Fallacy Friday!

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Straw Man!

(The Straw Person) This fallacy takes the opponents argument and restructures it, creating an extreme version that no one could possib...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

When Mormons Abandon Morality

This isn't likely to be my most coherent post. You see, it's 2 am, I've slept for two of the last twenty-four hours, and I'm not likely to fall asleep again for a while. But the nightmares are back, and there's really not a lot I can do about it.

I know I am not alone. So many others like myself are awake with the same fears, repetitions of the same terrors. All uniquely customized to match our individual stories, made-to-order horrors just for us.

The gay couple watching as their house is burned down. 
The Muslim woman attacked in the street as her hijab is ripped off and called a terrorist.
The unarmed black man kneeling as he faces a loaded gun.
The woman reliving her sexual assaults again and again.

As a multiple sexual assault survivor who every day has to tell myself that I deserve better, that This is not okay, that Things will get better, I have to admit that that mantra sounds especially hollow today.

Half of the country doesn't think that I do.
Half of the country thinks that this is just fine.
Half of the country doesn't think that there's a problem in the first place.

When the party of "family values" elects a man who openly admits to sexually assaulting women, who brags about wanting to have sex with his daughter, who has decades of recorded, flagrantly sexist comments, then I don't want your family values. If that's what your family looks like, then I want no part of it.

I get it: you were thinking of other things, other more important things, that you believe somehow balance the scales of justice and morality. Fear of immigrants, concern over the lack of blue collar jobs, hatred of the establishment, worries over Supreme Court justices, abortion. Justified or unjustified, I understand where you were coming from.

But don't ever pretend you were thinking of women. Don't ever act as though we mattered to you.

You just proved that we don't.

And the fact that, according to exit polls, Trump won 60 percent of the Mormon vote nationwide is reprehensible. I thought my religion was better than this. I thought we stood for more than this.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. (Articles of Faith 1:13)

Do we? Are you sure? Virtuous? Chaste? Praiseworthy? Benevolent?

Are those the words that come to mind when you think of Trump?

I understood your issues with Hillary; I did. I would have accepted it if you had voted for anyone, anyone, other than Trump because, while I may disagree with you on platforms, I knew what you stood for - or, at least, I thought I did. I was so glad when Evan McMullin entered the race; I knew Hillary had no real shot of winning Utah, but I was just hoping that Mormons in Utah would vote for him over Trump. At least he offered a moral choice, and I could support you in that choice.

But you chose to abandon God's standard of morality for a worldly one. You became more concerned about what is legal than what is right. When God speaks on a matter of morality, that should end the conversation. You have chosen to abandon God's standard of morality by nominating a man whose platform was built on xenophobic, racist, and hateful language, with a long history of sexism and abuse, so that you could make sure that the laws that you wanted would be put in place.

How disgraceful.

So those of you who supported Trump - Don't pretend to have the moral high ground ever again. You now have to convince me, someone who sits with you in church, who listens to the same talks, who sings the same hymns, that you have a moral backbone. 

At least I can recite the 13th Article of Faith without shame.

Can you?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Diminished Responsibility!

This fallacy occurs when we argue that our behavior should be excused because of impaired judgment, e.g. telling your teacher that they should grade your exam leniently because you were hung over and “it’s not my fault.” It is a contemporary fallacy that has arisen out of the misappropriation of the American legal concept, “diminished capacity” (that punishment for criminal acts should be decreased if the criminal’s judgment was impaired and thus would not have committed the crime under normal conditions). While being drunk may mean that you aren’t charged with first degree murder, it doesn’t mean that you are free of guilt or can’t be charged with second degree murder, and it doesn’t make the consequences of your actions any less severe. Likewise, the fact that you were hungover doesn’t somehow make your answers to your test less incorrect, and you must still live with the consequences of failing; your poor judgment in getting drunk the night before the test doesn’t excuse your performance.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Appeal to Spite!

