Ah, but Jerry, "link missing" is just blunder. Fallacious argument is another thing altogether. :)

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

We could argue ad hominen here and ask Ed to change this forum's name to 'John Koskinen is a Big Fat Idiot.' We haven't asked Ed to do that though and I hope we never will.

Facts presented without attitude speak volumes.

-- (, February 22, 1999.

Oh,my GOD! Is my fallacious link missing????!!!!

Whew, don't scare me like that. (Hey, Maybe Donna's reeeaaally... Lorena Bobbitt?)

Guilty conscience? What concience?

-- Lon Frank (, February 22, 1999.

Lon, I didn't expect you'd retort back. I am a non violent the Lorena Bobbitt comment ( check your spelling) is a non sequitor...that is non sequitor.

If you have something to add to our discussion of logical debate, please fell free to add a response.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

Aw, Donna, I'm sorry. I didn't exactly see anyone waiting in line to post here, so I thought I'd have a little fun with you while I waited for a serious discussion to start. My utmost appologies.

(By the way, we all have a little trouble with spelling, don't you fell?) :)


-eating humble pie as he goes to play in the street.

-- Lon Frank (, February 22, 1999.

Of course, your "fell" reference is a veiled ad hominem attack upon would have been (PR wise) more apropos for you to point out to me my typo, and then jump in with a reason for why my insistance upon logical debate is moot.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

but Donna, you refused to be cowed!, wait a minute, that would be a 'mooed' point...

never mind,


-- Arlin H. Adams (, February 22, 1999.

Thanks for noticing, Arlin. I must persevere. Even thought I'm not fon of bozos wherever I find them.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

Oh, come on Donna, it wasn't all that veiled.

And I don't think your insistance upon logical debate it moot at all. I just feel that for many of us Y2K is more of an emotional issue, rather than a logical one. I, for example, am dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to computers, so a logical argument concerning programming issues is beyond my keen. I am emotionally involved because I must rely upon trust alone.. I don't know if Cory is telling me the truth or if Paul Davis is, in actuality. If logical debate among those of us discussing real-time issues could be adhearred (sp- 1) to, I for one would benefit, therefore I am your standard bearer.

Whew, my brain is tired now, I think I'll go back to the thread about fruitcake wars.

-- Lon Frank (, February 22, 1999.

Okay Lon, then with you I will deal emotionally. For other peopl who want pure debat, be it. I cannot separate my emotion from my planning so I have to be very careful when I post to forum threads.

Since the gloves are off....we can say "so & so is coming from an emotional place".......or "this person is coming from a logical place."

Okay with you?

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 22, 1999.

"The second form of argumentm ad hominem is to try and persuade someone to acdept a statement you make, by referring to that person's particular cirumstances. "

"Okay Lon, then with you I will deal emotionally. For other peopl who want pure debat, be it."

Whoops. Busted!

-- Lon Frank (, February 22, 1999.


You may call it a blunder, but it would have been in very poor taste for me to have done so. Of course, I could simply have written "Donna, the link is missing", but that would not have been any fun. So, I blundered by taking so loooonnng to choose a way to phrase my post, that you had already posted the link before my jest got posted.

Is that an example of post hoc ergo blunder hoc?

(I better stop!)


-- Jerry B (, February 22, 1999.

What's your point Ms. Barthuley? Not very many people here are concerned with the "rules" of debate. Who cares? This NG is composed of a bunch of people from vastly different backgrounds gathering to discuss an issue that scares the hell out of us. If you can manage to follow your rules consitently in your discussions then more power to you. Unfortunately, most of us are a little too human for that. The only thing that I'm interested in is useful information. I don't care what form it comes in.


If you can find a NG that has more useful information presented by intelligent people in a rational manor, let me know. I've never seen one.

-- d (d@usedtobedgi.old), February 23, 1999.

Hi moment. While a good debate does happen here once in a while, I don't think it's the point of this forum. I know I'm here to keep up on the latest Y2K news, and get other peoples opinion of that news. Being a long time computer professional, I also feel that I may have helpful advice to offer others. While I am guilty of trying to convert a few DGIs, I'm not really here looking for a debate. Just my $.02 <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 23, 1999.

Thanks for the back-up guys. She had me on the ropes there for a while!

-- Lon Frank (, February 23, 1999.

