FALLACIES! What is a Fallacy? Flawed logic; an argument that contains one or more logical flaws Often used as an automatic win for the person using it basically cheating, even if you do it on accident. Why is it good to know the Fallacies? To avoid logical flaws in your own thinking, and therefore make better arguments To analyze your own ideas & make sure theyre sound Learning to win arguments without cheating To not be misled by someone elses faulty argument To better criticize counterarguments by identifying logical weaknesses
FALLACIES OF AMBIGUITY When the fuzzy meanings of words confuse the conversation, preventing any kind of conclusion from being reached When the meaning of a word or phrase morphs into something else halfway through the conversation When the two people arguing are using the same word to mean two different things Sometimes used on purpose to get to a conclusion you couldnt get to otherwise Also often used in jokes. Fallacies of Ambiguity (cont.) 1. Ambiguity Fallacy A word or phrase is not clearly defined,
leading to confusion or avoidance of the topic. A: I have a right to be angry! B: I do too, because all people have equal rights! Illogical: whatever the situation, its likely that one person could have more right to be angry than another. The meaning of the word right has shifted. I did not have sexual relations with that woman. The meaning of the phrase sexual relations is not clear: could mean literal intercourse, or could just mean a sexual relationship. Fallacies of Ambiguity (cont.) 2. Amphiboly The meaning of a word/phrase
gets confused due to the syntax of the sentence. Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, Ill never know! The anthropologists went to a remote area and took photographs of some native women, but they werent developed. Fallacies of Ambiguity (cont.) 3. Division 4. Composition
Trying to apply a groups Trying to apply the quality collective quality to only of a specific part to the one individual part. entire thing. Ocelots are dying out. Sparky is an ocelot. Therefore, Sparky must be dying out. Each word in my paper was carefully chosen. Therefore, my paper was carefully chosen. The universe has existed for
15 billion years. The universe is made of molecules. Therefore, every molecule in the universe has existed for 15 billion years. Each part of a persons body serves a specific purpose. So couldnt we conclude that each person serves a specific purpose? Fallacies of Ambiguity (cont.) 5. Equivocation (doublespeak) When a word with multiple meanings is used in more than one
sense at the same time; when done on purpose, usually used to reach a conclusion you couldnt get to otherwise. Whos On First? ~ Abbott & Costello God: One million years to me is a second. Man: What about a million dollars? God: A penny. Man: How about lending me a penny? God: OK, just give me a second. All men are created equal. Susan is not a man. Therefore, Susan was not created equal. I dont see why I have to pay this ticket. The sign said Fine for OTHER FALLACIES
6. Non-Sequitur (does not follow) Sometimes used incorrectly to mean just a distraction or tangent (which is actually called a Red Herring)a Non-Sequitur is just any conclusion that doesnt follow from its premises. 8 out of 10 women say they would like to date Tom Hiddleston. Tom Hiddleston must have a very busy love life! Everyone loves that stand-up comedian, and he has received extremely favorable reviews from every news site. Therefore, I think he should run for President. I love sushi, and I also love chocolate cake. So it stands to reason, a sushi-and-chocolate cake would be amazing! 7. POST HOC Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc = After this, therefore
because of this. Assuming that because one thing came after another, the first thing caused the later thing. But it could be just a coincidence, or the two things might be related by another factor entirely. After the recent school shooting, it was discovered that the perpetrator was a fan of violent video games. This proves that video games make people behave violently. - Not necessarily; could be the perpetrator was already a violent person & so was drawn to violent games. Doesnt mean the games caused him to behave violently. 8. Distorting the Facts 9. Loaded
Question Deliberately A question concealing facts or purposefully presenting them in designed as a trap. misleading ways in When did you stop order to protect beating your wife? your argument. 10. Hasty Generalization Drawing a broad conclusion based on incomplete or insufficient evidence;
stereotyping. My dad smoked 4 packs a day for his whole life and he never got cancer, so the danger must not be as bad as people say it is. My mom, my sister, and my girlfriend are all terrible drivers. I guess women in general just arent very good at driving! 11. SLIPPERY SLOPE Assuming that if we allow one thing to happen, it will inevitably lead to more and more terrible things until everything we know and love is destroyed (or something like that). If we allow the government to censor pornography, eventually theyll start censoring mainstream films, the
internet, everything. Before we know it, our country will become a police state with no free speech or free press at all! If we legalize marijuana, then people will just turn to harder illegal drugs. Eventually well have to legalize everything, and then the whole country will fall apart. 12. False Analogy Trying to make a point based on a comparison between two seemingly similar, but actually noncomparable, things (apples v. oranges). Might be done accidentally if someone hasnt actually given enough thought to their comparison; might be done on purpose to be deliberately misleading. Students should be allowed to use their textbooks during exams. After all, surgeons are allowed to look at X-rays during an operation. Children are like nails. You have to hit them in the head to
make them work. 13. Strawman Constructing a purposefully weak or ridiculous-sounding version of your opponents argument in order to make it easier to defeat. Comes from the idea that a man made of straw is a lot easier to knock over than a real person. People who believe in God believe in a being they cant see, hear, touch or prove the existence of. You might as well believe in a flying spaghetti monster! Evolutionists say that were all descended from monkeys. Now I dont know about you, but my great granddad was not a monkey!