This fallacy occurs when someone uses existing spiteful and bitter feelings in order to dismiss an opponent’s position. Instead of actually evaluating evidence for the opponent’s position, they are exploiting the emotions of those listening in order convince them. We do this to ourselves if we justify disagreeing with someone out of existing spite instead of examining the issues. This is especially useful when combined with stereotypes (the overgeneralization fallacy) toward a particular demographic. For example, saying that you can never vote for a career politician because they are all untrustworthy combines stereotyping (all politicians are untrustworthy) with the appeal for spite (a general dislike for politicians).

Friday, August 26, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...There Is No Alternative!

(TINA , Get Over It, the fait accompli, Taboo, I wish I had a magic wand.)

An extension of the false dichotomy, this fallacy occurs when someone states that a position must be taken because there are no other realistic alternatives, that all other options are irrelevant, or that since a decision has been made, there’s no going back. While it may be that the position being supported is the best position, outright dismissing other alternatives suppresses critical thinking. It relies on the acceptance of the inevitable (regardless of whether or not it is inevitable) by suggesting that we are powerless to do otherwise.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Tautology!

A tautology is a statement that – by it’s construction - must always be true. It uses circular reasoning in that it’s conclusion is its own premise. While this type of logic can be easy to spot (“the Bible is the Word of God because it says so in the Bible”), it can be deceptive, especially when you’re presented with terms with which you are unfamiliar (“therapeutic touch works because it manipulates life force” – the definition of “therapeutic touch” is the alleged manipulation of life force, so it’s like saying that breathing keeps you alive because it exchanges carbon dioxide for oxygen). (Note: Definitions and mathematical proofs are not “arguments,” so while they meet the qualifications to be called tautologies, they aren’t tautological fallacies.) Tautologies appear to be explanations but actually provide no useful information. They are also unfalsifiable since they are entirely dependent on their own premise.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Sending the Wrong Message!

This fallacy argues that a statement or action is wrong because it will “send the wrong message,” regardless of how correct, important, or true that statement or action is. The message that is, in fact, being sent is that their position is both fraudulent and fragile that it can be destroyed by truth. If your control of a population is based on the fear of them knowing the truth, you have no real control - nor should you.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Reductionism!

(causal reductionism, complex cause, fallacy of the single cause, causal oversimplification, reduction fallacy)

The fallacy occurs when an explanation of an event is assumed to be a single, simple cause when it may have had multiple causes. The cause is oversimplified, preventing a more in-depth analysis, often in order to deceive the listener as to the real causes. It relies on the assumption that just because something occurred before or with the event that that “something” had to cause it (related to the correlation/causation fallacy), and it is a specific kind of false dilemma in that it presents a false simplification by ignoring the influence of other causes.

We often hear this fallacy in the aftermath of tragedy; it is very easy to blame a horrific event on a simple cause – especially if you happen to be biased against that cause – when the actual cause is more complicated. For example, blaming school shootings on violent video games (or parents working or guns) ignores the more complex issues of poor mental health support, inadequate emotional and familial support, school stress, societal pressures to “prove” yourself, and access to weapons (among other causes).

The political arena is rife with this fallacy; complex social problems are often reduced to simple causes: immigrants, taxes, corporations, rich people, poor people, gays and lesbians, Christians, atheists – just to name a few. Our social problems are far too complex to attribute to one cause, though some causes may play a more prominent role than others.


"If the glove doesn’t fit, you must vote to acquit."

“Moms! If you want to protect your little kids from armed terrorists, vote for Snith!”

“Illegal immigrants are the problem! They’re stealing your jobs, taking tax payer money, and killing your children. If we kept illegals out, then all of our problems would be solved.”

“High taxes are the problem. Corporations can hardly operate with such high rates. That’s why they’re going overseas. If you want to have more jobs in America, you have to cut taxes.”

“Christians are the problem; they keep pushing to have their teachings taught in the public schools, and it’s unconstitutional. Not only do they reject science, they also deny others the right to practice their beliefs because they think they’re so special.”

“The growing problems of gays and lesbians in America is the root of our moral decay. We must end this disease now, or God will strike us!”

Hank: I ran my car off the side of the road because that damn squirrel ran in front of my car.

Officer Sam: You don’t think it had anything to do with the fact that you were trying to text your girlfriend, and driving drunk?

