1. Post #1
    Slippery-Q's Avatar
    November 2009
    1,193 Posts
    This isn't a debate, but is directly tied in with the subject matter. Think of it more as a guide?

    Logical fallacies are concepts in arguments or debates that are undeniably false in logic, and therefore renders the entire argument as false. I see this used a lot, and I'm completely certain that I use them a lot as well, but I feel having this should help both me and the community to an extent in future debates.

    I'm giving a list of falacies with a (hopefully) simple description, and an example.

    Ad Hominem- I see this one a lot. An Ad Hominem argument is any that involves attacking the person instead of addressing the issues brought up by that person. In essence, this is a technical term for flaming. An example would be to say that any wrestling fan is an idiot for believing that the whole thing is staged, even if the person they're attacking stated that they don't actually think wrestling is real.

    Ad Ignorantum- Essentially, this is an argument stating that something must be true simply for the fact that it hasn't been proven to be false. For instance, there has never been conclusive evidence that aliens don't exist, therefore aliens must exist.

    Argument from Authority- Someone in high authority has said something is true/false, therefore it must be right. People use this while overlooking the fact that a claim's validity should be based on logic or experience, not the authority of the person saying the claim. An example would be stating Stem Cell Research is bad because the president says it's bad.

    Argument from Final Consequences (or telelogical arguments): This argument reverses cause and effect, by stating that something is caused due to something's effect. For example, God must exist, otherwise life wouldn't exist.

    Argument from Personal Incredulity- You believe a claim is false due to the fact that you personally do not understand or comprehend it. For example, you say that you can't imagine the govercnment taking part in the 9/11 attacks, and you therefore disregard it as false.

    Confusion of "Currently Unexplained" and "Unexplainable"- This is a widely used fallacy, that states that the fact that something can't be explained currently means that it never will be explained. A good example would be "Acts of God", or odd phenomena (living through a very dangerous disease with no treatment) that occur seemingly for no reason, and the lack of an explaination means that God must have caused it.

    False Continuum- States that the lack of a clear distinction between two things means that they are the same thing. For instance, there isn't a huge different between In The Groove and Dance Dance Revolution, so the two games must be the exact same thing.

    False Dichotomy- The act of simplifying a set of many possibilities to two black and white extremes. An example is that either God exists, or we wouldn't exist (throwing out other possibilities).

    Inconsistancy- Essentially, just being a hypocrite falls under this. You are applying a set of rules or standards to one claim, argument or belief while disregarding others. I don't have an example for this one, but it's pretty self explanitory.

    The Moving Goalpost- Purposely moving the acceptable amount of evidence required for "proof" of a claim or belief outside of the range of current evidence. An example would be to deny certain facts and evidence that 9/11 wasn't caused by the government simply because a few other things haven't been explained

    Non-Sequitur- Also meaning "Doesn't Follow" in latin, this is basically saying that one thing proves another completely irrelevant claim or belief. For instance, stating that we exist is proof that God exists (the fact that we exist proves nothing of the existance of a deity)

    Post-hoc ergo propter hoc- This is stating that A came before B, therefore they must be related. This would be like stating that a user created a thread, and then the forum crashed, therefore that thread created the crash.

    Cum Hoc ergo Propter Hoc- Pretty much the same as the above scenerio, but A comes at the same time as B, therefore A caused B.

    Reductio ad absurdum- The act of stretching the argument to extremes to prove a point. This would be like saying people who don't believe in God also can't believe in The Great Wall of China, since they haven't seen either of them.

    Slippery Slope- This insists that a position cannot be accepted because the extremes of that position must also be accepted. This is like stating that anyone who believes 9/11 was a conspiracy must also believe that anything else the government does is a conspiracy in some way. Essentially an "everything or nothing" belief.

    Straw Man- Instead of arguing against your opponent's points, you instead create a scenerio within your opponent's argument to specificially make it easier to argue against. This happens everywhere; pointing out someone's statement to make it seem like they're contradicting themself, attacking a weak opponent and assuming they are the voice of the majority, etc.