Dear Donna,

I have read posts written by long time lurkers that were too intimidated to post for a year. For example, they saw people get attacked for mispelling a word.

I wonder what they think now?

-- Deborah (whatis@valid.???), February 23, 1999.

Uhhhhhhhmmm.... y'all saying Koskinen is Darwin's missing link?

-- Lisa (can't@keep._up_here), February 23, 1999.

Well Deb, I can spell fine. just can't tyep (oops)! <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 23, 1999.

Oh yeah - bet I can moosetype faster than you can moosetype!

(That sentence only required 6 corrections. This one needed too.)

The question though - is how to debate - faced with a technical issue, you cannot argue it emotionally. Fine discuss and present only facts, and argue the design of chips, trips, and automobiles.

But when comes the interpolation of future events - PARTICUALRLY society's future reactions to future events of unknown magnitude caused by future (potential) failures of unknown magnitudes, one must argue beliefs and opinions - there are NO facts. Beliefs, then, stem from the inner person, having roots in his or her background, emotions, and faith (whether religious or secular, both are faith-based realities coming from within.)

Therefore, would you not almost immediately expect to see ad hominhim/ad herinnim "faith/emotional" attacks, comments and counterattacks - because the fundemental issue at hand is "my emotional judgement (me)" against "your emotional based judgement (you)". At this point, extrapoloating to the future, when the extrapolators cannot even agree on where the present is, much less what will happen in the future, and then attempt to agree on what the effect of diiferent future events will be, is not winable.

Dicussable - yes. Winnable? No.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 23, 1999.

I don't know Robert, I thought she was wery close to winning when she presented that logical and concise disertation culminating in the irrefutable conclusion that I was a bozo.

You gotta admit it was a very good shot. Woulda hurt too, had I not been wearing my rubber nose at the time.

-- Lon Frank (, February 23, 1999.

ROFLMAO!!! (Honk!)

Mea culpa argumentum ad hominem! Hey, Lon,...I can teach you to juggle...goes great with the nose.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.


I think we'd make a great team! Where's that thread on post y2k occupations? If we can only teach Robert Cook to tightrope walk in a tutu, we've got it made!

P.S. Sincerely glad you're not too mad at me. I used to think I was a wit. It turns out I was half-right.

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

I'm not mad at you at all Lon. I gotta give up seriousness and beer with my Internet.

Great team indeed. I've thought often on post Y2K occupations. I'm a musician so, travelling minstral/jester appealed to me. I bet lots of little nippers would like to learn to play the guitar and learn to juggle and quote latin logic statements, eh? about 3 eggs for a snappy rendition of "American Pie"?

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

And since I'm often monomaniacal about's a bit more on internet discussion and debate logic.

"The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines logic as 'the science of reasoning, proof, thinking, or inference'. Logic will let you analyze an argument or a piece of reasoning, and work out whether it is likely to be correct or not. You don't need to know logic to argue, of course; but if you know even a little, you'll find it easer to spot invalid arguments.

Straw Man

The Straw Man fallacy is when you misrepresent someone else's position so that it can be attacked more easily, knock down that misrepresented position, then conclude that the original position has been demolished. It's a fallacy because it fails to deal with the actual arguments that have been made."

Here's an example Straw Man fallacy which I bet could be fodder for argument in itself. It is ONLY an example.

"To be an atheist, you have to believe with absolute certainty that there is no God. In order to convince yourself with absolute certainty, you must examine all the Universe and all the places where God could possibly be. Since you obviously haven't, your position is indefensible."

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

Hey, We just may be onto something here. The Magnificent and Collossal Yourdon y2k Circus (Like we've never ben called THAT before, huh?)

We could get maybe Gayla to ride bareback a horse (or ride the horse bareback?)

And shoot Dieter out of a cannon (but only if he sticks to his diet.)

And that happy homemaker, Leska, could be in charge of the cotton candy sales,

And of course, AES would get the job as midway barker, And, and, and

Oh, my goodness, the possibilities are overwhelming!

(I'm gonna quit now, and let you see if you can get me out of this) :)

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

Youdons Traveling Circus. It's got a ring (or manbe 3). Les see. Dancing Bears (they ride bicycles too). Lon, your're a shoo in to be the hot-dog man. Then we've got Big Dog and Lobo. Hmmm...don't know if they could be trained to jump through whoops (I suspect not) Hardliner would lead the marching band. There's some good material here. Too bad I gotta get to bed and do real WORK (as Manard Krebs would say) tomorrow. Thus spake

-- Greybear (, February 25, 1999.

