Fallacies

 

I got the following comment in reply to a previous post. I googled the text from it, and it turns out that Shelley has been copying and pasting the same comment to quite a few different places, so it’s not exactly  personalised for me. What it does give is a great opportunity to point out the basic failures in reasoning that are present in it though! OK so the original is as follows:

Shelley // January 17, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Homeopathy works. It works well and much better than conventional medicine. If it didn’t work, it would not last for more than 200 years and have so many followers and supporters around the world. Numbers do not lie (unlike this site). If homeopathy were such crap, why does this site and so many other people, from the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies, make such an effort to fight against it? If it didn’t work, people would not turn to it and it would fissile out, like many medical theories have over the years.

Much of her argument hinges on the following two statements:

  •  If it didn’t work, it would not last for more than 200 years and have so many followers and supporters around the world. 
  • If it didn’t work, people would not turn to it and it would fissile out, like many medical theories have over the years.

These statements exhibit two obvious flaws of logical reasoning. Both statements are examples of argumentum ad populum, where a person concludes that a proposition is true because it is believed by a significant number of people. The first is also an appeal to tradition,  where a proposition is considered true because it has been kicking around for a long time. As both statements are logical fallacies, you can just take them out of the argument as if they weren’t there. So which statements does it leave us with? Here is all that’s left, with my comments in italics.

Homeopathy works. It works well and much better than conventional medicine.  –  Where is the evidence that this is true?

Numbers do not lie (unlike this site). – Which numbers don’t lie? And which lie have I told??

If homeopathy were such crap, why does this site and so many other people, from the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies, make such an effort to fight against it? Erm, we fight against it because it’s a ludicrous belief system supported by no credible evidence, defended by zealots such as yourself who see nothing wrong with going as missionaries to African nations to spread your fantasies, blind to the unneccesary deaths that result. 

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