Fallacies

Fallacies refer to the ways seeming logical arguments can be false or incorrect. Fallacies have been understood for a long time, and they have names and definitions. Many have a Latin name as well as being known using standard English terms. Learning the names of particular fallacies helps us more readily spot them, and helps us be more precise with others when trying to point out a given fallacy.

 

Scrollbar, Popup, and Listing of different types of Fallacies

More about Fallacies |  Useful Sites for better understanding fallacies | Test Yourself to improve your understanding: Fallacies -> Name that Fallacy ; Fallacies -> Choose a Definition ; Fallacies -> Matching Names to Definitions 1 ; Fallacies -> Matching Names to Definitions 2 ; Fallacies -> Quiz and Test Yourself Sites

 

Scrollbar Listing of different types of Fallacies

There are many many more. Scroll through here, see the listing link below, or follow the links to other websites provided.

 

[Note that you can navigate through these fallacies or hold the screen for a given fallacy by hovering over it.]

 

Popup Listing of different types of Fallacies

Click on any given Fallacy name below to see a pop up of its definition. Use this is a learning tool by seeing if you can remember the gist of the definition before popping it up.

 

| Using Popups

| The Fallacy of Accident | The Fallacy of Amphiboly | The Fallacy of Argument By Selective Observation | The Fallacy “Ad Hominem”, Argument To The Man | Appeal to Authority | An Appeal to Consequence | The Fallacy of Appeal to Emotions | The Fallacy of Appeal to Human Nature | The Fallacy of Ad ignorantiam, an Appeal to Ignorance | The Fallacy of Appeal to Money | The Fallacy of Appeal to the People, Ad Populum | The Fallacy of Appeal to Ridicule or Mockery | The Fallacy of an Appeal to Silence | The Fallacy of Appeal to Vanity | The Fallacy of Assuming the Antecedent | The Fallacy of Avoiding the Issue | The Fallacy of Changing the Goalpost | Circular reasoning | Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc | Fallacies of Composition and Division | The Fallacy of Confusing an Explanation with an Excuse | Fallacy of the Continuum | The Fallacy of Distortion | The Domino Fallacy | The Fallacy of the Dope Pusher's Defense | The Fallacy of Double Standards | The Fallacy of Emphasis or Accent | The Fallacy of Equivocation | The Fallacy of the Excluded Middle | The Fallacy of False Analogy | The Fallacy of False Balance | The Fallacy of False Continuum | The Fallacy of False Precision | The Fallacy Argumentum ad Logicam | The Gambler’s Fallacy | The Fallacy of Group Identity | The Fallacy of Guilt by Association | A Hasty Generalization | The Hindsight Fallacy | The Fallacy of Hypostatization | The Loaded Question Fallacy | The Fallacy of Moderation, or Fallacy of the Middle Ground | The Fallacy of Poisoning the Well | The Fallacy of Positive Ad Hominem | Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc | The Prosecutor’s Fallacy | The Fallacy of Rationalization | The Sharpshooter Fallacy | The Fallacy of Single Cause | The Slippery Slope Fallacy | The Spotlight Fallacy | The Fallacy of Style Over Substance | Fallacy of Appeal to Traditional Wisdom | The Fallacy of Tu Quoque | The Fallacy of the Unexplained | The Victim Fallacy | Ignoratio elenchi |

 

 

More About Fallacies

Fallacies are commonplace, but can be difficult to spot. They are particularly difficult to spot when spoken. If someone’s logic in support of an argument appears to be flawed, then it probably is. If it is important to you that you understand whether or not a given argument is valid, then get it written down, simplify it as much as you can to reduce it to its essential form, and then check it for fallacies.

Note that the fallacy relates to whether or not the argument itself is valid or reasonable, in that the premises can reasonably be considered to lead to the conclusion. It does not relate to whether or not the conclusion itself is true or false. Just because there is a fallacy in an argument this does not necessarily mean the conclusion itself is false.

Understanding fallacies, being able to avoid them in your own thinking, and being able to recognize them in others, is an important enabler to the effective application of Common Sense.

Given above are most of the common Fallacies, and the Useful Sites below have many more examples.

You are encouraged to look through the Fallacies and make the effort to remember them: use the Popup regularly. You are also strongly encouraged to try the quizzes, both those given on this site and through the links, and to keep repeating them on a regular basis. And, when you come across fallacies in your daily life, as you regularly will, seek to try to find out the name for them. Make it a challenge to yourself to do so.

 

Useful Sites for better understanding fallacies

 

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/taxonomy.html

A large collection of information about fallacies.

 

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

Very good description of most fallacies together with examples.

 

http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

A list of over 200 fallacies together with a bit of a philosophical discussion about fallacies and the term ‘fallacy’.