    Special pleading- This is the act of adding unrelated or unprovable claims to an argument to make your argument sound more valid. This can be taken to extremes, basically just to refuse to acknowledge the other person's factual evidence. An example would be explaining that ESP has not been conclusively tested in a controlled environment because ESP does not occur during testing, it only happens naturally.

    Tautology- This is an illogical circle of arguments that basically goes A = B, therefore A = B. This would be like explaining why something happens, and then giving the definition of the occurance as it's reasoning.

    Tu quoque- Essentially arguing that the fact that one person might be wrong gives way for the possibility for other people to be wrong. Although this can be true, and usually is, it is irrelevant in argument. An example is arguing that one might be incorrect about Creationism, but for that reason Evolution is just as faulty.

    Ignoratio elenchi- An argument whose conclusion has nothing to do with the premises. This would be like arguing that you shouldn't get a ticket for speeding, because there are rapists and murderers that the cops should be chasing, disregarding the fact that just because there are other criminals out there does not affect your breaking of the law.

    Ad populum- Attempting to pursuade your opponent by saying that the majority of people think the way you do, without providing logic or evidence. An example is stating that marijuana should be illegal because most people think it's bad.

    Petitio Principii- This is the act of using evidence that requires you to accept what you're arguing against as true. A common example is disproving the existance of God through quotes in the Bible. In order for your evidence to be valid, you must first accept that the source (the Bible) is valid.



    If you haven't read this, consider reading at least some of them. They'll definitely help you in future debates.
    More information at this page: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/reso...fallacies.aspx

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    Good morning! As I'm writing this, I've just read a large argument in which the arguer's main point was completely invalidated by his use of logical fallacies! Due to this, I have decided to write this little guide to logical fallacies that you can use to either beat people in arguments or simply be that guy that points out everyone's fallacies.


    First, as in any true argument, let use define our terms. For this conversation, an "argument" is any debate. It is not a heated frenzy of angry words necessarily. A fallacy is a mistake one has made in an argument. It is generally when they try to validate something based on something else, yet there is no real connection.

    There are three types of fallacies used in arguments. They are the Fallacies of Distraction, Ambiguity and Form.

    There are eight fallacies of distraction.

    The first is called Ipse Dixit which translates (rather roughly) into English as, "He has said it himself." This is a fallacy used when someone implies that any one person who is of a position of authority that is not relevant to the argument is suddenly relevant to the argument.
    Ipse Dixit: "Carl Segan says Darth Vader is good. Darth Vader must be good."
    NOT Ipse Dixit: "Gabe Newell said that he will make Half-Life 3. He clearly will make Half-Life 3."

    The second fallacy of distraction is ad populum. This fallacy is an appeal "to the masses." That is, it is the allegation that what the mass thinks is fact.
    Ad populum: "This book is clearly good, it's a best seller."
    Not ad populum: "I think you'll like this book, it's been critically acclaimed."

    Thirdly, we have Ad baculum. Ad Baculum is a thinly veiled threat at what may happen should the person they are arguing with does not agree with them.
    Ad baculum: "You should pay to stop AIDS. You don't want AIDS, do you?"
    Not ad baculum: "Don't kill that man or you will be put to death."

    Fourth, ad hominem. Most people are familiar with this term. It is the claim that one person is clearly wrong because of a certain aspect of them (that is not relevant to the conversation.)
    Ad hominem: "You're gay, how can we believe you when you say that we shouldn't kill people en masse!?"
    Not ad hominem: "You're a murderer! Why should we believe that you won't kill us?"

    Fifth, Bulverism. Bulverism is the claim that any one argument is wrong based on how that person came to believe it.
    Bulverism: "You just think we shouldn't read books because books killed your family and raped your mother."
    Not Bulverism: "You are just trying to run as a republican because you lost as a democrat yesterday!"

    Sixth, we have Tu quoque. Tu Quoque is committed when a person claims that an argument for or against an action is incorrect because the person arguing does it as well. This is only committed when the action is a moral or ethical dilemma.
    Tu quoque: "Why shouldn't we kill people? You do too!"
    Not Tu quoque: "Why shouldn't I read? So do you!"

