Bias and Fallacy: How to NOT Make an Argument

Giving arguments is a part of everyone’s life. At some point in their lives, people will have a different opinion with their friends, colleagues, or even someone online. It might be a different opinion about the best candidate for president next term, or it might be a different opinion about who’s the best superhero. In the end, you need to construct an argument to back up your opinion — be it to persuade other people to change their mind, or simply because you feel attacked when suddenly, people online bombards you with millions of tweet just because you said that Squirrel Girl is the best superhero.

There are ways to create a sound argument. First, you need to construct a valid argument. To be considered valid, an argument needs either a plausible premise, or even better, a reliable data that supports your argument in some way. But of course, these things are too much of a hassle for most people. There ARE shortcuts in creating an argument, and that’s by using bias and fallacy.

Bias is having a prejudice that sway your way of thinking either for or against something. A simple example of bias is called a Sunk Cost bias. It’s something that we encounter frequently. It’s the process of giving value towards something that we have previously invested in.

“You need to trash this code because it’s unusable in our production”, your supervisor

“But it took me 2 weeks to make that code!”, you, trying to persuade your supervisor that even though your code is unusable, it’s still valuable because you’ve put in a lot of work into it.

Fallacy is using an unsound argument to sway opinion. One fallacy that i think everyone might’ve seen is called the ad hominem fallacy. It’s so common that i think everyone that’s reading this blog right now might have made this fallacy in their past at least once. It’s the attempt of undermining someone’s argument by attacking the opponent’s personally.

“She is a totally unhinged person. She’s unbalanced. And all you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her, She will cause — if she wins, which hopefully she won’t — the destruction of our country from within.” - Donald Trump

If right now you’re thinking, “Well, if someone is mentally ill, maybe we shouldn’t believe everything he/she makes”, then that means the fallacy works. Of course it works, that’s why a lot of people use it, even current President of the United States used it during his campaign.

An up and coming software engineer, learning to love to write.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store