Anyway, now that I've become a blogger, you might have noticed that I have occasionally done little more than pointing out a conclusion doesn't apply for there was a mistake in the argument. Now interestingly recently we've had some commenters doing the same. That will surely teach me to write more careful :-) I also recently came across this article at SciAm blogs
- Getting Duped: How the Media Messes with Your Mind
Statements made in the media can surreptitiously plant distortions in the minds of millions. Learning to recognize two commonly used fallacies can help you separate fact from fiction
and The Skeptics Guide To the Universe (your escape to reality) who offers a list of logical fallacies that is brief but understandable and covers what one needs to know.
A more detailed list is here
As is says very nicely on this website pointing out a logical fallacy is a way of removing an argument from the debate. And seriously, in times were people echo back and forth the same issue through Web 2.0 until it's completely blown up and out of proportion, I think this would occasionally be very useful.
One of the logical fallacies that is somewhat wider known is the argumentum ad hominem, which points out that an argument does not address the issue itself but rather the person who made it. This does not necessarily have to be an insult. For example, one of the commonly used attempts of 'critical' thinking one finds in the media is pointing out the person making a statement is likely biased, thus shouldn't be trusted and his/her argument be discarded. Though I agree that in case somebody is likely to be biased (because of employment, funding, personal experiences etc) one should be very cautious, this doesn't mean one can simply dismiss the argument (and its conclusion, survey results, recommendation, advice) for that reason. This too is an argumentum ad hominem.
So, if you know some article or blog post that makes a good example for a logical fallacy, let me know! (Of course that would mean said article has some content and conclusions to begin with.)
* Sorry, I absolutely can't recall a title or author, but it wasn't a really good book anyhow.