Logical Fallacies: Types, Examples, How to Identify and Avoid Them

If you’re arguing with someone, you’ll want to use all the tools available to convince them that you’re correct.

It’s great; however, you must be cautious to avoid employing a logical fallacy to support your argument.

What is a Logical Fallacy?

A logical fallacy is a mistake in reasoning that can make your argument less persuasive and less convincing.

Logical fallacies are misleading and false arguments that can appear stronger than they really are due to psychological influence. However, they can be proven to be incorrect by reasoning and further investigation. It is important to be able to recognize these errors in other people’s reasoning (and ones you have) to point them out or modify your method.

Logical Fallacy: what is it?

Logical fallacies are the inconsistencies in logic that make arguments invalid and aren’t always simple to identify.

While some of them take the form of loud, obvious irregularities, others pass under the radar, being able to sneak into discussions and meetings unnoticed.

Types of Logical Fallacies:

There are two major kinds of logical fallacy:

Formal fallacy 

Refers to a mistake that can be defined as an argument based on a premise and conclusion that does not stand up to examination.

Formal fallacies result in an error in the arrangement of the argument. “Formal” in this instance does not mean “proper”; it relates to the structure. These are situations where the conclusion doesn’t match the precept, like the deductive reasoning pattern in the statement: If A is B, and B is C, then A surely is C. These arguments are known as Syllogisms. However, there’s an untrue step within the structure of a formal fallacy that leads to a false conclusion.

Informal fallacy 

Is a mistake in the form, content, or situation of the discussion.

Informal errors have to do with the substance of the argument and not the style. They can be either deductive or inductive; however, they’re fallacious because of a lack of evidence to support them and flawed reasoning. It is more likely that you will encounter these than formal fallacies, and their variations are endless.

Logical Fallacies: Recognition of Faulty Reasoning

Fallacies are false beliefs or statements that are based on flawed arguments. Although rhetorical methods can be effective in convincing people, fallacies employ just the illusion of logic to convince you to believe the wrong or untrue conclusion.

Understanding the fundamental logic flaws will allow you to better analyze the arguments and claims that you are a part of and observe on a regular basis, distinguishing fact from well-dressed fiction.

Ad Hominem Fallacy

An ad hominem fallacy employs personal attacks instead of reasoning. This is when someone criticizes or rejects the other viewpoint due to individual characteristics such as ethnicity, origin, physique, or any other irrelevant characteristics of the person who is holding the view.

Ad hominem argumentation is commonly employed in politics, where it is commonly referred to as “mudslinging.” They are considered to be illegal because politicians are able to use them to influence the opinions of voters against their opponents without actually taking on the issues at hand.

Examples: Peter Obi is not a good choice for president due to the fact that he doesn’t spend money the way the regular politician does.

Straw Man Fallacy

A straw man argument tackles a different topic than the subject being debated, usually a weaker version of the opposition’s point. The reason for this type of misdirection is to make one’s argument appear more powerful than it actually is.

The strawman argument is named for the harmless scarecrow that is lifeless and uninteresting. Instead of arguing about the argument itself, it is a case of attacking the equivalent of a dead bundle of straw, a beatable version of the opposition’s stance.

This is when your opponent exaggerates or incorrectly explains your arguments (i.e., creating a “straw man” or “straw guy”) to make it easier for them to defend or counter.

Example: 

Collins says: You can Do Better and Be Better.

Ruth says: So you’re saying that I’m not doing my best and that I’m far from being the best?

The Bandwagon Fallacy

A large percentage of people believe something is true, but it doesn’t mean it’s valid. Popularity alone isn’t enough to prove a claim, even though it’s frequently used as separate proof of its validity. Arguments of this kind don’t consider the possibility that the group that is validating the argument is incompetent to make that claim or if contradictory evidence is available.

We all see arguments of bandwagon in the world of advertising, but also, this falsehood can sneak into conversations and meetings.

Examples: Of course, it’s fine to smoke. Everyone smokes!

Appeal to Insanity Fallacy

An Appeal to insanity ((also known as the “argument of ignorance”) argues that a statement is valid because it hasn’t been proven to be false or because there isn’t any evidence to support the assertion.