    Seventh, we have Ad ignorantiam. Ad ignorantiam is a claim that since there is no evidence to disprove something, we therefore must accept it as fact.
    Ad ignorantiam: "UFOs exist, you can't disprove them!"
    Not ad ignorantiam: "This man is not guilty, you can't prove it!"

    Finally, we have Chronological Snobbery. Chronological Snobbery is committed when someone claims that something is either true or false or good or bad based on its age. This is not committed when one merely takes into account its age.
    Chronological Snobbery: "You can't throw this out, it's old!"
    Not chronological snobbery: "Maybe we should think before we throw this old tradition away. Maybe it has a point."


    That's it for the fallacies of distraction. Let us move on to the fallacies of ambiguity. There are five, and they have to do with ambiguous terms or statements.

    The first is called equivocation. Equivocation is the changing of a definition mid-argument. Terms and definitions MUST be consistent throughout the ENTIRE argument, or it is automatically invalid.
    Equivocation: "Since all men are mortal, and no women are men, we must conclude that no women are mortal!" The changed term is "men." In the first statement (all men are mortal), the term "men" meant "human". It then changed to "male."

    Secondly we have the fallacy of accent. This is when an emphasis on a word or statement makes the statement different from what the speaker intended. This is only a fallacy when the speaker intended the statement to mean something else and its meaning was disguised through emphasis.
    Two examples of Accent:
    "We should not kill this man."
    "We should not kill this man."

    Thirdly, we have Amphibole. Amphibole is a fallacy often made in newspapers. It is committed when the grammar of a statement causes it to be viewed differently.
    Amphibole: "Goldfish Biting in Pond!"


    Fourth, the fallacy of Composition. This is committed that what is true of all the parts is true of the whole.
    Composition: "Cats are cute, and mice are cute, so if we spliced them, the result will be cute!" (not necessarily.)

    Fifth, the fallacy of Division. This is the opposite of Composition; it is the assumption that what is true of the whole must be true of its parts.
    Division: "This splicing of cat and mouse is ugly! Cats and mice must be ugly!"


    That's it for the fallacies of Ambiguity. Let us move onto the fallacies of Form. There are five of these as well. Fallacies of form are arguments in which the structure of the arguments invalidates them.


    Circular Reasoning is the first fallacy of form. It is when someone has made their conclusion in their premise (a statement supporting the conclusion.)
    Circular Reasoning: "She loves me, because she told me. And she wouldn't lie to me because she loves me!"

    Secondly, we have post hoc ergo propter hoc or simply post hoc. It is committed when somebody assumes that if they do X, and Y happens afterwards, then X caused Y.
    Post Boc: "I said 'hello' and five seconds later a man died in china! Saying 'hello' must kill people!"


    Thirdly, we have either/or. It is when somebody assumes that from one statement, there must be two reasons.
    Either/or: "You like cheetos? You're either stupid or fat!"

    Fourth is the complex question. This is when a question does not present somebody with every answer, and each answer that is "allowed" is incorrect.
    The complex question: "So when are you going to stop murdering people?" To say "never" would imply you will murder forever, and to say "right now" would imply that you had done it before.

    Fifth and finally, we have Apriorism. It is the generalization of an entire group based on one or a few examples.
    Apriorism: "I saw a purple squirrel. All squirrels must be purple!"
    Not apriorism: "I saw every squirrel in the world, and saw each was purple. All squirrels must be purple!"


    That is it for the fallacies of debate. I hope that this will allow you to argue with more finesse and critical thinking than before.


    Note: an argument is only invalidated by a fallacy if the argument rests entirely upon the fallacy. If someone were to say "Carl Segan said that squirrels are purple. I have also seen every squirrel and confirm this." This person has committed Ipse Dixit, however they have still validated their argument by the following statement.

    Note 2: when invalidating an enemy argument, always remember that these deal with validity and not soundness. Validity is when the conclusion follows from the statements; Soundness is when the conclusion and statements are true.

    A valid argument:
    All cows are red things.
    All red things are evil things.
    Therefore, all cows are evil things.

