LOGICAL FALLACIES (20)
A. Fallacies of Distraction
1. Ad baculum (‘veiled threat’): L. "to the stick:"
Def- threatening an opponent if they won’t agree with you;
Ex- "If you don’t agree with me you’ll be sorry!"
2. Ad hominem (‘personal attack’; ‘poisoning the well’): L. "to the man;"
Def- attacking a person’s habits, personality, or reputation;
Ex- "His argument must be false because people say he’s a liar."
3. Ad ignorantium (‘appeal to ignorance’): L. “to ignorance”
Def- arguing that if something hasn’t been proved false, then it must be true;
Ex- "U.F.Os must exist, because no one can prove that they don’t."
4. Ad populum (‘popularity appeal’): L. "to the people"
Def- appealing to the emotions and/or prejudices of a group;
Ex- "Everyone believes in global warming so it must be true."
5. Bulverism: (named for C.S. Lewis’s imaginary character: Ezekiel Bulver)
Def- attacking a person’s identity (race/gender/religion);
Ex- "You only think that because you’re a (man/woman; Black/White;
Catholic/Baptist; Democrat/Republican; Christian/Atheist; etc.)"
6. Chronological Snobbery (Ad annis: L. “to the years”)
Def- appealing to the age of something as proof or disproof of its truth;
Ex-"Sin and hell are so old-fashioned—how can you believe such antiquated
ideas? Today you should realize that you’ve got to believe in yourself.”
7. Ipse dixit (‘false authority’): L. "He said it himself"
Def- appealing to an illegitimate authority;
Ex- "Global warming must be true because the Vice President said so."
8. Red herring (‘changing the subject’):
Def- diverting attention; changing the subject to avoid the point of the argument;
Ex- "You can’t accuse our public schools of failing. That’s unpatriotic!"
9. Straw Man (‘misrepresentation’):
Def- misrepresenting the opponent's argument; exaggerating or oversimplifying
Ex- "Einstein's theory must be false! It makes everything relative--even truth!"
10. Tu quoque: L. "You also"
Def- defending yourself by attacking the opponent
Ex- "Who are you to condemn anyone? Do you claim to be perfect?"
B. Fallacies of Ambiguity
Def- confusing the argument by changing the emphasis in the sentence
Ex- “You said that you were IN FAVOR of the legislation!” “No, I said
I was in favor of legislation THAT WORKS!”
2. Amphiboly: [Gk. "to throw both ways"]
Def- confusing an argument by the grammar of the sentence;
Ex- "Croesus, you will destroy a great kingdom!" (your own!)
Def- assuming that what is true of the parts must be true of the whole;
Ex- "Chlorine is a poison; sodium is a poison; so NaCl must be a poison too;"
"Micro-evolution is true (change within species); so macro-evolution must be true
too (abiogenesis [life arising from non-life] and transmutation of species]."
Def- assuming that what is true of whole must be true of the parts;
Ex- "The Lakers are a great team, so every player must be great too."
Def- confusing the argument by using words with more than one definition;
Ex- "You are really hot on the computer, so you’d better go cool off."
C. Fallacies of Form
1. Apriorism (’hasty generalization’):
Def- leaping from one experience to a general conclusion;
Ex- "Willy was rude to me. Boys are so mean!"
2. Complex question (‘loaded question’):
Def- framing the question so as to force a single answer;
Ex- "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
3. Either/or (‘false dilemma’):
Def- limiting the possible answers to only two; oversimplification;
Ex- "If you think that, you must be either stupid or half-asleep."
4. Petitio principii (‘begging the question’; ‘circular reasoning’):
Def- assuming what must be proven;
Ex- "Rock music is better than classical music because classical music is not as good."
5. Post hoc ergo propter hoc (‘false cause’): "after this, therefore because of this;"
Def- assuming that a temporal sequence proves a causal relationship;
Ex- "I saw a great movie before my test; that must be why I did so well."