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Logical Fallacies. How people try to use logic to confuse and trick you!. Logical Fallacies are considered propaganda. Propaganda is the manipulation and control of language. It transmits more than one message, depending on what the recipient wishes to hear or is told to hear.

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logical fallacies

Logical Fallacies

How people try to use logic to confuse and trick you!


Logical Fallacies are considered propaganda.

  • Propaganda is the manipulation and control of language.
  • It transmits more than one message, depending on what the recipient wishes to hear or is told to hear.
  • Somerequired elements for propaganda:
    • Supporters: The masses must be behind the leader and feel that his or her new ideas will make a real difference in their lives.
    • Ignorance of followers: It’s important that the followers and supporters of the leader not be too educated. They must follow blindly and without question.
    • Scapegoat: There must be someone or something to blame for all of the bad conditions the leader wants to eradicate. Usually, it is the leadership in current power. Later, any problems which arise can be blamed on the scapegoat.
common logical fallacies

1. Hasty Generalization: The writer bases the argument on insufficient or unrepresentative evidence, or an isolated example.

  • Example: You have owned two poodles, and they have both attacked you. If you declare that all poodles are vicious dogs, you are making a hasty generalization.
  • Example: “My opponent seems to be an inconsiderate person.” Does the speaker offer examples or evidence to support this claim?

2. Non Sequitur (“it doesn’t follow”): The writer’s conclusion is not necessarily a logical result of the facts.

  • Example: When you conclude “Tony Hawk is a great skateboarder, so he will be an excellent skateboard teacher” this is a non sequitur. Just because someone knows how to do something well does not automatically mean that he or she can teach it well.
common logical fallacies1

3. Begging the Question (also known as circular reasoning): The writer presents as truth what is supposed to be proven by the argument (assumes point is already accepted as a fact) .

  • Example: In the statement “All useless laws such as Reform Bill 13 should be repealed,” the writer has already pronounced the bill useless without assuming responsibility for proving that it is useless.

4. Red Herring: The writer introduces an irrelevant point to divert the readers’ attention from the main issue. This term originates from the old tactic used by escaped prisoners, of dragging a smoked herring, a strong-smelling fish, across their trail to confuse tracking dogs by making them follow the wrong scent.

  • Example: Roommate A might be criticizing roommate B for his or her repeated failure to do the dishes when it was his or her turn. To escape facing the charges, roommate B brings up times in the past when roommate A failed to repay some money he or she borrowed. Even though this could be a problem, it is not relevant to the original argument.
common logical fallacies2

5. Argument Ad Hominem (“To the man”): The writer attacks the opponent’s character rather than the opponent’s argument.

  • Example: The statement “Dr. Bloom can’t be a competent marriage counselor because she’s been divorced” may not be valid. Bloom’s advice to her clients may be excellent regardless of her own marital status.
  • Example: calling members of the National Rifle Association “trigger happy,” drawing attention away from their concerns about the Second Amendment Rights.

6. Argument Ad Populum (“To the people”): The writer evades the issues by appealing to reader’s emotional reactions to certain subjects. Instead of arguing the facts of an issue, the writer might play on the readers’ responses to certain ideas or words. The writer uses words such as “communism,” “fascism,” or “radical” to get a negative response from a reader and use words such as “God,” “country,” or “liberty” to get a positive response from a reader. The idea being to compliment people, making them feel important , intelligent or good.

  • Example: “If you are a true American, you will vote against the referendum on flag burning,” is a statement where the writer avoids discussion of the merits or weaknesses of the bill and merely substitutes an emotional appeal.
common logical fallacies3

7. Either/or: The writer tries to convince the readers that there are only two sides to an issue – one right, one wrong.

  • Example: The classic 1960’s bumper sticker that was popular during the debate over the Vietnam War is an example of this: “America: Love It or Leave It.” Obviously, there are other choices.

8. Hypostatization: The writer uses an abstract concept as if it were a concrete reality.

  • Example: “History has always taught us . . .” or “Science has proven . . .” or “Research has discovered . . . .” The implication in each case is that history or science (or any other discipline) has only one opinion which is an incorrect assumption.
common logical fallacies4

9. Bandwagon Appeal: The writer tries to validate a point by intimating that “everyone else believes in this.” Such a tactic evades discussion of the issue itself.

