Tuesday 13 January 2015

Arguing on the Internet: Logical Fallacies

Ok, this is a bit off-topic, but I've recently started playing World of Tanks again with some mates. I visited the murky world of game forums to get "up to speed" and so many threads had me saying "wait, wut?"

I did a bit of research (i.e. googled wikipedia) where I discovered they were part of a whole stack of logical fallacies.  Here's a few common ones for your viewing pleasure:

Anecdotal fallacy: Using a personal or isolated example instead of sound reasoning of evidence.
"I die all the time in my Timberwolf, therefore Clan Mechs are not more powerful than IS Mechs." 

Argumentum ad Nauseam: Dismissing the argument as having been argued extensively so no one cares for it anymore.  "This is the millionth thread whining how OP the Timberwolf is."

Straw Man:  They replace an argument with a different one. Some common signs are:
-quotes words out of context (which I think is a fallacy of its own)
-oversimplifies the argument, then attacks the oversimplified version
"Stats can be used as a guide to improve gameplay."
"Nah. Stats aren't reliable as they don't show the whole truth/can be manipulated"

I've noticed this in particular for denziens of TMP who want to have an "opinion"/disagree just for the sake of it.

Ad hominem: They attack the person's character/credibility, not the argument they make. 
"Russian heavy tanks are overpowered and need a nerf."
"You've only played 3000 games, once you get more experience you'll realize they are balanced." *
(*This, like all the examples, is real, btw - it shows the elitism gamers have - and the insane amount of time people waste on them - 3000 games = 500 hours or 40 12-hour days of game time... but he isn't good enough to have a valid opinion...)
Fallacy of Composition:
This makes an conclusion about a whole, based on an individual part of the whole.
"The Russian heavy tanks are overpowered and need a nerf - as the IS-3 is the best tank in its class."

Confirmation Bias: Interpret information to confirm a point of view
"Russian tanks are the most popular heavies - that proves they are the best."
(this may ignore actual in-game stats and performance figures)

False Attribution/Appeal to Authority/Bandwagonning:  An appeal to an irrelevant/unqualified/unidentified/biased or fabricated source in support of an argument.
"Everyone knows there is a bias in favour of Russian tanks."
Often prefaced with "all the good/experienced players know...."

Also, there was a lot of stuff in Latin. And I realised I wasn't very good at spotting fallacies as I thought I was.....

1 comment:

  1. Add in complete crazies, people who take the opportunity to bring up their pet peeve every chance they get (the internet being what it is, that's usually Obama, Israel, guns or EA), random people posting garbage just to get a flame war started and well, there's a reason I have a browser extension disables comments on all websites unless I deliberately enable them :)