Against Self-Confidence Fallacy

(a.k.a. Argumentum Ad Fidentia)

An effort to undermine self-confidence rather than dealing with proof and logic

Example:

Rocky Rockbuilder: I know that God exists in the same way I know that my dad exists. I talk to Him, and He talks to me. Christ often leads me in miraculous ways. It’s an ongoing, moment-by-moment experience with Jesus Christ.

Sandy Sandbuilder: How do you know that it’s God speaking to you. Perhaps it’s just your own mind’s neurons firing. Everything is random, and there is no God. And I would say that you’re crazy and you ought to be hauled away for saying that. In fact, you are dangerous to yourself and others.

Rocky: Christ is well able to reveal and to give discernment. When He speaks and I listen to Him, His faith comes. He’s the author of that faith, and He sees it through to completion. I invite you to know Him, and then you’ll know.

Sandy: I already tried that once, and it doesn’t work.

Notice that Sandy Sandbuilder doesn’t want to check to see whether Christ is real. Persuaders who use arguments against self-confidence avoid checking whether a statement is true. They don’t judge based on the statement’s soundness. These persuaders try to shake confidence instead of using sound reasoning. In the example given, Sandy could have asked for a way to test Rocky’s claim of the existence of Jesus Christ and Christ’s willingness to lead His own people. Then Rocky could have explained how Sandy could find Christ and confirm His goodness and His availability.

We don’t commit an argumentum ad fidentia fallacy if we ask a persuader to tell us how they know their claim is true. When they can’t answer, it may take away some of their self-confidence, but rightly so.

Related:

creating misgivings