Catchy Fallacy Name Fallacy (and Supporting Disagreement)

Re­lated: The Pas­cal’s Wager Fal­lacy Fal­lacy, The Fal­lacy Fallacy

In­spired by:

We need a catchy name for the fal­lacy of be­ing over-ea­ger to ac­cuse peo­ple of fal­la­cies that you have catchy names for.

When you read an ar­gu­ment you don’t like, but don’t know how to at­tack on its mer­its, there is a trick you can turn to. Just say it com­mits1 some fal­lacy, prefer­ably one with a clever name. Others will side with you, not want­ing to as­so­ci­ate them­selves with a fal­lacy. Don’t bother to ex­plain how the fal­lacy ap­plies, just provide a link to an ar­ti­cle about it, and let stand the im­pli­ca­tion that peo­ple should be able to figure it out from the link. It’s not like any­one would want to ex­pose their ig­no­rance by ask­ing for an ac­tual ex­pla­na­tion.

What a hor­rible state of af­fairs I have de­scribed in the last para­graph. It seems, if we fol­low that ad­vice, that ev­ery fal­lacy we even know the name of makes us stupi­der. So, I pre­sent a fal­lacy name that I hope will ex­actly coun­ter­bal­ance the effects I de­scribed. If you are wor­ried that you might defend an ar­gu­ment that has been ac­cused of com­mit­ting some fal­lacy, you should be equally wor­ried that you might sup­port an ac­cu­sa­tion that com­mits the Catchy Fal­lacy Name Fal­lacy. Well, now that you have that prob­lem ei­ther way, you might as well try to figure if the ar­gu­ment did in­deed com­mit the fal­lacy, by ex­am­in­ing the ac­tual de­tails of the fal­lacy and whether they ac­tu­ally de­scribe the ar­gu­ment.

But, what is the essence of this Catchy Fal­lacy Name Fal­lacy? The prob­lem is not the ac­cu­sa­tion of com­mit­ting a fal­lacy it­self, but that the ac­cu­sa­tion is vague. The essence is “Don’t bother to ex­plain”. The way to avoid this prob­lem is to en­tan­gle your coun­ter­ar­gu­ment, whether it makes a fal­lacy ac­cu­sa­tion or not, with the ar­gu­ment you in­tend to re­fute. Your coun­ter­ar­gu­ment should dis­t­in­guish good ar­gu­ments from bad ar­gu­ments, in that it speci­fies crite­ria that sys­tem­at­i­cally ap­ply to a class of bad ar­gu­ments but not to good ar­gu­ments. And those crite­ria should be matched up with de­tails of the allegedly bad ar­gu­ment.

The wrong way:

It seems that you’ve com­mit­ted the Con­fir­ma­tion Bias.

The right way:

The Con­fir­ma­tion Bias is when you find only con­firm­ing ev­i­dence be­cause you only look for con­firm­ing ev­i­dence. You looked only for con­firm­ing ev­i­dence by ask­ing peo­ple for sto­ries of their suc­cess with Tech­nique X.

No­tice how the right way would seem very out of place when ap­plied against an ar­gu­ment it does not fit. This is what I mean when I say the coun­ter­ar­gu­ment should dis­t­in­guish the allegedly bad ar­gu­ment from good ar­gu­ments.

And, if some­one com­mits the Catchy Fal­lacy Name Fal­lacy in try­ing to re­fute your ar­gu­ments, or even some­one else’s, call them on it. But don’t just link here, you wouldn’t want to com­mit the Catchy Fal­lacy Name Fal­lacy Fal­lacy. Ask them how their coun­ter­ar­gu­ment dis­t­in­guishes the allegedly bad ar­gu­ment from ar­gu­ments that don’t have the prob­lem.

1 Of course, when I say that an ar­gu­ment com­mits a fal­lacy, I re­ally mean that the per­son who made that ar­gu­ment, in do­ing so, com­mit­ted the fal­lacy.