I like it...I think we must have a thread along the lines of the incredible Fruitcake Resistance League. Y2K silliness is important to good mental health. So says this Mental Health Poster Child.

The Magificent and Colossal Yourdon Y2K Circus!

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.


Donna, you went back to intellegent posting, and lost me in the turn.

You must have that stuff pre-loaded, right? I mean that was fast! I'll read it and think awhile this time.

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

Lon, were you looking over my shoulder? come on now fess up. I know you type faster than I do.

-- Greybear (, February 25, 1999.


You know you're in trouble when you find yourself raceing to beat some other goofus to the punchline. I like the dog act, though. I wonder if either one of them can be taught to bark the Star Spangled Banner?

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

I think you may have found the final answer to that question a while back: You know you've been on this board too long when....

-- greybear (, February 25, 1999.

Hey, fellas,..I'm a willow. I can bend. ;-)

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

(Maybe we ought to go back to the main page and put a note of warning. It appears we may have done terminal damage to Donna's discussion.)

Donna, I'm still thinking. Of course the Straw Man fallacy has been used many times here, and everywhere y2k is being procrastinated. How many times have we heard "give me proof" or "give me an example", when we are actually discussing a unique and unprecedented possibility?

("Monomanical" - oooh I just love it when you talk that way) :)

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

For the concessions we could have:

Beans and rice in a cup.

Spam on a stick

Popsickles made from bottled water

Pop corn with re-constituted butter

And ALL the wheat you can eat

-- Greybear, and you just won't believe the shooting gallery

-- Greybear (, February 25, 1999.


That sneaky broad stole our idea and went to another thread. Man, she is fast on the keyboard!! At least she did not already fill our positions, but I think we better hurry.

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.


Pianist...touch typist...think fast on my feet and my buttocks.

Isn't there some quote about true genius coming from catching the subtle cues and capitalizing on them...or some other high sounding nonsense?


...and now for something completely different...

Argumentum ad antiquitatem

"This is the fallacy of asserting that something is right or good simply because it's old, or because "that's the way it's always been."

Example: Everyone knows that Americans have always rallied in a crisis. It is foolish to think it will be otherwise with this Millennium Bug thing."

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

I LIKE the idea that something is assumed right because it is old. And I have been drilling that into all the whippersnappers around the bayou ever since they put Tabasco in my Geritol.

I realize that this may be a fallacy of argument, but is it not only human to seek the security of established patterns and moreys.

(Man, this is making me dizzy!)

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

Argumentum ad numerum

"This fallacy consists of asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition, the more likely it is that the proposition is correct. For example:

"The vast majority of people in thsi country believe that capital punishment has a noticeable deterrent effect. To suggest that it doesn't in the face of so much evidence is ridiculous."

"All I'm saying is that thousands of people believe in pyramid power, so there must be something to it."

Argumentum ad populum

Related to argumentum ad numerum, is known as Appealing to the Gallery, or Appealing to the People. You commit this fallacy if you attempt to win acceptance of an assertion by appealing to a large group of people. This form of fallacy is often characterized by emotive language. For example:

"Pornography must be banned. It is violence against women."

"For thousands of years people have believed in Jesus and the Bible. This belief has had a great impact on lives. What more evidence do you need? Are you trying to tell those people that they are all mistaken fools?"

...and she'll have fun, fun, fun, 'til her daddy takes her t-bird awaaaaay....

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.


What's the opposite of Argumentum ad antiquitatem.

The argument the it's better because it's newer?

-- Greybear (, February 25, 1999.

Yes. Argumentum ad novitatem; the fallacy of asseting that something is better of more correct simply because it is new, or newer than something else.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

Wait a minute, Donna.

Just WADE a MINUTE! What is that bell I keep hearing. Oh, I know, it's my "you're a sucker" alarm. While I'm over here burnin' up my Latin dictionary and tryin' not to look too dadgum silly, YOU are over at the circus, making big bucks. I understand you are even the ringleader now, and you've given the concessions business to your unicycle riding stooge, Greybear.

