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Vanden Bouts main message this week is that the purpose of arguments is not so much so
that you can go around saying This is badthis is wrong, etc. but so that you can self-reflect
on your own arguments using critical thinking skills.
Dr. Vanden Bout established this main message by teaching us what logical fallacies are, but why
we should learn them. He first gave us fake reasons for why we should learn about logical
fallacies. They were that (1) it makes you look smart and (2) you get to learn some Latin. Even
though these reasons were light-hearted, he still made some serious assumptions when writing
them. He assumed that we care about looking smart and furthermore that we care about learning
Latin (which supposedly makes you look smart). His real reasons for learning about logical
fallacies were that they are (1) important for critical thinking, (2) needed to analyze things you
encounter in the world, and (3) most important for analyzing your own arguments. The main idea
of these three points is that analyzation is key to critical thinking in the real world, and knowing
about logical fallacies is a very important skill to have up the sleeve of your critical thinking
My conclusion about his message is that all of his points could have easily been made using
mathematical language, which I prefer. During his lecture I found myself re-writing his
statements in mathematical language, which I will happily share. My first example of this is the
Undistributed Middle. He was kind of inconsistent because he actually explained this using set
notation, but did not conclude with it. Basically: All A is C and all B is C, therefore all A is B. In
mathematics, this is the Transitive Property (If A=C and B=C, then A=B). However, by
definition of equivalence, for A to equal C (or for A to equal B, or for B to equal C), A has to be a
subset of C and C has to be a subset of A. In words: Let A = all students, C = people who carry

backpacks, and B = my grandfather. His specific example of the undistributed middle was as
(All students) (carry bacpacks) => A=C
(My grandfather) (carries a backpack) => B=C
Therefore, (my grandfather) (is a student). => B=A
Seems logical, right? Wrong! Because of our definition of equivalence/the transitive property!
A=C doesnt follow (assuming all students carry backpacks), because all students carry
backpacks (A is a subset of C) but not all people who carry backpacks are students (therefore C
is NOT a subset of A), therefore A CAN NOT equal C. The same logic applies throughout the
example. B cannot equal A, simply because the conjectures are false.
His other example used the word often (Baptists are often politically conservative), this
language alone disproves the whole conjecture simply because for something to be true it has to
ALWAYS be true. Mathematically: Let A = {x is an element of all real numbers | x = 3 and x = 2,
4, 6 (all even numbers)} (in English: Let A be the set of all real numbers such that x can equal
3 and x can equal all even numbers). Let B = {x is an element of all real numbers | x = 2, 4, 6
(all even numbers)} (in English: Let B be the set of all real numbers such that x can equal all
even numbers). Whenever A does not equal 3, A=B. HOWEVER, since A CAN equal 3, A DOES
NOT equal B. A conjecture must ALWAYS be true in order for it to be true.
As a math major, I am pretty convinced that mathematical language trumps all. First of all, it is
universal. Second of all, it is precise by definition. However, in order to convince me of

otherwise, I would need proof that people understand arguments that are written normally better
than arguments that are written in proper mathematical set notation like I wrote above (I have to
specify proper because I have read plenty of improper proofs with undefined sets and random
conjectures and it looks like rocket science, when really its just saying 1 + 1 = 2).

IDENTIFY the speakers main message or claim.

CLARIFY why you think this is speakers main message by providing two to three
ideas/points the speaker used to establish the main message.

TESTIFY to your conclusion about the message. State your conclusion and two to three
points that support your conclusion. The supporting points do not have to be restricted to what
was presented by the speaker.

RECTIFY your conclusion after discussion in class. Did your position/conclusion about the
speakers message change or stay the same? Why? Describe one piece of support that would
be needed to change your mind.

Bad Arguments
Not so much so you can go around saying this is badthis is wrong, etc but so
you can self-reflect on your own arguments.

Video: Reductio ad Absurdum

-- the practice of taking someones argument to the extreme and then throwing it
back at them as crazy
Sheldons argument was that Penny couldnt stay because if there was an
earthquake theyd only have the supplies to survive for 2 days.
Leonard twisted it and told Penny: Do you promise not to gnaw on our flesh while we

Why learn about logical fallacies?

-It makes you look smart
-You get to use some Latin
^--- Vanden Bout is making some serious assumptions here.

The Real Reason

-Important for Critical Thinking
-Needed to analyze things you encounter in the world
-Most important for analyzing your own arguments

Video: Shes a Witch

What is being argued? (refer to phone)

Undistributed Middle
Terrible name, used all the time.
All A is C.
All B is C.
Therefore, all A is B.
Seems like it would be easy to spot! (well, its not.)
Ex) All students carry backpacks (accept as true)
My grandfather carries a backpack. (true)
Therefore, my grandfather is a student (false)
Implied everyone who carries a backpack is a student.
*my notes: In mathematical language, for A to equal B, A has to be a subset of B
and B has to be a subset of A.

Another example)
Baptists are often politically conservative.
Republicans are often politically conservative.

Therefore, Baptists are often Republicans.

*This shit doesnt make sense because of the word often, in order to use
something in a proof it has to be ALWAYS true.

Straw Man
ex) Evolution is nonsense. They would have you believe that humans are
descendants from Gorillas and Chimpanzees. Why arent we jumping around in
trees? The whole idea is absurd.
ex) You clearly said that you no longer supported our development of the Tritan
nuclear submarine. Why would you want the country defenseless is beyond me?
The strawman is that you arent going to argue for the submarine, instead you
argue that the governor (or whoever) wants to leave the country defenseless.
ex) Direct TV. If you keep cable, then youll end up in a ditch.
**note: this seems like Reductio ad Absurdum, Vanden Bout is trying to make the
argument above seem ridiculous

Hasty generalization video:

Tacobell, girl has taco with bacon, guys approach her at bar

Non Sequitur:
old spice, in locker room lost game, smell old spice, go to desert island very nice,
then bam lizards eating your legs.

post hoc, ergo propter hoc:

big bang theory. Sheldon no mom I could not feel your church group praying for my
safety, then just because Im home does not prove it was because of your church
ad hominem:
Rather than arguing about the facts, you turn and try to make the argument about
the other person.
Barack Obama: last I checked, Sarah Palin was no expert on nuclear warfare
Appeal to false authority:
sony commercial. board of celebrities says sony are great, because people always
take pictures of them.

A harder example (refer to phone)

Problem 1: I did it, therefore my opinion represents everyone
2: All pornography is playboy

Important Tips for you (refer to phone)