14. Black-and-White Fallacy Reducing a complicated debate to only two possible options, ignoring any third option or middle ground. Also called False Dichotomy or Either-Or fallacy. Either vote for me, or allow the country to fall into ruin! Youre either with us or against us! If you support womens rights, then you must be against mens rights! (or vice versa) CONFIRMATION BIAS FALLACIES Any logical fallacy where you have already decided on your conclusion, and so you only acknowledge evidence that supports your
conclusion, while ignoring or misrepresenting evidence that might challenge your conclusion. You have a bias, and youre only looking for confirmation of it, rather than honestly trying to figure out the truth. The conclusion decides the evidence, instead of the evidence leading to the conclusion. Confirmation Bias Fallacies (cont.) 15. Begging the Question Often used incorrectly to mean raising the questionactually an example of Circular Reasoning, where the proof of the conclusion is already hidden in the premises. In other words, youre trying to prove a conclusion by
assuming the conclusion has already been proven. Paranormal activity must be real, because what I experienced could only be described as paranormal. I know hes telling the truth because he told me that he never lies! Confirmation Bias Fallacies (cont.) 16. Texas Sharpshooter You have already decided on your conclusion, and so you purposefully go looking for evidence to interpret in a specific way that supports your conclusioneven if that evidence is not necessarily
relevant, or you have to do some creative stretching to make it fit with your conclusion. Comes from the idea of a man shooting the side of a barn, then painting the target around the hole to make it look like he got a bulls eye. Confirmation Bias Fallacies (cont.) 16. Texas Sharpshooter Its been unusually cold both this year and last year. This proves that global warming is a hoax! - Youre already working under the assumption that its a hoax, and so interpret any unusual weather as confirming your belief. I know David likes me. See, in class the other day he read a
poem about a girl he loves. The poem mentioned roses, which are a type of flower. And I love daisies, which are also flowers. So the poem must have been about me! Nostradamus once wrote a prophecy that said, The son of Germany obeys no law. OMG, Nostradamus predicted Hitler!! - The only way you could arrive at this conclusion is if you already know about Hitler and are looking for something that kinda sounds like him. Confirmation Bias Fallacies (cont.) 17. Protecting the Hypothesis AKA the Missing Data Fallacy Youve already decided on your conclusion, so whenever any evidence is raised that might disprove it, instead of reconsidering your position you automatically dismiss the evidence
as either false or incomplete Doing whatever it takes to protect your conclusion from being disproven, even if it means resorting to unlikely explanations for contradictory facts. Confirmation Bias Fallacies (cont.) 17. Protecting the Hypothesis Steve believes the earth is round. Will believes its flat. As they watch a ship disappear over the horizon, they have this conversation: STEVE: See, the ship disappeared! That proves the surface of the earth is curved. You cant argue with that. WILL: No, that doesnt prove anything. It only looks like that because the light sags.
