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Knowing the game and how not to get duped series

Introduction

An argument is used to support conclusion. An argument uses a set of facts or assumptions. An argument is a reason or reasons offered for or against something.

A set of facts or assumptions (proposition) upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn, is called premise.

An argument that is logically inconsistent and fails to create a compelling case for its conclusion might contain error in reasoning, or fallacy (From the Latin fallacia (“deceit,” “trick,” or “fraud”).

An argument that is not supported by and is incompatible with logic when analyzed with care is called fallacious argument (deceptive argument).


Appeal to Fear

Also known as Scare Tactics, Appeal to Force, Ad Baculum, Argumentum ad Metum

Appeal to fear fallacy is employed by a person in an attempt to create support for his or her idea by using deception and propaganda to create or increase fear and prejudice with the intention to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end or a rival.

Description (Logic)

This fallacy has the following argument form:

Either P or Q is true.
Q is frightening.
Therefore, P is true.

or

Q is presented. It causes fear. Therefore P (which has some relationship to Q) is true.

The argument is invalid. The appeal to emotion is used in exploiting existing fears to create support for the speaker's proposal, namely P. Often the false dilemma fallacy is involved, suggesting Q is the proposed idea's sole alternative.

When something is associated with negative feelings, then it must be wrong and bad. The converse is also true: when something is associated with good feelings, then it is desirable and must be true (i.e., P makes me feel good. Therefore P is true).

Example 1

"Voting for him (or them) is the same as voting for destroying our health care system."

Analysis If this could be considered as an argument at all, it has the form

Premise: You value your health care system.
Conclusion: You should vote for me (us).

Example 2

Bill goes to hear a politician speak. The politician tells the crowd about the evils of the government and the need to throw out the people who are currently in office. After hearing the speech, Bill is full of hatred for the current politicians. Because of this, he feels good about getting rid of the old politicians and accepts that it is the right thing to do because of how he feels.

Discussion

In both examples the argument makes no appeal to logic. The speakers attempt to evoke an emotional response as a tool of persuasion.

Appeal to fear presents a premise intended to produce fear, typically citing a risk. This is used to infer a conclusion that gives the appearance of reducing or eliminating the risk.

The appeal to fear is committed when someone manipulates peoples' emotions in order to get them to accept a claim as being true.

This form of "reasoning" is quite evidently fallacious because creating fear in people does not constitute evidence for a claim.

If the favorable emotions associated with P influence the person to accept P as true, because they "feel good about P," then this person has fallen prey to the fallacy.

Fallacious appeals to emotions are effective because it's easier for most people not to think critically, but to rely on their gut reaction.

Politicians and advertisers have discovered that peoples' emotions often carry much more force than their reason - which makes this fallacy an extremely effective persuasive device.

Most political speeches are aimed at generating feelings in people so that these feelings will get them to vote or act a certain way.
In most cases, such speeches and commercials are notoriously free of real evidence supporting the claim.


In Conclusion

Missing the Point
Two Wrongs Make a Right
Appeal to Fear
Personal Attack


With files from various sources


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ABOUT CFI: Canadians for Integrity (CFI) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization committed to identifying, challenging, and deterring public officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests.