Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bad Argument: "What's your problem" tactic

Logical Fallacies 3
Logical Fallacies 3 (Photo credit: Mark Klotz)
When a "defender" of a suspect scheme defends the scheme, often they can't resist on speculating the other side's "motive" instead of sticking strictly to the premise and/or counter premise and the logic and/or evidence supporting "their side". And often, one of the speculations runs to "if you have a personal problem with _____."  Here's an example:

A: Acme XYZ is a scam because of ____, ____, and ____. 
B: Do you have a personal problem with _____, founder of Acme XYZ? You must have to slander his company like this. 
This is a red herring, because B did not argue either the premise (Acme XYZ is a scam) nor the counter-premise (Acme XYZ is NOT a scam).

Red herrings always involve some sort of appeal, often to emotion. Previously we have identified various red herrings, all of them involving the bad arguer guessing the motivation of his or her opponent. There are:

  • "Sour Grapes" -- you're just jealous of our / company's success!   (emotion of jealousy)
  •  "Bitter aftertaste" -- did you lost money in (somewhat related opportunity) before? Is that why you hate this one?   (emotion of hate)
  • "Conspiracy of the rich" -- you're that 1% out to keep us the 99% poor!   (emotion of anger and jealousy)
and now we can add another one: 
  • "What's your problem?" -- do you have a personal grudge against ____ of the company?  (emotion of hate, again)

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