logical fallacies

"Follow the money!" activists shout. The money trail, according to this logic, always leads to lies and deception.

This puerile fallacy, argumentum ad aurum, is just a thinly disguised ad hominem attack commonly used against scientists. Instead of criticizing the quality or conclusions of the research, activists instead assault the integrity of the scientist.

For certain, money can be a corrupting influence. That's why journals require scientists to disclose financial ties to industry. But money isn't the only source of corruption. Indeed, anything that causes a person to reject evidence-based science should be considered a...

Recently, Bill Maher instructed America on the importance of knowledge. He's right, of course, but he's a rather imperfect messenger: Listening to him is like receiving a lecture from Bill Clinton or Donald Trump on the importance of marital fidelity.

Mr Maher's monologue provided some insight into his political viewpoint. It was illuminating for two reasons, but probably not in the way Mr. Maher would hope for.

First, he accused people who disagree with his political views of being lazy and engaging in "false equivalence," an entirely fictitious logical fallacy that is an...

Follow the money

Glance through any sufficiently long comments section, and you will find that two things almost always happen: Somebody makes a reference to Hitler (Godwin's Law), and somebody accuses another of using a logical fallacy. The first is clearly ridiculous, but the second is troublesome because many popular writers also succumb to the same temptation.

As I wrote for RealClearScience, the problem with this approach is that not every disagreement is the result of a logical fallacy. Pretending otherwise leads to the socially subversive conclusion that, if only every person on Earth was completely logical, everybody would...