Jim: She broke up with me! She realized she couldn’t control me, so she bailed.

Jeff: You don’t think it was because you’ve cheated on her twice and are unemployed?

Jim: Of course not.

"Our team got terrible results for this pendulum lab. Our data gave us a value for "g" of 11.7 instead of 9.8. So our percent of error came out to 19%. I don't know what went wrong. We followed the instructions exactly. I don't think we had enough time to finish it. We should have had more than an hour. I don't know how the other teams got good results when we didn't." (The fact that others successfully completed the lab within the same amount of time suggests that other causes were at work.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Paralysis of Analysis!


This fallacy occurs when someone claims that since we will never know everything, we should always avoid making decisions because any decision we would make would be illegitimate. Related to the appeal to ignorance fallacy, the primary difference here is that, instead of claiming that we will never “know” something due to lack of information, this fallacy claims that we should never “decide.” This fallacy is most easily committed when dealing with circumstantial evidence as it’s easier to dismiss.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Appeal to Privacy!

(Mind Your Own Business - MYOB; You're Not the Boss of Me; Taboo)      

This fallacy prohibits discussion of your own behavior or viewpoints because it is private and thus “None of your business,” regardless of how dangerous, corrupt, absurd, or offensive it is. While freedom to think and act independently is essential in a successful society, this freedom doesn’t necessarily come without consequences. Some viewpoints and behavior doesn’t necessarily end with you and can have ripple effects on others and are therefore subject to scrutiny.   


“So what if I was driving 25 over the speed limit? It’s none of your business. You’re not a cop.” (Your right to drive doesn’t supersede the right of others to have safe roads, and if you drive recklessly, then you may lose your right to drive.)

“What I do in my own home is none of your concern.” (If what you do in your own home includes harming children or other adults, then it absolutely is someone else’s concern.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Hot-Hand Fallacy!

Counterpart to the gambler’s fallacy, this fallacy occurs when someone predicts the outcome of a chance event to be the same as the last event (unlike the gambler’s fallacy that predicts the opposite outcome of the last event). People tend to believe that, since inanimate objects are random, they shouldn’t show tendencies (being “hot” to a particular color or number), so any streaks are based on the performance of the person generating the results. Someone in a “losing streak” gives up because they have gone cold, and vice versa.


“I’m on a losing streak, so I should quit while I’m a head.”

“Red is hot tonight! I know what I’m betting on.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why We Can't Be "Color Blind": Taste the Privilege

If the world were color blind, we wouldn't have racism, but unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way. Too many people not only see color (which in itself isn't a bad thing) but also use color as means of casting judgment. And so while those who refuse to see color may not themselves be racist, they can't do anything to fight against racism. It's the difference between refusing to steal and stopping a thief, the difference between refusing to hit your wife and standing up against a man who beats his.

One requires only self-discipline; the other requires courage. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Inconsistency!

(Kettle logic, internal contradiction, logical inconsistency)

This logical fallacy occurs when an individual makes contradictory claims, usually by asserting that rules are followed for some beliefs, arguments, or claims but not others. It is often done by presenting multiple contradicting arguments supporting one point, and it can vary on how obvious the contradiction is. The person making the fallacy is often unaware that they are being inconsistent; lazy thinking and emotional investment can affect their perception of this fallacy. Authority figures can often get away with this fallacy because their position often protects them from challenge.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Slothful Induction!

(poor pattern recognition, the “sticking your head in the sand” defense, “despite overwhelming evidence”) 

The opposite of the hasty generalization, this fallacy occurs when someone refuses to draw the appropriate conclusion from a clearly recognized pattern; the phrase “despite overwhelming evidence” is an indication that someone is about to commit this fallacy. Their refusal to accept what is most likely true is usually due to either their not really caring about the truth or their having a vested interest in their position (for example, cognitive dissonance occurs when someone is emotionally invested in a position and therefore likely to dismiss evidence against their position).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Ambiguity!

