The fallacy of ‘appeal to definition’ is using the definition of a term to support an argument as if the term cannot have other meanings or even conflicting meanings. Flat-Earthers often use this fallacy, for example, over the word “theory.”
A communication problem can occur when a term gets misinterpreted to mean other than what was intended. A simple clarification should quickly correct the problem. The appeal to definition arises if the clarification is refused, and the person insists on using the wrong & unintended meaning of the term, and use it to support their arguments.
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The fallacy of ad-fidentia is committed when someone attacks the opponent’s self-confidence instead of the argument or the evidence.
Scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge, which is an iterative, cyclical process through which information is continually revised. Flat-Earthers would often question their opponents if they are 100% sure about their claims. If we admit there is a possibility we are wrong or that our claims might be revised in the future, flat-Earthers will use that to ‘prove’ us wrong.
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Red herring is a fallacious argument style in which an irrelevant or false topic is presented in an attempt to divert attention from the original issue, with the intention of ‘winning’ an argument by leading attention away from the original argument and on to another, often unrelated topic.
Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of red herring —often repeatedly one after another— because their claims are indefensible. For example, they will try avoiding arguments involving direct observations and derail the discussion to other arguments that rely on statements from third parties. Then, they would discredit the third parties and add them to their list of “collaborators” to “win” the debate.
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The fallacy of notable effort is committed if one accepts good effort as a valid reason to accept the conclusion, even though the effort is not related to the truth.
Flat-Earthers would often over-emphasize their efforts in proving a flat earth and belittling that from ‘globe-earthers’. Then they take the purported noteworthiness of their efforts to conclude that the Earth is flat. This is the fallacy of notable effort. Putting in more effort does not mean the conclusion is more correct.
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Special pleading is applying standards, principles, or rules to other people or circumstances, while making themselves or certain circumstances exempt from the same critical criteria, without providing adequate justification.
Flat-Earthers like to impose various unwarranted rules and conditions —that were invented spontaneously— to rule out evidence against flat Earth. However, when it comes to the things they regard as ‘evidence’ in favor or a flat Earth, they are more than happy to ignore the rules and conditions that they previously invented.
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A false analogy is a fallacy in which similarity in one respect of two concepts, objects, or events is taken as sufficient to establish that they are similar in another respect in which they are actually are not similar.
Almost all of what flat-Earthers happily claim as “experiments” are actually false analogies. They would take everyday objects and use them as analogies for actual objects. In reality, a shared similarity in both the analogy and the real thing is not sufficient to ‘prove’ both are similar in some other respect.
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A false dichotomy or false dilemma is a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options, or outcomes in such a way they seem to be the only possibilities: if one is true, then the other must be false. In reality, there can be many in-between or other alternative options, not just two mutually exclusive ones.
Flat-Earthers like to ‘disprove’ spherical Earth using their own ignorance about various issues. Then they would regard their erroneous belief that spherical Earth has been disproven as “proof” that the Earth is flat. This is fallacious reasoning because the Earth can be in another shape instead.
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Albert Einstein used thought experiments as a tool for formulating his theories. His theories provided predictions that can be tested in observation and experiments. He did not perform the observation and experiments himself. Others did and confirmed his theories.
Some flat-Earthers dismiss Einstein’s theories —especially those about gravity— on the basis that they are founded on thought experiments and daydreaming. They are wrong. His theories have been repeatedly confirmed by various experiments and observation performed by many others, even to this day.
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A photograph alone is not sufficient to prove that the things or event in the photo is real. The reality of the things or event needs to be determined using inductive reasoning, where multiple information is considered and evaluated together.
Flat-Earthers often claim that we regard certain things or events as real only from photographic evidence. In reality, there is information other than the photographs themselves that was considered and led us to accept the things or events are real beyond any reasonable doubt.
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The fallacy of shifting of the burden of proof is committed when someone makes a claim that requires justification, failed to provide sufficient evidence, but instead demand others to provide the evidence of the opposite of their claim.
Most of the claims from flat-Earthers are bare assertions. They do not provide sufficient evidence. A false way for them to defend their claims is by shifting the burden of proof.
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The fallacy of appeal to possibility occurs when a conclusion is assumed not because it has been proven, but because it is possible that it is true, no matter how improbable. Flat-Earthers would often use this fallacious reasoning to prevent their theories from being falsified. In particular, to “disprove” photos and videos taken from space.
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The fallacy of “one single proof” occurs when someone rejects overwhelming evidence because of the lack of specific evidence and declare the entire argument invalid.
A common trick of flat-Earthers is to demand unrealistic evidence of spherical Earth. After their demand is not met, they would proclaim Earth is not a sphere, and conveniently ignore all the other evidence of spherical Earth.
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If we were to magnify the surface of any spherical object with large enough magnification, then at some point, it would appear flat. This can be easily demonstrated using a macro lens as the Redditor ‘Useless-Pickles’ did. He magnified the surface of a basketball using an extreme macro lens as a philosophical demonstration.
This shows that the surface of a spherical object can easily look flat if the object is large enough, or the observer is small enough. And the basis of all flat-Earthers’ belief that the horizon appears flat is insufficient to determine the shape of the Earth. By applying the same “logic” as these flat-Earthers, we can actually “prove” a basketball is flat, which, as we all know, is clearly wrong.
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Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy in which the proposition is supported by the premises, which is supported by the proposition, creating a circle in reasoning where no useful information is being shared.
Flat-Earthers often commit the fallacy of circular reasoning to defend the notion that the Earth is flat. Such reasoning is never useful, and cannot be regarded as evidence of anything, despite what they are claiming.
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The fallacy of style over substance occurs when one argue the way in which the argument is presented while marginalizing or ignoring the argument itself.
Flat-Earthers are often seen dismissing an argument only because of the way it is presented, and thus, committing the style over substance fallacy.
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Kettle logic is making multiple contradicting arguments in an attempt to support a single point or idea.
Kettle logic occurs very frequently in the flat-Earth community. If they meet a natural phenomenon cannot readily be explained using the flat-Earth model, they would often devise ‘experimental models’ to ‘explain’ how the said phenomenon can happen in a flat-Earth.
The problem? These models are in conflict with each other.
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The Hyman’s Maxim says:
“Do not try to explain something until you are sure there is something to be explained.”
We can apply this maxim to a lot of situations involving flat-Earthers, and avoid wasting our time.
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Something would ‘make sense’ if it appears to be correct according to our personal experience. But common sense can be deceiving. Common sense relies on our own experience which has a very limited scope. For a lot of things, our common sense is not a reliable indicator of truth.
Perpetrators of flat-Earth often exploit the shortcoming of our common sense. They would say something like “It looks flat, so it must be flat!” Some of us fell victim to this scheme and would make the conclusion out of a mere hunch in place of more thorough and exhaustive observations.
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The fallacy of statement of conversion is committed when someone is taking a statement of conversion as valid without actually hearing a reason for the conversion.
Flat-Earthers often tell others that they used to believe the Earth is a globe, but now they ‘know better’ and believe in a flat-Earth. All this only tells us they changed their mind. Accepting this as proof of a flat-Earth would be committing the fallacy of statement of conversion.
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Contextualism is treating what we know as context-sensitive. We can use the epistemic contextualism as a philosophical tool to explain the Earth is spherical, and bypass all the scientific explanations.
Flat-Earthers love to shift the context to where we would no longer function as a normal human being because only in this context, most of us cannot possibly know the shape of the Earth.
But in the context where we all act like normal human beings, there’s no problem to know the Earth is spherical, even if we don’t know all the scientific details.
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