Welll, I got news for you. Diane, The Tatooed Lady, showed me where to sneak under the tarp, and that's just what I'm fixin' to do. I just hope I get there before Gayla does her bareback act.

School's out, school's out, don't it make you wanna shout.

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

What???????? (emphasize the T)

Am I supposed to apologize for being fast with a keyboard and a mouse? LOL LOL

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.

Oh, you got a trained mouse act now, too, have you? Well, I can hear Greybear tuning up his Hurdy Gurdy, and my mouth is just waterin' for some fried pickles......

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

stooge and goofus in one thread.

I haven't chuckled this much in weeks.

-- Greybear (, February 25, 1999.

Ah, GB, you know I'm just envious about that italics thing.

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

Yeah, I know. I've been resisting the urge to do a psuedo Dieter thng.

But not too sucessfully.


You know, occured to me the other day that it must take a fair amount of attention to maintain the random patter of caps shifts. It ain't that easy to make something look that goofy. Is it not so?

-- Greybear (, February 25, 1999.

Gonna go to the couch last logic gem for tonight:

Shifting The Burden of Proof

"The burden of proof is always on the person asserting something. Shifting The Burden of Proof, a special case of argumentum ad ignoratium, is the fallacy of putting the burden of proof on the person who denies or questions the assertion. The source of the fallacy is the assumption that something is ture unless proven otherwise.

Example: OK, so if you don't think the grey aliens have gained control of the US government, can you prove it?"

Argumentum ad ignoratiam

Argumentum ad ignoratiam means "argument from ignorance". The fallacy occurs when it's argued that something must be true, simply because it hasn't been proved false. Or, equivalently, when it is argued that something must be false because it hasn't ben proved true."

I've always like this one and paraphrased it: "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Have fun debaters!

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 25, 1999.


Like yourself, I am a true believer in Dieter. Very, very subtle. (Or very, very crazy)

And as to the other; I don't know, the missus has been making me look goofy for about 30 years now and she don't even break a sweat.

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

Example: OK, so if you don't think the grey aliens have gained control of the US government, can you prove it?"

Hell, I do think the government is controled by grey aliens. It's the blue ones I'm not sure about.

-- GB (, February 25, 1999.

"Argumentum ad Ignoratiam "? I got a cuz named Ignoratiam Chalmet!

Oh, brother, I think I better join Donna on the couch (figuratively speaking, of course)

-- Lon Frank (, February 25, 1999.

Oooooooooooooooh, Lon! "Isn't it rich,...are we a pair? Me here at last on the ground, you in thin air....Send in the clowns."

Now are we to be a three-ring or one-ring circus? (All these natty little business details before such lovely couch dalliances....)

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 26, 1999.

I just assumed, three-ring. I even got my leagle beagle started on a contract. You guessed it....a three ring binder!

Boy are we gonna hate it when we sober up.

I bet Robert Cook, P.E. is gonna be P.O.'ed when he finds out he has to wear a tutu. Ouch, I just got a mental picture of that!

-- Lon Frank (, February 26, 1999.

Weellll, Missie Donna, what do you expect when you go jiggling you figuratively around like that.

I propose 2 rings. That way those who expect one will think they're seeing double and those that expect 3 will be kept busy looking for the other one.

BTW, Lon, I'm gonna throw a fit if Diane shows up with so much as one tatoo with html in it.

-- Greybear, who thinks maybe we should ask the questions on one thread and anwwer them on the other. Now there's confusion to the enemy.

-- GB (, February 26, 1999.

My Most Esteemed Greybear,

(My leagle beagle, Percy Primeaux, said I should call you that, what with you bein' the owner of the concession rights and all.)

You greatly honor me with your intimation that I could write (or tatoo, as the case may be) html. Hell, I caint even pronounce it.

-- Lon Frank (, February 26, 1999.

Have another drink or three and then try to pronounceate it agin. If one of you cajins cain't git it done, then it cain't be done.

Also, if you think there is possibility that the dancin Bear might have to wear one of them things you'd better order him a threethree.

BTW, I'm a little miffed. Here I was surfin away, bouncing from one thread to another, try to dodge the dreaded SERVER BUSY, learning a little latin. I'm thinking to myself (who else would you think to?) wow, that Donna is one sharp cookie. Musician, poet, circus organizer, and she sure know a buch of Latin. What an education!

