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Encyclopedia > Style over substance fallacy

Style over substance is a logical fallacy which occurs when one emphasises the way in which the argument is presented, while marginalising (or outright ignoring) the content of the argument. In some cases, the fallacy is employed as a form of ad hominem attack. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Fallacy. ... Look up ad hominem in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Here are some examples of the fallacy and how it is used.


Example One

  • Person 1: Who needs a smoke detector? No-one ever has a fire in their house, smoke detectors are a waste of money!
  • Person 2: What?! You'd rather save a bit of money than ensure your family's safety? Don't you care whether they burn to death, you idiot?
  • Person 1: I don't have to take your insults! Go away!

The fact that Person 2 insulted Person 1 does not alter the validity of Person 2's argument, nor does it excuse the hasty generalisation fallacy that Person 1 has employed. Hasty generalization, also known as fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction or secundum quid, is the logical fallacy of reaching an inductive generalization based on too little evidence. ...


Example Two

  • Person 1: This website says that cars made by Ford get more miles to the gallon than cars made by Vauxhall.
  • Person 2: That website is amateurish - look at the way it's designed! This other website is much more professional-looking, so it's probably more accurate.

The website Person 2 refers to may or may not be more accurate than the one that Person 1 was referring to. However, Person 2 is using the appearance of the first website alone to try and dismiss it as a reliable source of information, without properly analysing the content. This could also be considered a "Cum hoc ergo propter hoc" argument. Correlation implies causation, also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for with this, therefore because of this) and false cause, is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to be cause and effect. ...


Example Three


Sometimes, outright non-responses or "stonewalls" are used as a part of style over substance. For example:

  • Person 1: Communism by definition and practice is in direct conflict with the principles of Anarchy. How can you consider yourself to be an Anarchistic Communist?
  • Person 2: "So Person 3, we should disband the government and make institutions that give money to the poor!"
  • Person 3: "Yeah, no government is the best government, let's have those institutions control everything!"

Example Four


The baseless denial/unreasonable doubt is often an argumentative tool that accompanies circular reasoning, ad hominem or the no true Scotsman fallacy. No true Scotsman is a term coined by Antony Flew in his 1975 book Thinking About Thinking – or do I sincerely want to be right?[1]: Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Press and Journal and seeing an article about how the Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again. ...

  • Person 1: Candidate X has been skimming funds from the city! , I have receipts of his transactions and even photos taken of him drilling holes in the town safe!
  • Person 2: Your receipts are faked! And for all what you know, he could have been cleaning the safe or that could have been a picture of his twin brother!
  • Person 1: But Candidate X is the only boy in his family, and these were printed with the city's official seal!
  • Person 2: That could have been planted there by Candidate X's opponents! They're known to be sneaky, because no true member of our party could do something like that!

Example Five


Stonewalling and childishly mocking an unfamiliar concept, usually a form of equivocation. Equivocation, also known as amphibology, is classified as both a formal and informal fallacy. ...

  • Person 1: Reverend X, you claim the end is coming because it's mentioned in your book "Diuretics", isn't that a bit of circular reasoning?
  • Reverend X: (In a confused manner) You know what's circular reasoning? When the end comes, you'll be walking in circles trying to reason how you missed out on knowing the end came!

This may also be considered as a variety of a red herring fallacy. Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion or irrelevant thesis) is the formal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but doesnt address the issue in question. ...


Exceptions

Some cases where style appears to precede substance exist. One of the few such instances is the Sokal Affair, where physicist Alan Sokal wrote a postmodern-style essay in the journal Social Text without really saying anything; the title of the article itself ("Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity") was nonsense. However, on closer examination, the style that Sokal uses is satirical, and therefore his logical argument is implicit; the style does not precede substance, it instead is the substance. The Sokal affair was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated on the editorial staff and readership of the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (published by Duke University). ... Alan David Sokal (born 1955) is a physicist at New York University. ... Postmodernism (sometimes abbreviated Po-mo[1]) is a term originating in architecture, literally after the modern, denoting a style that is more ornamental than modernism, and which borrows from previous architectural styles, often in a playful or ironic fashion. ... Social Text is a postmodernist cultural studies journal published by Duke University Press. ... 1867 edition of Punch, a ground-breaking British magazine of popular humour, including a good deal of satire of the contemporary social and political scene. ...