  • Example: Advertising often uses this technique: “Discriminating women use Smacky-Mouth lipstick.” A recent Colorado bumper sticker says “Eat lamb – could 1000’s of coyotes be wrong?”
  • Example: “Join the rest of the nation in our goal to keep America great, and vote for me.” Does joining everyone make it a good idea?

10. Card Stacking: This term comes from stacking a deck of cards in your favor. Card stacking is used to slant a message. Key words or unfavorable statistics may be omitted in an ad or commercial, leading to a series of half-truths.

  • Example: “I introduced more bills into Congress than anyone else.” How successful were the bills? How many passed? The speaker might leave out failures.
common logical fallacies5

11. Faulty Analogy: The writer uses an extended comparison as proof of a point. Look closely at all extended comparisons and metaphors to see if the two things being compared are really similar. Although a compelling analogy might suggest similarities, it alone cannot prove anything.

  • Example: In a recent editorial a woman bemoaned laws requiring small children to sit in car seats saying that lawmakers could just as easily require mothers to breastfeed instead of using formula. Are the two situations really alike?

12. Quick Fix: The writer leans too heavily on catchy phrases or empty slogans. A clever turn-of-phrase may grab one’s attention, but it may lose its persuasiveness when scrutinized closely.

  • Example: A banner at a recent rally to protest a piece of antigun legislation read, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Although the sentence had nice balance, it oversimplified the issue.
common logical fallacies6

13. Faulty Cause / Effect: A cause and effect relationship that might not be true.

  • Example: “When I took office, the unemployment rate dropped to four percent.” Listeners should question whether the rate dropped because of the person in office or other factors beyond the person’s control. Did that person actually cause the rate to drop?
10 propaganda techniques to catch on the fly look for these elements in advertisements
10 propaganda techniques to catch on the fly…look for these elements in advertisements!

1. Repetition: Repeat, repeat, repeat

2. Nostalgia: Forget the bad parts of the past; only remember the good.

3. Beautiful People: Use good-looking models in ads to suggest that we’ll look like the models if we buy the product.

4. Bandwagon: Everybody is doing it!

5. Scientific Evidence: Use the paraphernalia of science (charts, graphs, etc.) to “prove” something.

6. Maybe: Exaggerated or outrageous claims are commonly preceded by “maybe,” “might,” or “could.”

7. Symbols: Designs, places, music, etc. , symbolizing tradition, nationalism, power, religion, sex, family, or any concept with emotional concept.

8. Testimonials: Use famous people to sell a product (voice-overs).

9. Humor: Make them laugh to persuade.

10. Name-calling: Direct or Indirect, audiences love it.

what is the motive behind the appeal why do we fall for the appeal
What is the motive behind the appeal? Why do we fall for the appeal?

1. Self-preservation: desire to survive, need of food, clothing, shelter, oxygen, and rest. Security and safety… free from worries.

2. Pride: feeling of personal worth and accomplishment. Work hard, build morale and win approval.

3. Personal Enjoyment: desire for beauty, comfort, and recreation.

4. Love and Affection: need to give and receive love, to have friends, close family ties, to promote common good.

5. Acquisition and Saving: appeal to the pocketbook, to a desire for ownership.

6. Adventure and Curiosity: need for exploration, reading, watching, daydreaming.

7. Loyalty: faithfulness to nation (patriotism), school (school spirit), city and friends and family.

8. Imitation: need to conform with dress, hair styles, slang, actions, motivated by imitation of hero or movie star.

9. Reverence: desire to “look up” to someone; hero worship, tradition, worship or supreme being.

10. Creating: urge to invent, build, make, plant, paint, organize, etc.

now it s your turn
Now It’s Your Turn!
  • Work with your partner next to you, and…
  • Create a topic (see examples below)
      • War
      • School Lunches
      • Athletics in school
      • Religion in government
  • Develop a stance/claim
  • Ex. of developing a claim:
    • School Lunches = Students should be allowed to go off campus for lunch.
  • Write a statement for EACH of the 13 logical fallacies for your claim (yes you must do ALL 13 logical fallacies).
  • Logical Fallacy: When students are allowed to go off campus, their grades improve.