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Logical Fallacies from WS'

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Thumos posted 4/22/2021 09:58 AM

Awhile back I posted a version of this in a thread and many seemed to find it helpful. I post it here as a reference guide for betrayed spouses trying to penetrate the thick haze of fuzzy thinking and gaslighting waywards so often perpetrate on them.

Along with DARVO, blameshifting, and rewriting history, waywards will often deploy a series of common logical fallacies.

There are two ways to invalidate arguments: empirically (a lie, a misstatement of fact) and logically (someone uses flawed reasoning).

Using a logical fallacy invalidates a statement immediately. If betrayed spouses learn how to spot these, they can cut through a lot of the gaslighting blather and blarney they typically are assaulted with.

Deploying logic in these situations can help spot the word games, mind games, triangulation tactics and crazymaking gambit games that WS's so often like to play.

If you feel frozen in time by some gobsmacking statement your WS has made, it's likely because it is a logical fallacy.

Take a moment, breathe, examine it and then call them out on it.

They will grow frustrated, but will shy away from that tactic henceforth. You can bring these kinds of games to a grinding halt by calling them out: "That's a straw man argument," "you're being intellectually dishonest" "that's an ad hominem attack on me and it's illegitimate on its face" etc.

I started doing this calmly with my WW. She got angry, which is to be expected when someone realizes what they thought was a "rational" way of thinking is crumbling in front of them. But she also stopped that particular tactic, moved on to another one until I called that out, and so on. Eventually she stopped most of the games.

Common fallacies WS's use:

1. Ad hominem attacks (example: "Thumos you're so blunt in speaking of my adultery. You're a man. It's obvious you must hate women.")

2. False dichotomies (an either/or proposition that ignores a third, fourth possibility and so on). Example: "You're getting divorced. Either you donít understand how to properly handle reconciliation ... or you must not be a very forgiving person."

3. Circular reasoning (Simply repeating an argument instead of actually proving it) Example: "You have such a high bar for reconciliation, so you must be against it."

4. Naturalistic fallacy ("adultery is acceptable because humans aren't naturally monogamous" - this is a dubious scientific claim in any case and increasingly it may be empirically false as well)

5. Appeal to people - ad populum - ("So many people commit adultery, so what's the big deal?")

6. Strawman argument ("So I guess I'm a whore to you now?") -- positing an extreme statement or argument you never made so they can easily knock down this "straw man"

7. Red herring fallacy (throwing out a "red herring" to throw hounds off the scent). WS will do this repeatedly, throwing out an argument or statement which seems relevant but which isn't.

8. Tu Quoque Fallacy ('you too'). Examples: "you were promiscuous as a young woman, how dare you judge me" or "I've seen you looking at other women, so how dare you judge me" - these are also examples of false equivalency.

9. Appeal to authority ("our marriage counselor says we don't communicate well" or "Esther Perel says affairs are journeys of discovery and empowerment")

10. Appeal to pity or appeal to emotion ("I had a bad childhood" or "I'm a sex addict" or "I was in the fog when I said all those terrible things, so obviously I didn't mean them." or "yes, I've slept with multiple men but I really want our marriage and I love you so much. Don't abandon me.")

11. The genetic fallacy (trying to debunk an argument based on its origins rather than dealing with the substance of the argument itself). Example: "Your friend cheated, so he can't possibly give you good advice about our situation"

12. The middle ground. "You think extra-marital sex is wrong. Let's agree to disagree."

13. Motte and bailey fallacy - This is harder to spot. It's when an adulterer "conflates two positions which share similarities, one modest and easy to defend (the "motte") and one much more controversial (the "bailey")... then advances the controversial position, but when challenged, they insist that they are only advancing the more modest position." Example: "Monogamy is a social construct. Polyamory is normal and healthy."

The motte is "monogamy is a human construct imposed on humans," while the bailey is that polyamory is perfectly normal.

"Look, I'm not saying I want to be polyamorous, just that monogamy is a social construct. Surely you can agree with that."

And then once you agree to that, they begin working on advancing the more extreme proposition because you allowed them to take and stand on new ground.

