Definition: Â a fallacy is a misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning in argumentation
I think in the world of logic, so a fallacy is a very important concept to understand to defeat illogical arguments. Â Let us begin.
Ad Hominem: Â a claim is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the person presenting the argument.
Bill: “I believe that gay marriage is a right.”
Dave: “Of course you would say that, you’re gay.”
Bill: “What about the arguments I gave to support my position?”
Dave: “Those don’t count. Like I said, you’re gay, so you have to say that gay marriage is a right. Further, you are just a lackey to the gay agenda, so I can’t believe what you say.”
Ad Hominem Tu Quoque: Â a person’s claim is false because 1) it is inconsistent with something else a person has said or 2) what a person says is inconsistent with her actions
Jill: “I think the gay marriage bill should be supported because it is the right thing and will earn the government money.”
Bill: “Well, just last month you opposed the bill.”
Jill: Â ”But I changed my mind based on conversations with LGBT friends.”
Bill: Â ”You were certain the first time. Â So you’re wrong now.”
Appeal to Authority: Â the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject
Bill: “I believe that gay marriage is morally acceptable. After all, any human should have the right to marry.”
Jane: “I disagree completely. Anita Bryant says that gay marriage is always morally wrong, regardless of the situation. Â She has to be right, after all, she is a respected expert in her field.”
Bill: “Wait, Anita Bryant. Who is she again?”
Jane: “She’s the woman that had 11 songs on the US Hot 100.”
Bill: “I see. Â Does she have any expertise in morality or ethics?”
Jane: “I don’t know. Â But she’s a world famous singer, so I believe her.”
Appeal to belief: Â Â the fact that many people believe a claim does not, in general, serve as evidence that the claim is true
Gay marriage is wrong. Â After all, I just saw a poll that says 52% of all Americans believe gay adoption is wrong.
Appeal to Common Practice: Â Â the mere fact that most people do something does not make it correct, moral, justified, or reasonable
“Sure, some people buy into that equality crap. Â However, we know that everyone pays gays less then straights. Â It’s okay, too. Â Since everyone does it, it can’t really be wrong.”
Appeal to Consequences of a Belief: Â X is true because if people did not accept X as being true then there would be negative consequences
“God must believe gay adoption is wrong! Â If God did not believe that, then all basis for morality would be lost and the world would be a horrible place!”
Appeal to Emotion: Â someone manipulates peoples’ emotions in order to get them to accept a claim as being true
“You must believe that gay marriage is wrong. Â After all, if you do not accept the belief of God, then you will face the horrors of hell.”
Appeal to Tradition: Â Â it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or “always has been done.”
Sure I believe in God. People have believed in God for thousands of years so it seems clear that God must exist. After all, why else would the belief last so long?
Bandwagon: Â a threat of rejection by one’s peers (or peer pressure) is substituted for evidence in an “argument.”
Bill thinks that gay marriage is positive in most circumstances. His friends in the Young Republicans taunt him every time he makes his views known. He accepts their views in order to avoid rejection.
Begging the Question: Â Â the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true
“If gay adoptions were not illegal, then they would not be prohibited by the law.”
Biased Sample: Â a person draws a conclusion about a population based on a sample that is biased or prejudiced in some manner
The National Organization of Marriage decide to run a poll to determine what Americans think about gay marriage. Jane is assigned the task of setting up the study. To save mailing costs, she includes the survey form in the group’s newsletter mailing. She is very pleased to find out that 95% of those surveyed oppose gay marriage laws and she tells her friends that the vast majority of Americans oppose gay marriages.
Burden of Proof (Appeal to Ignorance): Â lack of evidence for side A is taken to be evidence for side B in cases in which the burden of proof actually rests on side B
Bill: “Gay marriages ruin the foundation of traditional marriage.”
Jill: “What is your proof?”
Bill: “No one has been able to prove that gay marriages do not ruin traditional marriage.”
Circumstantial Ad Hominem: Â one attempts to attack a claim by asserting that the person making the claim is making it simply out of self interest
“She asserts that the health of children is positively impacted with the approval of gay adoptions and gay marriages, but obviously she is only saying that because she is a lesbian.”
Composition: Â a conclusion is drawn about a whole based on the features of its constituents when, in fact, no justification provided for the inference
“A gentleman by the name of Sam cares more about fashion than charity, drinks inordinate amount of alcohol, and goes to gay clubs every weekend. Â I can list these traits about multiple men. Â Gay men do not make good parents!”
or, my favorite:
“Gays are the mostÂ susceptibleÂ to getting HIV, therefore God hates homosexuality.” Â [Leigh's note: Â does that make lesbians closest to God since they are significantly less susceptible to get HIV than even heterosexual couples?]
Genetic fallacy: Â a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself
“Sure, the media claims that children of gay parents are psychologically and emotionally no different than children of heterosexual couples. But we all know about the media’s credibility, don’t we?”
Hasty Generalization: Â a person draws a conclusion about a population based on a sample that is not large enough
“I asked some gay men on the bus talk about how they hate children and how they would never want any. Â It’s a wonder why the homosexual community would fight for gay adoption when they all hate children!”
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc: Â it is concluded that one event causes another simply because the proposed cause occurred before the proposed effect
Will & Grace came out in the 1990′s. Â There have been more self-identified gays and lesbians in the 1990′s than in any previous decade. Â Therefore, Will & Grace caused more people to identify as gay and lesbian.
Red Herring: Â an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue
“We admit that this measure by Democrats is popular. But we also urge you to note that there are so many gay issues on this ballot that the whole thing is getting ridiculous.”
Slippery Slope: Â a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question
“We have to stop gay marriage! The next thing you know, they’ll be requiring bestiality!”
Straw Man: Â a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position
“Senator Jones says that we should vote for the gay adoption measure. Â I disagree entirely. Â I can’t understand why he wants to leave our children stranded, confused, and less healthy.”
Thanks toÂ Dr. Michael C. Labossiere for his list of common fallacies.