The study of logic dates back to ancient Greece and has always been an integral part of reasoning and providing arguments or theories. There are some basic rules of logic that should always be applied to communication. The following identify some of these and provide some brief examples of how each can be misused:
1. False dilemma—This argument states that a solution must be one of two choices: Either we support the war, or we are unpatriotic.
2. Ad hominem—Using a personal part or belief of a person to prove an argument: Because English is not his first language, he cannot write good emails.
3. Straw man (argumentum ad logicum)—This statement generalizes a viewpoint and then belittles it by extending it beyond its original premise: The president vetoed the oil companies’ exemptions; therefore, he is against large corporations.
4. Red herring (ad misericordiam)—This attempts to evoke pity to aid in a request: This job should be given to me because I have not worked in two years.
5. Slippery slope (non sequitur)—This fallacy assumes one action or condition will lead to a different condition: If I am not hired for this position, your customers will buy from someone else.
6. Repetitive argument (argumentum ad nauseam)—This is an assertion made over and over to try to prove a point: As I have told you in my last three emails, you should give my staff a raise to increase productivity.
7. Argumentum ad antiquitatum—A statement that asserts something must be right because it has traditionally been done the same way: We have never had email complaints, so there’s no need to add disclaimers.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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I am the president of Tabula Rosa Systems, a “best of breed” reseller of products for communications, email, network management software, security products and professional services. Also, I am the president of Netiquette IQ. We are currently developing an email IQ rating system, Netiquette IQ, which promotes the fundamentals outlined in my book.
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