How not to defend yourself (gnu atheist style!)

For those of you who don't know, Rob Talisse and I have been posting about atheism and argumentative civility over at 3QuarksDaily.  First, here; the follow up here.  Our book, Reasonable Atheism is on the shelves now, too.   In the blog posts, we've been trying to untangle the ugliness about the charge of 'accommodationism' among … Continue reading How not to defend yourself (gnu atheist style!)

Poe’s Law and Straw Men

Poe's Law is one of the many eponymous laws of the internet.  It runs, roughly, that you can't tell the difference between religious crazies and people parodying religious crazies.  And vice versa.  That means that anything you find, for example, on you can find a real religious nutcase who believes it and says it.  … Continue reading Poe’s Law and Straw Men

Stop calling us stupid bigots, you arrogant leftist elitists!

Ah, nothing warms my heart like someone pointing out fallacies.  But pointing out ad hominem abusive is, really, just a little too easy.  And people, especially because they often take criticism of their views to also be criticism of them personally, over-report instances of this fallacy.  (Easy way to see this: imagine someone's just told … Continue reading Stop calling us stupid bigots, you arrogant leftist elitists!

War, Hypocrites, and Islam

Tu quoque arguments are posited on finding a contradiction or tension in the other side's position with regard to the matter at issue, and then holding on that basis that the other side is wrong or at least not qualified to speak to the issue.  I've argued elsewhere ("Tu quoque arguments and the significance of … Continue reading War, Hypocrites, and Islam

The hollow man

In general, one commits the straw man fallacy in a situation of criticism–when one challenges someone else's argument in anything other than its true and charitable form, one is in danger of committing the straw man fallacy.  Let me give an Al Gore example. Al Gore argues that curbing carbon emissions is critical to reducing … Continue reading The hollow man


Many readers of this site know that the fallacious variety of ad hominem argument admits of many different types–the abusive, the circumstantial, the tu quoque, and much much more.  Some friends of The Non Sequitur, Scott Aikin and Bob Talisse, have written an illuminating and entertaining piece on the tu quoque variety for the magazine … Continue reading G-O-R-E

The weak man

The Philosophers' Playground and a commenter point us to an article in Scientific American Mind by two Philosophers (Robert Talisse and Yvonne Raley) on two related logical fallacies–the straw man and, get this, the weak man.  Everyone is familiar with the straw man.  It's what I (perhaps unhappily) tend to call a fallacy of criticism.  … Continue reading The weak man