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Which logical fallacies are these?

  1. Jun 28, 2009 #1
    Do you ever get the feeling that people tell you not to think for yourself? How do you personally deal with situations like these? :

    1. When I was a kid, I would watch a Science show where they'd use the phrase "Understanding the World Around You." So then I made "my own" phrase, "Conceptualize the world around you." I never read that from a book, I made that phrase up on my own. So decades later, I was with roommates at college. When talking with one of the roommates, I said, "Oh, I'm just trying to 'conceptualize' the world around me." He said, "Uh uh uh, not from a book, LOL!" Then I said, "That's not from a book!" Him, "Not from a book, LOL!" Any intelligent person knows that's not from a book, and I felt like he was trying to say I can't have any thoughts or feelings of my own since everything is automatically from a book. I mean, how would you respond if someone told you that you can't go to the grocery store because it's found in a dictionary? Then later that day, he was like, "I'm going to be creative, LOL." Then he quoted some lines from the movie Princess Bride. I don't understand, you hear people all the time quote lines from Princess Bride/other movies and I'm pretty sure they're found in a book. Why is "Conceptualize the world around me" any worse, when I haven't seen it in a book? Am I wrong if something doesn't seem right here?

    2. Another time I saw one of my roommates walking up the stairs. I thought to myself that if each time he made it half way up the stairs and it put him back at the bottom again, he probably would give up eventually, "operant conditioning extinction". Then the roommate who earlier said not from a book asked me why the other roommate went up the stairs. I was taking a behavioral analysis class that semester and was trying to apply what I was learning in out of the ordinary situations. I said, "He took the first step up the stairs because it was reinforced by the opportunity to take a step up the next stair which was reinforced by the opportunity for the next stair, creating a chaining behavior to get to the top and into his bedroom." My roommate responded, "That's not creative! Be creative! LOL" Me, "What do you think is creative?" Him, "He was tired, that's why he went up the stairs." I don't get it, you hear people all the time say that such and such is tired? If I want to apply what I learn in unusual ways, why is that being less original then someone giving typical layman responses? Do you ever try to apply what you learn? Does that mean you should forget everything you know so that you can be creative? I felt like he was saying that I shouldn't have any thoughts or feelings. If someone told you not to eat breakfeast because others have thought of breakfeast before and you need to be creative, what would you think? I could be wrong, but didn't Einstein say he wasn't trying create, but rather make new discoveries?

    3. One last situation, but first some background information: In my A.P. high school psychology class, we learned that there used to be some people who believed evil spirits caused mental disorders. They then would drill holes in the heads of the person acting crazy and it would make them stop acting weird, in reality brain damage, so they thought that it released the evil spirits and so called "confirmed what they believed". So years later, with these same roommates, one of them asked me what I thought the main weakness of the scientific method was. Me, "It's always possible that there is another theory out there that can explain the same exact evidence better." Him, "Well, all you have to do is rule out all other theories." Then I said no matter how hard you try it's always possible there's another possibility, and made up my own example, using how they thought there were evil spirits, etc, and how you could hypothetically set up an experiment saying, "If the theory that evil spirits are causing it is true, then we'd predict the observation of drilling in their heads will release the evil spirits causing them to stop acting weird. However, you wouldn't prove because the better explanation would be that there was really brain damage, which they weren't able to find out until hundreds of years later." (I never saw that example from a book) Then my roommate said, "Nope, not from a book." Me, "That's not from a book, I made up that example myself!" Him, "Not from a book! Anyway, the weakness of the Scientific Method is that you come up with a null hypothesis, and it's always possible that the null may be true." That seemed unfair, because you hear about the null hypothesis all the time in college textbooks, and scientific theories change more often because they find a better theory for the evidence rather than finding out the null is true. Then later he was talking about a study where they found people are more attracted to symmetrical faces, and you hear about those studies all the time from "books".

    I don't understand? I could be wrong, but why does a "book" matter? Galileo said the world revolved around the sun, but that wasn't his idea. He "read" about it from Copernicus, "from a book", and then worked it out for himself. Does that mean he was a bad person?

    Are there any logical fallacies/flaws in thinking? How do you have better communication in these situations?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 28, 2009 #2


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    My god... can you just sum this all up into some actual questions instead of this massive wall of nonsense? I mean really, did your roommates actually "LOL", did they spell out the acronym verbally? I read your entire post and I'm still not sure what you asked.
  4. Jun 28, 2009 #3


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    27K, your roommates are just yanking your chain. They are not interested in discussing or debating or inquiring like you are, so they're just making fun of you.

    Why do you care so much? Hopefully, these roommates are just drinking buddies, not your intellectual confidantes. If they're your peers, it's time to get some new friends who share your interests.

    You're a bit of a nerd (you found your way here didn't you?), find some friends who have a bit if nerdiness in them. Or just hang out here on PF.
  5. Jun 28, 2009 #4


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    Penguino is right. You really need to sum this up into a question of some sort. I know your trying to ask something, but I'm not exactly sure what.

