Jan 142012

List of fallacies – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I need to study more. I ended up in a discussion earlier today where someone proposed a syllogistic fallacy. I lacked the specific words to express my point, and since the medium of communication was a social media mechanism, I decided against pursuing the matter. (I content myself with the knowledge that it’s not my job to counter every logical fallacy in the world.)

The argument was (in essence):

[A major] pivot point [in history] is probably something unrecorded

I let this go. It’s a statistical syllogism that basically purports:

There are more unknown historical events than known historical events

Some events are significant

Therefore, unknown historical events are more likely to be significant than known historical events

When phrased this way, I think the fallacy is obvious (maybe I’m kidding myself.) They followed up by re-asserting the argument, differently (digging themselves in deeper):

All unknown historical events are more significant than known historical events.

To which I argued:

If you don’t know about the event, you cannot deduce its significance.

Which garnered the response (paraphrased):

(they concede my point) but we live in a world that is the result of a number of events we don’t know anything about

Which is the irrelevant conclusion fallacy. That because history is filled with events we don’t know anything about, my previous statement is invalid. I stopped arguing at this point and ranted in my own private circle.