13. "I'm entitled to my opinion." You can usually tell when someone has lost the argument when they retreat to this stance. (Example: "My opinion is I'm not rugsweeping. I'm entitled to think that.")

14. Relativist fallacy - "That's your truth, not my truth." or "That may be true for you, but it is not true for me." Obviously it is self refuting to argue a single statement can be both true and false at the same time. It's either true or it isn't.

15. Sunk costs fallacy - Many BS's believe that they've invested so much in this marriage, they have to keep trying, even if it's obviously a fruitless effort. I myself may have fallen into this trap, but it's in a version of concern about the impact a divorce will have on my son.

Hope this is helpful. There are obviously innumerable logical fallacies, and others here can feel to add to my list. I just find these are the most commonly deployed in an infidelity situation.

Bonetired posted 4/22/2021 11:57 AM

Yes!!!I am writing this down.Although I will have to look up half the words on your post I am sure any WS would deeply regret being on the wrong side of you.

Lalagirl posted 4/22/2021 12:19 PM

This is good stuff, Thumos!

Shehawk posted 4/22/2021 12:24 PM

Wow Thumps

Thank you.

I was wondering if you would consider sharing this in a way I could print out and study and take notes.

I flooded at the everybody does it one...that's been overused on me.

Shehawk posted 4/22/2021 12:25 PM

Thumos autocorrect, it's


Smh sorry Thumos

Thumos posted 4/22/2021 12:37 PM

I was wondering if you would consider sharing this in a way I could print out and study and take notes.

I am happy to give it a try and post it somewhere.

This0is0Fine posted 4/22/2021 12:52 PM

The most common fallacy of both WS and humanity in general has been overlooked here, so I'd like to add it.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc - This is a causation fallacy. Essentially, that because one thing happened after another (post hoc) it is because of (ergo) the thing that preceded it (propter hoc).

"I started cheating after you started that new hobby. It's taking too much time away from us."

"Once you had the kid, I wasn't getting as much attention."

"We moved and I was under a lot of stress and didn't have my usual group of friends."

This of course is part of blame shifting to external factors. Some of which may be partially valid, and others that just happened to precede the A chronologically.

This is an extremely powerful fallacy, because it is essentially how our brains actually work. Human brains aren't logic machines, they are post hoc ergo propter hoc machines. It looks at something, and if something happens after, it says, yep the first thing caused the second.

This works great in survival. And generally superstitions don't hurt. "I covered myself in mud and the hunt went better" is the same as "My team won every time I wore my green shirt". One actually works, the other doesn't. The way the brain works doesn't differentiate.

steadychevy posted 4/22/2021 12:54 PM

I can highlight the entry I want to print and select "print preview" then "as selected on screen" to print part of a post. I don't know if that would work for you Shehawk with your system.

rugswept posted 4/22/2021 13:09 PM

This is above pin quality.

The MODS should take notice of this brilliant analysis and classification of the abuse of language by cheaters. The MODS should either pin this or post it in their guides or articles.

This should NOT be seen as a quick one time scan or read. It should be visited repeatedly over a period of time and pondered. It is actually quite deep.

DanielJK posted 4/22/2021 13:17 PM

There should be a class for this in school.

How many of us have gone down these rabbit holes and didn't even realize we were in a rabbit hole?

(Raising my hand over here)

[This message edited by DanielJK at 9:09 AM, April 23rd (Friday)]

This0is0Fine posted 4/22/2021 13:32 PM

I took a class in college along the lines of "arguments and conflict resolution".

I learned all about logical fallacies. A lot of real arguing though isn't necessarily about logic, it's about agreeing to the premises. Especially with a cheater, if you don't have agreed premises they could reach a different logical conclusion.

The chief example is what I call a "lie" but a cheater might never agree. "To be hurt by infidelity you must have knowledge of the events". This is a premise. Not a logical statement or conclusion in itself. When setting premises, the logical fallacies don't necessarily apply unless we want to break down the premises further. "What is hurt?". Then with a better definition of that, this premise could be a false statement based on a different definition of hurt. You can't have a logical argument until the premises are agreed to.

There is a great "free printable logical fallacy chart" you can google.

