Whataboutism: What about what the west did in Syria/Afghanistan/Iraq? They are no place to judge.”
Why it’s illogical: Implies justification of Party X’s past actions for Party Y’s current actions. You can and should criticize more than one thing, but the conversation at hand is Russia invading Ukraine. Also there seems to be little accountability in the case of Russia in its extreme amount of war crimes.
Slippery slope: “If Russia doesn’t perform its military operation in Ukraine then NATO will set up a base, and before you know it, it will attack Russia first!”
Why it’s illogical: Implies that potential future actions of Party X allow for current actions of Party Y.
Propaganda: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.
These are some examples of disinformation and attempts to derail threads and conversations online and in person that I frequently encounter.
Ad Hominem: “Who are you and what are your credentials? Are you an expert? Are you fighting in Ukraine right now?”
Why it’s illogical: Anyone can criticize anything. You do not need credentials to make a sound logical argument, particularly in something as cut and dry as this invasion.
Outright Lies: “Ukraine is developing bio weapons to use against Russia. Ukraine is run by Nazis. People who support Ukraine are racists. Russia is cleaning the country up!”
Why it’s illogical: You can not frame an argument without evidence of some sort. Ukraine’s president is a democratically elected Jew who won in a landslide 73%.
Appeal to Western Values: “Where was this level of support for the refugees of Conflict X? You are the one picking a fight by getting involved and will start World War III if you keep it up! Where is your peaceful rhetoric now?”
Why it’s illogical: Implies your past lack of action supports current inaction. People can change, and as they grow and become more interconnected through globalization, they will be more likely to be affected by someone else. Also implies that defensive actions warrant escalated counterattacks.
Diminishing Actions: “Wow what a useless gesture. More sanctions. Yawn. Oh another UN vote. How effective. Nobody cares, just look at Russians in City X or City Y. Just more tax dollars down the drain.”
Why it’s illogical: Implies that an action should only be made if it does something perfectly 100% of the way through. Every action that ca, should be taken. Multiple small actions create major tectonic shifts. This goes all the way down to the individual, and how even their contribution counts. This one is particularly nasty because it inspires an apathetic response that resonates with people who are disillusioned with society.
Deflection to the Superior: “This is only Putin’s fault, the soldiers are innocent and aren’t doing anything wrong. They are just protecting their families! They are the real victims here.”
Why it’s illogical: Implies that each individual person is not responsible for their individual actions. It’s one thing to liberate a country to open arms, it’s another to invade a country and commit war crimes. Additionally, Russia is not sending conscripts and has punished previous cases where this occurred. This is a volunteer military.
Capitulating: “Putin is crazy and has nukes. He’s in a bunker and has survived this long. This is Zelenskys fault anyways. Just let him fall on the sword and let Putin take Ukraine and then he’ll leave us alone.”
Why it’s illogical: Implies the sacrifice of Ukraine is a fair token in appeasement of someone who has shown they will not stop, based on prior actions.
And because it’s been a few months, here are a couple more I’ve been noticing have started trending recently:
Appeal to the Underdog: “You’re just being Russophobic/racist! Targeting a whole group of innocent people! This is no different than what America did to black people or what the Germans did to the Jews! Russians are being targeted unfairly.”
Why it’s illogical: Implies a similarity that doesn’t exist. Black people and Jews were never invading America/Germany and trying to subjugate their population. It’s a complete false equivalency. If anything, Ukrainians are the black folks/Jews in this example. Particularly incidious because its sows seeds of discord within countries like the United States by capitalizing on racial tensions.
Humanizing the Monster: Those Russian soldiers are just poor and dumb and have been tricked by Putin. They don’t know that going into other countries to murder and commit war crimes is a bad thing!”
Why it’s illogical: Implies nonexistence of basic social cohesion. Every society on earth knows that rape and murder are wrong. It is punished everywhere on the planet because of how repulsive it is to us as a social species. I’d go so far to say that it is an instinctive trait in humans.
Lies About Russian Support: “This is absurd! Russians actually all hate Putin and are constantly protesting 24/7. This action will just push people to support Putin now!”
Why it’s illogical: Russian support for the invasion is overwhelmingly positive. There are many people in Russia who are against the war, and they are truly unfortunate victims of this. These people are very aware that the problem is Russian leadership and not a nebulous Ukranian threat and as such will not likely start supporting Putin based on any current Western actions.
Western Escalation: “This is just the next step in Western aggression against Russia. Pretty soon we will have no choice but to launch a nuclear counterattack. You keep pushing us and you will start world war III!”
Why it’s illogical: Implies a backwards slippery slope argument. Russia is the aggressor in this situation. They can leave Ukraine at any time, and the war will all but surely end. Ukraine did not begin this conflict.
Ad Hominem 2: “Source X is unreliable. You made a minor error in your argument. Your argument is completely invalidated!”
Why it’s illogical: Even poor sources can have accurate information. Information should be judged on a case by case basis, and the information being presented should be deconstructed and not the source. Even Fox News actually reports the news, they just have their own spin on it. Additionally, minor mistakes do not invalidate an entire larger argument. Annoying because they will often use this against reputable information in an attempt to discredit it.
Remember, these don’t all have to be real trolls, some are just people repeating poor talking points because the best propaganda sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Until you think about it. By applying critical thinking you too will soon be able to parse through the bullshit.