    This person has committed NO FALLACIES. Whether or not cows are red does not matter; however, we can clearly see that IF cows are red and IF red things are evil, cows HAVE to be evil. Validity has NOTHING to do with truth and falsity.

    A sound statement:
    Some people are likers of books.
    Some likers of books are good people.
    Therefore, some people are good people.

    These are ALL true, but not VALID. They have broken a rule of syllogisms(not covered here) and therefore their argument is invalid. It does NOT follow that since SOME X are Y, and SOME Y are Z, then SOME X are Z! We have no idea if ANY X are Z at all from this argument! So it's INVALID. However, we can see that the conclusion is true, and so are all the other statements! It is therefore SOUND.

    When dealing with arguments, first look at validity, and THEN look at soundness.
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  2. Post #2
    Gold Member
    Fables's Avatar
    August 2007
    4,239 Posts
    Where's No True Scotsman?
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  3. Post #3
    MEGA SENPAI KAWAII UGUU~~ =^_^=
    Megafan's Avatar
    September 2008
    14,608 Posts
    Very helpful.
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  4. Post #4
    Mattk50's Avatar
    April 2010
    4,429 Posts
    You missed the equivocation fallacy, probably one of the most dastardly ones.

    Edited:

    http://www.facepunch.com/threads/106...uing-correctly.

    This thread has them organized a bit more neatly and has a few you missed
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  5. Post #5
    Slippery-Q's Avatar
    November 2009
    1,193 Posts
    You missed the equivocation fallacy, probably one of the most dastardly ones.

    Edited:

    http://www.facepunch.com/threads/106...uing-correctly.

    This thread has them organized a bit more neatly and has a few you missed
    Perhaps we should bump that one, and let this one die out?
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  6. Post #6
    I'M A SHAAARK!
    Lambeth's Avatar
    October 2009
    14,832 Posts
    Perhaps we should bump that one, and let this one die out?
    wrong section though, so you'll have to intergrate it into this thread.
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  7. Post #7
    HUGE RACIST
    TH89's Avatar
    January 2005
    16,350 Posts
    This is probably a useful thread. HOWEVER, a lot of people like to trot out the names of fallacies in arguments, which is in and of itself fallacious reasoning. Just because your opponent employs a fallacy doesn't mean that they are wrong and you are right. Especially if said fallacy is in amidst a bunch of legitimate points.

    Also:
    Ad Hominem- I see this one a lot. An Ad Hominem argument is any that involves attacking the person instead of addressing the issues brought up by that person. In essence, this is a technical term for flaming. An example would be to say that any wrestling fan is an idiot for believing that the whole thing is staged, even if the person they're attacking stated that they don't actually think wrestling is real.
    This isn't a correct definition--ad hominem isn't flaming. It's trying to discredit the person making the argument instead of the argument itself.

    For example, if a politician makes a reasoned argument for why we should give tax breaks to churches, an ad hominem would be:
    "Don't listen to him! He used to work in a church, that's why he wants to do this!"

    A non-ad hominem would be:
    "He's a stupid dumbass idiot who is wrong, and here is why! [insert refutation of the argument]"

    SO, just because someone called you names in a debate doesn't mean that they are making an ad hominem attack. Nor does it mean that you get a free pass to shout "ad hominem!" instead of addressing their argument (which in fact would mean YOU are making an ad hominem argument, that you win the debate since they are rude).

    Argument from Authority- Someone in high authority has said something is true/false, therefore it must be right. People use this while overlooking the fact that a claim's validity should be based on logic or experience, not the authority of the person saying the claim. An example would be stating Stem Cell Research is bad because the president says it's bad.
    This is also a problematic one, and here's why:

    I am not a quantum physicist. I will never be a quantum physicist. Nor will I be an expert in Sri Lankan policy analysis. I know very little about these subjects, and they are so complicated that I cannot possibly hope to form a relevant opinion without years and years of study and experience. Therefore, it is reasonable to defer to people who are considered authoritative on these subjects. That doesn't mean that I am 100% sure they are right about everything, but they are likely to be right--certainly a lot more likely than I am.

