Logical Fallacies

When considering your argument or the arguments of others, writers and readers need to be aware of logical fallacies. Logical fallacies are found in many places—ads, politics, movies.

Logical fallacies make an argument weak by using mistaken beliefs/ideas, invalid arguments, illogical arguments, and/or deceptiveness. If you are arguing, avoid fallacies of thought because they create weaknesses in an argument. Here are some of the most common fallacies to be aware of.

Ad hominem

  • Attacking one’s character rather than the issue; an insult is not addressing the concern.
  • Does your reason for arguing stand on solid ground, or are you just insulting the opponent?

Appeal to False Authority

  • Using a source quote from someone who is not an expert in the field.
  • Who qualifies as an “expert”?
  • Are there credentials for your “expert”?
  • Do you/they have the authority?
  • Is your/their source biased?

Bandwagon Fallacy

  • When evidence merely says that the reasoning is because others do or like it, you are not providing solid evidence.
  • Who is “everyone”?
  • Are they really “all” thinking the same way?

Begging the Question/Circular Reasoning

  • Affirming the claim in a circular manner that essentially supports itself.
  • Is your claim supported by something other than its own concept?

Either/Or Fallacy

  • Reducing complex arguments to simply right/wrong
  • There are more than two sides to arguments.
  • Ask yourself if someone can come up with an alternative?

Faulty Analogy

  • Comparing things that are similar in some ways, but not where it matters most.
  • Using a metaphor can support a claim, but are the parts of your metaphor connected? If not, your argument will fall apart.

Faulty Causality

  • Drawing the conclusion that when two events happen close together one has caused the other.
  • Has event A caused event B, or did it just happen at the same time?

Hasty Generalization

  • Making a claim based on one or two examples that may not be relevant to the claims or subject.
  • Does every single American like it, really?

Slippery Slope

  • Arguments that proclaim that one incident will start a chain of events leading to devastating results.
  • Are your claims over-reaching or exaggerated?
  • Aren’t always completely off base, but usually inaccurate and blown out of proportion.

Vagueness, Evasions, Misstatements

  • Vagueness is simply lies in truth’s clothing.
  • Misstatements often take a quote out of context to “prove” a point.
  • Are you clearly interpreting the information/evidence?
  • A misstatement would suggest that “billions” of people are happy with the product just because billions were served the product.

Contributor: Derrian Goebel