See also

Appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy wherein the arguer (who is using this fallacy) takes advantage of emotion to prove his or her argument. ... Stephen Colbert announces that The Wørd of the night is truthiness, during the premiere episode of The Colbert Report. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion or irrelevant thesis) is the formal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but doesnt address the issue in question. ... Ad Lapidem is a logical fallacy where someone dismisses a statement as absurd without giving a reason why it is supposedly absurd. ... The logical fallacy of accident, also called destroying the exception or a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid, is a deductive fallacy occurring in statistical syllogisms (an argument based on a generalization) when an exception to the generalization is ignored. ... Look up ad nauseam in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam (appeal to ignorance [1]) or argument by lack of imagination, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false or is only false because it has not... The argument from silence (also called argumentum a silentio in Latin) is generally a conclusion based on silence or lack of contrary evidence. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The base rate fallacy, also called base rate neglect, is a logical fallacy that occurs when irrelevant information is used to make a probability judgment, especially when empirical statistics about the probability are available (called the base rate or prior probability). In some experiments, students were asked to estimate the... A compound question is one that actually asks several things which might require different answers. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... George Edward Moore The naturalistic fallacy is often claimed to be a formal fallacy. ... Proof by assertion is a fallacious argument technique. ... Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion or irrelevant thesis) is the formal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but doesnt address the issue in question. ... Special pleading is a form of spurious argumentation where a position in a dispute introduces favorable details or excludes unfavorable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations themselves. ... A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponents position. ... Two wrongs make a right is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out. ... Appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy wherein the arguer (who is using this fallacy) takes advantage of emotion to prove his or her argument. ... An appeal to fear (also called argumentum ad metum or argumentum in terrorem) is a logical fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for his or her idea by playing on existing fears and prejudices. ... Appeal to flattery is a logical fallacy in which a person uses flattery, excessive compliments, in an attempt to win support for their side. ... Appeal to nature is a simplified type of naturalistic fallacy in argument form. ... The appeal to novelty (also called argumentum ad novitatem) is a logical fallacy in which someone claims that his or her idea or proposal is correct or superior because it is new and modern. ... An appeal to pity (also called argumentum ad misericordiam) is a logical fallacy in which someone tries to win support for their argument or idea by exploiting their opponents feelings of pity or guilt. ... Appeal to ridicule is a logical fallacy which presents the opponents argument in a way that appears ridiculous, often to the extent of creating a straw man of the actual argument. ... The wisdom of repugnance is a phrase describing the notion that an intuitive (or deep-seated) negative response to a thing (e. ... Appeal to spite (also called argumentum ad odium) is a logical fallacy in which someone attempts to win favor for an argument by exploiting existing feelings of bitterness or spite in the opposing party: By voting for my proposal instead of Jims, youll finally have a chance to... It also fails to assess ideas on their merits. ... Look up ad hominem in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally argument to the man), is 1) a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by addressing the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself; 2) an argument pointing out an inconsistency... An appeal to authority or argument by authority is a type of argument in logic, consisting on basing the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the person asserting it. ... Appeal to motive is a pattern of argument which consists in challenging a thesis by calling into question the motives of its proposer. ... Appeal to tradition, also known as appeal to common practice or argumentum ad antiquitatem or false induction is a common logical fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it has a long standing tradition behind. ... Argumentum ad crumenam is a logical fallacy of thinking a conclusion is correct because the person making the argument is rich. ... Argumentum ad lazarum is the logical fallacy of thinking a conclusion is correct because the subject of the argument is poor. ... An association fallacy is an inductive formal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. ... Bulverism is a logical fallacy coined by C. S. Lewis where rather than proving that an argument is wrong, a person instead assumes it wrong, and then goes on to explain why the other person held that argument. ... Chronological snobbery is the logical fallacy that the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior when compared to that of the present. ... Ipsedixitism is the pejorative term for an unsupported rhetorical assertion; the term in Logic for a missing argument. ... Poisoning the well is a logical fallacy where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say. ... This is a fallacy based on the idea that the etymology of a word or phrase is its real meaning. ... Reductio ad Hitlerum, also argumentum ad Hitlerum, or reductio (or argumentum) ad Nazium – dog Latin for reduction (or argument) to Hitler (or the Nazis) – is a modern fallacy in logic. ... Appeal to consequences, also known as argumentum ad consequentiam (Latin: argument to the consequences), is an argument that concludes a premise (typically a belief) to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences. ... Argumentum ad baculum (Latin: argument to the cudgel or appeal to the stick), also known as appeal to force, is an argument where force, coercion, or the threat of force, is given as a justification for a conclusion. ... Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence or rationality. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Style over substance fallacy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (659 words)
The Style over substance fallacy occurs when one emphasises the way in which the argument is presented, while marginalising (or outright ignoring) the content of the argument.
In some cases, the fallacy is employed as a form of ad hominem attack.
Sometimes, outright non-responses or "stonewalls" are used as a part of style over substance.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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