Leonard: Fallacies are politics’ worst enemy

Where once there were civilized discussions, rooted in genuine interest and exploration, there are now argumentative, hateful, and uninformative discussions that often turn into personal attacks.


Gage Miskimen

The U.S. Capitol is seen on March 13, 2018.

Braxton Leonard, Opinion Columnist

The two main political parties have a long history of disputes and disagreements over a plethora of complex issues. When it comes to engaging in political discussions, it is often hard for members of the left and members of the right to respectfully and knowledgeably talk about things, largely because of the crucial fundamental differences in the ideals and policies that each party focuses on.

The two-party system is most often blamed for the major discrepancies among members of our country, but the inability to have a respectful and informative argument or discussion based in legitimate reasoning, is the true root of many of the problems stemming from politics.

I think that in discussion, when people feel that their backs are against the wall, they tend to become defensive an distract from the things that the discussion is actually rooted. This is where fallacies come into play.

A fallacy, which is the use of invalid or faulty reasoning to form an argument, is a clear sign of an argument lacking many crucial elements of validity.

While many blame major differences in the two political parties for the majority of the quarrels happening daily between people in America, I think the real head of the problem is the use of fallacies to try to “win” an argument. I think an increasing number of people lack a true understanding for the things that they believe in politically, which makes it difficult for them to explain or support ideas, policies, and opinions.

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While a fundamental difference in opinions and values fueled by the two-party system certainly has a role in the effectiveness of an argument or discussion, I think that fallacies are the single most obnoxious thing in political discussion. They not only show the weaknesses in someone’s opinion, they also create hostility.

I think that fallacies often make one seem ignorant in an argument, and when they are used to insult or discredit someone else who has a different opinion.

Many fallacies are counterproductive in an argument. With the ad hominem fallacy, one of the most commonly used in political discussions, personal attacks and insults are used as opposed to knowledge and fact-based reasoning. Using fallacies such as this one says less about the strength of your opposition’s argument and more about one’s own lack of reasoning.

You should be careful when arguing with someone in making sure that you aren’t being baited into falling for these poor argumentative tactics.

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