By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
Last week we talked about the importance of critical thinking/logic, which is simply common sense stated differently.
Arguments consist of two parts--premise/s (which are reasons given), and the conclusion itself. Premises/reasons are given to make the conclusion plausible. The art of critical thinking is to analyze carefully the premises we deem persuasive for the conclusion we hold..often fiercely.
Hey, we all make mistakes in reasoning, but surely we would desire to minimize their occurrence. However, what I like about logic is that it reveals when we are so wed to some position, that we close our ears and eyes to any evidence that may challenge our beloved belief. Surely that is a good thing!
With minimal comment, I want to list the top-few most frequent errors in logic (common sense) that WE commit re:a whole host of subjects, with special emphasis on biblical interpretation and the paranormal. Soon, I will list fundamental rules of hermeneutics, which closely align with logic, and show even more clearly how to understand what the bible says re:the afterlife.
What I list, someone else may add thus and so. Thus is the nature of inductive logic.....
1. Though not a fallacy, when we are arguing our case, we must clarify our terms...define them carefully.
2. Ad Hominem Argument--Disputing a position or argument by attacking or criticizing its source.Talk radio hosts commit this frequently.
3. Straw Man--disputing a position by exaggerating it, misrepresenting it, or otherwise distorting it. Putting the worst possible spin on an opponents's ideas. For example, when my view is called "fundamentalist". that implies stupidity and lack of intelligence.
4. Hasty conclusion--also known as over-generalizing. A powerful anecdotal experience has misled many otherwise solid Christians.I have yet to meet anyone (exorcists, etc.) who has had an experience similar to what I had (I have to leave details ambiguous). The point being is that nobody has had a more powerful display of supernatural power, and the source IS DEMONIC. Don't drone on about what your read...I have seen and felt it..and it is demonic.Using bad analogies is another way of committing this fallacy.
5. Group think--when loyalty to a group values affects one's own judgment in ways that range from the amusing to the dangerous. I have written re: "Plausibility Structures" in which we seek safety in groups which make it easy for us to believe in commonly held, but not rationally defensed, beliefs.
6. Red Herring--this ia an attention span fallacy. Amused to death, as Postman said, we are now unable to follow a sustained logical argument, since we are addicted to constant stream of vivid images..This attention span fallacy works best on those who are unable to stay focused long enough to notice that the question answered was not the question asked. My son Jack is very good at spotting this.
7. Wishful thinking--this is basically a refusal to believe the truth.....known as "Ostrich fallacy." In prelude to my book, I pled with folks to avoid this fallacy. If conclusion is not in line with what they believe, then many will not even read differing opinion, no matter how serious the issue.
8. Argument from Popularity--if "everybody in their group believes it, it must be true." My parents taught me to not follow the crowd. Just because an issue (e.g. residual energy) is universally accepted by paranormal community, does not prove it is right.
How does each one of these fallacies effect what you believe? Are you persuadable? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." No tonnage of anecdotal evidence--especially given Satan's deception--can compare with the clarity of God's Word.
Think clearly for God's glory.....Mark
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.