STEVE: The light sags? But in physics class we learned that light always travels in a straight line! WILL: Oh, yeah, science just hasnt figured that one out yet, but they will eventually. STEVE: What about all the satellite images of earth from space? How do you explain that? WILL: Obviously its a big NASA conspiracy. Open your eyes, man! Dont be a sheep. MOAR FALLACIES! 18. Moving the Goalposts Also called Raising the bar A fallacy where one side in a debate is able to answer every single one of the other sides protests.
But instead of admitting defeat, the losing side just keeps changing the rules of the game, until eventually they rig the argument so that its impossible for their opponent to win. Comes from the metaphor of a player about to score a goal, but then the opposing team picks up the goalposts and keeps moving them farther and farther back, thus preventing the player from scoring. MOAR FALLACIES! 18. Moving the Goalposts USUALLY GOES LIKE THIS: Jane raises Question A.
Beth answers Question A. Jane ignores Beths answer and moves on to Question B. Beth also answers Question B. Jane ignores Beths answer and moves on to Question C etc. Until finally Jane retreats to Question X, which is impossible to answer unless you actually know everything. Since Beth is not omniscient, she cant answer Question X, and thus loses the argument. Jane declares victory. MOAR FALLACIES! 18. Moving the Goalposts JANE: I dont see how anyone could criticize this novel for glorifying abusive relationships! Name me one example where the hero does something thats abusive!
BETH: Well, in Chapter 5 the hero insults the heroine multiple times. And in Chapter 6 he refuses to let her see her friends. And in Chapter 9 he spies on her private emails JANE: Okay, okay, but you have to understand those things in context. They totally make sense and arent abusive if you actually take the time to read the book! BETH: But I have read the book, and even in context I found his actions abusive. JANE: Okay, but you know this is a series, right? Theres more than one book. He might be kind of a jerk in the first book, but he gets way better by the fifth book. Its called character development, geez. MOAR FALLACIES! 18. Moving the Goalposts BETH: Well, actually, if I recall correctly, in the fifth book he
actually hit her once JANE: Okay, look, Ill buy the argument that these books promote abuse if you actually show me some real-life people who got into abusive relationships from reading these books! BETH: I actually saw an interview with someone on TV last night JANE: Yeah yeah, but thats just one example. That doesnt prove anything. Show me how many people have been affected badly by these books. BETH: But no one could possibly know that! JANE: Then you cant prove these books promote abuse! Case closed. 19. THE FALLACY FALLACY The fallacy of assuming that just because someone elses argument contains a fallacy, that their
conclusions are automatically wrong. Pointing out someone elses fallacies is not an automatic winthough it is certainly a strong blow to their argument. One could have a correct conclusion, but get to it by illogical means. Just because the argument is bad doesnt mean the conclusion necessarily is. All dogs have 4 legs and a tail. Missy has 4 legs and a tail. Therefore, Missy is a dog. Illogical, but not necessarily wrong. 20. RED HERRING Deliberately trying to derail the argument or change the subject by throwing in a distraction. If your opponent does this with any
kind of subtlety, it can be very hard to catch. Allegedly comes from the idea of using a rotten herring to throw hunting dogs off a scent. People say that its morally wrong for me to accept bribes. But I ask you, what is morality anyway? How can you sit here complaining about womens salaries, when there are other countries that dont let women work at all! AD HOMINEM FALLACIES At/against the person Any time in an argument when, instead of addressing your opponents argument, you attack your opponent on a personal level instead.
Implying that your opponents argument must be automatically wrong purely on the basis of your opponents personal flaws. Ad Hominem Fallacies (cont.) 21. Tu Quoque (You, too) Dismissing someones argument by accusing them of hypocrisy. SAM: You shouldnt eat so much junk food, you know. Its bad for your health. BARBARA: Dont lecture me. I saw you with a cheeseburger just yesterday. WHATS THE PROBLEM? If Barbaras right, then Sam is being hypocritical here but that doesnt mean hes wrong.
