Fallacy Friday!

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Non Sequitur!

(derailment, “does not follow,” irrelevant reason, invalid inference, non-support, argument by scenario, false premise, questionable premi...

Friday, September 18, 2015

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

(fallacy of origins, fallacy of virtue)

The term “genetic” here refers to the Latin meaning of the word “gen” – to create – usually in reference to the beginning of something. This fallacy is a type of association fallacy where the conclusion is based entirely on the origin of something or someone rather than the actual argument being presented and thus transferring whatever negative or positive association of the origin onto the current argument. It is a fallacy because it offers no relevant argument; the validity of an argument has no bearing on where it came from. This fallacy encompasses a wide variety of other fallacies including the Ad Hominem, Appeal to Ancient Wisdom, Appeal to Authority, Appeal to Nature, Appeal to Tradition, Favoritism, Guilt by Association, Tu Quoque, and “They’re Not Like Us.”

It is important to note that while the claim about something’s origin may be true, that doesn’t mean that it is valid when assessing the current claim. It may provide insight into the situation, allowing us to gather more information before making a conclusion, but it isn’t evidence in and of itself for dismissal or approval.

For example, take this common claim: “You can’t trust scientific research. It’s paid for by the companies that are promoting their product!”

On face-value, this may seem like a valid claim. After all, if they’re paying the scientists to do the research, then it appears as though there’s bias. However, it ignores other factors that come into play when doing research. One, who else is going to pay the scientist to do the research? They have to get paid somehow, and if a company wants to promote a product and it requires validity testing, then they have to pay for it to be tested. Two, research companies have objective review boards in place as a means of protecting against bias; they approval all research, they often conduct random checks throughout the experiment, and then they check the results. Three, whatever conclusion is reached must then meet scientific muster by a panel of objective experts in the field before it is ever published or considered valid. This includes information about who paid for the research in order to check for bias.


"You're not going to wear a wedding ring, are you? Don't you know that the wedding ring originally symbolized ankle chains worn by women to prevent them from running away from their husbands? I would not have thought you would be a party to such a sexist practice."

"This is the way we've always done it."

“New is always better!”

"Has he arrived yet?" "No, he came by car, not by boat!" (the word “arrive” originally referred to boat travel only)

"The current Chancellor of Germany was in the Hitler Youth at age 3. With that sort of background, his so called 'reform' plan must be a fascist program."

"I was brought up to believe in God, and my parents told me God exists, so He must."

"Sure, the media claims that Senator Bedfellow was taking kickbacks. But we all know about the media's credibility, don't we."

The Heartland Institute recently put up a series of billboards featuring Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Charles Manson (a cult leader), and Fidel Castro (a dictator). The text read: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

“You’re a vegetarian? Don’t you know that Hitler was a vegetarian?”

“Did you see the governor’s plan for bolstering the economy? Most people don’t know this, but this plan is from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. I don’t think it would be a good idea to plan our economy according to ideas from a book about war.”

“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” (Ronald Reagan)

“Most of the support for tax cuts for higher tax brackets comes from people who are wealthy. So clearly we should oppose these cuts.”

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