Then I notice a hot link while I'm posting - with the note "For a full site about debate logic and fallacies click on or go to:". WOW, I'm really impressed. She's even got her own Latin site. I'm blown away. Start wondering if I leave MaMa Bear if she'll really force me to take the little Bears. (We have had an agreement for years that who ever gets to leave has to take the little bears)

I go over to the site. Donna's been cutting and pasting. I'm severely disappointed. And come to think of it I haven't heard her sing either.

-- Greybear, let down, guess I'll stay here. Some of you watch the till every night.

-- Greybear (, February 26, 1999.


Yeah, I tole ya she was a sneaky broad. But would you listen to me? Noooo. Next time watch her lips movin', and not her figuratively jiggle. Well, I'll send you over one a my "you're a sucker alarms".

I hope you've learned your lesson. And be carefull with that thinking about leavin' the ole den. My missus has a sayin'; "The widow get's ever'thing"

-- Lon Frank (, February 26, 1999.

And I've already ordered your threethree. And the CUTEST little pillbox hat!

-- Lon Frank (, February 26, 1999.

Speaking of alarms, I've got a nasty one waiting for me way too soon. As bad as I hate to leave this much fun, I hate morning worse.

And besides I just heard a growl from the den. One of those low, throaty growls like a doberman, the kind that makes the hackles on the back of you neck stand at attention. I think MaMa Bear thinks it's time for me to bed down.

--Greybear, adieu

ps, I just can't wait for the hat. Clear something up for me. Is it 1) a hat you wear while your in a pill box or B) a hat shaped like a pill box or 4) both or E) all of the above?

-- Greybear (, February 26, 1999.

O,o, tpyping flur is lback!

GB, what happened to C3? not to mentoion PO?

Argumentum ad numerum, nad Argumentum ad populum, is this hwo Clington won the impeahcment process?

PS- now you nkow hwo the post looks if I done't correct!

-- Tricia the Cancuk (jayels@tleupslanet.nte), February 26, 1999.

And now for something from the experts:

A man walks into an office.

Man: Good morning, I'd like to have an argument, please.

Receptionist: Certainly, sir. Have you been here before?

Man: No, this is my first time.

Receptionist: I see, well we'll see who's free at the moment. Mr. Bakely's free, but he's a little bit concilliatory. No. Try Mr. Barnhart, room 12.

Man: Thank you.

He enters room 12.


Man: Well, Well, I was told outside that...


Man: What?


Man: Yes, but I came here for an argument!!

Angry man: OH! Oh! I'm sorry! This is abuse!

Man: Oh! Oh I see!

Angry man: Aha! No, you want room 12A, next door.

Man: Oh...Sorry...

Angry man: Not at all!

Angry man: (under his breath) stupid git.

The man goes into room 12A. Another man is sitting behind a desk.

Man: Is this the right room for an argument?

Other Man: (pause) I've told you once.

Man: No you haven't!

Other Man: Yes I have.

Man: When?

Other Man: Just now.

Man: No you didn't!

Other Man: Yes I did!

Man: You didn't!

Other Man: I did!

Man: You didn't!

Other Man: I'm telling you, I did!

Man: You didn't!

Other Man: (breaking into the developing argument) Oh I'm sorry, is this a five minute argument, or the full half hour?

Man: Ah! (taking out his wallet and paying) Just the five minutes.

Other Man: Just the five minutes. Thank you. Anyway, I did.

Man: You most certainly did not!

Other Man: Now let's get one thing perfectly clear: I most definitely told you!

Man: Oh no you didn't!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: Oh no you didn't!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: Oh no you didn't!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: Oh no you didn't!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: Oh no you didn't!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: Oh no you didn't!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: No you DIDN'T!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: No you DIDN'T!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: No you DIDN'T!

Other Man: Oh yes I did!

Man: Oh look, this isn't an argument!


Other Man: Yes it is!

Man: No it isn't!


Man: It's just contradiction!

Other Man: No it isn't!

Man: It IS!

Other Man: It is NOT!

Man: You just contradicted me!

Other Man: No I didn't!

Man: You DID!

Other Man: No no no!

Man: You did just then!

Other Man: Nonsense!

Man: (exasperated) Oh, this is futile!!


Other Man: No it isn't!

Man: Yes it is!


I came here for a good argument!

