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Friday Fun: Top 12 Logical Fallacies

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I totally stole this article from About.com while in the throws of insomnia last night. But it made me laugh when thinking about some of the wonderful discussions we have here in the SL Forums.
I know, I know only I would read about Grammar and Composition at this hour of the night. :P



Top 12 Logical Fallacies

Brief Definitions of Informal Fallacies


It may have happened to you while reading comments on a blog, watching a political commercial, or listening to a talking head on a chat show. A mental alarm goes off signaling that what you're reading, watching, or listening to is utter claptrap and twaddle.

For me, the BS alert sounded when I ran across these random observations in the "Vox Populi" column of the local newspaper:

  • Learning how to swim does not guarantee you won't drown. I'm 55 years old, have never learned to swim and I haven't drowned.
  • We need to pass a law that stupid people are not allowed to own pets.
  • I'm aggravated with spaghetti sauce with vegetables. I love vegetables, but I don't want them in my spaghetti sauce. Where's our freedom going?
  • The English language is the only language that should be spoken in the open and none other. This is the United States of America.
  • Anyone who thinks that interest in books is waning hasn't paid much attention. I love the show Face the Nation and they recently had eight authors on!
  • Isn't it amazing that Savannah is ranked as 10 on America's most snobbish city [list] and that 10 percent of Savannah's population are Yankees?
  • Obama shouldn't go to Martha's Vineyard. Every time he does, something major happens.

At these head-slapping moments, it may help to recall some of those informal logical fallaciesthat we studied in school. At least then we can put a name to the nonsense.

In case you need a little refresher, here are 12 of the most common logical fallacies. For examples and detailed discussions, click on the highlighted terms.

  1. Ad Hominem A personal attack: that is, an argument based on the perceived failings of an adversary rather than on the merits of the case.
  2. Ad Misericordiam An argument that involves an irrelevant or highly exaggerated appeal to pity or sympathy.
  3. Bandwagon An argument based on the assumption that the opinion of the majority is always valid: everyone believes it, so you should too.
  4. Begging the Question A fallacy in which the premise of an argument presupposes the truth of its conclusion; in other words, the argument takes for granted what it's supposed to prove. Also known as a circular argument.
  5. Dicto Simpliciter An argument in which a general rule is treated as universally true regardless of the circumstances: a sweeping generalization.
  6. False Dilemma A fallacy of oversimplification: an argument in which only two alternatives are provided when in fact additional options are available. Sometimes called the either-or fallacy.
  7. Name Calling A fallacy that relies on emotionally loaded terms to influence an audience.
  8. Non Sequitur An argument in which a conclusion does not follow logically from what preceded it.
  9. Post Hoc A fallacy in which one event is said to be the cause of a later event simply because it occurred earlier.
  10. Red Herring An observation that draws attention away from the central issue in an argument or discussion.
  11. Stacking the Deck A fallacy in which any evidence that supports an opposing argument is simply rejected, omitted, or ignored.
  12. Straw Man A fallacy in which an opponent's argument is overstated or misrepresented in order to be more easily attacked or refuted.


I think we have experienced all of these in recent months...

OK, sleep calls to me again.



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I must admit that like most others, I am not as honest as George Washington and I am reluctant to give up my cherished fallacies even in the face of facts that contradict them.

I do on occasion change my mind about something, but slowly and usually without acknowledging that I have done so. I prefer to think that the opinion I now hold is the opinion I have held all my life.

In acknowledging publicly that I have changed my mind about something is to admit a fallibility .. and the possibility that if I was wrong before, I might be wrong again. And, in my mind, on this forum, I know that I am always right.

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