(amphiboly, semantical ambiguity, type-token ambiguity, vagueness, double meaning)

This fallacy occurs when someone uses imprecise language in their argument in order to mislead the audience. Many languages include words that have multiple meanings, and when these words are used in arguments, we must be clear as to the precise definition of the word that we are using. Ambiguity is often the reason behind failed deductive reasoning. Because ambiguity is inherent to many languages, the mere presence of an ambiguous word or phrase does not automatically make it fallacious. It becomes a fallacy when it is misleading or misrepresenting the truth. This is common with politicians and psychics as a means of protection; the more vague the statement is, the less likely it will come back to hurt you. When we hear an ambiguous statement, we tend to believe the interpretation that we agree with the most.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Argument from Motives!

(Questioning Motives)

Both a type of Ad Hominem and a type of red herring, this fallacy occurs when an argument is dismissed or supported because of the motives of the one making the claim, not the actual argument itself. Just because someone appears to have questionable motives does not mean that their position is wrong, and just because appears someone has excellent motives doesn’t mean that theirs is good. Arguments must be examined based on the evidence presented, not the person presenting the evidence. Often this fallacy is used even without evidence of a questionable motive, only the mere possibility that it might exist. Too often people rely on someone’s supposed intention as evidence for their idea: a “good person” would never recommend a bad action, a “good Christian woman” would never do something mean, and an “evil atheist” would never stop and help someone on the street. This is further complicated by the fact that, while we like to believe that we can discern someone’s motivations, we rarely even understand our own motives moreover the motives of someone else (which is why we have therapists). Relying on perceived motivations as a means of rejecting or accepting an idea is rarely wise.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Appeal to Heaven!

(Deus Vult, Gott mit Uns, Manifest Destiny, the Special Covenant)

An extremely dangerous fallacy, this occurs when someone argues a position because it is the “will of God,” thus claiming that God has ordered, supports, or approves of a particular position or action and that it cannot be wrong or questioned. This fallacy seems more absurd when the God or religion being invoked is not one in which the listener believes, but it is exceptionally persuasive dangerous in groups of like-minded people with similar beliefs and intents.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Irrelevant Conclusion!

(ignoratio elenchi, Latin: “an ignoring of a refutation”)

This fallacy occurs when someone presents an argument that appears to address the issue but actually doesn’t. Those who use this fallacy subtly switch arguments from the one at hand to one closely related. For example, if you were attempting to argue the evidence that a particular person has committed a horrible crime, but instead argue that the crime that he is accused of is horrible, some may mistakenly believe that you addressed the original issue. However, whether or not the individual in question has committed the crime is still unresolved. This fallacy is easier to catch when written as opposed to spoken as many listeners are easily distracted, and it’s often paired with the bandwagon fallacy which uses the opinions of what is popular to sway listeners.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Blood is Thicker than Water!

(Favoritism, Compadrismo, "For my friends, anything," Reverse of Ad Hominem)   

The reverse of the “Ad Hominem,” this fallacy argues that a position/idea/argument must be true/good because of a particular individual who is involved. A classic example is investing in a friend’s business even though your friend may not have the skills or knowledge necessary to successful run a business. It isn’t a fallacy if the individual from whom you are basing your claim is actually qualified and you are basing your opinion on their qualifications; it’s only a fallacy when you base it on who the person is.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fallacy Friday! Today's Logical Fallacy is... Name-Calling!

(personal abuse/attacks, damning the source, a variety of the Ad Hominem)

A form of the Ad Homienm (which occurs when you dismiss what an opponent says because who they are), this fallacy takes it a step further by adding insult to the dismissal. Instead of attacking their position, you attack the person, even though the person making the claim is irrelevant to the claim itself.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... False Analogy!

(apples and oranges)

This fallacy occurs when two things are incorrectly compared so as to draw a false conclusion. No two scenarios or ideas are exactly the same, nor do they so different that there is nothing similar about them. Therefore, all analogies are flawed in some way because otherwise the two objects would be identical and thus the same object. However, the mere presence of similarities does not justify equal treatment. If, in comparing two objects, we focus on superficial similarities while ignoring fundamental dissimilarities, then we are committing this fallacy.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...The Continuum Fallacy!