The argument is a way to justify multiple contradictory claims simultaneously, the following two assertions: 

Example:

  • “No one has been able to prove extraterrestrials are real; therefore they can’t exist.”
  • “No person has proved that extraterrestrials are not real, and therefore, they must exist.”

A plea for ignorance does not make any claims. Instead, it shifts the responsibility for evidence off of the individual who makes an argument.

False Dilemma/False Dichotomy

A false dilemma or false dichotomy offers limited choices, typically focusing on two extremes, but in reality, they are many possibilities.

Example:

“Either we declare war, or we appear weak.”

“Either you are with me, or you are against me.”

The Appeal to Authority Fallacy

While appeals to authority are in no way always malicious, however, they could quickly turn risky if you depend too much on the opinions of a single individual, particularly if the person is trying to prove an opinion that isn’t their own.

The ability to get an authority figure to support your argument is a great supplement to your existing arguments, but it should not be the foundation your entire argument is built on. Simply because an authority figure believes something is valid doesn’t mean it’s factual.

Example:

“The time between 1am-5am is the best period to read, learn and be an intelligent student, and it’s true because the top graduating student of the previous year stated that.”

Slippery Slope Fallacy

With the slippery slope fallacy, The argument claims that an exact sequence of events will occur from a starting point, but usually without any evidence to support the sequence of events.

Example:

“People who smoke will quit school and eventually be in debt.”

Circular Argument Fallacy

Have you ever observed someone who is arguing in a way where it appears as if they’re going around in circles? It may appear as if they’re engaging in a debate, but they’ll make use of conclusions to back up their claims and the argument they make to support their conclusion. If you think this is confusing, it is.

There’s a different way of thinking about it: If your argument’s premises presume that the conclusion you draw is valid from the beginning instead of proving that it’s the case, then you’re in circles. Remember: If your argument is framed by itself, then it’s probably a fallacy.

Example:

“Smoking marijuana is against the law, because it’s not right and I am aware that smoking marijuana is not right because it is against the law.”

Recognizing of Logical Fallacies

Hasty Generalization Fallacy

It is a conclusion that is based on a lack of evidence or biased data. That is, you’re rushing to the conclusion without having all the facts. It could be true in a particular instance; however it doesn’t mean that it’s valid.

Example:

“The 11 people I have met who are from Italy are not nice. So, everyone who comes from Italy is not nice.”

Red Herring Fallacy

A Red herring is a form of argument that employs distraction or confusion to divert attention away from the topic to a false conclusion. Red herrings often include an irrelevant concept, fact, or even an event with no connection to the actual issue.

Red herrings are a popular strategy to divert attention and focus of the conversation to something that is easier or more secure to deal with. However, red herrings could be unintentionally used.

Example:

Police officers pull a vehicle off the road for speeding. The driver complains, stating that they shouldn’t have to pay an amount due to the fact that there is a myriad of dangerous criminals on the streets and that the police should be following them instead. While criminals with more serious crimes do exist, it’s an entirely separate matter. The main issue is that the motorist did not follow the speed limit, which is punishable.

Appeal to Pity Fallacy

A plea to pity tries to influence a reader’s or listener’s perspective by challenging them to feel.

Example:

“I was certain I would be on time for the interview; however, I woke up late because I was not feeling too well and was really unhappy about it. The anxiety of not being on time was a challenge to focus on while driving to the interview.”

Appeal to Hypocrisy Fallacy

A plea to hypocrisy is a rebuttal that responds to one assertion with a reactive criticism instead of an answer to the claim.

The hypocrisy fallacy, also known as the astuquoque fallacy, diverts the blame away from oneself by accusing another person of the same fault or something similar.

Example: 

The claim, first-person: “You don’t have enough experience to become the brand new head of the company.” 

The accusation, second person: “Neither do you!”

Causal Fallacy

Causal fallacies are fallacies that can be viewed as informal. They are caused by arguments that incorrectly determine that a cause is connected to a result. Consider causality as a parent for fallacies involving not proven causes. example:

False cause fallacy

Which is when you make a decision regarding the cause without having enough evidence to support it.

Example: “John isn’t at school today that means he is sick.”

