While it is true that the practice of the arts is the highest of human pursuits, this does not exempt such practices, and their practitioners, from engaging in some of the Lowest Common Denominator (LCD) practices that non-artists engage in. By this I am referring to the trap of falling into a logical fallacy.
Logical fallacies are those things that we all sort of understand, until our feet are held to the fire, so before I explore logical fallacies, and present one of the most daunting to the field of art, let me first expound upon what they are, how they are used, and give a good example of such in the arts, as shown in a recent popular post on this website.
Perhaps the best place to start is the top website, for logical fallacies. It’s definition of a logical fallacy is the simplest and most unencumbered one you will find:
A logical fallacy is, roughly speaking, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy.
Having established what a logical fallacy is, it might be interesting to note the most popular general logical fallacies. This webpage has a fine list of what it considers to be the Top 20 logical fallacies. These include many that you will find in the comments sections of blogs, like the Huffington Post, and include ad hominem — which is not attacking a claim, but the claimant, i.e., ‘Well, look at the person making that argument, he’s not that smart, etc.’ Another is the appeal to authority fallacy, which is akin to: ‘Well, if Steven Pinker/Richard Dawkins/Roger Ebert says that theory/religion/film is bad then it must be.’ Two others that are especially popular in online dialectic are strawmanning and the moving goalpost. The former is basically when someone has stated position A, and their foe cannot argue against it logically, so he pretends that his opponent has not stated A, but B, which he can logically defeat, even though that was never the basis for his opponent’s claim. The latter is when someone has proven their claims to a reasonable standard, and, dissatisfied with having lost the argument, the opponent claims even more proof, or more detailed proof, is needed.
As for the provenance of such methods, there are two ways to approach this. The first is the personal, and it is germane to note that human beings are scared, willful little creatures, and often they cannot accept that they are wrong in anything, Therefore, if they lose an argument, they cannot accept that they were simply wrong. The other side may have won, but, damn it all, the other guy had to cheat. Therefore, the need for a scapegoat is created, and that cheater also had to have had a weapon in their dirty arsenal. Therefore comes the rationale for the creation of the logical fallacy, as a weapon to protect the ego from having to acknowledge that someone else knew a bit more than you did in a given instance.