Considering that I work with a bunch of supposedly “logically” minded engineers, I experience a lot of fallacies day to day. One of the most common, and the one that always throws me the most is the ad hominem attack. Someone will suggest something, and then the person/people that are working on the project get all defensive and start discrediting the person making the suggestion without even touching on the actual suggestion. The reason I dislike this so much is that not only does it waste time without getting anywhere, but it can also bring personal matters inappropriately into workplace discussion.
In the media the fallacy I think I see most is the appeal to false authority. Often reporters, journalists, or advertisers (they’re the worst) stat talking about studies that have been done that prove whatever they’re talking about works or is better or whatever. Often it is hard to comprehend how the study in question could ever have even been performed, never mind impartially or with any accuracy.
Back at my workplace, the issue of sexual harassment is surrounded by slippery slope arguments coming from both sides. Guys are concerned that if we start addressing the issue heavily and tightening up company policy “then all of a sudden guys are going to be getting fired just for holding the door for a girl.” Women are saying that if we don’t set extremely strict company rules then “this office is going to revert to the stone age.” I doubt either are likely.
I find I tend to think of many political issues in black and white. This might be because there are two main political parties, but when I think of issues I would vote for a president on, there isn’t a lot of grey area. Take the issue of abortion for example. The way it seems is that you are either for or against abortion, and when choosing who to vote for, the candidate’s stance on it affects many voters including myself (although less so than some others). When I really think about the issue I see that there are really a lot of different perspectives on and arguments around the it, but still to me you are either for or against it and nothing else matters.
I try and use brainstorming to help myself break out of closed thinking. If I ask my friends or co-workers about something I’m having trouble with they often suggest things I would never thought of before. Sometimes it’s even something so simple as a new way to put the dishes away. I had never really thought about how I was doing the dishes until someone pointed out a better way.