Letters

CRITICAL THINKING: THE AD HOMINEM FALLACY (ATTACKING THE PERSON)

Dear Editor,

IN politics, the Ad Hominem fallacy is used a lot.

This fallacy occurs when, instead of addressing someone’s argument or position, you irrelevantly attack the person or some aspect of the person who is making the argument. The fallacious attack can also be linked to one’s membership in a despised group.

Examples:

▪️Student: Hey, Professor Chanda, we shouldn’t be using this book by Dr. Zulu. Everyone knows he was convicted of rape.

▪️Prof. Mweetwa’s arguments about human excellence are rubbish. What could a woman as ugly as she, know about human excellence?

▪️Yeah, I think everyone’s opinion counts on moral matters like that, but that MP used to sleep around. I know of at least one marriage she’s broken up, so why should her opinion count on anything, much less morality?

▪️Of course Dr. Lunda’s explanation about commodity prices is bunk. The guy got his degree in Russia.

▪️We cannot approve of this Bill 10 idea. It was thought of by a bunch of PF guys who want to cling to power at any cost.

Logical gaps that invalidate arguments aren’t always easy to spot. While some come in the form of loud, glaring inconsistencies, others can easily fly under the radar, sneaking into everyday conversations undetected.

Having an understanding of these basic fallacies can help you more confidently parse the arguments and claims you participate in, separating fact from sharply dressed fiction.

Next time you come across an Ad Hominem argument, just respond with “Ad Hominem!”

MPANDASHALO MWEWA.

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