Post-hoc fallacy

It is the case when you think that something is the cause simply because it happened first and not necessarily because it was the cause of the result.

Example: “Every time a bird crows, the sun is up. Crows bring the sun up. “

Equivocation Fallacy

Equivocation is when a phrase or sentence is intentionally used to deceive, confuse, or trick. This is the case when a person says something but means it in another way.

When it’s funny or poetic, we refer to this as a “play with words.” However, when it’s performed in a political address or an ethics debate or an economics report and the purpose is to convince the audience that you’re talking about something that’s not, then it’s considered an error, an Equivacation fallacy.

Example:

“His political party would like to spend your tax dollars on big-government. However, my party is planning federal strategic investment in crucial programs.”

The Middle Ground Fallacy

This fallacy presumes that the compromise between two opposing aspects is always the case. Arguments in this fashion overlook the possibility that just one of the extremes may be true, or both may be true, or even possibly both are very much untrue.

Example:

“Jeff believes the best approach to increase traffic on my blog is to alter my blog’s niche and redesign the whole website. However, I’m firmly opposed to making any changes to my blog’s niche and redesigning my site. The best way to approach this is to revamp a portion of the site and then include a new niche in my already established niche.”

The Burden of Proof Fallacy

If someone claims they believe that X is true, they are responsible for proving the validity of their claim. It’s not valid to say that X is valid until someone else is able to show that X isn’t the case. In the same way, it’s inconclusive to say it is not true; X is not true since it has not been proven that X is true.

In another way, the fact that there’s no evidence against it doesn’t mean it’s a sure sign that this assertion is true.

Example:

Peter believes his house is haunted, as nobody has ever proved it’s not haunted.

Gambler’s Fallacy 

In the assumption, the short-term or long-term deviations will correct themselves

Example:

“I’ve experienced terrible luck throughout my life, I’m certain to experience good luck right now.”

The Personal Incredulity Fallacy

If you are unable to comprehend the reason for something to be true, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that the item in question isn’t true. A collective or personal lack of understanding doesn’t make a claim untrue.

Example:

“I do not understand the duality nature of light so it is impossible for light to be a dual-natured thing.”

The Fallacy Fallacy

There’s a crucial point to keep in mind while sifting through fallacies: simply because someone’s argument is based on a fallacy, it doesn’t indicate that their argument is false in all respects.

A fallacy-ridden claim does not automatically invalidate the fundamental basis of the argument; it’s just that the premise or argument doesn’t really validate the conclusion. That’s why the argument may be flawed, but they’re not necessarily wrong.

Example:

Jeff’s argument for changing the niche for my site and redesigning my site to increase traffic relied heavily on the claim that he receives 3000 or more daily visitors to his blog in the niche he proposed and using that as the sole backup for his claims, So I decided that redesigning my blog and changing the niche of my blog is not a wrong choice.


Read More: Objective And Subjective Reasoning: How It Affects Our Decisions

Read More: How Cognitive Biases Influence How You Think And Act 

Read More: Is Self-Deprecation A Positive Trait Or A Harmful Behaviour?


Why do people use Logical Fallacies?

The use of logical fallacies is for a variety of reasons. In some instances, writers and speakers deliberately employ logical fallacies in attempts to make their opponent appear worse or to simplify a subject, or to make their own argument appear superior.

Why people use Logical Fallacies

In other instances, people employ them without intention, or due to the fact that they’ve not thought their argument through, or they don’t know why their arguments are flawed.

How to Avoid Logical Fallacies in Your Arguments

We’ve just talked about a number of logic-based fallacies, and you’re probably wondering if you can actually make any argument without making use of a logical fallacy.

Some of these errors are extremely attractive and easy to slip into, however, so long as you stand for the truth and don’t attempt to mislead your audience. Provide relevant proof from reliable sources, and avoid using negative or misleading terminology; you’ll be fine.

Conclusion

Recognizing the logic of logical fallacies when they are encountered and understanding how to fight them can prove beneficial in navigating conflicts both in professional and personal situations. ReelNat hopes that the above guide can help you avoid the most flawed arguments and also help you avoid future conflicts with family members, friends, and online acquaintances, without devolving into anger or childish name-calling.

Can you outsmart this logical fallacy?

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