A logical fallacy is a flaw in reasoning. It’s a hole in logic. They’re used all the time in conversation when we try to argue a point. In the attempt to persuade someone it’s easy to slip in a logical fallacy here and there. We’ve all unknowingly used them. But that’s ok since we were never taught them in school.
Logical fallacies usually go unnoticed, since most people don’t have knowledge of them. The person using them often undeservingly wins the argument. Unless, of course, you’re there to point out that their argument is invalid.
Their use is particularly pervasive in the arena of media and government. After reading this article watch some lamestream tv and see how many you can spot, whether it’s in a political debate, the rhetoric of a newscaster, or on some mindless show like Oprah or Ellen.
We’re surrounded by those who don’t understand the process of logical reasoning. And since we don’t have the mental tools to dig ourselves out of this fallacious reasoning, when they’re used against us we lack the ability to defend ourselves from dialectical obfuscation and distortion of the facts.
Logical Fallacies are essential to understand to truly get to the bottom of something, to find out the real truth. There are hundreds, if not thousands of these fallacies. Their use is ubiquitous in society and leads to suffering in one way or another. We need to be able to guard ourselves from these false arguments whether they’re coming from your doctor, teacher, spouse, newscaster, or politician.
Nobody likes to be fooled but it happens all the time. We’re all victims of this dialectal trickery. If we are cognisant of the ways in which we can be fooled by studying logical fallacies, it goes without saying, it’s going to be much hard to get tricked next time around. It’s just like George W. Bush once so aptly put it.
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas, it’s probably in Tennessee, that says, fool me once, shame on….shame on you. And fool me… you can’t get fooled again!”
Ad hominem: (attack on the man)
An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attack on an argument made by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, rather than attacking the argument directly.
Tim pointed out that chemotherapy fails over 97% of the time according to a meta-analysis(a more accurate study based on a multitude of studies) published in the peer reviewed US National Library of Medicine. Sally argued that since Tim failed out of medical school, he doesn’t know crap.
Sally commits one of the most popular fallacies, the ad hominem, by attacking the man instead of the argument. Sally’s argument is invalid.
Appeal to Authority: (argumentum ad verecundiam)
(also known as: argument from authority, appeal to false authority, argument from false authority,etc)
Using an authority as evidence that your argument is correct.
Sally could have just as well pointed out that Tim is not a doctor. If she did, she’d be committing the appeal to authority fallacy. Conversely, if Tim made the conclusion that his argument is correct just because it is peer reviewed, he would also commit the same fallacy. It works both ways.
Strawman: (misrepresenting someone’s argument so it’s easy to tear down)
By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate. –yourlogicalfallacyis.com
False Dichotomy: (either or)
Also known as the black and white fallacy, the argument is presented with the position that there are only two possibilities of being correct.
Joe argues to Megan that Darwinian Evolution could not possibly be correct because of the missing link in the historical record. Megan laughs at Joe, calling him a creationist and that fact that Earth cannot possibly be only 6000 years old.
Red Herring: (beside the point)
Attempting to redirect the argument to another issue that to which the person doing the redirecting can better respond. –logically fallacious
Mike: It is morally wrong to cheat on your spouse, why on earth would you have done that?
Ken: But what is morality exactly?
Mike: It’s a code of conduct shared by cultures.
Ken: But who creates this code?…
Tu Quoque: (you too)
Pronounced too-kwo-kwee. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is also known as the appeal to hypocrisy. It is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off someone having to defend their argument, and instead shifts the focus back on to the person making the criticism.
Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy, but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation. –yourlogicalfallacyis.com
Appeal to Emotion:
Brenda argues to Mike why Europe must accept Syrian refugees. Fully engulfed in her pathological altruism and white guilt, she cites incidents like the Syrian toddler who washed up ashore. She mentions Europe’s past history of colonialism and Greece’s responsibility to house refugees because of the crimes committed by their ancestors.
In one of the recent debates HilLIARy used this same excuse and logical fallacy to justify mass third world immigration. Instead of thinking rationally about what they can do to improve their own countries, politicians like Hillary appeal to our emotions to sway political opinion.
The Fallacy Fallacy:
Just because someone uses a logical fallacy in their argument doesn’t mean their whole argument is invalid.
The fallacy fallacy is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is claimed that if an argument contains a logical fallacy, the proposition it was used to support is wrong. -RationalWiki
All great historical and philosophical arguments have probably been fallacious in some respect… If the argument is a single chain, and one link fails, the chain itself fails with it. But most historians’ arguments are not single chains. They are rather like a kind of chain mail which can fail in some part and still retain its shape and function. -David Hackett Fischer
Drawing a conclusion based on a small sample size, rather than looking at statistics that are much more in line with the typical or average situation.
My grandfather smoked cigarettes till he was 104. Smoking is not really bad for your health.
The Hitler Fallacy: (Association Fallacy)
Just because Hitler did something doesn’t mean it was evil. In fact he did many things which were the antithesis of evil, but because of political correctness it’s taboo to talk about them in public. Did I mention he was a vegetarian?
The National Socialists were the first to enact laws against animal cruelty. This doesn’t mean we should go beat our dogs up.
Post Hoc: (Correlation does not promise causation)
Post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) is a logical fallacy that states “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X. -wikipedia
Just because there were less cases of diphtheria after the vaccine was introduced does not mean it was the vaccine that caused the precipitous drop in the disease.
Fallacies are broken down into two categories: formal and informal. Formal fallacies are based strictly on the logical formation of an argument (deductive). Informal fallacies, which are the most commonly recognized and easiest to learn, take into account the non-logical content of an argument (inductive); are false for epistemological, dialectical or pragmatic reasons; and typically fall under three categories: relevance, presumption, ambiguity. -source
It’s vital we learn these methods of dialectical obfuscation. It is these logical fallacies that hold us back from progressing in our pursuit of the universal truth. But now, armed with this knowledge, we can finally get to the bottom of things.
The next time you suspect someone’s argument if flawed, not only can you now recognize their shortcomings in logic and reason, you can inform them of where they went wrong, and why their argument is completely and utterly invalid.