A logical fallacy is a flaw in the structure of an argument so serious that it ultimately renders the conclusion itself invalid. The SGU team (podcast link here) provides a great list of 20 logical fallacies on their web site. Many of them are likely recognizable, like the familiar ad hominem and the ever-present non sequitur. If you give their list a thorough read, thinking about real world examples of each as you go, you will soon be surprised to find yourself identifying logical fallacies everywhere, simultaneously impressing and irritating your loved ones. [Be forewarned that skeptical thinkers should ultimately be prepared to explain the difference between a skeptic and a cynic to those who improperly label them as the latter.]
Once it becomes automatic to more skeptically analyze the arguments that people make, it becomes quite apparent that there is no shortage of people who stubbornly hold beliefs based on fallacious logic. Though a seemingly harmless result like believing in ghosts or psychics is often the outcome of such flawed reasoning, it ceases to be entertaining when one absorbs the reality that nation-changing decisions are being made on the basis of what amounts to illogical half-thinking. American politics and punditry are rife with examples of logical fallacies that are routinely utilized to skew our perspectives. More often than not the results are unwise, ill-informed decisions with long lasting unintended consequences.
The slick and relentless utilization of one such logical fallacy, the false dichotomy, is a key part of an attempted wholesale destructive change to the historical American philosophical view of the proper relationship between the State and the Individual. The SGU list referenced above defines a false dichotomy as “arbitrarily reducing a set of many possibilities to only two”, in other words claiming that there are only two choices in situations where multiple alternatives exist. An argument can be made that statists long ago perfected an art form implementing this particular logical fallacy, and this flawed logic is regularly on display during our ongoing great debate about the socialization of health care in America.