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Recognizing Logical Fallacies 1

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Recognizing Logical Fallacies 1

Luring the Unsuspecting

Logical fallacies are forms of "fuzzy thinking" that some people accidently use (weakening their arguments) and others intentionally use (manipulating others). Once you learn about a few logical fallacies, you'll be able to avoid being lured in by them:

  • Ad hominem attacks focus on the opponent rather than the opposing position. (Ad hominem is Latin for “to the man.”)

If he wants anyone to consider his proposal, he should stop whining and try brushing his teeth occasionally.

  • Appeals to ignorance suggest that something is true until it has been disproven, unfairly shifting the burden of proof.

No one has studied how aspartame relates to the modern epidemic of autism, which demonstrates what a dangerous substance it is.

  • Appeals to pity try to evoke sympathy for someone rather than taking a hard look at an issue based on its own merits.

Students who have to work after school and then stay up late studying should never be marked tardy the next day.

  • Gaslighting refers to confidently and repeatedly stating a falsehood until it is accepted as fact. It leads to denialism and conspiracy theories.

The earth is flat. NASA routinely alters images to hide that fact.

  • Either-or thinking consists of reducing a solution to two extremes, eliminating every possibility in the middle.

Either our city approves this light-rail project, or we will never expand in the future.

  • Oversimplification presents a complex situation in deceptively simple terms. Beware of phrases like “It all boils down to . . . ” or “It’s a simple question of . . . ”

Capital punishment is a simple question of protecting society.

  • The straw man fallacy sets up a false position for the opposition and then knocks it down. (It defeats a straw opponent rather than a real one).

The other candidate wants to destroy America. I want to save it.

Your Turn Search for recent examples of these logical fallacies. Look in ads, speeches, interviews, and social media posts.

From 191 in Write for College

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