48 terms

AP Seminar Logical Fallacies (definitions and examples)

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strawman
Misrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack.
strawman example
After Will said that we should put more money into health and education, Warren responded by saying he was surprised that Will hated the country so much that he wants to leave it defenseless by cutting military spending
slippery slope
Asserting that if A will happen, Z will happen too, therefore A should not happen
slippery slope example
If we let same-sex couples marry, then next thing you know we will let monkeys get married and then insects.
special pleading
Moving the goalposts to create exceptions when a claim is shown to be false
special pleading example
Edward claimed that he was a psychic. When his "powers" were disproven by science, Edward said that one has to have faith in his ability in order for it to work
the gambler's fallacy
believing that "runs" occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette spin wheels
the gambler's fallacy example
Red came up 8 times on a roulette wheel, so the next one HAS to be black.
black-or-white
When two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when other possibilities exist.
black-or-white example
The supreme leader told his citizens that they were either on his side or on the side of the enemy.
false cause
presuming that the real or perceived relationship between things means that one is a cause of the other
false cause example
Roger showed a chart that showed that temperatures were rising. He also showed a chart that showed that piracy was increasing. He then concluded that the rising temperature is causing piracy to rise.
ad hominem
Attacking your opponent's character or personal traits to undermine their argument.
ad hominem example
Sally gave a presentation about how to be more involved in school. Sam, her opponent, asked the school if they should believe her since she gets bad grades and has problems at home.
loaded question
asking a question that has an assumption built into it so that it can't be answered without appearing guilty.
loaded question example
Grace and Helen were dating Brad. One day Grace asked Helen if she was having a foot infection while Brad was nearby.
bandwagon
appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an act of validation.
bandwagon example
It's okay to smoke since everyone does it
begging the question
a circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise.
begging the question example
Bill: "X must exist."
Jill: "How do you know?"
Bill: "Because this book says so."
Jill: "Why should I believe that book?"
Bill: "Because the book was written by X."
appeal to authority
using the opinion or position of an authority figure in place of an actual argument.
appeal to authority example
Bob said that evolution might not be true because this one scientist said that it's not.
appeal to nature
making the argument that because something is "natural" it is therefore valid, justifiable, good, or ideal.
appeal to nature example
Bob said that it is only natural that people be wary of artificial medicine.
composition/division
Assuming that what's true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other parts of it.
composition/division example
Bob said that atoms are invisible, he is made up of atoms, so therefore he is invisible too.
anecdotal
using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics.
anecdotal example
Bob said that statistics about smoking are wrong since his grandpa lived until 97 and smoked 30 cigs a day.
appeal to emotion
Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid argument.
appeal to emotion example
Bob did not want to eat the sheep brains, but his dad told him to think of all those poor, starving, kids in Africa.
tu quoque
Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back to the criticizer. Fighting criticism with criticism.
tu quoque example
Bob accused Agnes of lying about her statistics. Then, Agnes accused Bob of making up his graphs.
burden of proof
saying that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove
burden of proof example
Bob said that there is a teapot orbiting the earth right now, and that since no one can prove him wrong that it is valid.
no true Scotsman
Making an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss the relevant criticisms or flaws of an argument.
no true Scotsman example
Angus declares that no Scotsman puts sugar in their porridge. Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar in his porridge. Angus yells that NO TRUE SCOTSMAN puts sugar in their porridge!
the texas sharpshooter
cherry-picking data clusters to suit and argument, or finding a pattern to fit the presumption.
the texas sharpshooter example
The makers of Hershey chocolate pointed to research showing that of the 5 countries where Hershey sold the most chocolate, 3 of them were in the top ten healthiest countries on earth, therefore Hershey's chocolate is healthy
the fallacy fallacy
presuming that because a claim has been poorly argued, or a fallacy has been made, it is necessarily wrong.
the fallacy fallacy example
recognizing the fallacy in Agnes's statement that we should eat healthy food since a nutritionist said so, Bob said that we should all eat mcdonalds everyday.
personal incredulity
saying that because one finds something difficult to understand it is therefore not true.
personal incredulity example
"The big bang theory makes no sense. How can there not be a time before the big bang? Scientists just made it all up to try and explain away creation theory."
ambiguity
using double meanings or ambiguities of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth.
ambiguity example
The defendant said he parked his car in the illegal parking space because the sign said "fine for parking here."
genetic
judging something good or bad on the basis of where or who it comes from.
genetic example
Accused on the news of taking bribes, the Senator said that we should all be wary of the media, since we know how unreliable it can be.
middle ground
saying that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes is the truth.
middle ground example
Holly said that vaccinations cause Autism in children.
Bob said that the statement was false
Holly said that vaccinations cause SOME autism.