Logical Fallacy Lesson 5: Ad Hoc

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Logical Fallacy Lesson 5: Ad Hoc
Category: Religion and Philosophy


Samuel Thomas Poling, Blog 129, Logical Fallacy Lesson 5, Ad Hoc

LFL1: Argumentum Ad Hominem
LFL2: Red Herring
LFL3: Non Sequitor
LFL4: Bald Assertion
And now LFL5: Ad Hoc

In the past I've said how logical fallacies (errors in logical reasoning) are often intertwined. If you commit one fallacy, it's likely you've committed another. Well, here is one such common fallacy that easily goes hand in hand with Non Sequitor, Bald Assertion, and Red Herring. In fact, I believe those four often come together in a pack. And there is nothing I hate more than that pack. I'll call it the "Great Pack of Stupidity."

(And, in case you're wondering, that pack is usually thrown by a theist during a debate on God. But that's a different topic. If you're interested in seeing it in action, just look at some previous blogs of mine and the comments opponents have left for me to tear apart. Mike, on my Theist Argument 1 blog, did a good job at tossing this pack of fallacy around and making a fool out of himself. It was two blogs ago. Check it out.)

Ad Hoc is Latin for "To the Thing." Or some say it means "For this Purpose." Doesn't matter, it's just impromptu speaking. Now hold on. Impromptu speaking, in and of itself isn't necessarily fallacious. Speaking "to the thing" isn't, alone, fallacious. Just like argumentum ad hominem, a personal attack, an insult, isn't necessarily illogical. It all matters on when, where, why, and how you use it. It depends one what you're trying to do with the argument. Ad Hominem is only fallacious when you are trying to use it to refute an argument unrelated to the person making the argument, for example. Ad Hoc is very similar to this.

There is nothing fallacious about you putting to rest doubt in an impromptu matter. Sure, it's technically Ad Hoc, but it isn't Ad Hoc fallacy. Like if someone asks you were you were, and you respond, "I was at the Library." They then say, "But you are holding videos in your hand, you must have gone to the movie store!" And you reply, "No, the Library has videos to rent as well as books." This is impromptu toward the new query asked, but is it fallacious? Nope. If you really care on proving you are at the Library, you haven't exactly yet, but there isn't anything fallacious about countering the way you did there.

What is Ad Hoc fallacy then?

"My cancer got better."
"My praying worked! Praise the Lord, he is your healer!"
"Why doesn't praying work for others with cancer then?"
"...God works in mysterious ways."

It's making stuff up as you go along. Here are some more Ad Hoc responses for the prayer believer:

"They didn't hold their hands right..."
"They are sinful."
"God can't heal everyone, then the world would get over populated."
"They didn't want it enough."

Here is a clear example of Ad Hoc fallacy. It's very similar to Bald Assertion, as you can see. They're not justifying any of that, they're just baldly stating this. What makes it more than Bald Assertion is the fact that they now have to make things up as they go along, they have to adjust their position as you query more.

Making up possible explanations is not proving anything.

And it's funny, the chances of recovering from a sickness are usually the same whether you pray or not. Due to all their Ad Hoc excuses on why it doesn't work most of the time, they're admitting that prayer has no effect on the probability of recovering from cancer. But that's a different debate.

Changing/Adding onto your story is Ad Hoc:

"You didn't go to the movie store did you?"
"No, I went to the Library."
"I saw you at the movie store."
"Oh, well, I DID stop in for a second..."

Or alternatively...

"Sorry, I was in the hospital, I couldn't come to your party."
"I saw you inside your home watching television."
"...I have a dummy of me who watches television to make criminals believe I'm still home."

As I said, Ad Hoc isn't necessarily fallacious, especially if you DO have that dummy, but where ever you change/modify/add on to your story, you must also modify/add proof and reasoning to go with it. And try not to leave a hole like that open again.

Ad Hoc is by far one of the most common fallacies spewed from the mouths of theists. If Ad Hoc didn't have it's own level of built in Non Sequitor, Bald Assertion, and Red Herring, it would be the lone favorite fallacy of moron debaters.

Again, just justify what you say. The more adjustments you make in the middle of a debate, the more Ad Hoc insane you are.

Another wonderful example of Ad Hoc is the "God, Apart From the Universe" bullshit. I'll be doing a blog about it very soon, part of my "Theist Arguments" blog series. Check it out when it comes out for a lot of Ad Hoc assumption bashing.

Samuel Thomas Poling, Blog 129, Logical Fallacy Lesson 5, Ad Hoc