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Think On Your Feet: How To Avoid Being Duped & Fall For Lie After Lie

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Jimmy Palmer and Kasie Hines are always thinking on their feet at NCIS 

Thinking on our feet is a skill that we are not born with. It needs to be learned and practiced. One highly effective way is to discern how liars and smooth talkers try to hoodwink us. Most of them are so clever, people don't even realize they've been duped. Critical thinking and logical fallacies are not taught in elementary and high school, so we have multiple generations of people who are easy prey for sly, forked-tongue con artists. Thankyou educational system - much appreciated!! Below are some of the most common fallacies. When someone is trying to convince you of something, apply these fallacies to analyze whether the person speaking to you is honest or a charlatan. 

Ad hominem: Attempts to discredit an argument by attacking the source or person making the point. The person or source should be defended but notice how the con artist completely avoids the devastating point being made - misdirection - and basically changes the subject. 

Appeal to (false) authority: Claims that something is true based on the position of an assumed authority. This is done by alternative medicine who direct you to a slick web site to an authority with no or fake credentials but, that's okay, they have all the answers and the "cure"!   

Appeal to emotions: Attempts to persuade with emotions, such as anger, fear, happiness, or pity in place of reason or facts. This is done effectively by the advertising industry, but quack medicine smooth-talkers are also expert at make you angry or afraid, shutting down your rational thinking, and then - surprise! - they have the magic solution to the sudden crisis.     


Appeal to the masses: Asserts that a claim is true because many people believe it. As we've seen throughout history and in much of the world today, the masses can easily be swayed by a charismatic leader and by force.  

Appeal to nature: Argues that something is good or better because it’s natural. There are many substances in nature that are toxic and will injure or kill you.  

Appeal to tradition: Argues that something is good or true because it’s been around for a long time. Humanity is supposed to learn from mistakes and the acquisition of new knowledge. People who believe in this fallacy would never want to have been seriously injured and then brought to a hospital 100 years ago.  

False choice: Presents only two options when many more likely exist. Life is complex and forcing an either/or is a deception. They will intentionally leave out the arguments that blows theirs out of the water.  

Red herring: Attempts to mislead or distract by referencing irrelevant information. Conspiracy theorists are famous for spewing out tons of nefarious, unsubstantiated theories, hoping one or more will stick.  

Single cause: Oversimplifies a complex issue to a single cause. One good example is if a city has lesser crime this year than in previous years, and the mayor attributes it to the installation of surveillance cameras almost everywhere. This may be part of it, but it also in part may be due to a much better economy and more jobs, better on-the-street policing, better forensics, better role models and youth outreach, and other contributing factors. 


Confirmation bias: Only seeking information that supports one's pre-existing view. With social media and "echo chambers", many people only spend time with those who agree with them. They avoid potentially challenging and intelligent points because it will cause a certain amount of mental stress and discomfort. Their egos cannot handle actually being wrong about something.  

Mistaking correlation for causation: Assumes that because events occurred together, there must be a causal connection. This is especially true with fears of life-saving vaccines. If millions of children are vaccinated 3 -4 times per year, every year, and suddenly there is a critical illness or health issue for a small minority of children, how would not some of them happen within a few weeks after the vaccine, making the despairing parent falsely attribute the disease to the vaccine? There is no scientific, biological pathway or agency for the vaccine to possibly have affected or caused the illness.


Hasty generalization: Draws a broad conclusion based on a small sample size. If the scientific study has only a minimal number of participants, and there are few or no other studies, it should be considered jut a first step with more research to come. 


Bias and Cherished Beliefs

"The rule of objectivity is probably the most challenging rule of all, because the human brain’s capacity to reason is matched only by its ability to deceive itself. We don’t set out to fool ourselves, of course. But our beliefs are important to us; they become part of who we are and bind us to others in our social groups. So, when we’re faced with evidence that threatens a deeply held belief, especially one that’s central to our identity or worldview, we engage in motivated reasoning and confirmation bias to search for evidence that supports the conclusion we want to believe and discount evidence that doesn’t. If you’re looking for evidence you’re right, you will find it. You’ll be wrong, but you’ll be confident you’re right. 

"Ultimately the rule of objectivity requires us to be honest with ourselves—which is why it’s so difficult. The problem is, we’re blind to our own biases." 