Derpmeister posted 4/22/2021 15:04 PM

Where does the "I wasn't myself, I was confused" defense fall into then?
I feel it's especially insidious because it's only part true.
Being unstable doesn't mean your impulses aren't yours, it also means WS have the room to gaslight and mix how feeling afterwards made them feel with before and during.
It's an argument that's like creating an instruction manual for your own impulsiveness saying not to worry because the bug is also a benign feature no one needs to look into.

This0is0Fine posted 4/22/2021 15:09 PM

As far as I am concerned, "I was confused" is merely shorthand for, "I know what I was doing was really shitty, but it felt so goddamn good, I wasn't about to stop for your sake. When weighing these competing interests, I decided to simply not tell you and hope you would never find out so I wouldn't have to explicitly address my disloyalty in my decision making."

thatbpguy posted 4/22/2021 15:16 PM

The OP should be used as a sticky for all at any time.

Sceadugenga posted 4/22/2021 15:23 PM

There should be a class for this in school.

I used to teach such a class in high school years ago :-) The course was called "Theory of Knowledge". Contrary to the name, it wasn't pure epistemology but spotting and analysing fallacies was one of the main foci of the curriculum.

Thumos posted 4/22/2021 16:16 PM

Where does the "I wasn't myself, I was confused" defense fall into then?

I wouldn't categorize that kind of assertion as a logical fallacy, necessarily, but rather pure unadulterated postmodernist irrationality.

People are allowed to get away with saying a lot of completely nonsensical through-the-looking-glass things in our current era, and this ranks right up there.

It is the kind of statement that is in complete opposition to any kind of logic at all, because it's very much caught up in the realm of feelings and pure subjectivity.

I think we can place this kind of statement in the realm of mysticism and magical thinking.

It's just missing logic altogether, whereas logical fallacies are at least attempting a kind of logic.

Probably need to have a whole other post outlining some of those gobsmacking adventures in muddled postmodern thought.

[This message edited by Thumos at 4:20 PM, April 22nd (Thursday)]

crazyblindsided posted 4/22/2021 16:18 PM

I think my ExWS tried every one of those His newest fallacy since our separation is resorting to blaming me for giving up on the M and how that is so much worse than anything he did.

Thumos posted 4/22/2021 17:13 PM

Adding a few more that are not quite as commonly considered, but still prevalent:

- The Romantic fallacy (i.e. "follow your heart"): Feelings must not be questioned as anything other than valid. "I love you but I'm not IN love with you"

- Appeal to Closure: "you need to put this behind you in order to find closure" or "Can we stop talking about this now?" - this is also a form of gaslighting when it morphs into something like "you're embittered"

- Status Quo Bias: "it is what it is" and "Deal with it" - something is right because it exists.

- Diminished Responsibility: "I was drunk so I wasn't thinking straight" or "(Insert AP here) was a predator who targeted me for an affair" (this is really an appeal to pity, but I thought it stood out a little).

- Moral licensing: Someone justifies bad behavior on the basis of their previous track record of good behavior.

- Moving the goalposts: Wayward spouse fails a polygraph and then blames it on her anxiety (I may be wrong on the application here, but it seems to fit).

- Passive Voice Fallacy: "Mistakes were made"

- Language Control: Scrubbing language to be more more sanitized and "less hurtful" (also an appeal to emotion). Example: "Stop calling it adultery."

- Argumentum ad baculum: Argument from force. A wayward spouse simply refuses to talk, gives you the silent treatment, threatens a false domestic violence charge, etc.

[This message edited by Thumos at 9:45 AM, April 23rd (Friday)]

This0is0Fine posted 4/22/2021 17:14 PM

I think my ExWS tried every one of those His newest fallacy since our separation is resorting to blaming me for giving up on the M and how that is so much worse than anything he did.

There was a comedy sketch (Chappelle show?), can't find it. Anyway:

Interviewer: "Do you think your 5 fumbles made your team lose the game?"

Athlete: "They wouldn't have mattered if the other ten guys would have recovered the ball."

HowCouldSheDoIt posted 4/22/2021 18:31 PM

My WW kind of does the "Argumentum ad baculum" in that she typically doesn't say much. She's very short on empathy.

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