I don’t know about you, but if I never hear another political speech or the words “stimulus plan” again, it will be fine with me.
It’s hard for me to not get cynical as I hear so many politicians and pundits say so much with so little substance so often.
The barrage of words designed to convince us, persuade us, or silence us, is overwhelming.
I’m naturally a critical thinker, so the past–and present–political season has provided me with ample opportunities to play the “what kind of argument is that?” game.
First, let me say that God expects us to use our minds. He wants us to think.
He wants our minds to be steadfast. Isaiah 26:3—“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Is our mind “steadfast”?
He wants us to love him with our minds? Deut. 6:5/Matthew 22:37—“Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” How can we show our love for God with all our mind?
He wants us to renew our minds. Romans 12:1,2—“But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” What can we do to renew our mind?
He wants our minds to be prepared for action. I Peter 1:13—“Therefore, prepare your minds for action.” Are our minds prepared for action?
Now, when I’m talking about critical thinking, I’m not talking about being critical, but thinking critically.
There are many types of pseudoreasoning. Let me point out some of the ones I see most often on TV, in meetings, in
conversations, and in a variety of other situations. Just something for you to think about.
Types of Pseudoreasoning: A large and varied catalog of emotional appeals, factual irrelevancies, and persuasive devices that sometime move people to accept or reject claims when they have no good grounds for doing so.
1. Subjectivist Fallacy—“That’s true for you, but not for me.” Or “That’s just your opinion.”
· That has nothing to do with whether the claim is true or not it’s just a way of someone saying that he/she doesn’t agree with you.
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning: There is absolute truth in God’s Word and throughout this world. People like to use this to put an end to an argument
2. Appeal to belief–Peer Pressure—“X is true because everyone thinks that X is true.”
· The majority does not determine truth. A person who uses this is assembling an imaginary army to defend their opinion.
· Trying to prove a proposition by citing what everyone believes amounts to confessing that one has no proof.
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning: There is absolute truth in God’s Word and that truth is not determined by a majority. Every one may think that the earth is flat, but the truth prevails.
3. Appeal to Consequences of Belief—“X is true because, if we didn’t believe that x is true, then there would be unpleasant consequences.”
· A fetus is not a human, because if it was human then abortion would be murder. (Not said, but inferred.)
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning: There is absolute truth in God’s Word and we must deal with it whether we want to or not.
4. Apple Polishing—“Kissing up”
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning: Just because someone is smooth doesn’t make their claims true.
5. The Horse Laugh—“Ha, you can’t be serious.”
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning—A laugh is not an argument. We must not be intimidated by laughter.
6. Ad Hominem (latin for “to the man”)-“ I reject your claim because you are a ____”
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning—It doesn’t matter what you think of my background, or position, all that matters is whether or not my claims are valid.
7. Straw Man—“X is wrong because X is wrong”
· “You Christians just want this world to be like it was back in the Dark Ages.”
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning—Keep to the facts. Don’t let someone attack something that is not an issue.
8. Slippery Slope—“If we let X happen, the first thing you know Y will be happening.”
· “If we let you Christians stop the sale of pornography the next thing you know their will be Christians in our bedroom.”
· Christian perspective on this type of pseudoreasoning—Just because something is happening now doesn’t prove it will proceed to the next level. The stopping of the sale of pornography doesn’t logically mean bedrooms are in jeopardy. A million things in between would have to happen first.