Ad Hominem Logical Fallacy

Yesterday I blogged about the logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc, or post hoc, and how it is used, and why it is an illogical argument. Today I will be continuing the logical fallacy blitz with the fallacy known as an Ad Hominem attack. This is a common argument used by a lot of different groups, even including skeptics sometimes, so it is important to understand this fallacy to make sure you don’t use it someday when arguing with a conspiracy theorist or a UFOligist. It is also used in politics a lot, especially at the moment in Queensland where there is a political election coming up in a few days.

The most recent use of this argument is by the Labor party in the campaign for the up-coming election. Due to the fact that the Labor Party is fighting an extremely up-hill battle (the latest poll shows that they could win as little as 12 of 89 seats in parliament), they are resorting to attacking the politicians themselves rather than just putting forward good policies or proposed plans. The most common one is the ‘Campbell’s web’ advertisement, which attacks Campbell Newman (the leader of the LNP) and his personal finances not the policies he is proposing or the political view-point he argues for.It is a prime example of an ad hominem attack, because they are attacking the arguer, and not the arguments.

I also mentioned that skeptics fall into this trap often. This is one reason why it is important to know about logical fallacies. The first is that you can call your opponent bluff when he uses one, the second is that you can also question your own arguments with them, to make sure your logic is valid, os that you can correct them, and not the person you are arguing with.

Skeptics often use this logical fallacy when they are arguing with people such as UFOligists, conspiracy theorists and homeopaths. They often fall into saying things like “This is just stupid, how could you honestly believe that what you are saying is true, it is ridiculous!”, or something of the like. This is a logical fallacy. You cannot just simply disregard an argument because it is silly, it is a logical fallacy. However, it is not a logical fallacy to say “The notion of homeopathy is just outrageous, and here is why.” That is not a logical fallacy. If you explain your ad hominem attack with logically sound arguments, then it is not a logical fallacy, it is just good use of the arguing technique of ‘making the other person look like an idiot.’

Ad Hominem attacks are usually last gasp attempts to salvage some victories in the dieing moments of a debate when the fallacious arguer realizes that he is losing by a large margin.

That’s all for me today, I will leave you with a quote from Thomas H. Huxley, “Science is simply common sense at its best; that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.” Thomas H. Huxley, most often known of as Darwin’s bulldog and refiner of agnosticism.


Can god be all powerful and all knowing?

Hello, and how is everyone in the world-wide web going,

In today’s post I am going to be discussing one of the many holes in the logic of many religions with a god. It is based on two logical assertions, each of which has been proposed and backed up by my Ethics and Faith teacher. These are the two ‘facts’ that my teacher puts forward:
1. God is all-knowing, and ever-present, he just IS, he exists from the start of time to the end of time, hanging over it, being there.
2. God is all-powerful, everything happens according to his will, he can change anything to make anything happen, and nothing is out of the reach of his power.

There is no way this is logically possible. Think about it. If god is all-knowing, he can see the future, right? He can tell what is going to happen tomorrow, who is going to die, whose teams are going to win the football and what I’m having for lunch. He also knows where all the electrons are in all the atoms (that’s just impossible to know, even if you are god.), how much stuff all of the neutrinos are going to go through before they hit something, and whether or not Schrödinger’s cat is going to survive.

If it is also true then that god is all-powerful, then he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.
If god already knows what the lotto numbers are going to be, then how can he change them? If god already knows I am going to wake up at 4am and play COD for the next 14 hours, then how can he make me go to church?

the answer is that he can’t, because it is just logically impossible. Now god has limits, and that is not allowed (I haven’t found a single christian who thinks that god is limited). But he must, because he just has to be limited.

It also brings up the question… if you were god, would you rather be all-knowing or all-powerful? I would take all-powerful, because if you were all-knowing then no TV programs would be enjoyable if you already know the ending. Let me know if you would choose anything different, I would be interested to hear your argument.

I’m done now, I will leave you with a quote from Douglas Adams, ” A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high-speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. “But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?””, Douglas Adams, Atheist, Dramatist and Writer of some note.

Oh yeah, and a little shout out to my school-mate Logan, he can jog on.