Logical Fallacy Lesson 4: Bald Assertion

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Logical Fallacy Lesson 4: Bald Assertion
Category: Religion and Philosophy

LFL4BA

Samuel Thomas Poling, Blog 128, Logical Fallacy Lesson #4, Bald Assertion

LFL1: Argumentum Ad Hominem
LFL2: Red Herring
LFL3: Non Sequitor
And now LFL4: Bald Assertion

A logical fallacy is an error in logic. That is to say: A logical fallacy is stupidity. What makes an idiot an idiot is how often they believe and fall for fallacies. If you do so often, you are not as intelligent as the person who does not fall for them as often. Intelligence is all about reasoning. Fallacy is flawed reasoning. So if you value intelligence it is important you know what good and bad logic is. To the intelligent, this is typically somewhat automatic. They know the fallacies, whether or not they have looked up the name of the fallacy before.

However it is useful to categorize stupidity if you frequently debate against it. So learning about the fallacies is even important for those who already can spot error. Giving the fallacy name improves your ability to notice and call-out flawed reasoning.

A lot of fallacies have names in Latin, and the fallacy I'll be talking about today might be known in Latin as well, however it is typically just called "bald assertion." And I like it that way.

Out of all the fallacies known to man kind, there are a few that are just so completely retarded they don't even attempt to make a point. One is appealing to faith. Another is bald assertion.

What is "bald assertion?" Well the name says it all, doesn't it? It's stating something without backing it up. Now sometimes this is alright - if it's painfully obvious. Like the definition of a common word or nine by seven being sixty three. You shouldn't waste everyone's time asking your opponent in a debate to prove nine by seven is sixty three, accusing him of bald assertion. It's true he did assert something baldly, but it's logical to do that sometimes when it's very common knowledge and not even a matter of any debate whatsoever.

You don't need to cover and cite sources behind every thing you say, just behind the key points, and their key ingredients. The topics being argued over. They're the focus of the day anyway.

Bald assertion is when you state something without backing it up. For example, merely stating your position statement would be this type of fallacious.

God exists. Period.
= Bald Assertion in its most pure, illogical form.

However, the majority of the time bald assertion isn't as obvious.

When trying to prove something you'll have to show evidence and/or make connections in reasoning. These all must have support behind them. Your position statement must be held up, but the arguments holding it up must be solid as well.

"I know God exists because the only explanation for a complex world would be having an intelligent designer!"

Now "God exists" is supported with an argument. However, ultimately it's not supported at all, once the argument is not supported at all.

"It's the only explanation..."
Bald assertion.
You have to prove that too. And it, by the way, isn't the only explanation, far from it. Not to mention saying that violates other logical rules, but we're not talking about those today...

So all-in-all, understanding bald assertion is pretty straight forward. If you believe, in anyway, bald assertion is valid in debate, then let me tell you this...

I'm God.

If you believe bald assertion is valid, then you must believe that statement. Because that statement is a bald assertion, completely unsupported.

I frankly have nothing else to say on this matter. Bald assertion is a logical fallacy because just saying something doesn't make it so. If it did, I'd be God. And I'm not.

Bald Assertion = Fallacy of drawing a conclusion without any premises.

Back up what you say, or don't say anything at all.
It's better to be thought a fool than to be known one.

Samuel Thomas Poling, Blog 128, Logical Fallacy Lesson 4, Bald Assertion

Validity, Soundness and Truth.

The author of this post has made a serious conceptual error in failing to distinguish between validity (i.e., whether one's conclusion follows from one's premises) and soundness (i.e., the truth of one's premises or conclusion). 

If an argument is valid, the soundness of the conclusion depends on the truth of the premises. For example, consider the following arguments:

A. John is a bachelor

B. Most bachelors drive sports cars

--> C. John drives a sports car

This argument is invalid because it does not follow from the fact that most bachelors drive sports cars that John drives a sports car; he may be one of the few who drives a minivan (i.e., ˜[A & B --> C]). Now, consider the following: 

1. John is a bachelor

2. All bachelors drive sports cars

--> John drives a sports car.

This argument is valid because if John is a bachelor and if all bachelors drive sports cars, it is necessarily the case that John drives a sports car (because he is a bachelor and all bachelors drive sports cars). But this conclusion is unsound because (at least) the 2nd premise is false. 

Now, if I said "John is a bachelor" and you do not know and have never heard anything about John, I have made what the author of the post calls a "bald assertion." The proposition (J) that John is a bachelor may be false, but there is nothing illogical about my asserting (J). I may be lying to you out of spite and if so, I would be acting immorally but not irrationally. Or I may have every reason to believe John has never married- say he drives a sports car, doesn't have a wedding ring, has told me he has never been married and, because i've never known him to lie to me over the course of our long friendship, I have no reason to doubt him. In this case, it would be unreasonable for me to deny that (J). I could defend proposition (J) and my defense would be perfectly valid. Notwithstanding, (J) is false and the conclusion is unsound.