Ad Hominem Fallacies (cont.) 22. Circumstantial Dismissing someones argument by accusing them of having ulterior motives. SAM: You should buy this car. Its really reliable. BARBARA: Youre just saying that because youll get a nice big commission if you sell it to me. WHATS THE PROBLEM? Sam may be mainly motivated by his paycheck but that doesnt mean the car isnt reliable. Ad Hominem Fallacies (cont.) 23. Guilt-by-Association
Dismissing someones argument because they happen to share something in common with someone the audience hates/distrusts. BARBARA: My opponent Sam thinks we ought to implement more socialist programs in our state. But you know who else was a socialist? Stalin. You dont want to vote for someone who has something in common with Stalin, now do you? SAM: Barbara makes some good points in her article on religious liberties. However, I do want to point out that she once worked for Senator Smith, a well-known atheist. So perhaps we should take her arguments with a grain of salt. Ad Hominem Fallacies (cont.) 24. Abuse Most common &
straightforward type of Ad Hominem attack Ignoring someones argument completely and just straight up attacking their character/insulting them instead SAM: Barbara says she would be a good president. But did you know? Last year she set at least 10 kittens on fire just in one week! Do you really want to vote for a kitten-burner? BARBARA: Sam claims that Im a kitten-burner. Id like to retaliate by pointing out that he is a stupid poo-face, and sos his mom. Ad Hominem Fallacies (cont.) 25. Poisoning the Well
A pre-emptive Ad Hominem strike Ruining the audiences impressions of your opponent (and their argument) before your opponent even has a chance to speak. Im going to let my opponent speak to you about employment issues now. Im sure hell have some interesting points. But while you listen, just keep in mind that hes been known to steal money from old ladies in the past. Just sayin. RELATED TO AD HOMINEM! 26. Genetic Fallacy Judging an arguments worth (good or bad) based solely on where it originated from. A: I heard the national employment rate has been dropping
lately. B: Oh no! Whered you hear that? A: Fox News. B: Oh. Well then, it must be an exaggeration. A: I heard that the president is not actually American, and that hes conspiring with terrorists to destroy us! B: Oh no! Whered you hear that? A: Fox News. B: Oh! Then it must be true! 27. AUTHORITY FALLACY Appealing to an irrelevant or unnecessary authority to back up a weak argument. Sure, I know all about your rare medical condition. Trust me, my aunt is a doctor (of philosophy). A: I think slavery is okay.
B: How can you say that? Slaverys a terrible violation of human rights! On what grounds could you possibly argue that its okay? A: Well, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and he was a pretty good guy. So I figure if it was all right for him, its all right for me. 28. BANDWAGON (Argumentum ad Populum) Arguing that something is true/good (or false/bad), because many people believe it to be true/good (or false/bad). That movie is terrible. I havent seen it, but all the critics say it was horrible. 85% of the country says they believe the government is hiding aliens in Area 51. That many people cant be
wrong! You should try huffing paint. Everyones doing it! Two Emotional Fallacies 29. Appeal to Fear (Ad Baculum) 30. Appeal to Misery (Ad Misericordium) Trying to win an argument by Frightening or gaining pity/sympathy, rather threatening someone into agreeing with you. than actually having a strong argument.
If you vote for the other guy, then I guarantee you terrorists will invade our country and kill us all. Listen, Ive been working to get here my whole life. Please dont take away my dream. Vote for me. If you disagree with me, then Ill see you in court. You have to take me back, Lisa! If you dont, Ill kill myself! 31. Death by a Thousand Qualifications
A fallacy in which a statement initially sounds good but upon further examination, ends up containing several qualifications that unravel the original meaning. My new self-published novel is a huge success! All of my Amazon reviews gave it 5 stars! - Except there were only 2 reviews - And they were both written by your parents. Youre my favorite brother! But Im your only brother. 32. NO TRUE SCOTSMAN A member of Group A (could be a race, gender, nationality, religion, sports team, fandom, anything)
behaves badlydoes something immoral that could reflect badly on the whole group. Someone from Group B points this out, and then everyone in Group A goes, No, no! Theyre not really one of us! No true member of Group A would ever do something like that! 32. NO TRUE SCOTSMAN TEXAN: No Texan would ever run from a fight! NON-TEXAN: What about Joe? Hes a Texan, and he ran from a fight yesterday. TEXAN: Let me clarify: no true Scotsman Texan would ever run from a fight! A: Our fandom is the friendliest, most welcoming
fandom on the internet. B: Really? Because Ive been getting harassed on Twitter by people from your fandom all week. A: Ugh, those jerks. Theyre not true fans. If they were theyd never do that.
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