    From what I can gather you want to know why your roommates won't accept answers to questions from books?

    Is that your question?

    If so, your roomates sound like they are purposely trying to annoy you. I'd ignore them. If you want to have an intelligent conversation, find another group of people who are capable of having one. These roommates aren't.

    Also, I second Dave's question: Why do you care. If you let them get to you, it's just going to encourage their behavior and make the situation worse. Don't let them get to you.
  6. Jun 28, 2009 #5
    Hi 33 thousand,
    I tend to agree with Pengwuino: what the hell was all that about?
    But I'll try to address some of your points - or at least what I think your points are.
    I ignore them. Why would I do anything else? Since I am paid a not inconsiderable sum to encourage others to think for themselves it would be rather peculiar if I avoided my own advice.

    In example 2 you speak about reinforcing behaviour and chaining. It seems your roomate has you down as a geek. Anytime you come up with an unusual phrase he presumes you have got it out of a book. From your own examples this is often the case, so his presumption is not automatically a bad one. It appears he was just poking some gentle fun at you - "Yeah man, 'conceptualize the world around me'! That didn't come out of a book. Of course it didn't."

    I have never even heard of the Princess Bride, so we obviously move in different circles.

    Frankly you have not given enough information to know whether he was being creative or not. Using quotes in an unusual way to highlight an unexpected correlation could be very creative.

    Geek alert!

    It sounds like you could use a course or two in social skills. There is nothing wrong in spouting technical interpretations of everyday events, but if you choose to do so you must recognise that it is abnormal behaviour and will be ridiculed by most people. What your roomate was probably saying was "Dude, I just want to know why he went upstairs. I don't want a psych 101 lecture." Or he may have been saying, "There you go again dude, just spewing out a bunch of material from your lectures. You could have said the same thing about anything that anyone did. Where is the orginality in that. We all got that ages ago, yet you keep introducing it as if it were still new and shiny."

    Your point 3. was simply too incoherent to understand.

    Of course.
    Understand the social context of the situation before imposing your egocentric spin on it.
  7. Jun 28, 2009 #6


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    This analysis makes sense. If your roommate was casually asking why your other roommate went upstairs, I could understand why he got annoyed if you gave him an answer involving operant conditioning.
  8. Jun 28, 2009 #7


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  9. Jun 28, 2009 #8
    Was Matt Damon in that?
  10. Jun 28, 2009 #9
    It seems some of your neurotransmitters are throwing a party. You are attributing grave meaning to trivial things and your arguments run into decoherence. Be careful where you step.
  11. Jun 28, 2009 #10


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    Anyone who says "LOL" shouldn't be listened to anyway!
  12. Jun 28, 2009 #11
    Anyone who, when asked a simple why someone went upstairs, launches into a psychological reasoning shouldn't be listened to. Do you really blame someone for taking the ****?
    Did he actually say LOL or is that just the OP way of describing the guy laughing? Or, was it an internet conversation on messenger or something? Looks that way to me.
  13. Jun 28, 2009 #12
    I've seen it commonly done to exagerate the lack of intelligence in a statement and make fun of the speaker. Like the online version of speaking in a stupid voice to poorly characterize anothers comments or opinions.
  14. Jun 28, 2009 #13
    I think many people here demonstrate pretty much the same behavior as 27Thousand's roommate. Already Pengwuino's "sorry I could not concentrate for so many words, can you shorten for me" is amazing. I read 27Thousand message and it makes perfect sense to whoever has encountered people with lower level intellect in their life.

    First off, an answer quoted from a book is not only perfectly acceptable, if it appropriate then it is greatly welcome. With enough culture, one could play the game of always quoting books. So 27Thousand's roommate demand, although out of context since unjustified, also flirts with obscurantism and does not deserve much attention to say the least. Second, 27Thousand's answers, including the speech about the roommate climbing up the stairs, are perfectly acceptable. So he has a passion for his studies and lives them on a daily basis : just as anybody who would be able to contribute to his own field. My conclusion for 27Thousand, if I can give an advice, don't bother being distracted with stupidity around you, it's unfortunate and there are more interesting things to spend your time on. Please don't give up being passionate.
  15. Jun 28, 2009 #14
    Yea, they aren't intellectual confidantes.
  16. Jun 28, 2009 #15
    The point is all my answers were not from books, and it's like they're discrediting me as a human being.

    Yes, it is possible someone could quote lines from a movie in a creative way. The point I'm trying to make, I felt like he was saying that I shouldn't have any thoughts or feelings of my own. For example, if someone told you that you can't get a haircut because "haircut" is in a book, you'd think that's a lame reason. I've never seen "conceptualize the world around me" in a book, I made it up myself. So I felt discredited as a human being. Since the lines from Princess Bride are found in both a movie and a book, that's why I felt injustice.

