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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Weekly Trivia: Bad Arguments

While it's true that the Bible is the best resource for advice when it comes to coping with the world we live in, sometimes secular sources of knowledge can also be helpful. These are tools, not guides, for dealing with problems in this world, and don't replace the principles for daily living that the Bible offers.

Bad arguments, or argument fallacies, as scholars have called them, are errors in logic that can sometimes slip by unnoticed when someone is trying to convince you of something (arguing a point).  Anyone who is speaking or writing to persuade you may use these.  If you notice them, it could mean that they are trying to convince you of a falsehood, so be watchful!  Beware of teachers, speakers, leaders, or peers who use these too often!  They may be trying to lead you down the wrong road.

Fallacy of the Day: Red Herring

Named after the technique of throwing the bloodhounds off the trail by dragging a stinking fish across the trail, this is the technique of bringing up a side issue to draw attention away from the main issue.

Example: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7: 22-23 NIV).

By drawing attention away from the main issue, a red herring minimizes it, and often leaves important questions unanswered.
Jesus addresses another red herring here: Matthew 23: 23-24