    So to say "evolution is true! There is a massive consensus among scientists that it is how species form on this planet" isn't an argument from authority. Well, it is, but it's not a fallacious one--in fact, it's the most sensible argument you could make.
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  8. Post #8
    Mattk50's Avatar
    April 2010
    4,429 Posts
    Perhaps we should bump that one, and let this one die out?
    Its not really in the right forum, and I think it has special relevance here considering that fallacies are the bane of any newbie to debating and the tools of the most skilled trolls.

    If you want, just copy his OP here or edit yours together.
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  9. Post #9
    ECrownofFire's Avatar
    January 2011
    2,022 Posts
    Reductio ad Hitlerum is the best fallacy ever (also known as the Hiter was a Vegitarian Fallacy).
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  10. Post #10
    Gold Member
    Fables's Avatar
    August 2007
    4,239 Posts
    Reductio ad Hitlerum is the best fallacy ever (also known as the Hiter was a Vegitarian Fallacy).
    Association fallacy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy
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  11. Post #11
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  12. Post #12
    Dog
    What's worse than biting into an apple and finding a dick?
    Dog's Avatar
    March 2011
    3,769 Posts
    Great job, just need OP cleared up a bit.
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  13. Post #13
    Gold Member
    Fables's Avatar
    August 2007
    4,239 Posts
    Which, in itself, is an association fallacy, just specifically related to Hitler.

    I think it's more sad that has a longer page though.
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  14. Post #14
    ECrownofFire's Avatar
    January 2011
    2,022 Posts
    Which, in itself, is an association fallacy, just specifically related to Hitler.

    I think it's more sad that has a longer page though.
    That's because it's better.


    Argument from Fallacy is also a really cool fallacy.
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  15. Post #15
    Gold Member
    Fables's Avatar
    August 2007
    4,239 Posts
    That's because it's better.


    Argument from Fallacy is also a really cool fallacy.
    But it's a page related to Hitler, clearly it's worse!
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  16. Post #16
    ECrownofFire's Avatar
    January 2011
    2,022 Posts
    But it's a page related to Hitler, clearly it's worse!
    THIS is the only proper way to use fallacies.
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  17. Post #17
    USER HAS BEEN DISCONNECTED FROM REALITY - RETRY CONNECTION IN 5 MINUTES
    Dennab
    February 2006
    22,239 Posts
    I am not a quantum physicist. I will never be a quantum physicist. Nor will I be an expert in Sri Lankan policy analysis. I know very little about these subjects, and they are so complicated that I cannot possibly hope to form a relevant opinion without years and years of study and experience. Therefore, it is reasonable to defer to people who are considered authoritative on these subjects. That doesn't mean that I am 100% sure they are right about everything, but they are likely to be right--certainly a lot more likely than I am.

    So to say "evolution is true! There is a massive consensus among scientists that it is how species form on this planet" isn't an argument from authority. Well, it is, but it's not a fallacious one--in fact, it's the most sensible argument you could make.
    That technically is a fallacious argument. You should support a view from the experience and evidence, not because someone in authority said so. If a scientist said evolution was not true and proved that the evidence that the consensus had was flawed, it doesn't matter if there is a consensus or not.

    In fact argument from authority is a major fallacy both Republicans and Democrats use to argue climate change. Democrats say because x amount of scientists believe in man made climate change, that makes it real. Republicans say that because y amount of scientists disagree, it must be a hoax.

    In reality it doesn't matter how many scientists support something, what matters is the methodology and validity of the experiments they conduct. You can claim that man made climate change is real because the experiments done to test it have been shown to have good methodology and point to man made climate change being a real thing. You can claim that man made climate change is a hoax because experiments done to test it have shown to have good methodology and point to man made climate change being a hoax.

    You don't make the claim that x scientists believe something, it must be true.
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  18. Post #18
    Atlascore's Avatar
    June 2011
    8,754 Posts
    Ad Hitler- Bringing Hitler, the Nazis, or both into a discussion about current wars, oppression, or genocides while trying to bring down other people by comparing them to one or both things, this usually drags the quality of any discussion down greatly.
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