Five Fallacies You Should Learn If You’ve Ever Used the Internet

Illustration for article titled Five Fallacies You Should Learn If You’ve Ever Used the Internet

PBS Idea Channel is easily among the greatest YouTube channels around. And given how much drama's been hitting the internet recently, they've produced a short series of six videos that discuss some of the most common mistakes people make when arguing online.

They cover the Ad Hominem, the Black and White Thinking fallacy, the "No True Scotsman", the Argument from Authority, and of course, the Strawman. They've also got a longer video that examines all of them.

If you're an active user of the internet (which, let's face it, you almost certainly are), then you owe it to yourself to check this out and be a bit more critical of the media you consume, and the people you pay attention to (yes, even me).


Now go forth and be good citizens of the digital era.

You're reading Numbers, a blog on Kotaku that examines games and culture through the lens of math and statistics. To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @dcstarkey.

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*sigh* This reminds me of a conversation I had the other day...

My friend, Z — This argument isn't balanced. How about you dispute my points rather than use ad hominem to label them?

Me, K — Before I answer that, I really REALLY friggin' HATE like... debate terminology and technique and formality and that stupid ffffing pyramid of "logical fallacies" that [other friend 1] and [other friend 2] use. There's no freaking "right way." I will say what I'm going to say very precisely to get across a point, and/or an emotion, a feeling, an idea, whatever. Every single thing I ever say has a very specific purpose and intention, and is always very deliberately worded. All this "fallacy" nonsense bothers me SO immensely. It's like telling me how to talk, how to express myself. I hate it. So much.

Z — Well, to be fair to you not everything that someone claims is a fallacy actually is. That's something to look out for. It's the fallacy of false fallacy.


That is just it! I sooo do NOT care! At ALL! Just... everyone needs to shut up about fallacies! The only "fallacies" I ever want to hear about again are the ones in Final Fantasy XIII!

Z — You are free to express yourself however you want, but that doesn't mean that everything you say will be taken seriously. I don't expect people to take everything I say too seriously because I often find that I inadvertently contradict myself. I try to use language that minimizes that, but it's not exactly easy to avoid.

K — I tend to avoid conversation with people that tend to communicate like that anyway, or at least, stop until they stop. I'm just not going to deal with it at all ever anymore.

I really freaking hate "debate" and discussion of any sort of political or social issues or whatever. I don't mind poring over ideas and concepts and considering perspectives and realizing that there are issues that need to be dealt with, but the entirety of what "arguing" and "debating" on the internet has become is just an atrocious pain in the ass that I can't stand anymore. Then my friend comes over and he just HAS to bring up GamerGate or whatever and ramble on about journalistic integrity and other nonsense, when all I wanted to do was sit and play video games.

Debate? How about, STFU? I'm going to go back to Smash Bros.