The only thing worse than having a country split down the middle and unable to reach compromise is having that happen when there are leaders who do not help fix things. Indeed, instead of working to bring Americans together, many elected officials have spent significant time and money to campaign in ways that exacerbate the problems associated with having a divided country. The worst part is, some of the most divisive issues in the United States stem from empty political rhetoric rather than the truth. To move toward a more unified approach, one of the most important first steps is to make a mutual commitment to finding the truth.
Regardless of which side of the aisle you may come from, politicians have lied to you. This is something everyone has in common. One way to take a step forward together is by calling out lies whenever they occur. Since everyone has a different opinion, you may think there is no way to find the truth together. Thankfully, this is where the laws of logic can have extraordinary powers. From the days of Socrates to the daily proceedings in court rooms across the U.S., understanding how to apply logic has provided an easy method for revealing the truth.
A key part of applying logic is being able to identify logical fallacies. Used to make weak arguments appear stronger than they really are, fallacies are responsible for a lot of the political confusion and misunderstanding throughout the U.S. To start uncovering the truth together, here are eight logical fallacies you need to be able to spot.
1. Straw Man
One of the most common fallacies seen on today’s political stage is the straw man. This is when someone twists another’s words to make an argument sound weaker than it already is. For example, if someone is arguing for improved infrastructure but an opponent suggests the focus on infrastructure means that person does not care about healthcare, it does not say anything about the actual argument for infrastructure.
2. False Cause
Often, public officials make illogical connections between two things. If, for example, someone says the earth’s temperatures are increasing and the number of domestic cats are also increasing, so the increase in domestic cats led to the increase in temperatures, that would be false cause.
3. Appeal to Emotion
Another fallacy common in the political realm is the appeal to emotion. This occurs when a politician emphasizes emotional consequences in an effort to gather support for his or her idea. He or she may say things that appeal to fear, envy, hatred, pity, or even pride. One problem with political parties is that they can often feed strong emotions. By committing to no labels when problem-solving, leaders can reduce the chances of this happening.
4. Slippery Slope
With this kind of fallacy, the person making the argument suggests that because one thing happened, then several other things will occur. For example, if A led to B, and someone says that means A will eventually lead to C, D, E, and all the way to Z, that is a slippery slope.
5. Ad Hominem
Another popular fallacy among elected officials is ad hominem. With this kind of logical error, the opponent of the person making an argument attacks personal qualities instead of the argument. When politicians resort to name-calling and bringing up irrelevant history or insults, this is what is happening.
When you hear someone say things should be a certain way because “this is what the majority of people believe,” it is cause to raise your eyebrows. The reason for this is because this kind of attempt to argue falls under the bandwagon fallacy. Just because something is popular does not mean it is true.
7. Appeal to Authority
Similarly, representatives sometimes make appeals to certain people’s opinions on matters because those people have a certain kind of authority. For example, when a political campaign uses a celebrity to further the agenda, this is an appeal to authority. Just because someone is popular does not mean they have the knowledge necessary to make life-changing decisions for the entire U.S.
8. Appeal to Nature
In addition to appealing to emotions and authority, another common appeal found in politics is the kind that appeals to nature. Whenever you hear someone say something is “good” because it is “natural,” or “bad” because it is not, that does not say anything about the truth of their argument.
As society confronts an increasing number of problems that offer the potential to divide the U.S., Americans have the opportunity to come together to make leaders work for them. One way to do that is by committing to the truth. By understanding the laws of logic and calling out logical fallacies when they occur, the American People can work together to hold politicians accountable and make real changes for the greater good.