    I think there is a misunderstanding. I wasn't trying to be egocentric. In the second situation, the roommate asked for my opinion. In the third example, the roommate asked for my opinion. I felt like he was discrediting me as a human being, and saying not to have any thoughts or feeling of my own. My answers were not found in a book.
  17. Jun 28, 2009 #16


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    There's nothing wrong with geeky thought-play. We all do it.

    When you're bored in traffic, you calculate the average velocity of only red cars in your immediate vicinity.
    When you're stuck on the subway, you psycho-analyze the other passengers based only on their clothing and the book they're reading.

    But I think these two statements are key:
    OK well, too harsh. He was geeky thought-playing. But:

  18. Jun 28, 2009 #17
    Didn't mean it as a harsh statement directed at the OP, was a response to the post above it.

    But yeah, I think you get what I mean and I agree with Ophiolite in that statement.

    Amongst your peers, a question like 'why did [friend A] go up stairs?' answered in the manner you did 27thousand would go down quite well and perhaps spark more conversation on the subject. But when a random person or a person not sharing your interests asks said question, they don't want, and won't be interested in the long answer they want a simple 'he went to the toilet' or something like that.

    It comes down to thinking before you speak. Consider who you are talking to and what sort of response they want.

    If a strangers asks you 'what time is it?' and you launched into a speech on relativity do you think they'd stick around or just call you a wacko and ask someone else?

    You are overthinking everything. By all means let your mind wander and 'apply' your learning to situations you find yourself in. But consider how
    patronising you may sound to your housemates. Just consider who your talking to and give an appropriate response.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2009
  19. Jun 28, 2009 #18
    Maybe "lol" was confusing. Basically he just laughed to himself.

    Maybe this is a better way present my questions. I'm just trying to make logical sense of the world :

    1. What if someone told you that Isaac Newton had something wrong with his thinking? Newton used other peoples' ideas as stepping stones for his own hypotheses. These stepping stones were found in "books". He should have just come up with ideas of his own. (see where I'm coming from) Albert Einstein was even more so. Einstein said he wasn't trying to create, but rather discover. Einstein had a sense of wonder and was very self-educated, which got in the way of creativity, because when that happens you thoughts run through your head that others have had at some point in time.

    2. Or, let's say someone told you Albert Einstein was screwed up because hen he was a kid, he spent three weeks proving the Pythagorean Theorem to himself. This person tells you that Einstein should have just been creative and come up with ideas of his own, because the theorem was found in a book. Einstein also thought of hypothetical experiments to test his professors ideas in class, which made them impatient with Einstein. "Experiments" were found in a book at the time, so he should have been more creative, because it's always possible to come up with an idea that's better than "experiments". (see what I'm saying about this logic) Galileo also said the world revolves around the sun, which he didn't make up for himself, but rather from a book by Copernicus. Galileo wanted to understand things for himself. He didn't invent the telescope, but rather put his own spin on it. Galileo should have been creative and come up with ideas of his own, rather than working with other peoples' ideas.

    Do you see why I think there's something wrong with the logic?
  20. Jun 28, 2009 #19
    Now you've made it worse.

    Firstly, you just compared yourself to two of the greatest (and based on what they each did, most creative) scientists ever but let's ignore that for now.

    Right,extremely confusing. From what I can gather, they are making fun of you. They do not mean what they say. Telling you to 'be more creative' is just to poke fun at you.

    You say things like "any intelligent person knows that's not from a book". What? You said yourself it came from something you read. Your little phrase is simply a rewording of a current one and if the housemates are fairly clever they may have seen the original and spotted you just swapped some words out. Changing words is not being creative, it's just disguising it (try it in uni and see what happens, it's called plagiarism). Applying text book knowledge to everyday situations isn't creative, it's just doing what your supposed to with it. On my placement for my degree I have to apply my knowledge to the job, that isn't being creative, it's just doing the job I have to.

    Newton, Einstein, they didn't need to be creative doing already proven/known work. The creativity comes in when Newton discovered gravity, Einstein developed the theory of relativity. Me taking my degree knowledge and coming up with a unique solution to a problem would be creative, simply applying book knowledge to a situation is not creative.

    They are taking the p*** out of you and you are overthinking everything. Cater to your audience. Think about an approptiate response before you speak and cause them to respond in a way which will hurt you.
  21. Jun 28, 2009 #20
    Okay, so if I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that you have to adapt to your audience and they may say "be creative" or "not from a book" if it sounds analytical, even if it's not from a book? From my perspective, since it wasn't from a book and I made it up myself, particularly examples 1 & 3, I felt like I was being discredited as a human being. That was especially so when the roommate gave typical book responses after my responses. (null hypothesis, he was tired, Princess Bride quotes)

    Using your example, if someone asked you what time it is and you came up with an alternative explanation to Relativity that you never saw in a book, and then the person directly read their watch and said they were being creative and you were from a book, when people directly look at their watches all the time, how would you feel? I felt like they were saying that I have to forget everything that I've ever learned, and shouldn't have any thoughts/feelings of my own. I know that's not what they were really saying, but I felt discredited in that sort of way.
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