Friday, July 07, 2006

Collections of fallacies that aren't internet forums

From the most recent Skeptics' Circle: Bronze Dog at Rockstar Ramblings is working on a list of meaningless words and phrases used to derail arguments. He's focusing mostly on discussions about new-agey things like alternative medicine, but these tactics crop up in any argument where one side wants to draw attention away from the inadequacy of their proof. The list includes grievously misused words like "quantum" and smokescreen arguments like "people have believed this for thousands of years." My personal favorite is the writeup on "science doesn't know everything," which as you may know is one of my all-time least favorite "arguments." Of course science doesn't know everything, it's a method for finding things out (mostly by assuming that you are wrong). But it's a really good method, folks.

From Bronze Dog's list, I also found some links to Skeptico's version of the same project. Skeptico has been collecting and repudiating fallacies for a while, and his descriptions and debunkings are thorough and excellent. There are fewer of them, but each one really explodes the fallacy it addresses. Thanks, guys, for doing your part for honest argumentation.


Blogger Lynne said...

There is an editorial in the most recent Physics Today that is right up your alley, so if you can get your hands on it I think you should read that.

And just for the record, there are non-western medicinal practices that *work,* and blind studies have shown this, even though there is not a good understanding of *why* they work (and the several-thousand-year-old explanations for it just sound like mumbo jumbo now). Acupuncture is a really good example of this.

July 09, 2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger Bronze Dog said...

Thanks for the link. Think I got a couple fresh suggestions thanks to it.

Oh, and you're welcome. :) I try to help out.

Oh, Lynne, as for acuptuncture, it's more along the lines of poking people with needles can provide pain relief. The acupuncture points don't make a difference. The positive studies that do exist tend to be small, where statisitcal flukes are more likely.

Additional small quibble: There's no such thing as "Western" and "Eastern" in medicine. It either works, or it doesn't. Think I've got an additional idea for an entry, now.

July 09, 2006 6:49 PM  
Blogger Bronze Dog said...

Submitted for your approval, jess: Doggerel #25: "Science is Just Another Religion!"

July 10, 2006 6:58 AM  
Blogger *Billy Jones* said...


July 13, 2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger jess said...

Oh wow, the youth group's back.

Listen, youngster:

1. People don't respond well when you yell at them.

2. Writing in all caps is generally considered to be yelling.

3. Why in god's name would you assume that because I had the same last name as someone, that I was MARRIED to him? (See how you read "married" louder than the other words? In this case that was intentional.) Is it impossible that I might have male relatives with whom I was not sexually involved?

4. I know you're having trouble figuring out how Blogger works, but usually people get their comments emailed to them. It is almost never necessary to make the same comment on multiple posts. If I get another one I will delete it.

August 03, 2006 7:13 AM  

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