The pertinent point is that the argument is unsound whether or not John does, in fact, drive a sports car (i.e., whether the conclusion is true). And just as it does not follow from the fact that the argument supporting a proposition is unsound that the proposition is untrue, it does not follow from the fact that one fails to back up a proposition (i.e., (G) God exists) that it is not the case that (G).

(G) is not an argument and it would be a mistake of logic to treat it as such. Notwithstanding, (G) may be true. God either exists or he doesn't (i.e., it is the case that (G) or that (˜G)) and just as one begs the question if one's argument for (G) is based on the presumption that (G) is the case, one begs the question if one's argument against (G) is based on the presumption that (˜G) is the case.  God exists because he exists (or doesn't because he doesn't) irrespective of whether his existence can be proven or whether one believes he exists.

Human rationality is wonderful but limited. Even if we put aside the fact that no person is free from malfunctions of one's rationality (e.g., when one's reason is clouded by emotion), perfectly rational arguments are necessarily valid but not necessarily sound; a perfectly rational and sound argument requires perfect knowledge of the relevant facts that serve as premises. In light of our imperfect rationality and our imperfect knowledge, we can only be certain about the soundness of the most trivial of arguments -- when what one is asserting is 'painfully obvious.'

Reason guides us when we ask the difficult, important questions that have occupied philosophers for millennia, but it cannot give us the answers. Instead, rationality and logic are safeguards that  (if we are very careful) prevent us from making a certain kind of mistake -- the mistake of drawing invalid conclusions. The rational thing is to recognize that at some point, reason runs out and we must rely on faith (or intuition or what you like), and to be sensitive to the fact that, at best, reason leads us to answers to the big questions that are the conclusions of valid arguments based upon premises that may be true (i.e., conclusions that may be sound). Failure to see the limits of logic, especially when combined with careless reasoning, is very dangerous indeed.  

 

 

Whoops

I would just like to note that saying "God doesn't exist" would be just as much of a bald assertion as saying "God exists".

When pointing out other people's logical fallicies, be careful not to make one yourself.

At first I thought this was a joke...

 Have another look over your essay and see how many bald assertions you make, particularly in the first paragraph.  I thought this was just you being meta but then I had a look at some of your other 'lessons' and it would appear not.

 

To, ahem, back this up, rather than just assert this, here's a few right off the bat:

* 'A logical fallacy is an error in logic. That is to say: A logical fallacy is stupidity.' - An error in logic ¬= stupidity necessarily.  This would only follow if you supplied the missing premise that stupidity was defined by making errors in logic, rather than simply baldly asserting it, as many people would take issue with this.

* 'What makes an idiot an idiot is how often they believe and fall for fallacies.' - Thought experiment.  Man has impeccable logic, yet has an entire set of consistent yet erroneous, and indeed offensive beliefs.  Most people would describe him as an idiot, and if you are going to argue that an idiot is simply how often one falls for fallacies, then you're going to have to do some backing up if you're not just baldly asserting this.

* 'Intelligence is all about reasoning.' - Again, a bald assertion given that Nietzsche, Jung and pretty much every continental Philosopher for the last hundred or so years would disagree with you, as well as entire schools of psychiatry who study emotional intelligence.

 

 

Philosophicus's picture

...

Anonymous1234 wrote:

Reason guides us when we ask the difficult, important questions that have occupied philosophers for millennia, but it cannot give us the answers. Instead, rationality and logic are safeguards that  (if we are very careful) prevent us from making a certain kind of mistake -- the mistake of drawing invalid conclusions. The rational thing is to recognize that at some point, reason runs out and we must rely on faith (or intuition or what you like), and to be sensitive to the fact that, at best, reason leads us to answers to the big questions that are the conclusions of valid arguments based upon premises that may be true (i.e., conclusions that may be sound). Failure to see the limits of logic, especially when combined with careless reasoning, is very dangerous indeed.   

I figured you would suggest using science and statistics to back up our premises rather than using faith and intuition.  You went backward rather than forward.  I agree that faith and intuition are important, but if you want sound conclusions you have to plug scientific data and statistics into your premises.  And where rigorous science doesn't apply, observations that can be publicy confirmed should be plugged in.

digitalbeachbum's picture

This blog/post needs to be

This blog/post needs to be revised. There are several errors in the logic and I find there are personal opinions/emotions injected to the post.

Keep it logical and with out personal opinion.

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