Invention - fallacies

Malc Prentice

Below is work in progress. Still collecting and organising.

Problems with answer the question

Attack the person (ad hominem)

Change or simplify the argument to make it easier to attack (strawman)

Bob: "We should do a study abroad to learn about other cultures"

Fred: "Bob said that knowing Japanese culture alone is not enough. I disagreeā€¦."

Ad Hoc rescue (No true Scotsman)

Bob: All Japanese people eat rice

Hiro: I'm Japanese, and I hate rice. So you're wrong.

Bob: No TRUE Japanese person hates rice.

Relativist Fallacy (subjectivist fallacy)

"I'm entitled to my own opinion"

"I don't have to eat vegetables. My blood type is A"

Loaded Question:

"When did you stop cheating on your homework?"

Perfectionist Fallacy

"Criminals do not obey gun laws. So we should not have gun laws"

Fallacy of the Middle Ground/ Golden Mean/Moderation:

"London is in England. You think it is in Japan. Let's agree that it's near India. "

"You say we need a 100% cut in nuclear weapons. I say 0%. How about 50%?

False Choice / False Dichotomy / False Dilemma / Excluded Middle:

"If you're not with us, you're against us"

"Either quit your part-time job and study more, or quit University and get a job"

Causation and Sampling

Begging the Question


"Milk makes me sleepy because it has a soporific quality"

He's good at sports because he's an athlete.

It's illegal because it's against the law

(assuming only one explanation, ignoring other causes or common causes)

Bananas are shaped like they are so humans can eat them

Slippery Slope:

"If we let gay people marry, next people will be marrying their pets"

Confusing Cause and effectw

You might hear people say: Correlation is not causation

  • Panda populations are decreasing. Temperature are doing up. Pandas cool the world. (Ignoring common cause)
  • (Denying the antecedent)
  • (Affirming the Consequent)
  • Bad sampling / Hasty generalisation

    You might hear people say: "the plural of anecdote is not data"

    Confirmation Bias (accidental - when deliberate, "Cherry Picking")

    Composition (nature of a part is the nature of the whole):

    Division (nature of the whole is the nature of the part)

    Undistributed middle / Ambiguity:

    Appeals to Bad Evidence

    Appeal to Authority:

    Appeal to nature:

    Appeal to Emotion

    Appeal to Consequences / Wishful Thinking (ad consequentiam)

    Appeal to confusion

    Appeal to unconnected quality

    "Most people"

    Burden of Proof (ad ignorantiam)

    You might hear people say: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

    Genetic Fallacy / Guilt by Association


    Red Herring (irrelevant topic)

    Poisoning the well

    Gamblers Fallacy:

    Unfalsifiable claim

    Lying and suppressing evidence

    Misleading vividness

    Special Pleading

    Fallacy fallacy

    Further reading on Fallacies