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C enter for A cademic E xcellence SmartSlides. Logical and Emotional Fallacies. Recognizing and Avoiding Untruth. ≠. Logical and Emotional Fallacies

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C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Center for AcademicExcellence


C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Logical and Emotional Fallacies

Recognizing and Avoiding Untruth

C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Logical and Emotional Fallacies

Fallacies are false or deceptive arguments that may seem persuasive but which do not withstand analysis. Those who make fallacious arguments are not necessarily trying to deceive, because fallacies are superficially convincing—however, they are ultimately illogical.

Academics have a responsibility to expose and to avoid fallacious reasoning.

C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Table of Contents

  • Ad Hominem Fallacy

  • Bandwagon Fallacy

  • Begging the Question

  • Biased Language

  • Deus Vult Fallacy

  • Either . . . or . . . Fallacy

  • Equivocation

  • False Analogy

  • Faulty Premise

  • Half Truth Fallacy

  • Hasty Generalization

  • Noble Effort Fallacy

  • Non Sequitur Fallacy

  • Post Hoc Fallacy

  • Questionable Authority Fallacy

  • Red Herring Fallacy

  • Slippery Slope Fallacy

  • Stereotyping

  • Straw Man Fallacy

  • Tu Quoque Fallacy

C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

Ad Hominem FallacyAgainst the Man

Besmirching a person’s reputation by directly attacking his character.

Example: President Obama is a socialist and a Muslim sympathizer who will not stand up for America; he makes our nation look weak and is not fit to be our Commander-in-Chief.

Return to Table of Contents

Bandwagon fallacy might is right preaching to the choir

Bandwagon FallacyMight is Right – Preaching to the Choir

Example: Ninety percent of those polled oppose gay marriage; we, too, must stand up for the sanctity and preservation of traditional marriage.

The idea that because everyone thinks so, it must be right.

Return to Table of Contents

Begging the question

A type of faulty premise, where the central premise is left unspoken.

Example: Condoms should not be distributed at schools. We don’t need to encourage sexual promiscuity.

Begging the Question

Giving students

condoms will make them promiscuous!

See also, Faulty Premise

Return to Table of Contents

Biased language name calling

Biased LanguageName-Calling

Using terms which unfairly label causes of which the speaker disapproves.

Example: Michael is a narrow-minded, Bible-thumping bigot whose opposition to abortion is as stupid as he is.

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Deus vult appeal to heaven

Deus VultAppeal to Heaven

Defending a position because God or some higher power wills it so.

Example: A pro-life supporter shoots a worker at an abortion clinic, because the message it sends serves the greater good and is therefore pleasing to God.

Return to Table of Contents

Either or fallacy oversimplification

Either . . . Or . . . FallacyOversimplification

The assertion that only two choices exist, when the options are, in fact, several.

Example: The war against terrorism is ineffective. Either we should increase our military presence in the middle east or pull out of the war altogether.

Return to Table of Contents

Equivocation concealing the truth mincing words

EquivocationConcealing the Truth, Mincing Words

Deliberately failing to define one’s terms, or using words differently from how they are generally understood.

Example: Bill Clinton emphatically insisting that he “didn’t have sex with that woman,” when the public took that to mean sexual contact of any sort, but where he meant penetration.

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False analogy comparing apples with oranges

False AnalogyComparing Apples with Oranges

Making a false comparison.

Example: Homosexuality, like murder and child molestation, is a pleasure of the flesh. We all know that murder and molestation are wrong; why do we question whether homosexuality is wrong?

Return to Table of Contents

Faulty premise

  • A syllogism, elements of which are questionable.

  • Example:

  • Women are bad drivers.

  • Marcy is a woman.

  • Marcy is a bad driver.

Faulty Premise

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Half truth card stacking incomplete information

Half TruthCard Stacking, Incomplete Information

Telling convenient truths but deliberately leaving out important information, so as to paint a brighter picture.

