Thursday, February 19, 2009

Logical Fallacies for Dummies

A simple dumbed down version of the 10 most common logical fallacies.

1. Argument to the Person: Rather than using actual facts to provide for your arguments, you say the person is dumb. (Ex: "Your argument is bad because you are stupid."

Problem with example: Rather than using facts that disprove a person's argument, the author chooses to attack the person rather than his facts.

2. Circular Resoning: Restating the claim rather than proving it. (Ex: "A rubber tire is made of rubber."

Problem with example: We know that a rubber tire is made from rubber, duh.

3. Hasty Generalization: Trying to figure out what a problem is while using little evidence. (Ex: My roomate got tired playing basketball, therefore he is overweight.")

Problem with example: You don't know whether they have been playing for five minutes or five hours, how intense my roomate played, wheter the game was physical or not, etc.

4. False Cause: Assuming that since B followed A, A caused B. (Ex. The TV broke after my sister turned it on, therefore my sister broke the TV.

Problem with example: The TV could have been old and it's time was up, heck maybe it's unplugged?

5. Either/or: Saying you have only two options. (Ex: You can either drive a Ford or a Chevrolet.)

Problem with example: There aren't just two car makes out there. You could drive a Toyota, Nissan, Dodge, Suburu, and others.

6. Red Herring: Bringing up a topic that doesn't have anything to do with the main point. (Ex: The Daytona 500 was a great race last week, I had eaten so much that I was stuffed.)

Problem with statement: What does what I'm eating have to do with the Daytona 500 race. Nothing since it didn't affect the race, so me eating is irrelevent to the race.

7. Slippery Slope: Assuming one event will start a chain reaction. (Ex: If the professor doesn't come to class, then he will be fired and we will get a bad replacement professor and everyone will fail.)

Problem with example: The professor could be sick, maybe the replacement is good, and everyone won't fail.

8. False Comparison: Comparint two things that are too diffrent. (Ex. Saying NASCAR doesn't need a playoff is like rewarding the New England Patriots the Championship with a 16-0 record.)

Problem with example: NASCAR and Football are two completely diffrent sports, therefore you can't judge how each determine a champion.

9. Non sequitor: Having data that doesn't support a conclusion. (Ex: My tires are flat, therefore my car won't start.)

Problem with example: Will the engine crank when you turn the key? Just because your tires are flat doesn't mean your car won't start. You may not be able to drive it though.

10. Bandwagon: Claiming the popularity of an idea makes it good. (Ex: A lot of people I know own an Xbox 360, so I guess I should buy one.)

Problem with example: So everyone having an Xbox 360 automatically makes it better? What if the person likes the games better on the Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii.

Basically, you've gotta think critically about what's being said and ask questions.

I've posted this hear to help you guys out.



  1. Just making sure I understand before I claim understanding.

  2. You left out the most used fallacy, bare assertion.