Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The "That's just your opinion" fallacy

Sometimes, when a support of a suspect scheme ran out of logical arguments, they will attempt to characterize your premise as "opinion". It often takes this form:

A: Acme XYZ is a scam because of ____, ____, and ____. 
B: That's just your OPINION that Acme XYZ is a scam.
This is a derail attempt, by simply REFUSING to accept the other side's position reasoning or logic with a blanket statement: everything you say is worthless opinion. It is, as John T. Reed put it, "intellectually dishonest" debate tactic. It is a complete red herring.

If there is proper logic and evidence to support the position/premise, then the premise is far more than an opinion. It is a "supported premise".

This is sometimes used as a rebuttal, which takes this form
B: Acme XYZ is a legitimate moneymaker because of a), b) and c)
A: Acme XYZ is NOT a legitimate moneymaker because a) is false based on y), b) and c) therefore cannot be true. Furthermore, z) proves that it's not legitimate at all. 
B: That is just your opinion that Acme XYZ is not a legitimate moneymaker.
 As you can see, this use is just as bogus as the original. A defeated B's premise by dismantling the evidence or logic presented by B, then further added evidence to support the counter-premise. Instead of attempting to defeat the counter-evidence or counter-premise, B merely dismissed it all as "opinion".

Remember, opinions are just that, opinions. When supported by logic and facts, it's no longer an opinion.
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  1. Bur wait a second. One could argue that the standard used to determine if that's a good evidence, is purely subjective. Like for example.

    The evidence strongly suggests that the student killed the teacher.

    But that's just your opinion that this is a good evidence.

    Do you understand what I mean?

    1. Correct.

      So what you do is cite good sources, like actual facts, citings, science journals, scientists, and genuine experts in those areas, as well as logical steps to arrive at the conclusion.

      Then when your opponents start attacking the sources, like "You can't trust the newspaper" or "you can't trust the expert" or "you can't trust the government", you use their own prejudices against them, to make them look stupid, because they are.

      The idea is to show your opponents are NOT being reasonable. The opponent obviously won't admit to that... Even better!

  2. Yes. I thought about it. We can use examples like gravity to show that some things are not subjetive like it's claimed to be.

    "I reject the claim that there is a god because there is no scientific evidence for this.

    - But that's just your opinion that science is important to determine if a claim is correct or not. Why should we believe what science claims to be right or wrong?

    - Because science works. Science has observed, tested and proved that there is gravity. If you reject that claim, you can jump from a building. You can have an opinion that if you jump from it, some angels will hold you in their arms and you will not fall. But the evidence ponints to the other way."

    Do you think it's valid?

    1. I think you've gone off to a tangent on that debate.

      If you say "there is no God because it cannot be proven through experiment"...

      And they say "but that's your opinion that experiment can prove existence of God"

      Your response should be "So, in your opinion, WHAT sort of test should there be to prove existence of God, that we can both agree on? Since you don't like my idea of experiments, how about you come up with one?"

      To put them on the spot.

      By debating with them the efficacy of "science" and "evidence-based decision" you've already lost a step.

    2. I think you need to check with Dr. Bennett on his website https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies

      He's better at this than I am.