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Parliamentary Fallacy Files aims to keep track of statements made by MPs and peers which exhibit fallacious logic or reasoning. It is of the opinion of the originator of the site that much reasoning in the Commons and the Lords falls short of that which would be expected of a morally serious person claiming to be engaged in a collaborative enterprise that seeks towards consensus-based understanding of the world upon which to build policy.

The site aims to be non-partisan, and to pick out faulty reasoning or logic with no favour to any political party or position, nor any speculation on the politics of any particular statement. Statements which are valid for analysis on the site include statements made in the House of Commons, the House of Lords, by Select Committees, in reports by Parliamentary committees, and by written or spoken statements made in the media by elected MPs or by peers (excluding election rhetoric). We aim to have at least one pair of eyes going over every statement made in Hansard checking for fallacious logic.

The site will not attempt to dispute matters of fact. We are not fact-checkers. We are logic checkers. This is an important distinction. Many discussions in politics take place without reference to any particular set of facts (debates primarily about values, for instance), but such debates still ought to be strongly guided by logic, and should not err into logic. If (in an ideal world) Parliament were to operate only on the basis of accurate data, this would not protect it from being a premise in a fallacious deduction.

Reading list

  • Critical Thinking Web
  • Julian Baggini, Bad Moves, and Do They Think You’re Stupid? (a book based on, and which expands, the Bad Moves columns)
  • Common Sense Atheism blog, Intro to Logic – despite the name, this series is not about religion or atheism but about philosophical logic from a blog which deals in philosophical debate about religion.
  • Janet Radcliffe Richards, Expert advice – on the difference between evidence and values, and how we should rigorously and logically enquire into politicians use of both.

Comment policy

Use your real name. Don’t be rude. No partisan bickering. Keep on topic. Use English, not l33t-speak or txtspk or some other bastardisation of our dear language. No spam. Don’t sign your comments afterwards – your name is already in the comments form.

If you have a particularly long or detailed comment, it may be turned into a full post. You’ll be contacted and asked your consent first. If your comment doesn’t appear, it might be because you suck, but it might be because you are tremendously awesome and intelligent and what you have to say deserves a full post.

That you have a right to freedom of speech under the Magna Carta, the Constitution of your nation, mine, or the United Nations doesn’t mean I have a responsibility to publish your idiotic ravings. I have the right to free exercise of religion: but that doesn’t mean I have a right to do it in your living room. If you wish to exercise absolute freedom of speech, consider going along to Speaker’s Corner or starting your own blog.

The reason this comment policy exists is because idiocy in blog comments is a waste of time. Having to dredge through pages of rubbish looking for gems is tiring. It isn’t about free speech – it is about ensuring other readers have an enjoyable experience.

In short: don’t be an idiot.

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