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Statements that are logically false, but which appear to be true. Basically, an error in reasoning.

Ad Hominem

When the person presenting an argument is attacked instead of the argument itself (against the person).

Ad Hominem Example

Person A: I think that the US will come out of this recession quickly. Person B: What do you know about economics? You don't even have a job!

Appeal to Emotions

When something is associated with good/bad feelings, then it must be true/wrong (manipulates people's emotions)

Appeal to Emotions Example

A commercial comes on the TV asking for money to help remove animals from abusive homes and shows a slide show of cute kittens and puppies.


Creates the impression that everybody is doing it and so should you

Bandwagon Example

"You're not cool unless you wear this brand of clothing"

False Dilemma

Either A or B is true. C is not an option. This is based on the assumption that the choices offered are the only choices.

False Dilemma Example

Either you are with me or against me.

Appeal to the People

Uses the views of the majority as a persuasive device (very similar to bandwagon).

Appeal to the People Example

"Of course you want to buy Zest toothpaste. Why, 90% of America brushes with Zest!"

Scare Tactic

Creates fear in people as evidence to support a claim. Mostly this is done by some form of threat.

Scare Tactic Example

"If you vote for this candidate, then your children's lives will be at stake!"

False Cause

Wrongly assumes a cause-and-effect relationship ('A' causes 'B' without proof that a relationship actually exists).

False Cause Example

Christians believe in God. Muslims believe in God. Therefore, Christians are Muslims.

Hasty Generalization

Draws a conclusion about a population based on a small sample (jumping to conclusions).

Hasty Generalization Example

I met some students from Fort Riley yesterday, who were very polite. I think all children from that area must be well-behaved.

Red Herring

Presents an irrelevant topic to divert attention away from the original issue. The logic follows this form: Topic A is under discussion. Topic B is introduced under the assumption that it's related. Topic A is abandoned.

Red Herring Example

Person A: What about Christmas? Person B: Well, my aunt is coming next week.

Traditional Wisdom

This occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is traditional or "has always been done"

Traditional Wisdom Example

The theory that witches and demons cause disease is far older than the theory that microrganisms cause diseases. Therefore, the theory about witches and demons must be true.

Glittering Generality

Uses attractive, but vague, words that embody ideals such as: freedom, fame, justice, respect. This technique seeks to evoke emotions without making any commitments.

Glittering Generality Example

"I am the new candidate for CHANGE." or "It's NEW"


A famous person endorses a product, ideal, or candidate.

Testimonial Example

When Oprah Winfrey mentions a book, it becomes a best seller.

Pitch Beast

Uses an animal to endorse a person, product, or idea.

Pitch Beast Example

When the Gieco Gecko is used in commercials to endorse the insurance company.

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