 

Quiz/Tests

Fallacies -> Name that Fallacy

Fallacies -> Choose a Definition

Fallacies -> Matching Names to Definitions 1

Fallacies -> Matching Names to Definitions 2

Fallacies -> Quiz and Test Yourself Sites

 

Reminder on taking tests: It’s not about trying to prove you already know it, it’s about learning. Thus keep coming back and redoing the tests.

 

Fallacies -> Name that Fallacy

Question Name.1

If I don’t do it, someone else will.

a. Circular Reasoning
b. Dope Pushers Defense
c. Fallacy of False Analogy

 

Question Name.2

If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.

a. Fallacy of False Continuum
b. Fallacy of Single Cause
c. Fallacy of the Excluded Middle

 

Question Name.3

Whereby a possible explanation is taken as though it is the only explanation; usually because it is of benefit to whoever chooses to believe it.

a. Hindsight Fallacy
b. Rationalisation
c. The Fallacy of False Balance

 

Question Name.4

Birds can fly. Penguins are birds. So penguins can fly.

a. Fallacy of Accident
b. Fallacy of False Analogy
c. Fallacy of Equivocation

 

Question Name.5

The use a word or phrase to mean one thing in an earlier part of an argument, and then later in the argument use it to mean something different.

a. Hindsight Fallacy
b. Fallacy of False Analogy
c. Fallacy of Equivocation

 

Question Name.6

The assumption that the middle position between two extremes must be right.

a. The Fallacy of False Balance
b. Fallacy of the Middle Ground
c. Fallacy of False Precision

 

Question Name.7

The assumption that because we find a fallacy in an argument that the conclusion is therefore false.

a. Fallacy of Assuming the Antecedent
b. Fallacy of False Precision
c. Fallacist’s Fallacy

 

Question Name.8

The idea that because there is no definitive demarcation line between two extremes, that the distinction between the extremes is not real or meaningful.

a. Fallacy of False Continuum
b. Fallacy of the Excluded Middle
c. Fallacy of False Precision

 

Question Name.9

He is a well-known cheat and liar. Therefore what he says is not true.

a. Argument To The Man
b. Fallacy of Assuming the Antecedent
c. Appeal to Ignorance

 

Question Name.10

The implicit assumption that all members of a group exhibit the same characteristics as a few prominent members.

a. A Fallacy of Appeal to the People
b. Hasty Generalization
c. Spotlight fallacy.

 

Fallacies -> Choose a Definition

Question Defn.1

Fallacy of False Continuum.

a. An argument that because there is a fuzzy line between cults and religion, therefore they are really the same thing.
b. The assumption that the middle position between two extremes must be right.
c. The view that something is true because it is what most people believe.

 

Question Defn.2

Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

a. A occurred then B occurred, therefore A caused B.
b. Judging past circumstances based upon information only known afterwards.
c. Blaming foreigners, or gypsies, or people with funny accents for all sorts of things simply because they are there.

 

Question Defn.3

Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc

a. Judging past circumstances based upon information only known afterwards.
b. A occurred then B occurred, therefore A caused B.
c. Birds can fly. Penguins are birds. So penguins can fly.

 

Question Defn.4

Fallacies of Composition and Division

a. The economy is improving therefore everyone is better off.
b. Some scientists believe man is responsible for climate change and some don’t. Therefore there is no good reason for believing in it.
c. Birds can fly. Penguins are birds. So penguins can fly.

 

Question Defn.5

Circular Reasoning

a. Women shouldn’t fight bulls because a bullfighter is and should be a man.
b. If I don’t do it, someone else will.
c. The view that something is true because it is what most people believe.

 

Question Defn.6

Fallacy of Single Cause

a. A occurred then B occurred, therefore A caused B.
b. Whereby a possible explanation is taken as though it is the only explanation.
c. Children are overweight because of junk food restaurants close to schools.

 

Question Defn.7

Fallacy of Accident

a. The belief that after a run of heads when a coin is flipped it is then more likely there will be a tail next time in order to ‘even out the odds’.
b. Where we identify something in common between two things and then assume other things will also be common, without any particular evidence to justify it.
c. Birds can fly. Penguins are birds. So penguins can fly.

 

Question Defn.8

Spotlight Fallacy

a. Where we identify something in common between two things and then assume other things will also be common, without any particular evidence to justify it.
b. ‘As everyone knows …’, or ‘Obviously …’
c. The implicit assumption that all members of a group exhibit the same characteristics as a few prominent members.

 

Fallacies -> Matching Names to Definitions 1

Test your ability to recognise different biases with the following Quiz, with each fallacy being from the following list:

Fallacy of the Excluded Middle / Assuming the Antecedent / Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc / Fallacies of Composition and Division / Fallacy of Single Cause / Dope Pushers Defense / Ad Hominem / Fallacy of Accident / Ad Ignorantiam / Fallacy of False Balance / Fallacist’s Fallacy / Ad Populum / Circular Reasoning

(Note: to be marked correct you need to enter your answer exactly as given in the above list.)

