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Bad Arguments and How to Avoid Them

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https://fs.blog/2020/05/bad-arguments/

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Bad Arguments and How to Avoid Them
Productive arguments serve two purposes: to open our minds to truths we couldn't see - and help others do the same. Here's how to avoid common pitfalls and argue like a master. *** We're often faced with situations in which we need to argue a point, whether we're pitching an investor or competing for a contract.

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Straw man arguments

A straw man argument is a misrepresentation of an opinion or viewpoint, designed to be as easy as possible to contradict.

The only purpose is for it to be easy to expose. I...

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Hollow man arguments

This is a weak case (similar to the Straw man arguments) attributed to a non-existent group: Someone will fabricate a viewpoint that is easy to contradict, then claim it was made by a group the...

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Iron man argument

It is designed to be resistant to attacks by a defier.There arguments are difficult to avoid because they have a lot of overlap with legitimate debate techniques.

A person using an iron man...

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Bad arguments are harmful

Bad arguments are harmful
  • They are harmful to everyone involved in a debate: they don’t get us anywhere because we’re not tackling an opponent’s actual viewpoint. This means we have no hope of convincing them.
  • ...

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Avoid using bad arguments

  • We have to accept it’s something we’re all vulnerable to: it’s easy to look at other people we know that use logical fallacies. It’s much harder to recognize them in ourselves.
  • Ba...

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Successful critical commentaries

  • Re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  • List any points of agreement....

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When someone uses a bad argument

The first thing you can do you is to point it out. Explain why that isn’t helpful.

If this is not working, repeat your original point and make no attempt to defend the bad argument. The deb...

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Avoid Common Argument Fallacies

Winning an argument often comes down to who can go the longest without contradicting themselves and keeping sound logic, not direct persuasion of the other party.

Anecdotal Fallacy

Using a single personal experience as the foundation of your argument or your big piece of evidence. 

For example, your phone may have broken right after you bought it, but you can’t use that to argue that those phones are not worth the purchase for others.

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Paul Graham's disagreement hierarchy

  • DH0. Name-calling: the lowest level of argument.
  • DH1. Ad hominem: attackung the person rather than the point they are making.
  • DH2...