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To spot bad arguments you often need a lot of facts. But sometimes you just need a little commonsense. When it comes to discerning truth from error, good arguments from bad, a little bit of logic goes a long way.
All of us can make strong sounding arguments that, upon closer inspection, are much less than meets the eye. We employ rhetorical strategies that look impressive (and often work) but contain hidden assumptions and flimsy reasoning. Here are six common arguments (or approaches to argumentation) that can stop us in our tracks, but are actually less impressive than they seem. These arguments are not all wrong, but they must be evaluated with discernment, and they must not be accepted without corroborating evidence.
1. The Big Nasty. One of the best ways to discredit your opponent is to give his position a nasty sounding name. No one may no what “biblicistic” means, but it sure sounds bad. Likewise, if your opponent quotes Bible verses, it’s easier to charge him with “prooftexting” than it is to deal with the verses themselves. A subset of this approach is to throw around undefined, undefended historical curse words like Platonic, Modernism, Constantine, or Gnostic.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Six Ways (Not) To Argue Your Point
Kevin DeYoung has a great post on 6 common strategies we use to argue.