Accused of a fallacy? Suspect a fallacy? Ask Dr. Bo and the community!

Quickly register to comment, ask and respond to questions, and get FREE access to our passive online course on cognitive biases!
Register!

one moment please...


Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

Contact Form



Send me a copy of this message
Send Message sending message...

Q&A Home Question

0

votes

image loading...
Jacob

Seasoned Vet

image loading...

Jacob


Seasoned Vet

About Jacob

Sorry, this user has not created a bio yet.
Sat, Jan 26, 2019 - 09:51 PM

Tone Policing vs Appeal to Emotion

I read a cartoon about tone policing recently and it struck me that this concept is at odds with the appeal to emotion fallacy. According to the cartoon, tone policing occurs when I ask someone to distance themselves from their emotions before I am willing to listen to their argument. The cartoon says this is wrong and that a person's anger, sadness, fear, etc are central to the issue. I get the impression this means the more angry a person is about an issue then the more that issue is wrong.

I feel that the concept of tone policing is an attempt to undermine one of the most important informal logical rules, that reason is more important than emotion in settling difficult problems. If tone policing is a reasonable idea then it is wrong for me to ask a person to stop screaming their opinions at me in order to have a civilized conversation.

Me: Let's look at this problem rationally. Try to remove your anger about the issue.
Person I hope I never get into an argument with: No thats tone policing...

Link to Cartoon
https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/tone-policing-and-privilege/?fbclid=IwAR0oYYWtpq9Ru5Bg4AEwVU61fvev4JlBrZXlzG0o2t7TFYcT8bVnkh_4Shg



Quick Comment On This Question (no login required):
Your comment below will be anonymously sent to the question owner, it will not be posted, and you will not get a response.

Send Comment sending comment...

2 Answers

0

votes

image loading...
Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Master Contributor

image loading...

Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Master Contributor

About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Mon, Jan 28, 2019 - 02:34 PM
I've often found that the most cliché or weakest arguments (especially those made by religious fundamentalists) begin initially by attacking the tone, terseness, or sarcasm of the responder. A case in point is the constant barrage of nauseatingly rote complaints made against the supremely genteel, compassionate, yet sometimes surly Richard Dawkins; or even the less refined, but equally blunt and straight forward retorts of the renowned, if not, controversial physicist, Lawrence Krauss.

Indeed, very often the first line of attack from the logically challenged or religious fanatic is to critique the style of the opponent over the substance of his or her argument - as if the style itself undermines the validity of the argument rather than the facts or science behind it.

Of course, any time a claimant diverts from the subject by attacking the arguer's style or character is either an ad hominem, Strawman or garishly Red Herring tactic that leads away from the truth of the matter rather than toward it - and thus by its very definition is a distraction or logical fallacy.


2

votes
Answer Accepted!

image loading...
Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

Moderator

image loading...

Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

Moderator

About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Sun, Jan 27, 2019 - 07:09 AM
First the valid point that cartoon makes: emotions and experiences are very important and should not be ignored. Very few people have the ability to express strongly-held ideas, thoughts, and beliefs free from emotion (i.e. tone) and asking them to do so is frustrating to them. Now for the problems...

Tone Policing Is Just Another Way to Protect Privilege

It could be, just like choosing vanilla ice cream over chocolate is just another way to express racism. Or sometimes, you just feel like eating vanilla.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Does displaying anger/strong emotion distract from the issue?

If the "issue" is one where facts and reality matter, then YES. There is no question that emotion interferes with the reasoning process. This is why the heuristic that people who display strong emotions are less likely to be thinking reasonably and, less likely to have their facts straight is a reasonable one. But as we know, most people are not interested in facts and reason, and strong emotion is more persuasive to them. This is why a handful of moms parading their children who are on the autistic spectrum around claiming vaccines made them this way is more convincing to many people than decades of research by the world's top scientists as well as formal statements by virtually all medical and health organizations. No matter how emotional one might be, it does not change the facts.

If the "issue" is the subjective feelings of the individual, then NO. If a person is sharing a subjective experience then their emotions are important.

"Tone Policing"

The term "tone policing" has been around for a long time and is a legitimate fallacy (I need to add it to this site!). As Wiki defines it...

Tone policing (also tone trolling, tone argument and tone fallacy) is an ad hominem and antidebate appeal based on genetic fallacy. It attempts to detract from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself.

Everyday Feminism is attempting to redefine the term to support their ideological agenda. It has nothing to do with minorities, the oppressed, or feminism. It can certainly be used against these groups, but it can be used fallaciously BY these groups as well.

Right off the bat this cartoon got it wrong... the argument made by Person 1 about the 1200 Aboriginal women being murdered was responded to with complete agreement. Person 2 made no attempt to "detract from the validity of a statement." The suggestion to tone down the rhetoric, "e.g., 'our bullshit government'" was most likely an attempt to help the arguer appear more credible - NOT to shut down the argument.

Strong emotions are the fuel behind many of our most problematic cognitive biases, which are responsible for us ignoring facts and distorting reality. At the same time passion is a powerful force for change. The key is to develop the passion as a result of the facts and not start with an impassioned opinion based on subjective experience and cherry pick the facts that support your view.
Bo Bennett, PhD
Social Scientist, Business Consultant
Consulting > https://scroops.com/Lm5XFu
About My Businesses > http://www.archieboy.com
About Me > http://www.bobennett.com
Books I’ve Written > https://tinyurl.com/bosbooks
Courses I Teach > https://tinyurl.com/boscourses
Podcasts I Host > https://tinyurl.com/bospodcasts


Quick Comment On This Answer (no login required):
Your comment below will be anonymously sent to the answer owner, it will not be posted, and you will not get a response.

Send Comment sending comment...

Registered User Comments

Jacob
Monday, January 28, 2019 - 12:25:31 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you for the response.

So the cartoon does have it a little wrong. Wikipedia says it is tone policing when an argument is claimed to be invalid because of the tone of the argument.

So...

Cartoon: It's tone policing if you ask someone to calm down even if you agree with the argument.

Wikipedia: It's tone policing only if the arguee disagrees with arguer because of the tone.

I agree with you that emotion is difficult to remove from an argument. In some places it is perfectly legitimate to make subjective feelings the center of the issue, like in a relationship, where feelings really are more important than facts. In a courtroom facts are more important. I watched a few episodes of court TV. The judge never says, "Well the Plaintiff screamed more than the defendant, so the Plaintiff must be telling the truth".

Tone policing worries me because I see how it can be abused. Emotional appeals are convincing, especially to people who have not studied logic. A thoughtful logical argument can be countered by anger, crying, fear, and if I ask the other person to please calm down so we can have a civil debate then this can be labeled as Tone Policing. You said subjective feelings are relevant in some situations, but it can be a matter of opinion where emotions are relevant or not.

I will carry on a debate with someone who is a little emotional but if it gets bad enough I will step out. The cartoon said this is the right thing to do, although I see this the cartoon showing preference to irrational and screaming people over rational and level-headed people. The level of emotion is important which the cartoon does not discuss. Raising your voice seems okay, but screaming hysterically should not be okay.

login to reply
0 replies
0 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...

Ron Renaud
Monday, January 28, 2019 - 08:00:45 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: This was a great little thread. Thanks, Bo! Thanks, Jacob!

login to reply
0 replies
1 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...



About Archieboy Holdings, LLC. Privacy Policy Other Books Written by Bo
 Website Software Copyright 2019, Archieboy Holdings, LLC.