(Fallacy of the Beard, Line Drawing Fallacy, Bald Man Fallacy, Fallacy of the Heap, Fallacy of the Grey, the Sorites Fallacy)

This fallacy occurs when someone claims that just because a concept exists on a continuum that there really is no difference between the two ideas at the ends of the continuum. A type of equivocation fallacy (where two different things are presented as the same thing), it is often used as a means of dismissing entire positions by arguing that since not all experts agree or because there is no “100%” consensus, no valid conclusion can be drawn. This is a very common tactic used by science deniers who use outliers in data or misrepresented information as an argument against overwhelming evidence (e.g. global warming, evolution/creation, anti-vaccination) – which is also another fallacy: slothful induction.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Lying with Statistics!

(Snow Job, statistical fallacy, misunderstanding the nature of statistics [form of]; type of Half-Truth, Non Sequitur, Red Herring)

This fallacy occurs when someone deliberately supports their position using figures, numbers, and statistics that are either irrelevant or presented in a convoluted manner so as to confuse and manipulate others (different from misuse of statistics that is not deliberate). This fallacy is often mixed with other fallacies, such as overgeneralization (extrapolating to a larger group without a logical link), correlation/causation (ignoring other potential factors), and appeals to emotion.

Friday, April 22, 2016

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

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

Literally translating as “does not follow,” this fallacy occurs when the conclusion has no logical connection to the premise. All formal fallacies are a type of non sequitur (including post hoc, hasty generalization, slippery slope, and many others.) It is important to recognize that while the conclusion may be true, it is still a faulty argument if they support it using an irrelevant premise. Non sequiturs are easy to identify when they are absurd (e.g. “If peanut butter is healthy, why don’t horses talk?”), but this is not always the case (e.g. “She drives a BMW, so she must be rich.”)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Encouraging Self-Reliance through Liberal Ideals

One of the biggest complaints against liberal ideals (especially socialism) is that it increases dependence and decreases self-reliance. And I think we can all agree that self-reliance is incredibly important and should be encouraged.

Which is why I am liberal.

Let me explain.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Half Truth!

(Cherry-Picking, Card Stacking, Incomplete Information, Texas Sharpshooter, suppressed evidence, fallacy of incomplete evidence, argument by selective observation, argument by half-truth, fallacy of exclusion, ignoring the counter evidence, one-sided assessment, slanting, one-sidedness)

Commonly referred to as “cherry-picking,” this fallacy occurs when someone uses an argument that contains some element of truth while selectively omitting important details in order to deceive or misrepresent the facts in order to prop up a false conclusion. The stronger the evidence that is omitted, the more grievous the fallacy. This fallacy also occurs when you search for a pattern or evidence that fits your argument as opposed to adjusting your argument to fit the evidence. This fallacy can be a false dichotomy if the details that are omitted are in the “grey” area in between two falsely opposing positions.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Essentializing!

This fallacy proposes a person or thing “is what it is and that’s all that it is" and, at its core, will always be what it is right now. This is related to the fallacious argument that something is a certain way "by nature" or based on its origin (genetic fallacy). This is a fallacy because it uses existing negative perceptions and stereotypes to make someone's argument look bad without actually addressing the argument's merit.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Special Pleading!

(Ad-Hoc Reasoning, No True Scotsman, Stacking the Deck, Ignoring the Counterevidence, One-Sided Assessment, Slanting, “Double-Standard”)

This fallacy occurs when someone applies standards, principles, or rules to other positions while claiming that their position is exempt from them - without adequately justifying the reasons for their exemption (if there is a viable reason, it's not fallacious). It often occurs when someone is emotionally attached to their beliefs as our minds will subconsciously create ways to continue justifying our beliefs (see cognitive dissonance). 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Of Scarred Hands and Wounded Feet

You're not strong enough. 

You're not trying hard enough. 

You must have done something wrong. 

You deserved this. 

These are the messages we hear, day in and day out. The admirable qualities of self-reliance, working hard, and trying again becomes twisted into one of prideful judgment: 

If you need help, you’re weak.

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Just Because!

