Fallacy Friday!

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

(Cherry-Picking, Card Stacking, Incomplete Information, Texas Sharpshooter, suppressed evidence, fallacy of incomplete evidence, argument ...

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.


Some consumer advocates argue that we need stronger regulation of prescription drugs to ensure their safety and effectiveness, but at the same time argue that medicinal herbs should be sold with no regulation for either safety or effectiveness.

A used car salespersons says, "Hey, you can’t trust those other car salesman. They’ll say anything to get you to buy a car from them."

A religious leader says, “Don’t listen to the church down the street. They just want you to go there!”

A parent has just read a child the story of Cinderella. The child asks, “If the coach, and the footmen, and the beautiful clothes all turned back into the pumpkin, the mice, and the rags, then how come the glass slipper didn’t change back too?” (Seriously, though, do you realize how much this bothered me?)

“I never said most of the things I said.” - Yogi Berra

“Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.” - Yogi Berra

“I never had sexual relations with that woman -- but it sure was nice!”

In an example used by Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams, a man accused by his neighbor of having returned a kettle in a damaged condition offered three arguments:
· That he had returned the kettle undamaged;
· That it was already damaged when he borrowed it;
· That he had never borrowed it in the first place.

“Ted is older than Sam. Bill is older than Ted. Sam is older than Bill.”

“Montreal is about 200 km from Ottawa, while Toronto is 400 km from Ottawa. Toronto is closer to Ottawa than Montreal.”

“John is taller than Jake, and Jake is taller than Fred, while Fred is taller than John.”

“I'm a strong believer in freedom of speech and think artists should never be censored. However, when musicians like Marilyn Manson influence the youth, you have to draw a line and say no more.”

“There is no evil in this world. Though evil exists in some parts of the world, we will overcome it sooner or later.”

“Though basic human liberty is inviolable, a person like Smith has forfeited his right to be a human by committing such a heinous crime. He deserves to be tortured to death.”

“Of course consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want. We are in a free country. But some things violate the laws of nature, and if people get caught doing those things, we should send them to jail.”

“I do think you are an adult and can make your own decisions, but deciding whether you want to have a drink is too important and you'll have to wait until you are 21.”

“There are few philosophic truths more certain that this: all claims to truth in the realm of morality are subjective and arbitrary.”

“Although religious beliefs are the proper object of faith, not reason, it would be hard to deny that some religious beliefs are simply irrational.”

“One thing that we know for certain is that nothing is ever true or false.”

“Morality is relative and it is just a matter of opinion, and so it is always wrong to impose our opinions on other people.” (But if morality is relative, it is also a relative matter whether we should impose our opinions on other people. If we should not do that, there is at least one thing that is objectively wrong.)

“All general claims have exceptions.”

Very young children are fond of saying “I am not here” when they are playing hide-and-seek. The statement itself is not logically inconsistent, since it is logically possible for the child not to be where she is. What is impossible is to utter the sentence as a true sentence (unless it is used for example in a telephone recorded message.)

Someone who says, “I cannot speak any English.”

A TV program in Hong Kong was critical of the Government. When the Hong Kong Chief Executive Mr. Tung was asked about it, he replied, “I shall not comment on such distasteful programs.” Mr. Tung's remark was not logically inconsistent, because what it describes is a possible state of affairs. But it is nonetheless self-defeating because calling the program “distasteful” is to pass a comment.

“Let's all go to the football game tomorrow. My wife doesn't like football. I know you're busy. We'll all enjoy ourselves.”

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