Labels and Language
“Language can bewitch us. If a word exists, we tend to assume that there must be something in reality to which it refers. Labels are meant to be slapped onto things, right?”
This quote comes from a recent article in the Skeptical Inquirer (September 2017) by Maarten Boudry about logical fallacies:
I discuss both logical fallacies and language in my book The God Con.
Organized religion uses this human predilection with respect to labels all the time. Priests, flocks, saints, sinners, redemption, heaven, hell, judgment day, communion, etc all refer to stuff the churches simply made up. But the labels they receive beguile their concocted-for-a-reason purpose. That reason is to deceive.
Boudry makes some excellent observations about logical fallacies and the skeptic’s knee jerk reaction upon detecting them. He suggests, correctly, that many “real” logical fallacies are either very rare in the real world, or they tell us very little. There are literally hundreds of such fallacies, but I only discuss the ones I see popping up regularly cocktail party discussions, such as the argument from ignorance (this is the “you don’t know it isn’t true” argument).
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Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.