(trust me, mother knows best fallacy, because I said so, you’ll see)

This fallacy occurs when, instead of giving valid reasons or evidence for a position, someone says, “Because I said so” (or some variety). This is a type of appeal to authority because the individual making the claim is essentially stating that their position, who they are, is enough of a reason for compliance, regardless of whether or not their position is valid. These arguments are completely unhelpful because they neither elicit understanding from the other person nor do they reach mutual acceptance.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The LDS Church Endorsed Socialism: What Policies in 1939 Mean Now

While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is politically neutral, leaders have spoken out on political matters at different times for different reasons. During the Red Scare, it wasn't uncommon to hear leaders speak out on the evils of socialism (comments that were not endorsed as doctrine of the Church and which were often met with rebuke from the other leaders). 

What most people don't know is that during the Great Depression, the Church advocated socialistic principles. In 1939 under the direction of President Heber J. Grant and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Church published an official course manual titled "Priesthood and Church Welfare." In it, the Church advocated for the "socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their [captains of industry] profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical and hospital service."

You read that right. The LDS Church was feeling the Bern.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Hypothesis Contrary to Fact!

(counterfactual fallacy, speculative fallacy, "what if" fallacy, wouldchuck)

This fallacy occurs when someone argues that their specific prediction about the present would be true or accurate if a past event had happened differently. It’s fallacious because the premises are based on speculation, not fact or evidence, essentially drawing conclusions from a hypothetical situation as fact. For example, the claim, “If only you had learned how to play the piano as a child, you would be a concert pianist today” is untenable; there’s no way to guarantee that they would have continued playing throughout their life, have the talent and skill to perform at a professional level, or would not suffer a serious injury that would impede that goal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

An Evil Unchecked: Warnings from the LDS Church on Income Inequality

“One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it more equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both State and National, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not be taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is liable to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once powerful was the sure precursor of ruin.”

Sunday, March 13, 2016

How to Survive the Election Season

Dear friends,

This political season is bad enough already. Please, for the sanity of all involved, if you're going to post something political, try to follow these guidelines:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Straw Man!

(The Straw Person)

This fallacy takes the opponents argument and restructures it, creating an extreme version that no one could possibly agree with, and then dismisses it because it is absurd. It is a fallacy because you are not actually confronting the opponent’s argument; you are claiming that it is something it isn’t and then dismissing it. By turning the opponent’s argument into a weaker, “straw man,” version of itself, you are being dishonest, and fabricating, misrepresenting, or exaggerating someone else’s argument just to make yours look better will actually result in the opposite – they will wonder what is so weak about your argument that you have to result to poor logic to defend it. Straw man arguments often include the phrases, “seem to think,” “probably believe” or otherwise imply a position that the opponent doesn’t actually suggest (i.e. “Evolutionists seem to think that humans just crawled out of the goo" or "Conservatives want children to suffer.")

Friday, March 4, 2016

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 argument, the “burden of proof” lies with the individual making the claim; in other words, if you claim something, you need to provide the evidence for that claim. When you “shift the burden of proof,” instead of providing evidence to support their claim, you challenge your opponent to disprove it, believing that the inability to disprove it then means that your argument is credible. What we don’t know cannot be used as evidence for or against anything. Absence of knowledge is not knowledge, or as Martin Rees put it, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Appeal to Force!

(argument from the club, appeal to the stick, Argumentum ad Baculum, argument to the cudgel)

A combination of both the appeal to consequences and appeal to emotion, this fallacy occurs when someone uses coercion, intimidation, psychological pressure, force, or threat of force (direct or indirect) as a means of persuasion. It’s fallacious when the threat of force is unrelated to whether or not their position is valid or correct. When the negative consequences are a direct result of the premise, it isn’t fallacious: “If you drive while drunk, you will go to jail.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Begging the Question!

(Circular Reasoning, Big Lie Technique, Staying on Message, petition principia – “assuming the initial point”)

A type of circular reasoning, this fallacy occurs when the conclusion you are trying to prove is part of your premise. The initial premise is assumed to be correct without any evidence supporting it and often occurs when assumptions are so ingrained that the one making the claim isn’t even aware that it might not even be true. This term is often misused to mean “raises the question.”

