For those who read my first ever post in the fun with fallacies series, Angus is very grateful. For those who did not, the “No true Scotsman” is a fallacy with many uses, where most of them are very useful for confusing both an audience and an opponent. The most clear cut example of this fallacy is the example below:
Participant 1: We have seen that in many cases, feminism turns into a code-word for misandry
Participant 2: Any misandrist is not a true feminist.
This is a clear example that shows how this fallacy happens in the obvious cases, there is an assertion about a group, which is countered with “Anyone … not a real member of group”
In the simplest use from a perspective of winning, it serves to distance you and your perspective from the link your opponent is trying to make. In effect, it is an ad hoc rescue attempt to save an assertion that has been debunked.
In the example above, the assertion is:
A: Feminism is about the political, social and economical equality of the genders.
This is countered with:
B: Feminism and that definition of feminism, is used as a code word for legal misandry.
Now, rather than dealing with this claim, which would result in having to either refute the examples given of feminists who are all misandrists, the effect those feminists have had on the ideology as a whole, and perhaps amend the definition. The person elects to use a “No True Scotsman” fallacy to swiftly distance their group from the negative spillover.
There are several basic “movements” where the “No True Scotsman” fallacy can play a central role.
The Deflect and Counter
The purpose of this movement is to deflect the assertion or argument an opponent makes, and counter-argue as a part of your deflection. This serves the same purpose as a pure deflect, but you also take away your opponent’s ability to counter your fallacy, as you keep talking.
Participant 1: Feminism has a tendency to turn into misandry over time. In fact it is often linked with misandry in texts by prominent feminists.
Participant 2: No misandrist is a true feminist. If you look up the dictionary definition of feminism it clearly states that feminism is the ideology that seeks complete economic, political and social equality of the sexes. To conflate this with misandry is clearly both sexist, and shows a lack of understanding of what feminism is.
In this example you see a “No True Scotsman” (red) marked with combined with an ad hominem fallacy (attacking the person, blue) and a poisoning the well fallacy (green). In this case, Participant 2, has used a string of fallacies that distract from one another, are designed to challenge the opponents gender views, and undermine their knowledge on the topic, to the combined effect of distracting from the original argument.
Participant 1 here is likely to want to respond to allegations of being sexist and to lay out their “feminism scholarship credentials” to avoid losing the audience.
The purpose of this movement, is to deflect twice in a row, thus leaving your opponent playing catch up, trying to gain back control of the debate or discussion. Furthermore, to confuse both opponent and audience to bring the debate back to your preferred ground.
Participant 1: Feminism has a history of walking hand in hand with misandry.
Participant 2: No true feminist is a misandrist, furthermore no real feminist would ever accept a misalignment of their ideology with simple sexism, as this undermines the true aspect of the character of anyone who calls themselves a feminist.
Here the original “No true Scotsman” is marked out in red, with a second, much more drawn out variant on a no true scotsman, where the language is used to confuse the meaning of the sentence.
The buried deflect
The buried deflect is simple but highly effective if employed correctly. The key to this move is that you appear to be responding to your opponents argument, when in reality you are setting up the no true scotsman fallacy behind the scenes.
Participant 1: So, obviously it follows that feminism has a long history of being mixed with misandry
Participant 2: As my opponent states, feminism has a history of occurring concurrently with misandry, this is a very unfortunate thing as it conflates an ideology based in the social, economical and political equality of the genders with one of man-hating. However, given the definition, one could scarcely argue that a feminist is someone who is a misandrist.
As you can see here, the no true scotsman takes place at the end of what appears to be a concession to the opponents argument, this also ensures that a normal opponent will not be expecting the deflect to be used at this time.
The script flipper
The script flipper is a potent mix of a no true scotsman fallacy and a cherry picker fallacy.
Participant 1: Throughout its history, feminism has frequently championed women’s rights and has been supported by misandry. One could argue that these two march in lock step.
Participant 2: As my opponent states, feminism has been approaching women’s rights for decades acting as a champion for women. While feminism is an inclusive ideology, that has done a lot of good throughout history, the accusation of misandry has followed the movement like a black cloud. Once and for all, I therefore want to make it clear that feminism is about equality, therefore no feminist could ever be a misandrist.
In this example the cherry picking (green) sets the stage and redefines the problem as feminism being accused of misandry, rather than being inherently misandric, before engaging in the “No True Scotsman” as a closer.
Considering that this is the first post, I should add that you are in no way limited to using one fallacy or one type of fallacy when abusing logic. The key to being effective is to string them together in a subtle manner, in order to ensure that they are not spotted. While very few people have the knowledge and put in the time to learn about fallacies, many people do get gut reactions when something seems wrong.
The key to becoming a strong manipulator, is to tailor your use of fallacies to your oratory style and your audience. If you are speaking to scientists, you want to keep the fallacies subtle, if you are speaking to an uneducated audience and are a great speaker, you can get away with fallacies based on their perception of you.
Another tip is that even though the fallacies usually have a set form, this stems from the basic structure of logical arguments in addition to making it clear what the fallacy is. You can easily play with the forms, you can extend your oration time so that the fallacy takes place over 15 sentences rather than in a single sentence, use tangents, or other tools to obfuscate your movements.
Becoming familiar with Aristotle’s 3 forms of rhetoric is also highly beneficial as the more apt you are at ethos and pathos, the more fallacies you can get away with.
As a final end note, here is an example of using a “No true Scotsman” fallacy in a “Red pill” context.
Woman: You are obviously a player, you must say that to all the girls.
RPM: No real player would ever say the same thing to all the girls, they may all be friends, or you may risk repeating yourself.