Fallacy Friday!

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Shifting the Burden of Proof!

(related to “appeal to ignorance”) This fallacy occurs when the burden of proof is placed on the wrong side of an argument. In a logical...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Association Fallacy!

(They're Not Like Us, Guilt by Association, Honor by Association, a variety of the Ad Hominem and Hasty Generalization)

This fallacy occurs when someone’s argument or position is dismissed (or upheld) because of the group to which that person belongs. Often referred to as the “They’re Not Like Us” fallacy, this is the basis for bigotry and racism. It’s a type of Ad Hominem Fallacy (as it dismisses the argument based on the individual making it), a Red Herring (as it is a distraction from the actual issue), and a Hasty Generalization (as it uses implied stereotypes), and it can often be an Appeal to Emotion (as the stereotypes often invoke an emotional response as means to dismiss the position).

There are actually two types of association fallacies: “Guilt by Association” and “Honor by Association.” Guilt by Association occurs when negative connotations are used to condemn the position (“Hitler supported gun registration, too”), and Honor by Association occurs when positive associations are used to elevate the position (“George Washington was a Christian, too”).

There are several special cases of this fallacy. The “Galileo Gambit” occurs when someone argues that since Galileo was once ridiculed even though he was right, non-mainstream views currently rejected by science will one day be recognized as valid. Another case is “Reductio ad Hitlerum” which occurs when someone refutes a position because Hitler held a similar position.


“You’re a man, so you don’t understand feminism.”

"It's OK for Mexicans to earn half a buck an hour in the maquiladoras. If it were here, I'd call it exploitation and daylight robbery, but south of the border they're not the same as we are."

“You’re a feminist? You must hate men.”

"Sure, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, but over there they're not like us and don't think the same way we do about life and death."

Jim’s brother is in jail, and his father is an ex-con. Therefore, everyone assumes that he is also a criminal.

“Criminal defense lawyers are as bad as the criminals they defend. How could they defend such horrible people otherwise?”

"Don't listen to her. She's a Republican, so you can't trust anything she says."

Simon, Karl, Jared, and Brett are all friends of Josh, and they are all petty criminals. Jill is a friend of Josh; therefore, Jill is a petty criminal.

An example of this fallacy would be "My opponent for office just received an endorsement from the Puppy Haters Association. Is that the sort of person you would want to vote for?"

Citizens of Country X won more Nobel Prizes, gold medals, and literary awards than citizens of Country Y. Therefore, a citizen of Country X is superior to a citizen of Country Y.

An attractive model advertises for a specific product, and as a result, we have positive associations with the product.

This argument gained considerable public attention when it was made by Rick Perry about global warming skepticism in September 2011. In September 2011, Rick Perry suggested that because "Galileo got outvoted for a spell” that global warming denialism is valid.

Will and Kiteena are arguing over socialism. Kiteena is a pacifist and hates violence and violent people.
Kiteena: "I think that the United States should continue to adopt socialist programs. For example, I think that the government should take control of vital industries."
Will: "So, you are for state ownership of industry."
Kiteena: "Certainly. It is a great idea and will help make the world a less violent place."
Will: "Well, you know Stalin also endorsed state ownership on industry. At last count he wiped out millions of his own people. Pol Pot of Cambodia was also for state ownership of industry. He also killed millions of his own people. The leadership of China is for state owned industry. They killed their own people in that square. So, are you still for state ownership of industry?"
Kiteena: "Oh, no! I don't want to be associated with those butchers!"

Jen and Sandy are discussing the topic of welfare. Jen is fairly conservative politically but she has been an active opponent of racism. Sandy is extremely liberal politically.
Jen: "I was reading over some private studies of welfare and I think it would be better to have people work for their welfare. For example, people could pick up trash, put up signs, and maybe even do skilled labor that they are qualified for. This would probably make people feel better about themselves and it would get more out of our tax money."
Sandy: "I see. So, you want to have the poor people out on the streets picking up trash for their checks? Well, you know that is exactly the position David Count endorses."
Jen: "Who is he?"
Sandy: "I'm surprised you don't know him, seeing how alike you two are. He was a Grand Mooky Wizard for the Aryan Pure White League and is well known for his hatred of blacks and other minorities. With your views, you'd fit right in to his little racist club."
Jen: "So, I should reject my view just because I share it with some racist?"
Sandy: "Of course."

Libard and Ferris are discussing who they are going to vote for as the next department chair in the philosophy department. Libard is a radical feminist and she despises Wayne and Bill, who are two sexist professors in the department.
Ferris: "So, who are you going to vote for?"
Libard: "Well, I was thinking about voting for Jane, since she is a woman and there has never been a woman chair here. But, I think that Steve will do an excellent job. He has a lot of clout in the university and he is a decent person."
Ferris: "You know, Wayne and Bill are supporting him. They really like the idea of having Steve as the new chair. I never thought I'd see you and those two pigs on the same side."
Libard: "Well, maybe it is time that we have a woman as chair."

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