Other Man: AH, no you didn't, you came here for an argument!

Man: An argument isn't just contradiction.

Other Man: Well! it CAN be!

Man: No it can't!

An argument is a connected series of statement intended to establish a proposition.

Other Man: No it isn't!

Man: Yes it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.

Other Man: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position!

Man: Yes but it isn't just saying "no it isn't".

Other Man: Yes it is!

Man: No it isn't!

Other Man: Yes it is!

Man: No it isn't!

Other Man: Yes it is!

Man: No it ISN'T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

Other Man: It is NOT!

Man: It is!

Other Man: Not at all!

Man: It is!

DING! (the arguer hits a bell on his desk and stops.)

Other Man: Thank you, that's it.

Man: (stunned) What?

Other Man: That's it. Good morning.

Man: But I was just getting interested!

Other Man: I'm sorry, the five minutes is up.

Man: That was never five minutes!!

Other Man: I'm afraid it was.

Man: (leading on) No it wasn't.....


Other Man: (dirty look) I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to argue any more.

Man: WHAT??

Other Man: If you want me to go on arguing, you'll have to pay for another five minutes.

Man: But that was never five minutes just now!

(pause... the Other Man raises his eyebrows) Oh this is... This is ridiculous!

Other Man: I told you... I told you, I'm not allowed to argue unless you PAY!

Man: Oh all right. (takes out his wallet and pays again.) There you are.

Other Man: Thank you.

Man: (clears throat) Well...

Other Man: Well WHAT?

Man: That was never five minutes just now.

Other Man: I told you, I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid!

Man: Well I just paid!

Other Man: No you didn't!

Man: I DID!!!

Other Man: YOU didn't!

Man: I DID!!!

Other Man: YOU didn't!

Man: I DID!!!

Other Man: YOU didn't!

Man: I DID!!!

Other Man: YOU didn't!

Man: (unable to talk straight he's so mad) I don't want to argue about it!

Other Man: Well I'm very sorry but you didn't pay!

Man: Ah HAH!! Well if I didn't pay, why are you arguing??? Ah HAAAAAAHHH! Gotcha!

Other Man: (pause) No you haven't!

Man: Yes I have! If you're arguing, I must have paid.

Other Man: Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time.

-- Old Git (, February 26, 1999.

Gosh Donna,

Looks like Ive missed something.

Havent grey aliens gained control of the US government? Prove they havent. (Just take one good look at the K man).

Whot arguement is tah?

Diane, ta-tu-tooed? Huh?

(Getting that psychic feeling I better check out the circus thread now)

-- Diane J. Squire (, February 26, 1999.

Better late than never, I always say. Grab a chair, Diane!

Now, GB, there was NO cut and paste involved. Just my eyes reading from a hard copy of that logic web site, and me fingers typing away. Promise.

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 26, 1999.

Another fallacy taken in part from:

Logic and Fallacies

Petitio principii/Begging the Question

This fallacy occurs when the premises are at least as questionable as the conclusion reached. For example:

"Aliens are abducting innocent victims every week. The government must know what is going on. Therefore the government is in league with the aliens."

-- Donna Barthuley (, February 26, 1999.

In light of the number of "peeing contests" going on here in the last few days, it seemed appropriate to revive this thread and continue to share information on fallacious argument.

Audiatur et Altera Pars

"Often, people will argue from assumptions which they don't bother to state. The principle of Audiatur et Altera Pars is that all of the premises of an argument should be stated explicitly. It's not strictly a fallacy to fail to state all of your assumptions; however, it's often viewed with suspicion."


"Also referred to as the "black and white" fallacy, bifurcation occurs if someone presents a situation as having only two alternatives, where in fact other alternatives exist or can exist." For example:

"Either Y2K is a bump in the road, as the government and industry officials tell us, or it's TEOTWAWKI, which is incredibly unlikely, so,..."

-- Donna Barthuley (, March 04, 1999.

One of my personal favorites:

The 'No True Scotsman' Fallacy

"Suppose I assert that no Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge. You counter this by pointing out that your friend Angus likes sugar with his porridge. I then say "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."

This is an example of an ad hoc change being used to shore up an assertion, combined with an attempt to shift the meaning of the words used in original assertion; you might call it a combination of fallacies."

-- Donna Barthuley (, March 04, 1999.

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