 

Question MatchnA.1

He is a well-known cheat and liar. Therefore when he says someone lurking about outside it is clearly not true.

 

Question MatchnA.2

Birds can fly. Penguins are birds. So penguins can fly.

 

Question MatchnA.3

No one has objected to the proposal despite it having been on the notice board for the past week, therefore nobody is against the proposal and we should proceed.

 

Question MatchnA.4

‘As everyone knows …’, or ‘Obviously …’

 

Question MatchnA.5

Blaming foreigners, or gypsies, or people with funny accents for all sorts of things simply because they are there.

 

Question MatchnA.6

The economy is improving therefore everyone is better off; each member of the team is an expert therefore the output from the team will be brilliant; some people are abusing some particular system therefore the system should be scrapped.

 

Question MatchnA.7

If I don’t do it, someone else will.

 

Question MatchnA.8

If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.

 

Question MatchnA.9

There are different views therefore all views are equally valid. Some scientists believe man is responsible for climate change and some don’t. Therefore there is no good reason for believing in it.

 

Question MatchnA.10

The assumption that because we find a fallacy in an argument that the conclusion is therefore false.

 

Question MatchnA.11

The view that something is true because it is what most people believe.

 

Question MatchnA.12

The argument that women shouldn’t fight bulls because a bullfighter is and should be a man.

 

Question MatchnA.13

Where it is assumed there must be a particular cause to a given outcome rather than accepting there may be a combination of multiple causes, no one on its own which would have brought about the outcome. Children are overweight because of junk food restaurants close to schools.

 

Fallacies -> Matching Names to Definitions 2

Test your ability to recognise different biases with the following Quiz, with each fallacy being from the following list:

Gambler’s Fallacy / Fallacy of Equivocation / Hindsight Fallacy / Fallacy of the Middle Ground / Fallacy of the Unexplained / Rationalisation. / Spotlight Fallacy / Hasty Generalization / The Fallacy of Argument By Selective Observation / Fallacy of False Analogy / Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc / Fallacy of False Precision / Fallacy of False Continuum / Loaded Question Fallacy

(Note: to be marked correct you need to enter your answer exactly as given in the above list.)

 

Question MatchnB.1

Because something is unexplained then it is inexplicable.

 

Question MatchnB.2

Where we count the hits and forget the misses. For example when someone talks about what a bad state the world is in, as a result of them paying attention to all the bad news but ignoring the good news.

 

Question MatchnB.3

The use a word or phrase to mean one thing in an earlier part of an argument, and then later in the argument use it to mean something different.

 

Question MatchnB.4

Where we identify something in common between two things and then assume other things will also be common, without any particular evidence to justify it.

 

Question MatchnB.5

The idea that because there is no definitive demarcation line between two extremes, that the distinction between the extremes is not real or meaningful. Thus someone might argue that there is a fuzzy line between cults and religion, therefore they are really the same thing.

 

Question MatchnB.6

When information is treated as being more accurate than it really is. For example if a measurement estimate for item A is x and that for item B is x+1, then item B may be assumed to have a measurement value greater than item A. However if the accuracy of the measurements is only +/- 5, then there is a significant possibility that this is not true.

 

Question MatchnB.7

The belief that future chance events are influenced by the outcomes of previous events. Thus a run of heads when a coin is flipped is viewed as meaning it is more likely there will be a tail next time in order to ‘even out the odds’.

 

Question MatchnB.8

Taking a few instances, often personal experiences, as the basis for a general rule.

 

Question MatchnB.9

Judging past circumstances based upon information only known afterwards.

 

Question MatchnB.10

Where the question contains an unjustified assumption, such as: ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’

 

Question MatchnB.11

The assumption that the middle position between two extremes must be right.

 

Question MatchnB.12

A occurred then B occurred, therefore A caused B.

 

Question MatchnB.13

Whereby a possible explanation is taken as though it is the only explanation; usually because it is of benefit to whoever chooses to believe it.

 

Question MatchnB.14

The implicit assumption that all members of a group exhibit the same characteristics as a few prominent members.

 

Cognitive Biases -> Quiz and Test Yourself Sites

All of the following sites have also got quizzes and tests you can use to improve and test your understanding of fallacies.

http://www.funtrivia.com/playquiz/quiz2814762039ae8.html: A quiz on fallacies.

http://highered.mheducation.com/sites/0073513474/student_view0/appendix_three/additional_practice__recognizing_fallacies.html: Yet more practice. Note that there are a number of pages of tests under ‘Appendix Three’.

http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/quizzes.html: Fallacy quizzes and also lots more general philosophy concepts including logic in general.

 

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