Pseudoscience and Science Denial 

"The poster children for violating the rule of objectivity are pseudoscience and science denial, both of which start from a desired conclusion and work backward, cherry-picking evidence to support the belief while ignoring or discounting evidence that doesn’t. There are, however, key differences: 

"Pseudoscience is a collection of beliefs or practices that are portrayed as scientific but aren’t. Pseudoscientific beliefs are motivated by the desire to believe something is true, especially if it conforms to an individual’s existing beliefs, sense of identity, or even wishful thinking. Because of this, the standard of evidence is very low. Examples of pseudoscience include various forms of alternative medicine, cryptozoology, many New Age beliefs, and the paranormal. 

"Science denial is the refusal to accept well-established science. Denial is motivated by the desire not to believe a scientific conclusion, often because it conflicts with existing beliefs, personal identity, or vested interests. As such, the standard of evidence is set impossibly high. Examples include denying human-caused climate change ...... the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and GMO safety. 

"In both these cases, believers are so sure they’re right, and their desire to protect their cherished beliefs is so strong, they are unable to see the errors in their thinking." 

Evaluate Evidence 

"To objectively evaluate evidence for a claim, pay attention to your thinking process. Look at all the evidence—even (especially) evidence that contradicts what you want to believe. No denial or rationalization. No cherry-picking or ad hoc excuse-making. If the evidence suggests you should change your mind, then that’s what you must do. It also helps to separate your identity from the belief, or evidence that the belief is wrong will feel like a personal attack. And don’t play on a team; be the referee. If defending your beliefs is more important to you than understanding reality, you will likely fool yourself." 

Understanding How Science Works 

"In science, any conclusion can change based on new evidence. A popular misconception about science is that it results in proof, but scientific conclusions are always tentative. Each study is a piece of a larger picture that becomes more clear as the pieces are put together. However, because there is always more to learn (more pieces of the puzzle yet to be discovered), science doesn’t provide absolute certainty; instead, uncertainty is reduced as evidence accumulates. There’s always the possibility that we’re wrong, so we have to leave ourselves open to changing our minds with new evidence. 

"Some scientific conclusions are significantly more robust than others. Explanations that are supported by a vast amount of evidence are called theories. Because the evidence for many theories is so overwhelming, and from many different independent lines of research, they are very unlikely to be overturned—although they may be modified to account for new evidence. 

 "Importantly, this doesn’t mean scientific knowledge is untrustworthy. Quite the opposite: science is predicated on the humility of scientists and their willingness and ability to learn. If scientific ideas were set in stone, knowledge couldn’t progress." 


Related Posts 

A Clear and Simple Example of Irrational Thinking https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2022/03/a-clear-and-simple-example-of.html 

How To Form Opinions That Are Accurate & Intelligent (Part One) https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/12/blog-post.html   

How To Form Opinions That Are Accurate & Intelligent (Part Two) https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2022/02/how-to-form-opinions-that-are-accurate.html   

Devious, Hidden Motives Keep People from Honesty and Integrity   https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/12/devious-hidden-motives-keep-people-from.html    

30 Prying and Probing Questions to Bolster Critical Thinking http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2016/10/30-prying-and-probing-questions-to.html         

Clarity 101: How to NOT Be Duped by Left- or Right-Wing Media Spin   https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/07/clarity-101-how-to-not-be-duped-by-left.html    

Hidden Motives & Factors Behind the Tidal Wave of Lies & Misinformation on Social Media                         https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/05/hidden-motives-factors-behind-tidal.html    

The Dark Psychology of Social Media Manipulation  https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/12/the-dark-psychology-of-social-media.html      

16 Quick Tips to Enhance Clarity of Thought https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/05/16-quick-tips-to-enhance-clarity-of.html       

Fears & Insecurities Behind Conspiracy Theory Thinking   https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2021/08/fears-insecurities-behind-conspiracy.html   

Coronavirus: 7 Hidden Motives Behind Conspiracy Belief https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2020/04/coronavirus-7-hidden-motives-behind.html  

Exposed: 9 Basic Ways Conspiracy Theorists Dupe The Public http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2018/02/exposed-9-basic-ways-conspiracy.html  

Inside The Sensitive, Disillusioned, Bewildered Heart Of Conspiracy Theorists https://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2019/05/exposing-sensitive-disillusioned.html   

21 Quick & Undeniable Facts Exposing Conspiracy Theorists  http://www.mybestbuddymedia.com/2013/12/conspiracy-theories.html  

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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