“Good conversational debate is an end in itself, and talking for the love of conversation is what makes us human.” – Bryce Courtenay
Talking. It is undoubtedly the activity humans spend the most time indulging on a daily basis and have been doing so for thousands of years. It is arguably the most powerful weapon of communication and the single most versatile method of expression. Music, poetry, languages; All are forms of talking, of trying to say something.
There is a dividing factor between the different types of conversation and is simple enough to register; Is it a debate, or is it for the love of conversation as Bryce Courtenay, best-seller Australian novelist, once made the distinction.
When talking amongst friends we can find ourselves having shifted from one specific topic point to being lost between various points without fulling covering any particular one. This can be acceptable when nothing of importance is at stake, however in certain environments such as a working environment, this can be incredibly frustrating. To avoid this, there are rules that help manage conversations; a framework much like the rules of grammar that keep a conversation on track. These are called Logical Fallacies.
Logical Fallacies are flaws in thinking that result from incoherent arguments. They are not concerned with the information included in the arguments, but rather how this information is presented. There are hundreds fallacies and we continue to develop more and more as our thinking capabilities evolve.
It is vital to understand how these fallacies occur and to look out for them in any constructive conversation because abiding by the correct logical flow in any argument will most likely lead to a positive outcome. This applies heavily in the work place. If workers and employees cannot properly communicate, this creates a toxic environment and an undermining corporate culture that will surely not only harm businesses but also the people in these workplaces.
We’ll start with a couple of clear and easy to understand fallacies that would be easy to remember.
This is one of, if not the most, common fallacies that we commit on a daily basis whether at work, at home or even in academic circles.
The premise is simple; a perceived direct or indirect relationship between two events simply because they are happening together.
Drawing connections between events is something necessary in any conversation when trying to analyze a situation. However this should not be done without careful consideration of the false cause fallacy.
Example: When I go to sleep, the sun is down. When I wake, the sun comes up, therefore the sun moves when I sleep.
Obviously this is a very simple example but it clearly illustrates the fallacy. Going to bed, and the rotation of the Earth are in fact happening together, but the former is not the cause of the latter.
A more relevant example would be: ABC Ltd hired Ahmed last month. ABC’s profits went down last month, Ahmed is the reason.
Another very common and easily incurred mistake is the Slippery Slope.
The premise of this fallacy is; The assumption that by allowing A to happen, B, C and eventually Z will come afterwards. The biggest problem with this concept is that it evades engaging with the argument posed to start with. Look out for this one because many times you will be thrown off at conversation by an allegation that what you’re saying will somehow lead to a worse outcome without any viable evidence.
Example: If you don’t get this job, you’ll be poor and homeless
Another Example: If I give you this piece of gum, everyone will get one too.
It is important to note that you should always check yourself as well for such fallacies. Not only are you prone to the same mistakes as others, you might get caught and it would be difficult to regain your footing in the conversation afterwards
The Fallacy Fallacy
This one is simple enough and a good one to round up this introduction into logical fallacies.
The premise is; committing a logical fallacy does not mean that the information presented in the argument or the claim is false. As mentioned above, fallacies are not related to the content of these sentences, but rather how you form your debate.
Example: No Ahmed wasn’t the reason behind the fall in profits, but he was indeed underperforming.
The more we learn these, the more equipped we’ll be to handle arguments and catch the mistakes either from our side or from someone else’s. That will ensure a constructive and more efficient use of our time not just in the workplace, but everywhere else.