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I've never found out the name of this fallacy, or even if there is a name for it, but it seems to me it's the fallacy that occurs by far the most often. You are having a debate with someone and then you make 6 crucial points...then the other person responds by picking only point #5 and trying to refute it.

More often than not their attempt to refute the single point they singled out was invalid anyway, but as it appears as if they "hit the ball back" to you to continue the rally, they actually didn't since they ignored almost all the points made. But still since it appears that way, at least to them, it comes back to you to somehow respond.

So to be clear it looks like this:

Person A's argument:

  1. argument point...

  2. argument point...

  3. argument point...

  4. argument point...

  5. argument point...

  6. argument point...

And then person B responds with:

5. argument point...

That's not true because....etc

Then it's back to person A who has to do what, repeat all his points again??

In my experience it's almost always the points they ignore that are most damaging to their whole argument, and the single point they cherry picked out to refute is the weakest and more simple to refute.

Add to that the points aren't normally numbered like they are here, that's just for clarity in this example. So it's particularly difficult to respond to.

It just gives them this opportunity to say in some form or another "no, you're wrong" in response to what you said. Which is powerful in itself but seems like a fallacy to me considering the way it's achieved.

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You haven't described this issue clearly.

In general, if A makes ten arguments for a position and B refute one of the arguments there are multiple reasons why B might do that. B might think that if he refutes one argument your position is refuted, which would be wrong. B might think he wants to take your arguments out one at a time so he starts with one argument with the aim of getting agreement that it's wrong before he moves on to the others. Or he might just want to refute that particular argument without having any intention to go on to any further arguments.

Another problem is that looking for the name of a fallacy to use in an argument is a bad idea in many cases. A name just means you've put a label on something not that you understand it.

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  • I thought I made it clear that the person was ignoring the points because he couldn't refute them? Even if he did think if he somehow just refuted one argument it was enough, he'd have to specifically state "therefore all your other points make no sense" otherwise he's just not addressing those other points... – Hasen Mar 19 at 15:03
  • Your point last doesn't seem to make much sense, clearly I understand what the situation is, I just wondered if there is a name for it. There is a strength in named fallacies that are recognised so quoting them is powerful in an argument. Logically it shouldn't be that way, but that's just how humans respond. – Hasen Mar 19 at 15:05
  • Oh and they never, ever go back to the points they initally ignored....ever...not unless you bring them up again and again and they normally try to ignore them even on subsequent times. – Hasen Mar 19 at 15:06
  • Upvoted for the last paragraph. – David Blomstrom Mar 19 at 15:31
  • Without seeing the actual argument I can't tell who is in the wrong. It is extremely common for people to make points that fail basic tests of logic and then fancy that they have pwned the person they're arguing with. – alanf Mar 27 at 13:55

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