Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Facts" and Logic

In Internet as well as in regular debate, the process runs on facts and reason. The logical flaws get most of the attention, but for this post I would like to categorize the types of facts which are used to bolster an argument. First some definitions though:

--True, will have its commonplace meaning. The statement is in accord with how things actually are. For instance, car tires in the USA are normally black and made mostly of rubber.

--False, will mean things which are not true. For instance, the planet Mars is almost exactly the same size as the Earth. This is false because Mars has only around 1/10th the mass of the Earth and is around 1/2 the diameter.

Relevant/Not Relevant

Again, the common meaning is used here but is a subject all its own. Usually the level of irrelevance is not immediately apparent to all, though upon reflection it is nonetheless total in most actual cases.

So, here are the categories finally!

True AND Relevant--The side that comes up with the most of these should win.

False AND Relevant--This happens all the time, but with internet fact-checking it is a rather foolish thing to try. It kind of works when the facts are in dispute, but an argument is considerably weakened by controversial claims.

True BUT Not Relevant--These claims usually have some superficial relationship to the thing being argued, but when looked at closely, really proves nothing.

False And Not Relevant--Why bother wasting your time with people like this?

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