No argument is perfect, especially yours

No argument is perfect, especially yours

By Gavin Swanson Posted March 2, 2016

In today’s world, we live in a society where it is encouraged to stand up for what you believe in. “Don’t back down and fight the good fight!” It’s healthy for members of a community to debate each other on key societal issues. But when people speak up before properly preparing their argument, they often unknowingly open themselves up for counterattacks and can receive the cold shoulder of skepticism or disagreement, at points even making fools of themselves. This is usually because the person promoting their argument has committed some sort of logical or argumentative fallacy. A fallacy is a failure in reasoning that can render an argument invalid and they’re committed by all of us— myself, and the other authors on this edition’s opinion page included.

No argument (that isn’t already established as fact) is perfect. But there are ways to land yourself on the road to an excellent argument that few will be able to counter. The first, most crucial, and most obvious step to argumentative excellence is gathering solid evidence that supports your cause. And no I don’t mean some random number you read in this blog online, I mean no-goofing-around solid statistics. Or if you’re fighting for a cause that can’t really be supported by numbers, empirical evidence can always be accepted. For those unaware empirical evidence is evidence not necessarily supported by true logic or evidence, like anecdotal evidence. However, when using empirical evidence you need to be aware of the potential flaws that arise with it. It is easier to question someone’s personal testimony than cold hard facts supported by the numbers.

Logical fallacies can sometimes creep into your argument and lower your credibility. To prevent this from happening, reading and educating yourself on some of the most commonly committed fallacies would be a good way to start your journey to argumentative excellence. A resource I would personally recommend is; there you can read up on 24 of the most common fallacies used by politicians, salesmen, and your fellow peers. Knowing your fallacies isn’t the end of this though; being able to identify them as they’re being made is the most important part of knowing your fallacies. Some of the easier to spot fallacies include the strawman, bandwagoning, and the slippery slope. Funny names for devastating problems that could break your case. The most important use of your newfound skill in identifying fallacies is pointing out your own. Say you’re writing an opinion piece for your high school newspaper, analyzing your piece and detecting/removing fallacies will strengthen your piece overall and make it much harder for people to disagree with what you’re saying. It’s also fun to dominate debates with your friends now because you can point out their fallacies and win almost every time.

To conclude this not-really-an-opinion-piece opinion piece, an opinion. As an individual who reads argumentative pieces from high school students on an almost daily basis, I can say that a lot of your arguments as high school students are nonsensical. But fret not, follow my simple easy-to-follow guidelines and people will be impressed by your persuasive persuasions. But keep in mind when debating with somebody else, just because somebody’s argument contains a fallacy doesn’t mean that the opinion is wrong. Claiming that is a fallacy on its own.

The fallacy fallacy if you will.