My religion foresees that you will deny the truth at first, but will eventually accept it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are two fallacies here:

  • The argument above tries to subsume counter-arguments as one of it's own premises.
  • The argument above tries to elongate contingency by playing for time.

What are these two fallacies formally known as?

  • A good part of it is simple condescension. "You can't be blamed for disagreeing, but through my superior wisdom I know that you'll eventually come around to my way of thinking." – Niel de Beaudrap May 3 '15 at 4:30

If the claim is 'If my religion is true there will be criticism. There is criticism, therefore my religion is true', then it is a case of affirming the consequent.

Affirming the consequent is saying 'If claim A is true then result B is true. As result B is true, then A is true'. This is a fallacy as it assumes that A must be the only cause of B. In the example above, the religious person assumes that the only possible reason criticism can exist is that his/her religion is true, ignoring other possible causes such as good thinking.

It took me a while to identify the central fallacy, as affirming the consequent in the case that the consequent is criticism spawns many other fallacies. Making criticism of your claim proof of your claim means dismissing criticism on the grounds that your claim is true, which is simultaneously special pleading and circular reasoning.

I am not quite sure if there is a specific name for when the consequent is criticism from just anybody. If it is cricism from the establishment particularly, then it is the Galileo gambit (I do not have enough reputation yet to post more than 2 links, but you can just search for the fallacies on the website I've linked to above). Of course, the Galileo gambit is very often accompanied by the Shill gambit, which is when you accuse any random critic of working for a corrupt establishment/conspiracy. While the Galileo+Shill gambit is often just called pig-headedness, I propose that we should start calling it the California kale gambit after this poem: http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2015/02/17/how-i-know-im-right/


I would just call it a "self-fulfilling prophecy" which is not falsifiable because you will take the answer to your grave if the answer is false.

That choice of wording is also doubly useful because "falsifiable" is one of science's favorite words when discussing the validity of a hypothesis. Given the power science currently has today, that has strong things to say about how much the argument should be accepted by you and others.

  • How is it a self-fulfilling prophecy? A prophecy certainly, but how does predicting it contribute substantially to causing it to come about? – Niel de Beaudrap May 3 '15 at 4:28
  • @NieldeBeaudrap The feeling behind it is that the religion "knows everything." The prophecy is continuously accurate (because you continue to deny it), piling up datum after datum where the prophecy seems true, until one day you decide "it's been true this long, maybe it's actually true." It doesn't always have to work that way, but I've seen cases where arguments are made like that over and over until the line between "not untrue" and "useful" get really blurred. – Cort Ammon May 3 '15 at 5:39
  • What you're describing is a prophecy which is mostly-unfalsifiable, not which is self-fulfilling. – Niel de Beaudrap May 3 '15 at 6:29

The reply: The truth is that your religion is rubbish. That's the truth. I'm not denying it at all. But what about you? Do you accept the truth that your religion is rubbish? If not, then quite evidently you were just projecting: You are denying the truth that your religion is rubbish but will eventually admit the truth.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.