Friday, February 12, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Appeal to Ancient Wisdom!

(Argument from Age, Wisdom of the Ancients, Appeal to Antiquity)

This fallacy is the misconception that ancient practices or beliefs are superior to modern ones (related to appeal to authority and appeal to tradition). Those that use this fallacy argue that the length of time that something has been practiced is a sign of its worthiness or truthfulness when more often it is a sign of wishful thinking, ingrained tradition, appeals to authority, and/or the perpetuation of anecdotes. Not every ancient practice is wise or valid (trepanation, flat earthism, geocentricism, human sacrifice, etc.), and just because science has confirmed the efficacy of some ancient practices (like some herbal medicines), that does not validate all ancient practices (like blood-letting). In fact, this fallacy is often used when scientific evidence is lacking, often by those pushing alternative medicines or religious practices.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Appeal to Closure!

This fallacy occurs when someone argues that a particular position must be accepted because those affected need "closure," regardless of how morally or ethically questionable the position is. Sometimes the argument takes the form of, “Let’s just agree to disagree so we can move on,” even if one position is wrong. Not only will some issues never be settled, making decisions out of the need to move on may result in an ineffective solution. This is often seen in our legal system when a sentence is delivered, in part, so that those affected by the crime can receive some closure.


“Society would be protected, crime would be deterred, and justice would be serviced with we sentenced you to life without parole, but we need to execute you in order to provide some sense of closure for the families.”

“We need to make an arrest to give the family a sense of closure.”

“Let’s just agree to disagree.”

Friday, January 29, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Just in Case!

(worst case scenario fallacy)

A type of appeal to emotion, this fallacy occurs when someone’s position is based on an unrealistic worst-case scenario rather than what would probable or realistic. Those who argue these points do so to convince you to make a decision out of fear rather than reason by inflating the perceived cost – not the actual cost – of not accepting their position.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Moral Equivalency!

This fallacy occurs when two different and unrelated issues or positions are falsely said to carry the same moral weight. This is often used to sway the audience’s perception of the morality of a questionable position or action. It is used in three primary ways:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Correlation Equals Causation!

(False Cause, Post Hoc or Faulty Causality, or Correlation vs. Causation; post hoc ergo propter hoc)

A very common fallacy both in everyday usage and in formal arguments, this fallacy occurs when someone confuses “correlation” (when things occur at the same time or immediately after one another) with “causation” (when one thing causes another). It is a mistake to assume that the order of events means that one event caused the other for there are many variables that could contribute to the pattern we see. Not only could the pattern be a pure coincidence, it is most often due to a common “third” cause of both events. Statistics play an important role in this fallacy. Many will see a figure and automatically draw a conclusion without thinking of what may have been left out.

Friday, January 8, 2016

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

(Argumentum ad Logicam, Fallacist's Fallacy, Argument from Fallacy, disproof by fallacy, argument to logic, similar to the bad reasons fallacy, form of psychogenetic fallacy)

This fallacy occurs when someone assumes that because an argument has been defended using a fallacy that the argument itself is wrong. Many correct ideas and positions are defended using faulty reasoning, and this is not reason enough to dismiss them (an argument can be invalid and unsound but still have a true conclusion). To say something is fallacious is merely saying that there isn’t a strong connection between the premises and the conclusion, not whether or not the conclusion is true. All that a flawed argument means is that that individual did not adequately defend it. It is similar to the bad reasons fallacy in which the argument is supported using faulty reasoning but not necessarily a logical fallacy.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Gambler's Fantasy!

(the Monte Carlo fallacy, the fallacy of the maturity of chances)

This fallacy occurs when someone believes that the statistical likelihood of an independent event is directly related to what has happened in the past. For example, in flipping a coin, the odds of an individual flip coming up heads is 50/50, but when we have a 10 flips in a row, many will believe that the odds of all of them being the same is lower than any other series of results when it isn't. In this fallacy, the person thinks that the universe will somehow "balance out" and thus often choose the opposite of they've seen.

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