Example: A prominent local university’s billboard claims that “Ninety percent of our faculty have the highest degree in their field,” but fails to point out that this refers only to the 267 full-time faculty members, and not to the 272 adjuncts who hold only masters’ degrees.

Return to Table of Contents

Hasty generalization jumping to conclusions

Hasty GeneralizationJumping to Conclusions

A conclusion based on insufficient evidence or oversimplification.

Example: Because the test scores at the local high school are poor this year, you conclude that all of the teachers are sub par and send your own children to another high school. This fallacy is often recognized by the use of such absolute qualifiers as all, every, none, never, and completely.

Return to Table of Contents

Noble effort e for effort sob story

Noble Effort“E” for Effort, Sob Story

The claim that one deserves recognition for effort rather than for actual achievement.

Example: A student who has earned a “B” grade insists that she deserves an “A” and says to the instructor, “If you knew how hard I worked outside class, then you would know that I really deserve an ‘A.’”

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Non sequitur fallacy literally i t does not follow

Non Sequitur FallacyLiterally, “It does not follow.”

A false assumption, involving a missing claim that few would agree with.

Example: James speaks well; he would make a good politician.

Return to Table of Contents

Post hoc fallacy faulty cause and effect reasoning

Post Hoc FallacyFaulty Cause-and-Effect Reasoning

Just because two events occur in close proximity does not mean that one is necessarily related to the other.

Example: After President Clinton took office, the economy stabilized. Obviously the Clinton Administration’s fiscal policies were effective, and the upturn in the economy had nothing to do with years of effort by the prior Bush Administration.

Return to Table of Contents

Questionable authority false testimonial appeal to celebrity

Questionable AuthorityFalse Testimonial; Appeal to Celebrity

Where support for a position or product is provided by a well-known or respected figure who is not an expert and who has probably been paid or otherwise rewarded for the endorsement.

Example: Because Olympic gold-medalist, Usain Bolt, promotes Nike shoes, they must be good (in spite of the $5,000 he was paid for the 30-second endorsement and his lifetime supply of free Nikes).

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Red herring fallacy changing the subject throwing off the scent

Red Herring FallacyChanging the Subject – Throwing Off the Scent

Introducing irrelevant issues, so as to avoid the real ones.

Example: When questioned on his voting record, a political candidate instead discusses the ways in which he has been unfairly represented by his opponent(s).

Return to Table of Contents

Slippery slope fallacy the domino effect

Slippery Slope FallacyThe Domino Effect

Claiming that inevitable consequences must result from a decision.

Example: If we allow gay marriage, we are opening the floodgates of evil. Will there ever be any end in sight? Next the bigamists will want their relationships recognized, and then the polygamists; and finally those involved in incestuous relationships. Before long, people will want to be married to their pets. We must stand in opposition to this rampant evil of our time!

Return to Table of Contents

Stereotyping tarring with the same brush

StereotypingTarring with the Same Brush

A stereotype is a hasty generalization about a group or class of people.

Example: Because you have Chinese roommates in college who are slovenly, you conclude that all Chinese people must be just like them.

Return to Table of Contents

Straw man fallacy

Straw Man Fallacy

Misrepresenting opponents in oversimplified terms to discredit them.

Example: George Bush claims to be the Education President; in reality, he is a red neck who can’t even punctuate a sentence, let alone conjugate his verbs correctly. He graduated from college with a “C” average, for God’s sake!

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Tu quoque two wrongs make a right

Tu QuoqueTwo Wrongs Make a Right

Defending an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that the accusers are guilty of the same or worse.

Example: A politician accused of neglecting senior citizens points out that seniors in neighboring states are much worse off than in his own.

Return to Table of Contents

C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

The End

Artwork: Red Herring, by Kieran McGonnell

PowerPoint Presentation by Mark A. Spalding, BA, MEd, MA (2007)

C enter for a cademic e xcellence smartslides

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