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State a False Syllogism

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > State a False Syllogism

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

This trick consists in stating a false syllogism. Your opponent makes a proposition, and by false inference and distortion of his ideas you force from it other propositions which it does not contain and he does not in the least mean; nay, which are absurd or dangerous. It then looks as if his proposition gave rise to others which are inconsistent either with themselves or with some acknowledged truth, and so it appears to be indirectly refuted. This is the diversion, and it is another application of the fallacy non causae ut causae.

Example

Killer dogs have long teeth. You say your dog has long teeth, so it must be a killer.

You said you cannot afford a car, but you can afford a house.

We hear the person was with you when the crime was committed. So where were you when the crime was committed?

Discussion

A syllogism is a basic logical argument that draws a conclusion from two premises. It is easy to create a syllogism that is logically wrong, as in the examples. The tricky nature of this can be used to make the the other person look stupid, dangerous or otherwise socially undesirable, making this method particularly provocative when additional people are also present.

A part of this method is that untangling the logic a syllogism (or even recognizing that one exists) is not always that easy, and in the confusion you can create, you can insert more persuasive suggestions.

'State a False Syllogism' is the twenty-fourth of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

Syllogisms, Confusion principle

 

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